Book Review: “A Serial Killer in Nazi Berlin” by Scott Andrew Selby

Having read “The Axmann Conspiracy” the eagerly anticipated “A Serial Killer in Nazi Berlin” came as a great shock. This reviewer is not naive and widely read about the atrocities served up by the Nazis during the horrors of World War II.  There is something in this book though that defies even the extremes of the Holocaust.  In this outing Selby, a consummate researcher, serves up the grim story of “the chilling true story of the S-Bahn murderer”.  The killer, one Paul Ogorzow, a physically forgettable railway employee on the S-Bahn in Berlin, begins his hunt for women on September 20, 1940.  Nighttime blackouts were in place, although the ruby red/yellow ochre cars of the high-speed rail transportation above-ground were not blacked out.  As in all of Europe and the U.K. most of the jobs were taken by women – the men conscripted into various military.  For a fledgling serial killer the potential prey was a plentiful assortment of women coming and going alone in the train compartments.  Although serial killers as an entity provoke mighty yawns in true crime, mainly because they are a singularly uninteresting group with tweaked minds, this killer was able to evade authorities.  The elite Kripo (kriminalpolizei), led by police commissioner Wilhelm Ludtke, put a sound team together to track down, arrest and try whomever was attacking women, raping them and tossing their death or near-dead bodies off the trains.  As the killer escalates, so does the Kripo, until in mid-July, 1941 Ludtke was able to obtain a confession from Ogorzow, thus allowing the women of Berlin to breathe again.

The End?  Hardly.  This book is chilling, and not because of a serial killer.  The polizei/political hierarchy in Berlin was comprised of names that make hairs stand up on the necks of readers everywhere:  Himmler, Goebbels…the best of the best detectives living in a parallel universe: finding a ruthless killer and bringing him to justice with additional ‘duties’ of eradicating Jews – by mass shootings, gassings, preparing for the ‘final solution’.

Selby’s writing style is always simple and direct as he is seducing the reader to the edge of the abyss and kicking that reader down the rabbit hole – this one will keep you up at night.

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