18 Feb, Monday
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Imprisoned for murder, abduction, slavery, rape, coercion and incest against his daughter Elisabeth imprisoned for twenty-four years in the basement of his house, Josef Fritzl is the text and the ruin of the evil idea, the ferocity that happens when we slip into the loss of control. He is the feeling of unsearchable, of unfathomable, of not filed. He is the preview of the horror in the nocturnal game of pleasure. But this story is also a plan rippled by endless scalpel blows, heaps of rubble that push against our lives, collapse, rise again to force us to think if the radical evil can be wrapped by forgiveness or only by a desperate sense of impotence. Or increasing the depth, the excavation: where forgiveness is impossible, the only imposition, the only duty are expiation and regret or is everything already too far away, simple bleached matter, a slow and gentle slope in the indecent?


Born in Amstetten, the only child of Mary and Josef Sr., Fritzl was raised by his mother alone. His father, who in the meantime had left the family when his son was four years old, fought as a soldier of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War, and was killed in action in 1944.
During his childhood, he continually suffers mistreatment and humiliation from her mother. After completing his studies in electrical engineering, Fritzl, obtains a job in Linz.
In 1956, at the age of 21, marries the seventeen year old Rosemarie, and will become the father of two sons and five daughters. Friends and relatives of the couple declared that the relationship between the two was very bad, with frequent physical and verbal attacks by Fritzl against his wife and children, six of whom (except Elisabeth) broke all relations with the parent as soon as they were adults.
On August 24, 1984, the Rosemarie and Josef Fritzl spouses reported the flight of eighteen-year-old daughter Elisabeth who had left Amstetten, a town in Lower Austria, following a religious sect. It would therefore be a voluntary departure, the second of the girl who two years earlier had tried to escape from home before being returned to the family by the police.
“In 1982 I was sixteen and I had escaped from home. He rape me for a long time. From the Strengberg motorway, I had hidden in Vienna. After two weeks the police found me. I begged the officers not to give me back to my father. I told them that if I came back to him it would be the end. But there was nothing to do. » (Elisabeth Fritzl)

On that day of 1984, however, as will be discovered later, Elisabeth had not moved away from home at all but, against her will, had been locked up in the basement by her father Josef. The girl then tells about trying to escape from home, shortly before the kidnapping, and asking the police for help telling them about the first abuses suffered by the parent. Not being believed, her statements fell on deaf ears and she was re-entrusted to the family. As a result of this last episode, the father decided to segregate her by keeping it hidden from the world for 24 years.

In the first six months of her imprisonment, Elisabeth remains tied to a bed, drugged and forced to write a letter (which her father will then deliver to the police) in which she tells to have escaped abroad, asking them not to be searched.
Elisabeth describes the first months in chains in the bunker: «Lights out, rape, lights on, mold, humidity and he goes away».

Over the next 24 years, Josef Fritzl visits the basement every three days to bring food and other supplies to his daughter and, above all, to sexually abuse her. Because of these violence, Elisabeth will give birth to seven children, without any assistance. One of these (Michael) will die only three days after birth due to respiratory problems. Being deprived of any medical assistance. Elisabeth states that Fritzl was present when the child’s face began to become purple due to breathing problems and that he refused to take it to the doctor answering: “what will happen, it will happen”.
Later Fritzl will make the body of the newborn disappear, burning the corpse in the incinerator of the house and throwing the ashes in the garden, inside his property. The other three newborns (Lisa at nine months in 1993, Monika at ten months in 1994, and Alessandro at 15 months in 1997) will be taken by Fritzl to live with him and his wife, passed off as children adoptive and pretending to have found them on the doorstep together with some (fake) tickets written by the daughter who asked to be taken in charge by their parents.
All this happens with the full awareness of local authorities and social services that, for a long time,

until the discovery of the truth, will believe in Fritzl’s thesis. The remaining three children (Kerstin, Stefan and Felix) instead will always remain in the bunker with Elisabeth, without ever having the opportunity to see the outside and the sunlight, since the day of birth, developing problems to the immune system, anemia and lack of vitamin D, in addition to developing a curved posture due to the high ceilings only 1.70 meters.

When Fritzl went down to the cellar he had been doing it since the early morning, apparently to design plans for machines he sold to businesses, often staying there all night and preventing his wife from even bringing him coffee.
A tenant, renter of a room on the ground floor of the house who lived for 12 years in the same building of the Fritzl, later revealed that he heard noises coming from the basement and then asked for an explanation to Fritzl himself. The man, minimizing the thing, would have attributed it all to the gas heating system. The bunker was not equipped with heating and thermal insulation, in winter it was cold while in summer the heat became suffocating.

On 19 April 2008 Kerstin (aged 19), the oldest daughter born of incest, was transported in serious condition by her father / grandfather Josef to the nearby hospital. Afflicted by very serious symptoms for a disease whose nature is not revealed, the emergency room doctors decide to make an appeal so that the mother gets in touch with them and reaches her daughter in the hospital. Kerstin, who was in very serious condition, will spend several days in a pharmacological coma.
Given the gravity of the situation, Josef Fritzl then decides to free his daughter Elisabeth and the other two children still locked up in the bunker, not before alerting his wife Rosemarie of their imminent return home, after many years of absence. At the same time, the hospital medical staff, having ascertained the various quirks of the history, warned the local police that, in turn, decided to reopen the file on the escape of Elisabeth.
On 27 April, during her interrogation and reassured by the protection offered by the police, Elisabeth reveals the story of her 24 years of segregation.
Shortly after midnight on that same day, police officers arrest Josef Fritzl accusing him of serious crimes against members of his own family: kidnapping, rape, manslaughter due to negligence and incest .

Immediately after the arrest the man closes in total silence. Only the next day, April 28, Fritzl confesses admitting his responsibilities in relation to the main charges against him and revealing the existence of a basement divided into several rooms all without windows, with a ceiling 1,70 meters high and which is accessed through a small hidden door, in a wall of his laboratory, which could only be opened with an electrical mechanism of which only Fritzl knew the drive code. There were then seven other doors to be overcome to get to the bunker, the last one was electric again and only 83 cm high.

On November 13, 2008, Josef Fritzl, is indicted for enslavement, kidnapping, rape, coercion, incest and for the death of the newborn Michael. The psychiatric report will attest to the ability to understand man, even if he finds serious personality disorders.
On March 16, 2009, the trial against him was opened in Sankt Pölten, presided over by Judge Andrea Humer.

During the trial, Fritzl stated that he did not see Elisabeth as a daughter, but as a partner. However, he confessed that he had tied her to a stake for 9 months and handcuffed her several times during the harassment, forcing her to watch pornographic films and then forcing her to repeat the scenes. In a videotaped testimony lasting several hours, Elisabeth declared that she had been sexually abused by the

parent since the age of ten, thus defeating her father’s defense that she had previously stated that harassment against her would be initiated for the first time in 1985, when she was nineteen. Friends of the girl declared that Elisabeth had repeatedly told them that her father beat her, also showing the bruises of the beatings suffered, but never mentioned sexual violence.

On March 19, 2009 Josef Fritzl is sentenced to life imprisonment, with no possibility of parole for the following 15 years.

Sources: Wikipedia; Times; New York Times; Il Corriere della Sera; La Stampa