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Whatever became of Elisabeth Fritzl?

Elisabeth's 24-year ordeal of captivity and rape in that cellar in Austria is beyond belief. But Josef Fritzl's daughter is fighting back.

She lives in a brightly painted house in a tiny hamlet which the Austrian media, when they mention it at all, refer to as “Village X”. The two-storey family home is kept under constant CCTV surveillance, and any strangers caught lurking nearby can expect to be picked up by the police within minutes.

The concern about security, above all the fear of an all-pervasive, ruthlessly prying media does not end there. In addition to security guards, the citizens of “Village X” have formed a sort of Dad’s Army to keep journalists and other sensation seekers at bay. “There are only a few villagers and they are all in with the police,” recalled a photographer who was unfortunate enough to be sent on a mission to “Village X” last month. “I was quickly surrounded by people who told me: they don’t want to talk to you, they don’t want to see you – please get out of here,” he said.

A family fortress in a village whose name can never be mentioned is the home Elisabeth’s Fritzl today shares with her children. Except nobody calls her Fritzl anymore. She has been given a new identity. She is 44, but the only photographs of her ever published show her aged 16 and under. “Village X” is only a few kilometres away from the almost inadequately named “House of Horror” across the Danube in the nearby Lower Austrian town of Amstetten. It was at Amstetten’s Ybbsstrasse number 4 that Elisabeth Fritzl spent 24 years of her life being held like a caged animal in an underground cellar where she was raped an estimated 3,000 times by her father, “Incest Monster” Josef Fritzl.

In that dank subterranean warren, Elisabeth bore Fritzl seven children without any medical help whatsoever. Three of them were sent “upstairs” as small children and lived comparatively normal lives being looked after by Fritzl’s unwitting wife, Rosemarie. She had been duped into thinking that Elisabeth had run away from home to join a religious sect and had only returned to dump her newly born children on her mother’s doorstep. Incredible as it seems, the Austrian social services believed the story. But the other four children Fritzl fathered through his incestuous relationship were never allowed to leave the cellar. One of them, a baby boy, suffered severe breathing problems after birth, so Fritzl let the child die rather than call a doctor because he was afraid of being found out. He burned the infant’s body in a wood-burning stove.

Elisabeth Fritzl’s ordeal defies adequate description. Two years ago she finally managed to escape the underground prison where, for almost a quarter of a century, she had lived alone and then shared with her three “cellar children”, Kerstin, Stefan and Felix, then aged 19, 17 and five. Her “father”, Josef Fritzl, then 73, was tried in a court in the Austrian city of Sankt Pölten where a jury found him guilty of mass rape, incest, wrongful imprisonment, coercion and murder by negligence.

Dr Adelheid Kästner, the psychiatrist who interviewed Fritzl extensively before the trial, concluded that his terrible experiences as a child at the hands of a brutal and unloving mother had driven him to want to “control somebody completely.” That “somebody” turned out to be his daughter Elisabeth whom he kidnapped and imprisoned in a cellar and began raping when she was 18, although the abuse started when she was just 11. The court sentenced Fritzl to life imprisonment. He is now held in a special facility for “mentally abnormal criminals” at Austria’s Stein prison.

For the outside world, the first tangible signs of a return to something approaching a normal life occurred in late 2008 after Elisabeth and her children were deemed sufficiently recovered to be given a new home in “Village X”. By July last year Elisabeth had struck up a relationship with Thomas Wagner, a security guard with the Austrian firm A&T securities. He is 23 years younger than her.

Wagner was assigned to the family shortly after the move to ensure their safety. “It may seem remarkable but they are still together,” said a source close to the medical team that monitors the family. “Thomas has become a big brother to the children,” she added. Elisabeth is reported to have radically scaled back the therapy she undergoes for post-traumatic stress disorders as her relationship with Wagner has progressed. The three “upstairs” children’s contacts with her and their “downstairs” brothers and sister have also gradually increased.

Last month, the near perpetual news blackout imposed by Elisabeth on herself and her family was broken by Josef Fritzl’s sister-in-law, a woman who chooses to identify herself only as Christine R. Her description of Elisabeth’s everyday life two years on from her escape revealed that it was astonishingly normal.

“Elisabeth likes to go shopping a lot,” Christine said, “She couldn’t do that while she was locked in the cellar for those 24 years. She loves jeans with glitter pockets and she passed her driving test without difficulty. Now she’s looking for a car. The kids are all going to school and working hard,” “Felix, the smallest one, has got a PlayStation.

Such a life was unimaginable in the spring of 2008 when Elisabeth escaped from her underground prison, her skin ashen coloured because of decades without sunlight and a diet of cheap supermarket food. She was placed with her three “cellar children” under the care of a battery of social workers, therapists and psychiatrists at a clinic outside Amstetten where she lived in hospital rooms overlooking trees and a wide lawn.

Felix was reported to have spent much of his time stroking the grass on the lawn in sheer wonderment. “For them a passing cloud is a phenomenon,” remarked Berthold Kepplinger, the clinic’s chief physician at the time.

Christine also said Elisabeth was without any financial worries because the Austrian authorities had provided her with the €60,000 in child allowance that she was denied during her time in the cellar.

The doors linking their rooms in the hospital apartment that they went on to inhabit were kept open at all times. A radio or television set was kept on most of the time, providing some sort of link with the outside world, just as it did in the cellar. Elisabeth was gradually reunited with her three teenage “upstairs” children; Lisa, Monika and Alexander. Her three cellar children began to get to know the brother and sisters they had never met. They found it difficult to call Elisabeth “Mutti” (Mum). But even more problematic was Elisabeth’s relationship with her mother, Rosemarie, 66. She could not believe that her mother had not known the truth, that Rosemarie was not in league with Josef in some way.

Soon after her release she started to develop an obsession with cleanliness, showering up to 10 times a day. Her children were traumatised in different ways. The cellar children found it hard to relate to their siblings who had led normal lives. What, they asked, was the reason? The upstairs children felt guilty for having been spared.

Yet, only two years on, the family’s recovery is palpable. Perhaps most remarkable is that Elisabeth has become friends with her mother.

According to Christine, mother Rosemarie fled the home she shared with Fritzl more than 18 months ago, and tries to augment a meager pension by selling homemade bags and her paintings of flowers. But nowadays she visits Elisabeth and her family at least once a week.

“Whatever suspicion there was has gone,” says Christine R.

By any standards, Elisabeth Fritzl’s fight back to a comparatively normal life must count as a near miracle. Her struggle began in early April 2008, when she persuaded Fritzl to take their daughter, Kerstin, to hospital after she fell unconscious from acute kidney failure. Before that, she had reacted to the imprisonment by having fits and shredding her clothes and stuffing the remains in a toilet. Almost as soon as she was admitted to the clinic, doctors became highly suspicious and alerted the police.

But psychiatrists such as Dr Adelheid Kästner say that Elisabeth’s second and probably most significant catharsis occurred at her father’s trial almost exactly a year ago. The press and public were banned from the court to allow a videotaped recording of Elisabeth giving evidence to be played. Elisabeth crept into the court in person to witness her father’s reactions. Then Josef turned round and saw her for the first time since her escape. He broke down and wept. At that moment Elisabeth knew she had won.

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21 Comments»

  Mr. Anonymous® wrote @

That woman must be bulletproof! – i cannot imagine the incredible strength she must have used to forge her way through this nightmare. God bless you Elizabeth. I hope you live long and attend daddy’s funeral so you can spit on his grave. (Oh, the HATE is burning too-night…) Sorry Sister Mary!

  John wrote @

I completely agree with you, I cannot believe she survived such a horrific thing. It still gives me knots in my stomach when I read about her.

  Anonymous wrote @

LIKE, Mr. Anonymous!

  Sanike Marshall wrote @

Fritz should be put bk in the cellar for years he must be tortured, his dick must be cut off, he must be whipped three times a day by Elizabeth, lord i pray for Elizabeth, i hope she finds peace, may god bless her. + love you Elizabeth

  An wrote @

There isn’t a day goes by where I don’t think of Elisabeth and her family. I wish them all the best, bless them. As for Josef Fritzl, let’s hope I don’t get my hands on him, I wouldn’t kill him…. I would do so much worse.

  Fucktard wrote @

She’s supposed to remain in protection and her new identity a secret, yet you name her boyfriend? News organizations don’t do that. You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?

  Mr. Anonymous® wrote @

Hey Fucktard – WHO the fuck said we was “a noos org?” – you looking for “News?” try CNN.

(As usual) you COMPLETELY missed the point… Elizabeth is SAFE – possibly for the very 1st time in her wretched story.

Since you exhibit the stalker mentality, Puhleeze go to Austria and TRACK-HER-DOWN with the incredible clue we let slip – only be prepared to have a nightstick rammed up your arse, by EVERYONE who is looking out for this family.

Otherwise, fuck off. NOBODY is interested in your asinine (look it up) comments but you. GET A REAL CLUE !

  Susu wrote @

I did follow Elizabeth story for years now..one thing is always in my mind:why she did not kill him??!!!I believe in all those years she may got the chance to do it….I SWEAR!!! If it was me ,killing him was my goal…

  Mark wrote @

You would die in the basement. She is a special angel with Holy Spirit keeping her and children alive.

  Anonymous wrote @

apparently the lock on the exit door was released by a code, even if they did kill he they would not of been able to escape. They relied solely on him for survival. Eliabeths only escape from his evil was to love and care for the children it kept her human.

  Pamela wrote @

@…Susu…How could she kill him and get out of the cellar? There were two (2) 300lb. steel doors between her and freedom, and they were locked via a coded electronic key pad, which only he had the code. I’m sure he locked the doors when he entered, and of course..locked them when he left. Also, he had her petrified that he would leave and never come back to the cellar, leaving her to die down there. Elizabeth was mentally, physically and emotionally tortured. It sounds easy to question, why didn’t she kill him? But, in fact is surely was not an option.

  Ariadne wrote @

Lessons Learned: I understand learned helplessness and being cowed by years of abuse by this monster. It’s too bad that poor Elisabeth didn’t do the one thing that would have gotten her out of that cellar during the first year of her imprisonment (before her first pregnancy). When Fritzl was asleep (he often slept in the cellar) she should have stabbed him in the stomach and an arm (having plotted this out beforehand) and kept him from getting to that door without giving her the code. His choice would have been to bleed to death or give up the code to the door. Sadly, it takes great determination to wield he courage necessary to deal with a monster like Fritzl. A victim’s only choice in a situation like this is do what it takes to protect your own life (I understand this is easier said than done). If Elisabeth had been able to face such action she could have spared herself 24 years of agony, repeated rapes, and seven appallingly burdensome pregnancies.

Years ago I saw an interview on a TV documentary with a prostitute who had survived an encounter with a serial killer. She said during the interview that while she was being strangled she decided “He may kill me, but it’s going to cost him.” During the struggle in his car, she managed to pick up a discarded beer bottle on the floor, break the beer bottle against the dashboard, and stab her would-be-killer in the neck with a bottle shard. She wounded him so badly she managed to get away–and he had to call 911 to save his own life. His 911 call led to his capture.

It’s difficult to act decisively, but when victimized in a life or death situation, it’s advisable to “make it cost” the monster if at all possible. Fritzl was in his Seventies. Had he died suddenly Elisabeth and her children would have perished in that cellar (he took vacations for weeks leaving them with extra food). Having acted decisively years earlier would have spared decades of trauma.

  Mr. Anonymous® wrote @

Ahhh…. hindsight. ALWAYS 20/20. But you are so right about them being trapped if the moron croaked…. all around just a distasteful and appalling sad story. Let’s ALL try to forget this messed up man.

  johnny wrote @

OMG! Never thought about the old goat croaking would have been more of a chaos for those poor children.

  Mr. Anonymous® wrote @

John: u bring up a valid point. That old fucker could very well have suffered health problems and those children would surely have perished with all the sound insulation and ultra-secret measures in place. FRIGHTENING to think about it. Thanks for those horrible thoughts (you bastard! 🙂

  Pamela wrote @

@..Ariadne….She could not stab him when he fell asleep, because he did not sleep down there. From all accounts, he would rape her and then simply leave. Her situation was hopeless. There was truly absolutely nothing that she could have done to free herself. It is such a tragic story, but thankfully she and her children appear to be adjusting to normal life outside of their imprisonment.

  anonymous wrote @

What i question is? How the hell does a father rape his daughter at 11 years old and does 18 months in jail and after allowed him to reside with his daughter after his release? That makes no sense looks like its the court systems at fault just as well.

  Mr. Anonymous® wrote @

If you read ALL the info on this – IN DEPTH – and not just the super sensationalized bullshit designed to sell television airtime and maximum copies of shit-rag “news papers”, you will discover the ROOTS of this madness. People turn bad for a reason. We are ALL born innocent – the intrigue in this story for me are not to be found in the gory details, but in the discovery of what happened to this person to make them do what seems unthinkable, yet really happened.

FUCK the “court systems” – if you think they have your back, you’re as delusional as those who believe in god.

Thank God 🙂 those kidz are safe and sound. Let the healing begin! (Praise Jesus – that krazy kat!)

  Anonymous wrote @

He first did 18 months for raping his daughter years earlier. Her mom knew he was a rapist she should had never married someone like that. A lot pain and suffering would have been avoided.

  Anon wrote @

This was not the anonymous that used to lurk around 4chan. You should all take off your Gay Fucks masks and hang yourselves.

  Mr. Anonymous® wrote @

Blow me retard. Like you fucking KNOW something. Fuck off shorty. Come back when you got a fucking clue !


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