OLDENBURG, Germany — The brand new nurse arrived on the intensive-care unit of Delmenhorst hospital with a strong letter of reference, describing him as somebody who labored “independently and carefully.” In a disaster, it stated, he reacted “with consideration” and was “technically appropriate.”
It gave no indication that officers at his former hospital in Oldenburg, Germany, had grown deeply suspicious concerning the variety of deaths whereas the nurse, Niels Högel, was on responsibility. Or that that they had barred him from contact with sufferers and successfully pushed him out.
Earlier than lengthy, comparable suspicions arose at Delmenhorst. Inside 4 months, a affected person, Brigitte A., died below his care. Others, Hans S., Christoph Okay. and Josef Z., adopted. All had been recognized with solely a final preliminary below German privateness legal guidelines.
At present, Mr. Högel, 42, is taken into account probably the most prolific serial killer within the historical past of peacetime Germany, and maybe on the earth. Officers suspect that as many as 300 sufferers could have died by his hand over 5 years beginning in 2000.
Nonetheless, it took greater than a decade for a full investigation by the authorities, who exhumed over 130 our bodies in Germany, Poland and Turkey as they struggled to outline the scope of his crimes. Mr. Högel has admitted to killing 43 individuals, has not dominated out killing 52 others and denied killing 5.
The variety of killings and the period of time it took for suspicions surrounding his actions to come back to gentle have raised uncomfortable questions for Germany, together with whether or not the identical deference to hierarchy and predilection for process that after facilitated Nazi-era crimes allowed Mr. Högel to kill uninterrupted for thus lengthy.
“Whether it is potential that in Germany greater than 300 deaths over 15 years could be swept below the carpet, what else is feasible?” stated Christian Marbach, whose grandfather was a sufferer of Mr. Högel. “What does it take for individuals in Germany to face up and concentrate?”
Mr. Marbach now speaks at nursing colleges concerning the ethical questions raised by Mr. Högel’s case.
In keeping with Frank Lauxtermann, the one former colleague who testified overtly about working alongside Mr. Högel, “A tradition of trying away and conserving your head down” finally shielded the suspect.
Mr. Högel is serving a life sentence for murdering two sufferers and enjoying a job within the killing of 4 others. The present trial is his third since 2006.