A to Z Challenge: The Fritzl Case that Shocked the World

The Joyous Living: A to Z Challenge Fritzl Case

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It’s Thursday and what a journey we’ve gone on so far! My appreciation to everyone for following along as we learn more about “Sexual Assault” and “Child Abuse” this month.

Today’s F stands for the Fritzl Case.


Who Was the Fritzl Family?

For those of you who cannot remember the story, Elisabeth Fritzl, age 18, seemed to disappear into the night in 1984, and reappeared 25 years later in 2008.

Her father, Josef Fritzl, had created a padded cell in the basement of their family home and one day asked Elisabeth (whom he had been raping since she was 11) to help him with the last piece of the cell before using an ether-soaked towel to make her lose consciousness before throwing her in the cell where she would remain for 25 years.

Elisabeth’s mother, Rosemarie, filed a missing persons report but Josef claimed to have letters (he had forced Elisabeth to write) saying she had been unhappy at home and left to live with a religious cult.

Locked Up in the Cellar

For the next 24 years, she was kept locked up in the cellar of her family home where she was repeatedly raped, bore her father 7 children: one (Michael) died shortly after birth, and three—Lisa, Monika and Alexander—were removed from the cellar as infants to live with Fritzl and his wife, who became their foster parents with the knowledge of local social services authorities. (Supposedly he had given quite “plausible” explanations for how the children arrived at their home and no social worker or police officer was suspicious during their routine visits!

Elisabeth’s other three kids, Kerstin, Stefan, and Felix, were kept locked up in the cellar with their mother until 19 April 2008 when Kerstin fell ill w/ kidney failure and Josef took her to the local hospital. Hospital staff found Josef’s story to be suspicious and alerted police. When Josef brought Elisabeth to Kerstin on 26 April 2008, the police took them in for questioning where Elisabeth, after being promised she would never have to see her father again, told her story. Josef was arrested and charged with incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, enslavement and the negligent homicide of the infant Michael, all of which he pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to life imprisoned.

Josef remains in a psychiatric prison and Elisabeth and her three children have been given new identities and a chance to start life anew.

You might think that horrors Elisabeth and her children experienced were only to be found in fiction and movies but this is a true story, a sad story and yet one with a decent ending as Elisabeth, Kerstin, Stefan and Felix now live in sunshine and are free!

If you think this story sounds a bit familiar, it is because recent film, The Room, starring Academy Award Winner Brie Larson is partially based on the Fritzl case.


I hope this story has been educating to you, my lovely readers, and that you give thanks for your own freedom!

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Who was the inspiration for THE ROOM's Ma? #theroom #emmaDonoghue #brielarson #fritzl #elisabethfritzl #truecrime #atozchallenge #thejoyousliving

Continue the Conversation

What true crime story has had an impact on you?

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26 Comments

  1. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge – where I am part of Arlee Bird's A to Z Ambassador Team.
    April is here and I'm excited about it. Best of luck to us both on meeting our goals of posting and hopping to other blogs.
    My blog has a giveaway. There's a bonus a to z challenge each day to encourage people to visit more stops.
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com
    Tonight's #azchat was super fun!

    Actually, I do think I recall hearing about this case. And wondering what the heck is wrong with people that they do this. That this actually happens. I mean, how do thoughts like that get into someone's brain? It's messed up.

  2. I remember this quite clearly.
    What a horrible story. What kind of person can do this to people you are supposed to love?
    There are loads of "weirdos" out there…some live under our noses and are even respected members of the community…scary…

  3. I remember this story – of course. It would be difficult to forget something as awful as this. It’s unbelievable how someone can be such a monster.

  4. I think I’ve read it on Quora before and rereading it here, my opinion about this story didn’t change. I don’t understand how the mind of people sometimes works. There is a lot to say about this, about the father of course, but I would rather not rant here. 🙂

  5. I cannot even imagine the trauma this has caused Elisabeth. Her father is so evil! I am also wondering how the mother did not notice anything about the cellar? It is just so heartbreaking to know about the suffering this child had to go through.

  6. I read this case before. I didn’t think someone will do something like this until I read it. It ws good that Elisabeth was able to have a new life.

  7. I read this case before. I didn’t think someone will do something like this until I read it. It ws good that Elisabeth was able to have a new life. 🙂

  8. Oh, this story is so upsetting. I can’t imagine how much counseling she and her children had to go through! Her father is a monster!

  9. I didn’t know about this story before reading this post and what had been done was so horrible. It’s heart-wrenching to think from the situation that she and her children were gone through.

  10. What a heartbreaking case. Wow how could a father do this to his own daughter and imprison her I need to read more on this and watch the movie.

  11. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. I remember the case well and it still saddens me that her mother participated in this horror show. I hope the other three children are doing well too. It is a sad case indeed

  12. While I had heard of this case, I had not heard the details. This is such a sad story, even though the family is now free, they will have so much weight to carry of that life they lived in captivity. I pray for strength for them all.

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