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A Moveable Feast

Very Modern Cannibals

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN and JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

The cannibal community was in a frenzy over some pretty far-out activities by two of that sect’s members, one being now deceased and well-masticated. There have been abundant reports in the German and British press, but not much here, beyond a brief report on CNN.

Meet first Bernd Juergen B, who finished up on the terminal end of a consensual cannibal relationship. According to police reports, he wrote out his will and had it officially recognized by a notary on the morning of his disappearance in March 9, 2001. In the will, he left most of his estate, including a penthouse apartment, to his live-in partner, a fellow named Rene.

Bernd Juergen B had told his boss at Siemens he was taking that Friday off “to attend to some personal matters.” He was last seen at a subway station in Berlin. He then took a train some 300 kilometers from Berlin to an old house near Kassel. Reason for trip? Bernd Juergen B had responded to one of several adverts that read: “Gay male seeks hunks 18-30 to slaughter.” The advertiser meant this literally.

Armin M was also a computer technician and until recently had a job with a software firm in the Rhine Valley city of Karlsruhe, 30 kilometers south of Rotenburg. He lived with his mother in the 17th-century half-timbered manor house, staying on there after her death.

“He was a mama’s boy,” a neighbor later told reporters. “He was totally fixated on his mother, who he said never let him date girls. After she died, he began to thaw out.”

After some initial pleasantries the couple got down to business. Armin cut off Bernd’s penis, sauteed it and the two ate it. The proceedings were videotaped by Armin. Police who later watched the tape are, according to the press, now undergoing psychiatric counseling. “The victim appeared to be fully aware of the situation,” one investigator has told the press. “Videotape material definitely shows both him and the suspect engaged in eating his own flesh prior to his death.” The video also shows that the victim willingly allowed himself to be castrated before both men engaged in eating his severed flesh.

Then Armin M removed body parts for later enjoyment and buried the rest. Police found frozen human flesh and skeletal remains, and a cellar that had been renovated into a makeshift slaughterhouse, complete with trough drains and meat hooks.

The best account of the affair was written by Roger Boyes in the London Times.

Armin M, it turns out, was a former sergeant-major in the German army who later worked for the council in Mainz. In the old house the cops found 50 videos that are said to be worth thousands on the “very specialised market for cannibal acts.” After snacking on the hors d’oeuvre of Bernd’s penis they set forth for the slaughtering room, where Armin M switched on the camera, then stabbed Bernd Juergen B to death. He then hung the body upside down on a meat hook, allowing the blood to drain, and later cut and wrapped the flesh for freezing. Boyes quotes the head of the Criminological Institute in Wiesbaden, Rudolf Egg, as saying “modern cannibals use[d] deep-freezing to extend and ration out their pleasure. Primitive cannibals used to eat their victims all at one go soon after killing.

“If he really derived pleasure from eating a man,” he said, “then he could not possibly eat everything in a single day. And he obviously did not want to eat rotten meat. So he froze the body parts; the act of eating then took on the aspect of a ritual and could be drawn into his sexual fantasies.”

German columnists have been blaming Hollywood, specifically The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. They’re also sprinkling slurs on the cannibal community at large, with the mass-circulation tabloid Bild expressing concern that cannibals could be everywhere. “They are invisible behind their glasses, their hairstyles, their families, their work, their seemingly unblemished innocence.”

Boyes reports that cannibalism “hits a nerve” for a whole generation of Germans who “remember the desperate eating of human organs during the German army invasion of Russia,” when the three-month siege of Stalingrad saw the starving storm troopers eating the bodies of their dead fellows, though presumably they avoided dead Russians as untermensch and therefore unfit for Aryan consumption.

This article is adapted from a “Nature and Politics” column originally published in January 2003.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of NatureGrand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. His latest book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.