This is something that always intrigued me. How many serial killers were there during WWII and got away with it because they joined the various death squads? Where they could kill authorized by the Nazi regime, and indeed the regimes of the other axis nations.
And what differentiated those who were captured and brought to justice to those who killed indiscriminately in the name of the Nazi party? The answer would probably the Nazi ideology,although idiocy would probably be a more accurate description.
One of the WW2 serial killers was Paul Ogorzow.
Paul Ogorzow (29 September 1912 – 26 July 1941), also known as the S-Bahn Murderer, was a German serial killer and rapist who operated in Nazi-era Berlin during the height of World War II. Ogorzow was employed by Deutsche Reichsbahn, working for the commuter rail system in Berlin, the S-Bahn.
Ogorzow gained infamy by using the routine wartime blackouts, that took place as a result of the Allied bombing of Berlin, to more easily prey upon his victims. He was responsible for the murders of eight women during a nine-month-period from 4 October 1940 to 3 July 1941. Following his apprehension by the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo), Orgozow was executed by guillotine at Plötzensee prison in July 1941.
Paul Ogorzow was born on 29 September 1912 in the village of Muntowen, East Prussia, in what was then the German Empire (now: Muntowo, Poland).
He was the illegitimate child of a farm worker, Marie Saga. Her father later filled out his new grandson’s birth certificate, marking it with three crosses and the child’s birth name: Paul Saga.
In 1924, the now 12-year-old Saga was adopted by Johann Ogorzow, a farmer in Havelland. He eventually took Ogorzow’s surname as his own and relocated to the town of Nauen near Berlin. He initially worked as a laborer on his adoptive father’s farm and later found employment with a steel foundry in Brandenburg-an-der-Havel
Ogorzow joined the Nazi Party in 1931, at the age of 18, and became a member of its paramilitary branch, the Sturmabteilung (SA), the following year. After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Ogorzow rose modestly in the Party ranks. By the time of his capture, Ogorzow held the position of Scharführer (squad leader) in the SA.
In 1934, Ogorzow was hired as a platelayer by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (National Railroad). He steadily worked his way up through the organization, eventually working as an assistant signalman at Rummelsburg railway station in the eastern suburbs of Berlin, close to Karlshorst. This was the area where most of his crimes later occurred.
Beginning in August 1939, while he and his family were residing in Karlshorst, Ogorzow embarked on a violent series of sexual assaults, randomly attacking, brutalizing and then raping dozens of women in and around Berlin’s Friedrichsfelde district. At that time, the neighborhood that was populated mostly by solitary housewives, whose husbands had been called up to serve in the war. It was these vulnerable women who initially served as Ogorzow’s primary source of rape victims.
The Berlin police documented 31 separate cases of rape and other sexual assaults that occurred in the area, all of which were later connected to Ogorzow. During his attacks, Ogorzow either choked his victims, threatened them with a knife, or bludgeoned them with a blunt object. In their statements, all the victims mentioned their attacker wore a railway worker’s uniform.
Ogorzow also first began attempting to murder some of his victims during this time. His initial efforts, however, met with little success. Between August 1939 and July 1940, Ogorzow attacked and stabbed three different women, all of whom later went on to recover and serve as witnesses against him.
The citizens of Berlin in 1940 were living with rationing, nightly blackouts, and the first regular Allied bombing raids.
ADN-ZB/Archiv II.Weltkrieg 1939 – 1945 Berlin 1940: Die Feuerwehr bei Aufräumungsarbeiten im Seitenflügel eines vierstöckigen Wohnhauses in der Wasserthorstrasse 37. Das Haus war in der Nacht vom 28. zum 29. 8. von einer Sprengbombe getroffen worden. Aufn.: August 1940
To add to their plight, the bodies of women who had suffered horrific abuse began to appear. Gerda Ditter’s body appeared in October, strangled and stabbed to death. In November, another young woman was thrown from a moving train. And on December 4, two more bodies were found, thrown from a moving train. One woman survived, the other didn’t.
On December 22, the body of Elisabeth Bungener was found with a fractured skull close to the railroad tracks. A week later, the body of another woman who suffered a fractured skull was found near the tracks. Another body was found in January 1941. After that, the killer disappeared for five weeks. Then on February 11 Johanna Voigt’s body was discovered, also with a fractured skull. The final victim, Frieda Koziol, was found five months later in July.
While the infamous S-Bahn Murderer was on his rampage, he was being pursued by the Kriminalpolizei (aka ‘Kripo’), Berlin’s serious crime unit. But they had a tough job finding the killer
Their biggest antagonist wasn’t the S-Bahn murderer, but the blackout. The killer’s victims weren’t the only bodies that appeared around the railroad tracks; in fact, in December of 1940 alone there were 28 deaths attributed to accidents on the railway. These were direct results of the blackout—people were hit by trains either when crossing tracks or when they accidentally stepped off train platforms. In addition, the blackouts had sparked a crime wave in Berlin, distracting from the investigation and adding to the body count as well.
Besides the blackout, the investigators were hampered by the Nazi regime. The government did not want word of the killings to cause fear among the general populace, and so they tamped down on reporting. This deprived the investigation of any tips from the general public.
Other hindrances to the investigation came from biases that shaped the investigator’s outlook. There was a tendency to trust people in uniform who held an official position. Paul Ogorzow worked for German Railways, and his uniform proved as a kind of shield.
A bigger bias though was the racial prejudices the Nazis became infamous for. Some believed the killer had to be a Jew, because large numbers of Jews worked on German Railways. Others thought it might be a British Agent attempting to sow fear in the capital. Given the Nazi’s tendency toward bizarre espionage, it at least seemed plausible. Another theory was that the killer was one of the thousands of foreign workers who were brought to Berlin to fill the need for labor. Given the large numbers of foreigners in the city, this seemed plausible.
That is, until a serious look at German Railway employees netted one name again and again. Paul Ogorzow was known among his coworkers for his hatred of women and his slacker tendencies—he had a habit of wandering off during his shifts. If it were not for his coworker’s suspicions, the Kripo may not have looked at him at all, because he was a married man with two children. Not to mention, he was a Nazi party member.
Ogorzow was brought in and subjected to intense questioning. He eventually cracked and confessed to eight murders and several assaults. His weapon of choice seemed to be a length of lead cable. In a bizarre attempt to save himself, he claimed that a Jewish doctor’s treatment for gonorrhea had awakened his murderous urges. The Kripo didn’t buy it, nor did the government. It seems that Ogorzow’s Nazi allegiance could not save him. He was executed by guillotine.
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