8. The YOGTZE Case
We are starting with one of the most puzzling deaths in Germany’s modern history, which may or may not have been murder, known as the YOGTZE Case.
On October 26, 1984, unemployed food technician Günther Stoll died on the way to the hospital, after being found severely injured in his crashed Volkswagen Golf. At first glance, this looked like a typical automobile accident, but the circumstances that led up to it were anything but.
Stoll had developed a paranoia, mentioning to his wife on several occasions that “they” were after him, although he never specified who “they” were exactly. On the night of October 25, he was seated in his chair when, all of a sudden, he rose up and exclaimed “Now I get it!” before writing down the letters YOGTZE on a piece of paper. He then crossed them out and abruptly left his home, never to return.
Stoll first drove to a bar, then to his hometown where he tried to visit a woman he knew from his childhood, but she refused to see him because it was one in the morning. Then, about two hours later, two truck drivers found him in the wreckage of his car. Stoll was completely naked and barely hanging on to life, but insisted that four strangers had been in the car with him.
All of these bizarre events could potentially be explained by a severe psychotic episode, but there is one final clue to consider. The police investigation concluded that Stoll had been fatally injured in a different accident, as a pedestrian. They believe that Stoll was run over by a car, while on foot, and then placed inside his Volkswagen. His death was ruled a crime and remains unsolved, becoming the target of online crime buffs who believe that the scribbled letters could be the key to solving this mystery.
7. The Basement of Celle Neues Rathaus
Strange stories involving the Nazis are a popular topic among mystery solvers and conspiracy theorists, and so is the occult, so it is unsurprising that some peculiar tales involve both of them.
One such mystery concerns the Celle Neues Rathaus, aka the New Town Hall of Celle, a town in Lower Saxony. Built during the mid 19th century, it was soon taken over by the military because it could house a large number of soldiers thanks to its multiple subterranean levels. During World War II, it became a headquarters for the SS.
When American troops took over the town, they discovered that the Nazis had flooded the sprawling subterranean levels and then sealed them off with concrete. They thought that artworks and other treasures may be hidden in there so, in April, 1945, US forces organized a dive to explore the depths of the Celle Neues Rathaus.
What exactly happened next has never been officially explained but, according to the story, three divers went into the water. Two of them never came out, and their bodies were never recovered, while the third came up in a state of shock, raving like a lunatic about the horrors he saw down there. These included pentagrams and other demonic symbols inscribed on many walls and ceilings, as well as corpses tied to chairs and mutilated in horrific ways, such as having animal parts sewn to their bodies. The diver believed he saw them move, so he began swimming back to the surface in a panic, at which point he noticed a dark shadow chasing him.
The Americans decided not to investigate further, and turned the town hall over to the British, who sealed off the subterranean levels once again. During the Cold War, the building once again housed soldiers, this time NATO troops, and several reported experiencing various paranormal phenomena. Even to this day, people struggle to explain what horrific (and possibly supernatural) experiments the SS were conducting down there.
6. Death of a Politician
German newspapers have labeled the death of Uwe Barschel as “the greatest political crime story in postwar Germany.” Back during the 1987 federal election, Barschel was serving as the Minister-President of the state of Schleswig-Holstein when he was embroiled in a scandal, accused of spying on his opponent in order to obtain information for a smear campaign. Less than a month later, Barschel was dead.
On October 11, 1987, his body was found in the bathtub of Room 317 of the Beau-Rivage Hotel in Geneva. He was fully clothed and an autopsy revealed that he had a lethal cocktail of barbiturates in his system, so his death was ruled a suicide, but not everyone agreed with this verdict.
The political scandal surrounding Barschel was big news in Germany and was compared to Watergate in America. It is unsurprising that conspiracy theories soon popped up about various groups or individuals who may have wanted Barschel out of the way. The most pervasive one suggested that the German politician had some kind of connection to the Iran-Contra deal which saw the US use Israel to secretly funnel weapons to Iran. Therefore, Barschel could have been assassinated, either by the CIA, Iran, or Mossad agents.
Unsurprisingly, none of the above ever claimed responsibility. The case has been reopened a few times since it happened, and new clues have been found which keep fanning the flames of mystery, such as unidentified fingerprints at the scene and the bottle of pills missing from the hotel room. Chief among them, however, is testimony from a leading toxicologist, who claimed that Barschel could not have ingested the fatal barbiturate dose on his own, as he already had several powerful sedatives in his system. Chances are that Uwe Barschel’s death will remain an enigma for the foreseeable future.
5. The Bad Santa of Berlin
The 2011 Christmas holidays were a time of celebration, but also caution and even fear for the people of Berlin, as they were dealing with a serial poisoner who spiked at least 13 victims before disappearing forever.
As is tradition around Christmas time, Germans often met in the city markets for a cup of mulled wine, or perhaps something a bit stronger like schnapps. One man in Berlin, however, had crueler intentions on his mind, as the drinks he was handing out were laced with GHB or liquid ecstasy. At least 13 people unwittingly drank his spiked beverages and became ill, with some of them needing hospital treatment and one even suffering partial memory loss.
None of the victims died, but German authorities remained puzzled over the man’s actions and his motives and cautioned the public not to accept free drinks from strangers. The poisoner became known as “Bad Santa” because, on at least one occasion, he was dressed as Santa Claus while handing out the booze. He told his victims that he was doing it to toast the recent birth of his child. Despite multiple people getting a good look at his face and the police having a composite of the Bad Santa, the poisoner has never been identified.
4. The Drowning of Diesel
Even if you are unfamiliar with the German engineer Rudolf Diesel, it should be pretty obvious what his main claim to fame was – the invention of the internal combustion engine that bears his name. Today, however, we are interested in his mysterious death that happened aboard a steamer while crossing the English Channel.
Born in Paris in 1858 to German parents, Diesel moved to England when the Franco-Prussian War erupted. Once it was over, he was sent back to Germany to continue his studies in Augsburg and Munich, before finally settling in Berlin where he worked for Carl von Linde.
By 1913, Diesel was a well-known man thanks to his patented engine. On September 29, the 55-year-old inventor boarded the SS Dresden, a steamship that was supposed to take him from Antwerp to London for a business meeting. But when the ship arrived in port the next day, Diesel was gone. He had last been seen going to his cabin the previous night, but his room had not been slept in and his nightshirt was laid out on his bed. Over a week later, his body was seen floating in the sea and, although it was too decomposed for an ID, his personal belongings confirmed that it was Rudolf Diesel.
Now, the question was “What happened to him?” The simplest and most common story says that Diesel killed himself. Later investigations revealed that he was in heavy debt due to bad investments, and that prior to leaving, he left his wife a bag with 20,000 German marks.
However, a different idea suggested that Diesel was killed by his own government. With World War I looming, they did not want the English to get their hands on the diesel engine. “Inventor Thrown into the Sea to Stop Sale of Patents to British Government” was one newspaper headline, as this idea went beyond your standard conspiracy theorist and gained a bit of traction with the general public.
Other stories say that Diesel was killed by Big Oil interest groups, or that his demise was an accident, as the engineer was prone to insomnia, or even that he faked his own death, but it’s unlikely we will ever have a definitive answer.
3. Fears and Frights at Frankenstein Castle
Germany is full of places with dark and mysterious pasts, but perhaps none greater than the infamous Frankenstein Castle located in the Odenwald mountain range, overlooking the city of Darmstadt. As you would expect from the name, it has often been suggested as the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s iconic eponymous gothic novel, thanks mainly to the castle’s most infamous resident, Johann Konrad Dippel.
A 17th century alchemist, Dippel died almost a hundred years before the book came out, but his activities would have been well-known to Shelley. Although a definitive link has never been established, Dippel certainly fits the archetype of the mad scientist. He lived isolated in the castle where he performed numerous experiments, leading the townsfolk to fear that he was involved in all sorts of dark sorceries and had made a deal with the Devil. It is confirmed that Dippel used animal carcasses in his pursuit of immortality, creating a concoction named “Dippel’s oil” which he claimed was an “elixir of life.” However, there were accusations that he went much further than that and dug up human cadavers to use in his experiments, trying to transfer the soul from one body to another.
Since Dippel’s death, people have continuously reported ghostly sightings in that area, but he is hardly the only legend surrounding Frankenstein Castle. Some say that witches congregated in the forest behind the castle on Walpurgis Night, and others that the grounds of the castle contain the tomb of a lord who fought a dragon.
2. The Sky Battle Over Nuremberg
On the morning of April 14, 1561, the residents of Nuremberg were treated to a cosmic spectacle unlike any other – an amalgam of lights, orbs, fireballs and other shapes, moving erratically in the sky, followed by a loud crash somewhere outside the city limits. A local man named Hans Glaser published a broadsheet with a description of the peculiar event, which said:
“…At first there appeared in the middle of the sun two blood-red semi-circular arcs, just like the moon in its last quarter. And in the sun, above and below and on both sides, the color was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous color. Likewise there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number, about three in a line and four in a square, also some alone. In between these globes there were visible a few blood-red crosses, between which there were blood-red strips, becoming thicker to the rear and in the front malleable like the rods of reed-grass, which were intermingled, among them two big rods, one on the right, the other to the left, and within the small and big rods there were three, also four and more globes. These all started to fight among themselves, so that the globes, which were first in the sun, flew out to the ones standing on both sides, thereafter, the globes standing outside the sun, in the small and large rods, flew into the sun…”
That’s just part of the description, but you get the idea. Back then, the phenomenon was interpreted religiously, but in the 20th century, it has become a favorite event of ufologists, who believe that the people of Nuremberg witnessed an extraterrestrial battle taking place in the sky above them.
Unsurprisingly, scientists aren’t convinced, and they have put forward the possibility that the whole thing was a rare, but natural celestial phenomenon known as a “parhelia” or sun dog, and that its appearance could have been exaggerated by Glaser, since his is the only surviving account.
1. The Death of the Mad King
Ludwig II reigned as King of Bavaria for 22 years between 1864 and 1886. He was also known as the Fairy Tale King because he was more concerned with building beautiful castles than he was with the state of his kingdom. His crowning achievement was the magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle, but his spending put a strain on Bavaria’s coffers, so when the king was declared insane, deposed and then found dead just days later, few believed the official story that Ludwig had committed suicide. Instead, tales of conspiracies and assassinations soon sprang up and they still pervade to this day.
On June 10, 1886, the Bavarian government declared Ludwig insane, with royal psychiatrist Bernhard von Gudden diagnosing the king with “paranoia.” After a two-day standoff, Ludwig was taken into custody and transported to Berg Castle, on the shore of Lake Starnberg. On the evening of June 13, Ludwig and Gudden went for a walk, but did not return. A search party was sent out for them and both their bodies were found in the shallow water of the lake.
The official conclusion was that the king attacked his doctor and then drowned himself, but proponents of the murder theory say there is evidence that Ludwig was shot, including testimony from fishermen who heard the gunshots, a medical report which suggested that the king had no water in his lungs, and a deathbed confession from a man who allegedly saw the whole thing.
As to the possible culprit, the most obvious suspect was his uncle Luitpold, who took power after Ludwig’s death. An examination of the body could tell us whether the king died by gunshot or drowning, but his descendants have refused to have Ludwig exhumed so, for now, the truth remains as elusive as ever.