Armin Meiwes killed and ate his lover Bernd Brandes
True Crime

Shocking story of German cannibal Armin Meiwes, who ate victim’s flesh with sprouts

'The flesh tastes like pork but stronger'

A new Channel 5 documentary delves into the truly horrifying case of German cannibal Armin Meiwes, who killed and ate his victim Bernd Brandes in 2001.

The world was repulsed when the appalling news made the headlines two decades ago, and the shocking details emerged of how Armin Meiwes found a ‘willing’ victim online who agreed to be dismembered and eaten for sexual pleasure.

The Cannibal Next Door reexamines the case of the ‘Rotenburg Cannibal’, with insight provided by those closest to the case… Expect to find the details stomach-churning, and scarily reminiscent of Hannibal Lector in the film Silence of the Lambs.

***Warning: upsetting details of cannibalism ahead***

Armin Meiwes during his court trial
So-called ‘Cannibal of Rotenburg’ Armin Meiwes on trial for dismembering and eating an engineer from Berlin (Credit: Boris Roessler/EPA/Shutterstock)

Who was Armin Meiwes?

German-born Armin Meiwes is a former computer repair technician, who became known for murdering and eating Bernd Brandes in 2001.

Armin Meiwes was born on December 01, 1961, the only child of Waltrud Meiwes. His father abandoned Armin when he was eight, leaving him to be raised by his mother. Armin later described his childhood as “very lonesome” after his “family had fallen apart”.

Described as outwardly mild-mannered, polite and respectable, Armin Meiwes secretly harboured a lifelong fantasy of eating another man.

At the time of his trial, German prosecutors described how Armin Meiwes had fantasised about killing and devouring someone, including his classmates, from the age of eight.

The desire grew stronger after the death of his mother in 1999, prosecutor Marcus Köhler said.

He became the world’s most notorious cannibal during his trial.

How did Armin Meiwes find his victim Bernd Brandes?

In 2001, Armin Meiwes advertised for a willing victim on the then-active Cannibal Café Forum on the dark web. His advertisement stated that he was “looking for a well-built 18- to 25-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed”.

Unbelievably, many people responded to the advertisement but later saw sense and backed out. Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes responded to the advert, agreeing to be dismembered and eaten for sexual pleasure as “delicious schnitzels and steaks”. Unlike the others, he went ahead with the sick plan.

Armin Meiwes in Kassel Prison
Armin Meiwes is currently serving a life sentence in Kassel Prison, Germany (Credit: Action Press/Shutterstock)

How did cannibal Armin Meiwes eat Bernd Brandes?

Armin Meiwes and Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes met on March 09, 2001, in Armin’s home, in the small town of Wüstefeld, west of Rotenburg an der Fulda.

The pair made a videotape, which shows Bernd Brandes swallowing 20 sleeping pills, and a bottle of cough syrup. This would have slowed his breathing and caused him to feel very tired and sleepy.

After the drugs took effect, Armin Meiwes amputated Brandes’ penis (with his agreement). In grotesque scenes, too horrifying to picture, Armin Meiwes and the victim jointly attempted to eat the victim’s severed penis. However, Brandes was reportedly too weak from blood loss to eat anything.

Armin fried the penis in a pan with salt, pepper, wine, and garlic, and eventually fed it to his dog when the meat became too burnt.

Armin Meiwes subsequently killed his victim and proceeded to eat a large amount of his flesh. He left Brandes bleeding in the bath, drifting in and out of consciousness. He eventually killed his victim by stabbing him repeatedly in the throat, after which he hung the body on a meat hook.

The cannibal dismembered and ate the corpse over the following 10 months, storing body parts in his freezer under pizza boxes.

Is there a videotape of Armin Weiwes eating Bernd Brandes?

Armin recorded the horrifying ‘meal’ on a four-hour videotape. It has (luckily) never been released to the public due to its gruesome contents.

Court officials did see the video, which was part of the evidence against Armin.

Who was Armin Meiwes’ victim Bernd Brandes?

Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes was a 43-year-old engineer from Berlin. He answered Armin’s advertisement in March 2001.

Before setting off on his one-way journey to Rotenburg, Brandes was seemingly a successful professional, with a live-in girlfriend.

The girlfriend, Bettina L, told German TV that she had enjoyed a healthy sex life with Brandes, but they had split up after he revealed that he also liked men.

Although Brandes appeared outwardly balanced, prosecutors said he was suffering from a severe psychiatric disorder and “a strong desire for self-destruction”.

The bath were Armin Meiwes' victim bled to death
The bath in Armin Meiwes’ home, where Bernd Brandes bled to death (Credit: Action Press/Shutterstock)

When was Armin Meiwes arrested and trialed?

Police arrested Armin Meiwes in December 2002 – a year after Bernd’s death. His crime came to light when a college student alerted authorities to new advertisements for victims online, implying that Armin planned to kill again.

Investigators searched his home and found the frozen body parts and the videotape of the killing. Armin was subsequently diagnosed with schizoid personality but deemed fit to stand trial.

In January 2004, a judge convicted him of manslaughter and sentenced him to eight years and six months in prison. The lenient sentence was, in part, because Meiwes did not attempt to force Bernd Brandes to do anything against his will.

However, in a retrial in May 2006, the judge convicted Armin of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

At his retrial, a psychologist stated that Armin Meiwes could reoffend, as he “still had fantasies about devouring the flesh of young people”.

During sessions with police experts, Meiwes explained that his obsession with cannibalism had developed during his adolescent years, and was linked to the dark fairytale Hansel and Gretel.

According to prosecutors at the time of Armin Meiwes’ trial, he committed the act for sexual pleasure.

What has Armin Meiwes said about his crimes?

Cannibalism was something Armin had wanted to do for a long time. “I always had the fantasy and in the end I fulfilled it,” Meiwes told the court on the first day of his trial for murder.

Armin Meiwes admitted eating Bernd Brandes and expressed regret for his actions. He has also revealed that he’s writing a memoir.

During the trial, Armin recalled defrosting and cooking parts of Mr Brandes in olive oil and garlic. He eventually consuming 20kg of human flesh before police finally turned up at his door.

“With every bite, my memory of him grew stronger,” he said. Armin revealed he ate steaks of flesh with sprouts, washed down with red wine.

Meiwes said the first meal was the realisation of a 30-year fantasy.

In an interview featured in the documentary Docs: Interview With A Cannibal, Armin Meiwes told the film makers: “I took out my best dinner service, and fried a piece of rump steak – a piece from his back – made what I call princess potatoes, and sprouts. After I prepared my meal, I ate it.

“The first bite was, of course, very strange. It was a feeling I can’t really describe. I’d spent over 40 years longing for it, dreaming about it.

“And now I was getting the feeling that I was actually achieving this perfect inner connection through his flesh. The flesh tastes like pork but stronger.”

Shockingly, Armin believes there are about 800 cannibals in Germany.

Picture of Armin Meiwes' bed
Picture of Armin Meiwes’ bed in his home in Rotenburg (Credit: Press/Shutterstock)

Where is cannibal Armin Meiwes now?

Armin Meiwes in currently serving a life sentence in Kassel Prison in Germany. While behind bars, he’s become a vegetarian.

In 2018, the Frankfurt state court rejected Meiwes’ appeal for permanent release. It is unlikely he will ever walk free.

However, according to The Sun, Armin is allowed to leave the prison and walk through the streets in disguise as part of a prison release scheme.

How old is Armin Weiwes now?

Armin Weiwes was born on December 01, 1961, in Germany.

He is currently 61 years old.

The Cannibal Next Door on Channel 5

The Cannibal Next Door tells the shocking story of one of the world’s most notorious cannibals, Armin Meiwes.

The German found a victim online who agreed to be dismembered and eaten for sexual pleasure. Armin befriended, then consumed, Bernd Brandes – a seemingly willing victim in arguably one of the most baffling and bizarre crimes in recent history.

Told by those closest to the case, the documentary discusses how the killer and the victim’s lives led to their fatal night together. Contributors include cyber analyst Mark T Hofmann and journalist Lois Jones. The case broke all legal territory in Germany.

Read more: Line of Duty and Endeavour stars lead cast of Delia Balmer true crime drama

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The Cannibal Next Door airs on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 9pm on Channel 5.

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Helen Fear
TV Editor