Cologne school massacre

Cologne school massacre
Attentat von Volkhoven - Gedenktafel (0060).jpg
Commemorative plaque
LocationCologne, West Germany
Date11 June 1964 (1964-06-11)
09:10 (CET)
Attack type
Mass murder, school massacre, murder-suicide, massacre
WeaponsFlamethrower, spear, homemade mace
Deaths11 (including the perpetrator)
Injuries
22
PerpetratorWalter Seifert
MotiveFeelings of persecution

The Cologne school massacre was a mass murder that occurred at the Catholic elementary school (katholische Volksschule) located in the suburb of Volkhoven in Cologne, West Germany on 11 June 1964. The perpetrator, Walter Seifert, also known as "Der Feuerteufel von Volkhoven" (firedevil of Volkhoven), attacked the people at the school with a home-made flamethrower and a spear, killing eight pupils and two teachers, and wounding twenty-two others. When police arrived at the scene he fled from the school compound and poisoned himself. He was taken to a hospital, where he died the same evening.[1][2][3]

Massacre

Seifert's path through the school

On 11 June 1964, shortly after 09:00, Seifert approached the schoolyard of the Catholic elementary school located at Volkhovener Weg 209-211, armed with a self-made flamethrower, a spear and a mace. The school consisted of one main building and four wooden barracks, each housing two classes with a total of eight teachers and 380 pupils.

As Seifert entered the school compound through the smaller of two gates he was observed by three crossing guards who mistook him for a mechanic trying to repair the gate's broken lock and asked him what he was doing there. Seifert ignored them and, after blocking off the gate with a wooden wedge, proceeded towards teacher Anna Langohr who was teaching a group of girls in sports at the schoolyard. When Langohr, who knew Seifert, asked if she could help him, he ignited his flamethrower and attacked her and the girls.

Seifert then went to one of the barracks,[clarification needed] smashed in the windows with the mace, and aimed his weapon at the children in the classrooms, setting them on fire. He continued to attack the people running and jumping out of the burning building until his flamethrower ran out of fuel, whereupon he threw it away. When teacher Gertrud Bollenrath stepped out on the schoolyard Seifert fatally stabbed her in the chest with his spear and then approached the barrack where Ursula Kuhr and Mrs Kunz were teaching. The two women tried to keep the doors shut, but Seifert managed to open one, and causing Kuhr lose her balance. After she fell down the flight of stairs and landed on the ground in front of the building Seifert stabbed her in both legs and once between her shoulders.

Seifert then fled the school compound and swallowed E605, a poisonous insecticide, to commit suicide, but as the substance was diluted he did not die immediately. Chased by 20 to 30 people he ran towards a railway embankment where he tried to fend off his pursuers with his spear. When police arrived at the scene at 09:38 he tried to stab one of the officers, but was eventually immobilised with a shot in his leg. He was arrested and taken to the University Hospital in Lindenthal where he was questioned several times, before he died at 20:35.[4]

The attack had lasted for about 15 minutes. Ursula Kuhr died at the scene, while Gertrud Bollenrath succumbed to her wounds in hospital at 13:00. Along with teachers Anna Langohr and Wiltrud Schweden, twenty-eight pupils were taken to hospitals, some of them with burns to 90 % of their body. Eight of the pupils died in the following weeks.[5][6]

Victims

Gravestone for Ursula Kuhr on Cologne Südfriedhof

Teachers:

  • Gertrud Bollenrath, aged 62
  • Ursula Kuhr, aged 24

Students:

  • Dorothea Binner, 9, died on 15 June[7]
  • Renate Fühlen, 9, died on 19 June [8]
  • Ingeborg Hahn, 9, died on 30 June[9][10]
  • Ruth Hoffmann, 10, died on 20 June[11]
  • Klara Kröger, 9, died on 16 June[12]
  • Stephan Lischka, 9, died on 16 June[13]
  • Karin Reinhold, 11, died on 20 June[14]
  • Rosel Röhrig, 12, died on 18 June[8]