Armin Meiwes (born December 1 1961) is a German man who achieved international notoriety for killing and eating a voluntary victim he had found via the Internet. After Meiwes and the victim jointly attempted to eat the victim's severed penis, Meiwes killed his victim and proceeded to eat a large amount of his flesh. Because of his deeds, Meiwes is also known as the "Rotenburg Cannibal" or "Der Metzgermeister" (Master Butcher).
Since entering prison, Meiwes has become a vegetarian and has joined a prisoners' group favoring Green Party politics.
Murder and cannibalism
Meiwes posted an advertisement on the Internet, looking for a willing victim. The post stated that he was "looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed". Bernd Jürgen Brandes responded to the advertisement. Bernd Jürgen Brandes was known for his interest in crossdressing. Many other people responded to the advertisement, but many backed out and none were forced to do anything they didn't want to do by Meiwes.
As is known from a videotape the two made when they met on December 25 2001 in Meiwes' home in the small village of Roteburg, Meiwes amputated Brandes' penis and the two men attempted to eat the penis together before Brandes was killed. Brandes had insisted that Meiwes attempt to bite his penis off. This did not work, so Meiwes used a knife. Brandes apparently tried to eat some of his own penis raw, but could not because it was too tough and, as he put it, "chewy". Meiwes then sautéed the penis in a pan with salt, pepper, and garlic, but by then it was too burned to be consumed. According to journalists who saw the video (which has not been made public), Brandes may already have been too weakened from blood loss to actually eat any of his penis. Meiwes read a Star Trek book for three hours whilst his voluntary victim was bleeding to death in the bath. Meiwes apparently gave him large quantities of alcohol and pain killers, 30 sleeping pills and a bottle of schnapps, finally, he kissed him once and killed him in a room that he had built in his house for this purpose, The Slaughter Room. After stabbing Brandes to death in the throat, he hung the body on a meathook and tore hunks of flesh from it; he even tried to grind the bones to use as flour. The whole scene was recorded on the two-hour video tape. Meiwes ate the body over the next 10 months, storing body parts in his freezer under pizza boxes and consuming up to 20 kg of the flesh.
Arrest, trial and conviction of manslaughter
Meiwes was arrested in December 2002, after a man in Innsbruck
phoned the police after seeing new advertisements for victims and details about the killing on the Internet. Investigators searched his home and found body parts and the videotaped killing.
On January 30 2004, Meiwes was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison. The case attracted considerable media attention and led to a debate over whether Meiwes could be convicted at all, given that Bernd Jürgen Brandes had voluntarily and knowingly participated in the act; there were also complications as cannibalism itself was not illegal in Germany at the time.
Meiwes has admitted what he has done, and expressed regret for his actions. He added he wanted to write a book of his life story with the aim of deterring anyone who wants to follow his steps. Websites dedicated to Meiwes have appeared, with people advertising for willing victims. "They should go for treatment, so it doesn't escalate like it did with me," said Meiwes. He believes there are about 800 "cannibals" in Germany.
Retrial and murder conviction
In April 2005, a German court ordered a retrial after prosecutors appealed his sentence. They believed he should have been convicted of murder
, not manslaughter, and given a life sentence. Among the questions courts answered is whether Brandes agreed to his killing, and whether he was legally capable of doing so at the moment of killing, taking into account his apparent mental problems as well as his significant intake of alcohol and other drugs. Other aspects of the retrial determined whether Meiwes killed to satiate his own desires (in particular sexual desires
), and not because he was asked to, which Meiwes has repeatedly rejected during testimony. At his retrial a psychologist stated that Meiwes could reoffend and still "had fantasies about devouring the flesh of young people. On 10 May 2006
, a court in Frankfurt
convicted Meiwes of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
"The Cannibal Cafe"
The website titled "The Cannibal Cafe," in which Meiwes advertised his desire to slaughter & eat a voluntary victim, opens with a paragraph to "warn" viewers of the content inside. This content is described as "mature content designed for and by adults" and it is also stated that the website contains "discussions and images which may appeal to your most depraved base instincts & should not be viewed by those who are not considered adults in their particular geopolitical reality." This paragraph concludes with a finishing sentence, that reads as follows "If you are under the age of maturity, dislike or do not enjoy images or topics having to do with sex or are incapable of separating artistic fantasy from reality, Please leave this site." On the same web page as this paragraph it is stated that the website is "dedicated to covering a full range of graphic sexual fantasy."
Consultant in criminal cases
According to a report by the Bild-Zeitung
from October 2007, Meiwes was reportedly helpful in the analysis of two suspected cannibal murders from 1998 and 2000, in which two young boys were found horribly mutilated, possibly by the same murderer, fulfilling much the same role as the fictional cannibal murderer Hannibal Lecter
- The song "Mein Teil" by German band Rammstein was inspired by the case. "Teil" translates literally to "part" or "member," but is German slang for penis. The chorus of "Mein Teil" (My Part) includes the line, "Denn du bist was du isst und ihr wisst was es ist. Es ist mein Teil," which translates to "You are what you eat and you know what it is. It is my part" with "Du bist was du isst" being the famous catchphrase for the Swedish brand of crisp bread Wasa. The original quote was made by Ludwig Feuerbach, a German philosopher, expressing that everything a human consumes is taking influence on his mind and body.
- Other songs inspired by Meiwes' story include "The Wüstenfeld Man Eater" by American death/thrash metal band Macabre, "Eaten" by Swedish death metal band Bloodbath, as well as "Cannibal Anthem" by German electro-industrial project :wumpscut:, and "Cannibals of Rotenburg" by the dirge-country band Sons of Perdition.
- Rock artist Marilyn Manson has identified Meiwes as inspirational in the titling of his album, Eat Me, Drink Me. Manson explained in an article what this story meant to him: "Although I can't relate to the relationship those two had, I found the story very compelling in a romantic way. I think a lot of people wouldn’t look at it as romantic, but it was to them in some sick way, and it is to me in some sick way, too.
- Feature film Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story (aka Rohtenburg) was scheduled for German release in March 2006. However, it was banned in that country after Meiwes complained that his "personality rights" had been violated. The American film, which is fictionalized, stars Keri Russell and, in the role inspired by Meiwes, Thomas Kretschmann. The film won multiple awards at the 2006 Festival de Cine de Sitges, including Best Director, Best Actor for the two male leads, and Best Cinematography.
- Other films based on the case include Rosa von Praunheim's Dein Herz in Meinem Hirn (Your Heart in My Brain); Marian Dora's Cannibal; and Uli Lommel's Cannibal. The 2005 Australian horror/thriller film Feed contains a short scene depicting Meiwes and his victim sitting in a blood-filled bathtub together.
- In 2005, the French author and actor Olivier Lejeune penned and acted a farce entitled Dévorez-moi (Devour me), loosely based on the case.
- Hit British comedy The IT Crowd parodied this story as part of a plot for the _2007 wherein the characters Roy and Moss pretended to be interested in being eaten so they could watch a film on the cannibal's television.
- Hip-hop artist Necro briefly makes reference to the case in the song Human Consumption (from his third album The Pre-Fix For Death) where he says : "it's legal in Germany, believe me, cannibals are celebrities".
- In 2006, the film Cannibal was released, reconstructing the event. The film is directed by Marian Dora and stars actors Carsten Frank, Victor Brandl and Manoush. The film was banned in Germany.