Marianne Bachmeier: The revenge shot of a mother who lost her child

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On March 6, 1981, Marianne Bachmeier pulled a gun in the middle of a crowded court proceeding in West Germany and shot at Klaus Grabowski, the 35-year-old man who had killed her 7-year-old daughter. The court session was for the trial of Grabowski for his cruel act toward the young victim, who was Bachmeier’s daughter. Grabowski died instantly after being hit by six bullets from the grieving mother.

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Bachmeier became instantly famous worldwide. Her court trials for her bold act of murder garnered a lot of attention from the German media. A persistent question was whether all of Bachmeier’s actions for avenging her daughter were justified or not.

This case is one of the infamous criminal cases in the post-war history of Germany, according to a German newspaper, NDR.

The Death of 7-year-old Anna Bachmeier

Before being known by the German media as the “vengeful mother,” Marianne Bachmeier was a single mother with modest finances. She ran a bar in the city of Lubeck, located in West Germany, in the 1970s. Bachmeier lived with her youngest daughter, Anna, after forfeiting custody of her two older children.

Anna was described as a joyful and open-minded girl whose life tragically ended on May 5, 1980. As reported by NDR, after arguing with her mother that ill-fated day, Anna unexpectedly fell into the hands of local meat seller Klaus Grabowski, who had a past of sexually abusing children.

Police investigations revealed that Grabowski had held Anna in his home for several hours before strangling her to death with a pair of pantyhose. It was unclear whether the victim was sexually assaulted before her death. After committing the crime, Grabowski stuffed Anna’s body in a cardboard box and dumped it in a nearby canal.

Grabowski was arrested that same night after his fiancée called the police. Grabowski confessed to his crime but denied sexually abusing the victim. Instead, he provided a bizarre explanation.

Grabowski claimed he was threatened by Anna and had killed her in response. According to the murderer, Anna tried to seduce him and threatened to tell her mother about his abusive behavior, unless he gave her money.

Marianne Bachmeier obviously did not believe Grabowski’s imaginative story. A year later, during the court proceedings for his criminal actions, the mother of three executed her revenge plan.

Six Shots from the “Vengeful Mother” of Germany

The court proceedings against Grabowski reopened the painful wound inside Bachmeier. Grabowski’s defense attorney claimed his murderous act was because of hormonal imbalance caused by hormone therapy he had undergone after voluntarily being castrated years prior. At that time, sexual offenders in Germany were often castrated to prevent reoffending.

On the third day of the trial, Bachmeier pulled out a gun from her handbag and fired eight shots. Six of those bullets hit Grabowski, causing him to collapse and die on the spot.

Witnesses state that Bachmeier made several accusations after shooting Grabowski dead. Judge Guenther Kroeger, who spoke with Bachmeier after the incident, mentioned that the mother of three said, “I wanted to kill him.” In addition, the “vengeful mother” allegedly continued to say, “He killed my daughter… I wanted to shoot him in the face but I shot him in the back… I hope he dies”.

During her trial, Bachmeier testified that she had shot Grabowski in a dream and saw the figure of her daughter in the courtroom. The doctor mentioned when asked to provide a handwriting sample, the “vengeful mother” wrote on a piece of paper, “Mother did it for you, Anna” and decorated it with seven hearts, seemingly symbolizing her daughter’s short-lived seven years.

Controversial Sentence for the “Vengeful Mother”

Bachmeier’s trials received significant attention nationally and internationally. The magazine Stern even dedicated a series to follow all developments of the trials, including digging deep into Bachmeier’s life as a struggling single mother. Bachmeier reportedly sold this information to Stern for $158,000 to cover her legal costs.

The series received overwhelming responses from readers. Was Bachmeier simply a desperate mother seeking revenge for her daughter? Or was her act of murder spontaneous, and Bachmeier had transformed herself into a cold-blooded killer? Many expressed sympathy for the motive of the “vengeful mother” but condemned her actions.

Apart from the moral quandaries, the case stirred legal debates on whether it should be considered as murder or manslaughter. Decades later, a friend of Bachmeier appeared in a documentary about the case claiming she witnessed Bachmeier practicing shooting in a wine cellar before her act of revenge.

In the end, the court convicted Bachmeier of manslaughter, sentencing her to six years in prison in 1983. In a survey by the Allensbach Institute, 28% of Germans agreed with the sentence, while 27% thought it was too harsh, and 25% felt six years was too short.

In June 1985, Bachmeier was released after serving three years of her sentence. She moved to Nigeria, where she got married and lived until the 1990s. After her divorce, Bachmeier moved to Sicily, Italy, where she lived before being diagnosed with cancer. In her last days, Bachmeier returned to Germany and requested an NDR journalist to film her final moments. Bachmeier died on September 17, 1996, at the age of 46, and was buried next to her daughter, Anna.

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