Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Armin Meiwes, The Rotenburg Cannibal

Armin Meiwes

Anthropophagy

The practice of anthropophagy, when one person eats another person’s flesh, is as old as mankind itself. Although the act of consuming human flesh disgusts most of us, it also fascinates us, likely because of its taboo nature by forcing us to consider how one person can commit such atrocious and cruel acts on another. Although history has shown that cannibalism has been resorted to during times of famine, such as that of the infamous Donner party’s need to survive the brutal cold winter in the Sierra Nevada mountain range where they were stranded when the need for protein nourishment became overwhelming, it is an act that has never been acceptable except for those with aberrant minds, like those of Ed Gein, Albert Fish, Edward Kemper, and Jeffrey Dahmer, to name only a few, who held bestial appetites for human flesh and human blood. The success of Thomas Harris’ fictional Hannibal Lecter book series and the movies that followed serves, in part, as a testament to our continuing interest in cannibalism. Cannibalism, though clearly a thing of the past, promises to be with us in the future. There are people who believe that populations will resort to cannibalism in the future if world governments do not bring global warming under control due to crop failures and food shortages. While a lesson on the subject of historic and future significance of incidents of cannibalism would be of interest to many readers, the focus here will instead be on that of a modern-day anthropophagite, one of many, a German citizen named Armin Meiwes whose vile acts did no less than shock the world.

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