Mareen Heying

A spectacle. The trial against the «vampire of Düsseldorf» in Weimar Germany

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The article examines the press coverage of the trial against Peter Kürten in 1931. The defendant had attacked and murdered several people in Düsseldorf in 1929 and 1930 and Weimar society was fascinated with the trial. The German and international press aimed to please a readership thirsting for information, while at the same time it had to ensure youth protection and observe public order. The article analyses how the press transformed the murder trial into a spectacle. Kürten was increasingly dehumanised, he was described as a «monster» and a «vampire». The murderer himself also had a play in this: He toyed with the press and acted as if the courtroom was his stage. The interaction between the press and the murderer is shown in five acts.


  • Peter Kürten
  • Mass Murderer
  • Violence
  • Moral
  • Sexuality


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