The Cannibal Who Advertised: Armin Meiwes Ate What He Killed

Armin Meiwes | Courtesy of Murderpedia

Human flesh for lunch, dinner, and dessert — it’s certainly a taste you’ll never forget. On December 11, 2002, Armin Meiwes was arrested for the murder of Bernd Brandes. On May 10, 2006, he was sentenced to life in prison. But this is not where Armin’s story begins. How does someone become a cannibal? Was there always a monster lurking deep within him? Do we all have monsters lurking within us? This begins the story of Armin Meiwes.

Armin Meiwes was born on December 1, 1961. Armin’s father, Dieter Meiwes, was a police officer. He had saved up enough money to buy his family a thirty-six-room, 16,000 square-foot mansion in Wüstefeld, Germany. His parents, Dieter and Waltraud, married when he was 21 and she was 40. Armin’s birth was far from welcome. It was just one more attempt at manipulation by Waltraud, an aspect of her grand scheme to keep Dieter permanently by her side.1 Despite them having material comforts, emotional discomfort lingered in the household. Armin’s father was unhappy in his marriage, because Waltraud was so possessive of him. She constantly threatened his life and accused him of having affairs.  One afternoon in September 1969, 7-year-old Armin was playing hide and seek when he heard his parents arguing. His father stormed out of the house, got into his car and drove off, leaving a terrified and saddened young Armin. He never saw his father again. As time went on, Armin sought comfort reading Grimms’ Fairy Tales. His favorite story was Hansel and Gretel. He especially liked the passage in which the storybook witch “fattens up little Hansel” in the hope of cooking him and eating him.  As a child he used to act out the scene over and over again, playing the role of the witch and delighting in the idea of roasting and eating Hansel.2

Hansel and Gretel: Grimm Fairy Tales | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Grimm’s Fairy Tales were a popular children’s story in Germany during this time. The Grimm’s Fairy Tales were explicit tales that told the harsh outcomes if certain actions were taken. Germans admired these tales because they could see that the people who purposely and outwardly did wrong were punished to the extreme, before learning a lesson from these consequences. The Fairy Tales book embodied the German culture and captivated the German people. The Grimm brothers’ studied law and wanted to expand the knowledge by traveling around collecting stories, piecing them together and adding Germanic culture. The brothers’ folklore poetry expressed external joys, sorrow, and fears of humanity. The Grimms were keen German nationalists who wanted to see the multitude of German states united as one country, and they believed that folk tales revealed a national German identity. Even stories like ‘Red Riding Hood,’ told in different versions in many languages, originated from ancient Germanic tales. The tales identified themes, incidents in Germanic mythology and legends that they believed were echoed in folk tales. The Nazis warmly approved of the Grimms’ work, which, as Professor Jack Zipes explains, the Nazis exploited the harsh lessons from the tales ‘to uphold the racist and nationalist supremacy of the German people.’3

As Armin hit puberty at the age of thirteen, he began to view himself and the world differently. He was confused as to how to react to the sudden physical and mental changes occurring to his body. Ulla, a friend of Armin’s mother, volunteered to teach Armin about the world and its hidden depths. She encouraged him to indulge in his dark fantasies and introduced him to the world of Satanism. On the outside, Ulla seemed like a comical, friendly person helping out her friend’s son so that he could have hope in life. In reality, Ulla pushed Armin to revel in his darkest desires. She voiced Satan’s greatness, describing how he would come from the Atlantis and lead them to prosperity. Ulla was a witch that would cast different spells, including death spells, for a fee. Deep down, Armin was missing a mother’s love. His mother rarely hugged him or showed him any sign of emotion. She was verbally abusive. Armin delved deeper into his fantasies; he would lay in bed for hours with dismembered Barbie dolls. Armin would smear ketchup and some pork on his belly to resemble torn flesh. Armin began to realize he was a cannibal at the age of thirteen. As he continued developing, he became sexually confused. He liked women, but he also had desires for men. He felt that he was bisexual, but he mostly wanted to eat men rather than have sex with them. Armin continued to awkwardly develop until the age of nineteen.Wanting to be free of his mother’s and Ulla’s influences, and to exterminate his dark desires on January 1, 1981 at the age of nineteen, Armin decided to enlist in the West German Army, the Bundeswehr. He enlisted when tensions between nations were high, especially toward Germans because of World War II and its devastating outcomes of the millions dead and the exorbitant cost of the war.4

In the West German Army, men socialized, aware that anything could happen. The Bundeswehr was the backbone of NATO’s conventional defense in Central Europe. The Bundeswehr had a strength of 495,000 soldiers, about double the strength of reserve forces and 170,000 civilian personnel. The West German Army was under scrutiny due to the fact that there were controversies about remilitarizing Germany, especially after World War II. During the wars, the Bundeswehr saw many horrific sights. Their fellow soldiers were being shot down and killed. Death was a horrible thing that haunted all of them and seemed to always lurk around.  To add insult to injury, German soldiers were not really trusted because of incidents during World War II, especially linked to the Nazis and their experiments and annihilation of millions of Jews. Trying to fight with armies that seem to hate you and dealing with defending yourself and fellow soldiers was a lot to handle.5

West German Army (Bundeswehr) | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Armin initially prospered in his military career, even though he was not social. He received numerous promotions, and was given positions of trust. Still troubled with his secret desires and unable to communicate with anyone, he started drinking, which ultimately led to his relief from the military. Through all this, the people in his life dwindled. In 1992, after he was relieved from the military, Ulla turned from Satanism to Christianity, and she died six years later. One year after Ulla’s death, Armin’s mother passed away. To observers, it seemed as though Armin was unaffected; but in reality, he was affected deeply, just not the way people thought. He was happy for the freedom he had gained. Armin appeared to be put together. However, internally, everything was in shambles. The home he lived in was falling apart, and Armin still held on to his childhood, afraid to part with it. This included his childlike demeanor and toys from when he was little. Armin disintegrated fast; he began wearing his mother’s clothing and acting like her in front of neighbors. It seemed like his world was frozen in time.6

Armin started participating in chatrooms about cannibalism, feeding into his desires. Armin finally decided to act on his desires to eat human flesh. He created a slaughter room, adding a bed, ropes connected to the bed, and gallon size buckets to collect blood. All he needed now was a victim. Armin decided to advertise on German and English-language cannibal websites: “I am Franky from Germany,” he wrote in halting, ungrammatical English, “and I search for a young Boy, between 18 and 30 y/o.  Have you a normal build body and will you di [sic], than come to me, [I] butchering you and eat your horny flesh.” Armin not only wanted to obtain a victim, but he wanted them to be willing to die. After several, males came forward, he went through an interview like process to find the perfect one for him. But to Armin’s disappointment, the ones he found took it as a joke and backed out at least second when things turned serious.7

Cannibalism is the eating of human flesh. Though many early accounts of cannibalism probably were exaggerated or were misunderstood, the practice prevailed until modern times in parts of West and Central Africa and Melanesia (especially Fiji). In other cases, the consumption of particular portions of organs was a ritual means by which certain qualities of the person eaten might be obtained or by which powers of witchcraft or sorcery might be employed. There is not a single satisfactory explanation for cannibalism, but the reasons for it varied with context. Different peoples have practiced it for different reasons, and one group may practice cannibalism in one context and view it with horror in another. In any case, the spread of modernization largely resulted in the prohibition of such practices. In modern society, cannibalism does occasionally occur as the result of extreme physical necessity in isolated surroundings.8

Armin Meiwes (left) and Bernd Brandes (right) | Courtesy of Lost Media Archives

Finally, Armin found a willing victim. On February 2001, Bernd Brandes, who was having the same struggles as Armin, signed himself up as a volunteer for dinner. Bernd was sexually confused. He informed Armin that “he had had the desire since he was a child to be slaughtered and eaten.” He assured Armin, “It was the same with me as with you.” As their communication went back and forth, Bernd kept upping the antics. He encouraged Armin “to rip out my vitals with your teeth.”9

It finally came time for them to meet. Armin and Bernd drove from Kassel to Wüstefeld had coffee together at Armin’s mansion. Armin severed one of Bernd’s vital organs. Bernd was bleeding profusely and Armin gave him sleeping pills and cough syrup to numb the pain. Armin put Bernd in the bath tub to wash off the blood.  Bernd requested that as soon as he fell asleep that Armin cut his throat. When Bernd feel asleep, Armin cut his throat severed his other parts and organs and froze them for later dinners. The next day was Sunday, and Armin had planned ahead for a fine Sunday feast. He selected a steak from Armin’s thigh and “flavoured [it] with garlic and Muscat wine.” He dressed for the occasion, in a jacket and necktie. Armin described what happened next: “The eating took place in the living room.  Quite ceremoniously, with a candelabra.  I got out the black porcelain and the finest tablecloth from the china cabinet.  I sat down at the table and enjoyed the solemn moment.”10

On December 11, 2002, Armin Meiwes was arrested for the murder of Bernd Brandes, and four years later, he was sentenced to life in prison. But this is not where Armin’s story begins. Are people born with these dark thoughts that can manifest overtime and cause them to commit heinous crimes, or are these ideas something that develop out of life experiences? Armin Miewes will always be known as “The Cannibal who Advertised.” But we will never know what was going through his mind as he was eating Bernd Brandes.

  1. Charles J. Reid, “Eat What You Kill: Or, A Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent,” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation 39, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 428-429.
  2. Charles J. Reid, “Eat What You Kill: Or, A Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent,” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation 39, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 434-435; The Brothers Grimm, Grimms’ Fairy Tales (Champaign, IL: Project Gutenberg, 1971).
  3. Encyclopædia Britannica. November 17, 2017, s.v. “Brothers Grimm.” by Ludwig Denecke, Accessed October 12, 2018.
  4. Charles J. Reid, “Eat What You Kill: Or, A Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent,” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation 39, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 437–445.
  5. “German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr),” NATO. Accessed October 14,2018.  c/database/germany.pdf
  6. Charles J. Reid, “Eat What You Kill: Or, A Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent,” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation 39, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 448-454.
  7. Charles J. Reid, “Eat What You Kill: Or, A Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent,” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation 39, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 448-460.
  8. Encyclopædia Britannica. November 17, 2017, s.v. “Cannablism: Human Behavior;” Bill Schutt, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2017).
  9. Charles J. Reid, “Eat What You Kill: Or, A Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent,” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation 39, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 460–521.
  10. Charles J. Reid, “Eat What You Kill: Or, A Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent,” North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation 39, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 460–521.

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This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. This is a very disturbing article. I cannot believe someone could start having this type of interest at such a young age. Although, I think the most disturbing part of this article would be how he actually had someone who encouraged his interests. I am not really surprised that he was disturbed because of his lack of relationship with his parents. What he did to his victim was absolutely sickening and what surprises me most has to be that his victim was willing.

  2. This was a very disturbing article to read, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen. Cannibalism by itself is horrific, but coupled with dark fantasies of eating human flesh or being eaten is beyond any sane person’s imagination. Although being raised in a stable environment may have suppressed his dark inclinations, Armin Miewes himself was to blame for the gruesome murder. Overall, this article was very well-written.

  3. I like many others seem to find this article to be disturbing but at the same time, this is a very interesting article to read. I find it interesting to see how a person who has become just so mentally disturbed as to want to eat people. Not only that but he was very open about it as well which is the even crazier part. Mental health is a serious issue and we should care more about it. I think what he did was wrong but I also think that he had such a serious problem that he just couldn’t help it. I feel bad for him.

  4. This is a very dark and disturbing story of a man with serious psychological issues. It seems like he was aware that what he fantasized about was wrong, but still followed through with his desires. Why did he not seek professional help, especially while in the German Army? Maybe if his parents paid more attention to his interests, they would have seen that something wasn’t right and could’ve sought help for him. And how about Brandes? I would have liked to have read more about his background as well, what was his circumstances growing up? Did he have the same kind or similar types of issues as Meiwes? I would like to know more about his father and why he chose to not be part of his own son’s life. All in all I thought this was a good article and interesting read

  5. Matthew Swaykus

    The case of Armin Meiwes does raise a lot of fundamental questions about the psychology of people. Although Armin tried hard to rid himself of his dark past at one point in his life, it grew to shape him and what he would be forever known for. Was he born for this role? Having lived grown up alone in a isolated mansion only to be abandoned by his father, abused by his mother, and only nurtured by a Satanist of all people, his biography reads like the gothic horrors he so loved as a child. Still, I believe that it was his choice to go down the path he went. However much he ran away from his history, he could not let it go and allowed it to consume him. Sanity snapping, his inner demon was finally free to roam.

  6. “She encouraged him to indulge in his dark fantasies and introduced him to the world of Satanism.”
    But in all seriousness, the guy was a individual void of motherly and fatherly love and attention. He was taken advantage of and brainwashed into believing something that he wasn’t. I feel sad for the guy in a way. Even if he had rejected the cannibalistic side of himself, Ulla’s influence and manipulation had warped and twisted his mental and spiritual health in ways that couldn’t be undone. In essence the guy would continue to have urges to consume human flesh for the rest of his life.

  7. This was such an interesting yet disturbing story. I believe that Armin’s desires were partially innate, and that external factors such as Ulla and his abusive upbringing, fueled his desires. Even with his poor upbringing, his actions are still inexcusable. I still can’t believe he was able to find a willing victim. Both of them needed to sought after help but unfortunately that is not what happened.

  8. Very interesting. I had never heard of Armin Meiwes, and I feel like all of this information was put together really well. I think it’s really sad that his cannibalistic obsession probably stems from a traumatizing childhood in which he read folklores to escape his tragedies. Also, I always think it’s an interesting thought to wonder if someone was born into their sadistic tendencies or if they were raised into their mentality.

  9. This story just got more ridiculous and disturbing over time. Armin Meiwes really advertised his desires and people actually went and met with him. That’s whats so crazy to me. People actually met up with him but thought it was a joke. Then, Bernd Brandes is actually willing to and has a fantasy of being eaten. It is all a lot to take in. There was a good question asked on whether people are born like this or are life experiences a factor. I think life experiences definitely have a hand in anyone having a decline in their mental health even if they have developed a mental illness through genetics, life experiences tend to play a huge factor in someone’s mental health deteriorating. I think Meiwes was mentally disturbed after everything that happened to him. That’s not an excuse though. He had decided to cope in one of the most extreme and disturbing ways possible.

  10. Danielle Slaughter

    Dear Lord, this made me sick to my stomach. I cannot fathom someone so mentally disturbed as to advertise his desire to eat people, let alone to have that desire to begin with! And what’s worse, the man who responded. While one could argue that Armin was merely a product of his environment, I don’t believe that a perfectly healthy child would relate themselves to a cannibalistic witch even in the worst of circumstances — which, to be fair, his were not.

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