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Josef, Rosemarie, and Elizabeth Fritzl: The Sadist, The Silent, and The Survivor

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Daily we are bombarded by news of horrible events. Technology provides continuous fodder for our curiosity, and many of us are both drawn to and repelled by what is presented on our computer or plasma screens.

Josef Fritzl, his wife Rosemarie, and their daughter Elizabeth are at the center of a much publicized news story from Austria. Josef kept his daughter locked up in the basement of their apartment building for 24 years, using her as a sex slave — she mothered seven of his children. She was eighteen when her captivity began.

There are volumes being written on this story every day, but it seemed relevant to try to identify just what motivated him. At the moment, he is getting a psychological thrill from having his picture and information about himself appear on every major newspaper and news source around the world. He takes tremendous pleasure in his infamy.

Josef is a sadist. Sadists enjoy and live to inflict pain on others; seeing victims suffer is sexually arousing for them. It is also about control of the victim. Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist, describes sadists as “bad, not mad.” Fritzl is in no way psychotic or crazy. He knew exactly what he was doing and his acts were premeditated. He is not sorry and he cannot be rehabilitated.

Sadism almost always begins in childhood and adolescence. Those who torture helpless animals are at high risk to become sadists. Viewing violent pornography (snuff films) has also been linked to this disorder. Sadistic behaviors are chronic and increase in severity as time passes. When the sadist is humiliating, dominating, controlling, or inflicting pain on someone, he experiences a rush of those “feel-good” brain chemicals called endorphins.

According to reports released by the police, Josef had been sexually abusing Elizabeth since she was eleven. Sexual abuse does not happen in a vacuum, nor is it a solitary event — the signs are often myriad and obvious. So where was her mother?

In all my years of working with abuse survivors, I have never heard of a case where the mother did not know the father was molesting the daughter(s) or son(s). However, admitting they knew about it and doing something about it are entirely different things.

Rosemarie, the mother in this case, has been the “silent one,” the “colluder.” Now, we could make the case that Josef is a tyrant and most certainly abused his wife as well as his daughter, but pretending that the mother is blameless is hypocrisy. Josef had sexually abused Elizabeth for eight years before she was locked in the dungeon of horrors. Her mother had to know, but it’s so much easier to pretend that abuse isn’t happening. If Rosemarie had addressed it in any way, she might have felt she had to stop it, and more than likely she was terrified of her husband. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” syndrome is characteristic of incestuous families.

After Elizabeth’s disappearance, did her mother look for her? Elizabeth’s aunt stated that her sister, Rosemarie, did attempt to locate her daughter but could not find her. After her disappearance, a letter appeared, written in Elizabeth’s handwriting, asking her parents not to look for her, stating that she had joined a religious cult.

Six months prior to her imprisonment, she had run away from home. That might have been a clue something was greatly amiss in the household. Ignorance and fear on the part of the mother do not excuse her, even though she, too, lived with a sadistic tyrant. Josef obviously chose Rosemarie as his wife because he knew she was weak and would accept any and all of his dictates. Elizabeth was victimized and betrayed by both her father and her mother.

By a twist of fate or a lack of oxygen, Kirsten, Josef and Elizabeth’s nineteen-year-old granddaughter, was released from the dungeon and taken to the hospital. She is comatose and on a ventilator. After an appeal by medical authorities, Elizabeth came forward, because Josef allowed her to leave her prison to take her daughter to the hospital. The story of the family’s inhumane captivity unfolded while Kirsten was being treated. Throughout the process, Elizabeth was concerned for the welfare of her children, refusing to speak about her own abuse or captivity until she was assured her family would be safe and Kirsten would not have to see Josef again. Two other children, aged eighteen and five, were also released from the basement.

Josef’s decision to seek medical treatment for his granddaughter was not motivated by even a shred of humanity. He probably took her to the hospital because she was violently ill. If she had died, he would have had to dispose of a body, which is no small feat.

There might also have been a part of him that wanted to get caught. After all, he is quite proud of his accomplishments. He assumes that long after he has left this world, his name and heinous acts will be remembered.

Time does not heal all wounds. Elizabeth and her three children have been traumatized beyond belief, in ways that most of us cannot comprehend and never will. It is beyond our ability to fathom what Elizabeth experienced: being repeatedly raped, giving birth to seven children with no medical help, trying to survive in cramped living quarters with minimal air circulation and five foot six inch ceilings, children who have never seen the light of day. This description does not do justice to what she and her children survived — nothing can. As time passes, hopefully Elizabeth and her children will adapt and accommodate to their new life, but it will be a long road to recovery and healing.

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About Dr. Juliann Mitchell, PhD

  • susan winkershas

    Ms Mitchell makes a very valid point: that Any mother would certainly investigate the reason a daughter would run away. Rosemarie Fritzl, although certainly a victim of her husband’s sadism and tyranny, had to have suspected, indeed-have known – of her husband’s abuse of their daughter.

  • Dr. Mitchell, I think the mother knows more than what she has said or the authorities are withholding additional information until such time they deem it necessary to report. I also believe that there were a few other outside collaborators that colluded to aid the sadistic husband in keeping his daughter captive. I noticed that you wrote two books on sexual abuse. Do you think that there are other families with situations like this.

  • Susan thank you so much for commenting. The mother was both victimized by her husband, Josef and victimizer towards her daughter, Elizabeth by not intervening in any way to protect her.

  • Cindy

    I, like Dr. Mitchell, also feel Josef Fritzl is proud of his accomplishments. He did say that one day his house would go down in history, according to a recent article. This is pride – not because he has some magnificant house, but because of what he was able to get away with for over thirty years. Make no mistake that his recent worries and regrets have more to do with portraying insanity for the benefit of an imprudent legal system than for any soul-searching. This cold, unfeeling, shell of a human most likely grew tired of Elizabeth, and used Kirstin as well. But, since Kirstin has lost teeth and her body is reflecting a lifetime of malnourishment and lack of vitamins, I’m betting Josef Fritzl was looking to the girls upstairs to start anew. I would not be surprised if it was revealed that the granddaughters upstairs were molested or raped, and I would not be surprised if I found out that Rosemarie Fritzl, the mother, has known. In fact, I am betting that in this family, several members probably knew Josef molested his daughter/s. Perhaps rather than worrying about the loss of tourism, Austria should worry about this family and the hell they will go through once the novelty of being free sets in.

  • Sam I appreciate your comments. You indeed may be correct about Josef having help in sustaining and maintaining the dungeon in the basement of the apartment building. I read one report that surmised that he did have some assistance. Nothing Josef did would surprise me. He certainly is not the only sadist in Austria. I have worked with some severe cases of abuse but never anything to this extent. It is truly heartbreaking what Elizabeth and her children suffered.

  • Christine

    What i want to know is why no one ever went into the basement cellar when he was on vacation by himself. Weren’t they ever curious what he did down there besides machine planning. I’d be curious.

  • Cindy, thank you so much for your insights, you wrote so eloquently. I, too, wondered if Josef was abusing the children upstairs. It seems he had his own sadistic playground right at home. He suppposedly had been convicted of rape in 1967 and was in jail for about eighteen months. Rosemarie stayed with him even though he was a convicted sexual predator. I am curious about Elizabeth’s siblings, were they abused also? I have worked with some families where the father abused the daughters and then the grandaughters. It would seem logical that the mothers who were abused would want to protect their daughters from the familial abuser but that doesnt always happen. Sometimes it does but often the molester works his way through two generations. I wonder if Rosemarie was abused as a child and also if Josef was an abuse survivor? If they were it does not excuse their behaviors but it would fit. As for Austria, for whatever reasons, they have produced some people who have committed heinous atrocious acts of inhumanity. Hitler was Austrian and he killed 11 million people.

  • Christine I think you make a really valid point–about no one visiting the basement. I read in one report that Josef used to go to the basement and stay all night. I also saw an interview with one of his tenants who had lived above the basement. He admitted that he had heard clanging and banging sometimes but Josef explained it all away. I find it odd that someone,sometime did not go down to the basement. He also had to take food, clothing, etc. to his captives. Where was everyone in the apartment building when he was carrying in supplies, etc? I suspect, as Sam has conjectured that Josef had some help although it is pure speculation at this point.

  • Joe

    Dear Dr Mitchell. Thank you for your insight. I, like many people around the world, am saddened by this inhumanity that exists. However, there is so much publicity surrounding events like this, that it lends notoriety to perverted beings. All it does is then set the next pervert to outdo the previous.

    I think it is time that government officials take the hard line stance that once convicted, corporal punishment is demonstrated to these sadistic individuals that fit the crime.
    As you correctly state, he was completely aware of what he was doing and premeditated these unfortunate and tragic event that has ruined the life of innocent people forever. He really must be made to suffer which will send a clear message to these ghastly individuals that these acts will not be tolerated. This pussy footing around has to stop. We create this environment to continue with our inaction against these individuals.

    Thank you.

  • Joe, I appreciate your taking the time to both read and comment on my article. I couldnt agree with you more, the perverts do thrive on the notoriety that they receive. A couple of the reports that I read stated Josef would most likely receive a prison term of ten to fifteen years. How is that possible? He stole Elizabeth’s soul and broke her spirit as well as those of her children. He would be incarcerated for much less time than he raped and tortured her?Yes, you are also so on target, we do create the societies that allow these sexual predators to thrive and stay alive.

  • Marlene

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been following the news write ups of this case and am appalled at how accepting the authorities, media and public seem in regards to Rosemarie’s complete innocense. I felt you gave an honest assessment. Her husband was a predator and a pervert and many mothers are relieved when these men leave them alone for their daughters. If anyone would have known that something sinister had happened it would have been her (or the older girls) and their silence for 25 years is deafeningly unforgiveable.

  • Isabelle

    To me it is impossible that Elizabeth’s mother Rosemarie didn’t know anything about her husband’s behavior, she just don’t want to be bothered by the media thats why she’s playing dumb, and also I believe this brutal creature had compliances to help him doing this horroble situation for 24 years , him by himself it would be impossible to manage all of this.

  • joanne

    hi Ms Mitchell,
    i agree with everything you are saying exept one thing,could it not be possible the mother didnt know of elizabeths sexual abuse before she was put in the basement. i was sexualy abused by my father from the age of about 2 until 16 when i ran away from home. my mother claims she didnt know. maybe some mothers in the world dont know. my heart and soul go out to elizabeth and her children, i think of them all day and pray to god that they will have some kind of happiness. i didnt go through what she did but i can never forget what happend to me and im still recovering to this day and im 37. how long will she suffer for. thank you for your article Ms Mitchell

  • molly

    When one wonders about whether others might know things about a sadists lifestyle, one has to wonder about the friends he went to thailand on holiday with. Maybe the horror of what children in thailand went through may be quite extreme. Surely friends and business colleagues notice signs of someone being a pedophile and sadist.
    As far as mothers not seeing things for years, i have to say that when girls i know confronted their mothers at certain points, all the mothers said they knew, but as one mother said “what did you expect me to do, lose the house?”
    We have to remember that when the abuse started about 32 years ago, there was not a lot of benefits for women who left their husbands, and the alternative might have been life on the streets or every child institutionalized. We are finding out now just how many of those institutionalized children were also subjected to sexual abuse.
    One mother i knew as a child, who let her daughter be raped, took the approach that she could not bear it being her treated sadistically with sex, and so just as a drowning person clings on to a friend, some people cannot help but be relieved the sadist has stopped attacking them and started on another.
    Then there is the enabler situation. In some families the abuse is so many generations and so entrenched that if someone does not grow up to abuse like they were abused, then often grow up to encourage or allow abuse of their own children, as this is said to feel “normal” to them. These enablers sometimes push the sadist to abuse the child, or set the child up with childminders or someone to abuse or rape the child. The enabler only feels calm when the child is broken.
    Think of it this way, if you never had a good job, always cleaned houses, and your child is set to star as a teacher or lawyer or doctor, or business person. Most of us would be happy for our child. However for some the agony of their years of earning little money, having no holidays and feeling some feelings, get more intense if they see a different way is possible. The enabler can sometimes feel like the massive pain of their own inability to have a loving mate, or to reach out and make friends etc, makes them hurt more to think that given a good home their child can be happy in love, joyful work and friends. The pain wells up and they may set up teh child to be crushed. These enablers often purpusely leave the child alone with the abuser, purposely make the child wear revealing clothes, and other activities designed to achieve their goals indirectly.
    i have heard where they purposely send the child to other homes where the child will get abused. You might say, but maybe they did not know, but i do not think a loving mother does not notice her childs suffering. Some children are crying and unable to hardly talk for years afterwards, others totally flinch when the abuser comes near them. I too have never heard of a mother not knowing if she lived in the same house, and it was an ongoing thing. The child ran away three times, adn the mother did not know why, or keep an eye out to find out why?

    in some ways with this story coming out,it might help police and community people take some runaway children and children reporting abuse a bit more seriously. A lot of people kind of believe the child must have made stuff up, and maybe in teh past F could have got away with it at the hospital, got them to fix up his next conquest, get her home and just keep going. However this time hospital staff were awake to things, authority figures are starting to wake up to be trained to see the signs and dangers.

    I hope this means more children can step forward, be believed and get help before it is too late.

  • Doug Hunter

    As bad as I hate to admit it, perhaps light sentences and giving the sadist the media attention he wants is good rather than bad if it causes these monsters to step forward. Personally, I’d enjoy the right to administer the death sentence myself to this person who’s lost his humanity, but if he new he was facing death maybe he wouldn’t have let his daughter out when he did.

    Also, this guy is just as mentally ill as anyone else who commits serious crimes like drowning their kids in a tub, etc. The mentally ill should get treatment but also be held responsible for their actions. Right now we pick and choose who gets the insanity defense based on how much sympathy we feel for their sex, race, and class.

    If I go crazy and kill my family, even if I am insane, I will understand why I have to spend the rest of my life in prison.

  • Marlene, thank you for responding and commenting. I suspect that Josef sexually abused other members of his family,however that is just speculation on my part. Sadistic as he was, I doubt that Elizabeth was the only one he singled out to abuse. All around it is just a travesty and my heart aches for all of those individuals whose lives he desecrated. You are so right– it is “defeaningly unforgivable” what Elizabeth and her children have endured.

  • Isabelle, I appreciate your taking the time to read the article and comment. Yes, I agree I think Josef had someone who helped him out, maybe more than one person. Whether or not that information will come to light is debatable. If I were the Austrian authorities I would not want to continue to keep this story on the front page of newspapers around the world.

  • Joanne, thank you for your comments and for sharing about your own abuse. I am so sorry for what you have been through and experienced in your family. It takes courage to speak out, thank you.
    In terms of Rosemarie not knowing that Elizabeth was being abused, I don’t believe it. I think she knew, but for whatever reasons chose to ignore it or pretend it wasn’t happening. As I stated earlier I think Rosemarie was also abused by Josef, her husband. Denial is such a powerful phenomenon.

  • Anonymous Please

    Children can be sexually abused without the mother being aware. I was. Children in this situation very often do not want to lose the affection of the only trusted parental figure by ‘telling’ or acting out in such a way that reveals their abuse. Do not be so hasty to demand a target to blame other than the perpetrator of the abuse. Elizabeth may have thought her mother had quite enough to handle living as wife to this sadistic monster–and she may have feared losing the only ‘normal’ parental love she’d ever experienced by revealing the abuse. It’s not an uncommon reaction by a child who has lived many years within an extremely disfunctional family to have issues about helping the ‘weaker’ parent to cope with emotional abuse. Frau Fritzl may not have known at all. It’s very possible. With a growing family (her grandchildren)keeping her busy and the passage of time since her daughter’s ‘running away’–suspicious activity may well have been mentally justified by the wife as simply an affair with a stranger, or visits to a prostitute. Who would think the ‘unthinkable’? Would you?

  • Molly, thank you for your comments and for taking the time and energy to respond as you did. I think you have made some great points. It would not be surprising to me to discover that he was sadistic and abusive in Thailand as well as in Austria. I doubt that when Josef when on holiday his predilections for sadism took a vacation too. It is well known that children are for sale in Thailand for a nominal price.
    Yes I agree that there were not alot of choices available for women thirty two years ago. However I dont know what social service agencies had or have to offer in Austria. Yet I cannot say that I can condone a woman staying with a man who was convicted of rape and was sadistically abusing her child or children. Once again I will say that Rosemarie was also victimized by Josef.
    I, too hope that all Elizabeth and her children have endured can give some hope and inspiration for others to come forward. But as you wrote about, many times the mothers are enraged with the daughters or sons for revealing the abuse. I, too have seen this over and over again. The child/adolescent is accused of destroying the family unit and are made to feel guilty, as if they are the problem not the abuser or the colluder. So the survivor often does not get the support they need or are deserving of. Yes it is also true that sometimes the already abused child is then placed in foster care and are once again victimized.

  • Doug thanks for your well thought out comments. I would like to suggest that Josef is not mentally ill, at least in the way I conceptualize mental illness. Maybe we are saying the same thing but in different ways. The Andrea Gates case you are referring to in Texas is somewhat different than Josef Fritzl. Andrea is a schizophrenic and was mentally ill at the time she drowned her five children. She was hearing voices telling her to kill them and at the time she was actively psychotic. I dont thibk Josef was hearing voices and from all that I have read I don’t think he schizophrenic . He was very aware of what he was doing and was quite premeditated in his acts of violence and sadistic abuse. It I was pushed to describe him I would choose the word, “evil” as opposed to mentally ill. Evil is not a category in our diagnostic manual but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real or doesn’t exist. However I must say that it is all just an opinion on my part.

  • Anonymous, thank you for commenting and for all that you shared related to your own experiences growing up. I do agree that children in dysfunctional families often take on the role of the “parentified child.” The child worries about the parent and tries to make everything all right for the them, ignoring their own needs. It is also very normal for the abused child to not want their family life to be destroyed and often will sacrifice themself to keep the family unit together. Sometimes the child is threatened and told if they tell it will break up the family unit or the abuser will tell the child if they cooperate he will not bother the siblings. It is a tremendous burden for the child to bear. Yes, I think Rosemarie was overwhelmed, and abused herself but I think she knew. But that is just my opinion and we may never really know. There are other signs when a child is being abused. They may not talk about it but it comes out in their drawings, or their play, or their nonverbal behaviors, such as nightmares, wetting the bed, and behaviors that are not age appropriate.

  • Anonymous Please

    Dear Dr. Michelle,
    Thank you for your kind response to my message. Yes, you are quite right that there are enormous emotional burdens placed on abused children. The stigma of childhood sexual abuse survival is also quite burdensome. Hence, my request for anonymity that you have been so gracious as to allow. Thank you for that.
    I agree with much of what you say. Unfortunately for myself, a family history (albeit, mainly annectdotal) of sleep disturbance, including night terrors (yes, I still have episodes), coupled with asynchronistic intellectual and emotional development (evident in my siblings also–who were not sexually abused) made any ‘other signs’ of abuse rather hard to recognize. The term ‘age appropriate’ can be somewhat a subjective thing. Very little of my childhood social behavior would be termed this, even prior to the abuse. I do not believe I exhibited any outward signs of sexual precocity–but, in hindsight, my vocabulary and social interactions with other children were not the norm, chronologically. I chose different peer groups depending upon the activity I wished to participate in. Again, my siblings were much like myself in this respect, so I knew no other way of being.

    I believe that adults embroiled in their own battles with alchohol/drug (or spousal/emotional) abuse may not very aware of all of the emotional struggles of their children, or be in denial because of their disease. People who self medicate themselves to the point of numbness can be quite unaware of what is happening to their children. It was so for me. Please realize that I don’t believe these ‘factors’ to be excusable, per se, but may be part of the reason that the abuse is not noticed.

    An erroneously quantified statement that ‘all loving mothers know’ when their children are being abused is an injustice and harmful, not only to the mothers of individuals who have been sexually abused–but to those who are laboring to heal from the abuse to themselves.
    I am not delusional about the fact that there was sad neglect (for a variety of reasons) in my own case–but to imply complicity of the mother due to supposed knowledge and inaction in EVERY case seems to paint the picture with a bit too broad a brush. My mother was a ‘loving mother'(yes, I know–we all have the strong need to believe this). I also strongly believe that she was unaware of the abuse I endured as a child. I understand that it seems like an statistically unlikely scenario–but I believe it to be true in my case. That is why I feel that rushing to judgement about this woman’s culpability may not necessarily be a fair thing. My pespective may be skewed, but I would ask that you keep an open mind about the possibility that she did not know what was happening to her daughter. It may be true.
    Again-thank you for your time.

  • Anonymous, thank you so much for your hearfelt and thoughtful response. I admire your willingness to share what you have. Please know that I understand it is so challenging to deal with all that you have experienced as a child and adolescent. The fact that you are willing to write and respond speaks volumes. You are a courageous woman and thank you again for your insights.

  • Rachel

    I am so grieved about this story, and appreciate your astute insights. Elizabeth has been robbed of her adult life and her body was stolen and regarded and used like a piece of meat.

    I think about RoseMarie being told to never go in the basement of her own home, and of her presumably observing this rule, and the many things her observance could mean. Of course, even if someone entered the basement, I read that the heavy cement small door was well-concealed behind a bookshelf and required an electronic code to open.

    I am also extremely curious about Elizabeth’s siblings out in the world.

    I’m personally against the death penalty, but it seems that in addition to life in prison, 24 years in solitary confinement would be an appropriate sentence. I heard he was only being tried for rape. I hope that report is wrong. What about kidnapping/abduction? Does incest come under the umbrella of rape with no distinction legally?

    Eve Ensler, author of play The Vagina Monologues, and her Vday.org, are working to end worldwide and violence against women and systematic acceptance of it by exposing complacency and the societally-imposed shame on women that keeps them silent.

  • Kelly

    At this time, I’m also still inclined to believe that the mother didn’t know of Elisabeth’s sexual abuse when it began. And I really appreciate Anonymous Please’s post which clarify’s why I feel the mother may not have known.
    From what I’ve read, the entire family, was terrorized by that “man”, though it isn’t exactly clear (apart from what he’s done to Elisabeth)just how he had terrorized them. I assume his control was aggressive, violent and frightening enough that Elisabeth’s own unique suffering was missed by the other terrified family members. I also understand that some pedophiles will choose a single child to abuse and ignore the other children in a family, and perhaps this was the case with Elisabeth – that she was the only one being raped? I’m not trying to defend the mother, but I don’t believe we’ve heard enough of the “facts” just yet. I am, however, curious as to why no one outside the family had contacted police? So far, I’ve read about 2 people outside the family who knew that Elisabeth was being raped by her father. Did those people tell anyone? Tell their parents? A teacher? Anyone at all?
    One last thing…the media is filled with items about the father, and very little about Elisabeth and her kids. He’s become this glorified sick, pervert media superstar and god to all the other sick perverts in the world. I would rather that he be removed from the spotlight (and this planet, for that matter) and be replaced with something that will let us know how Elisabeth and the kids are doing. But in a way that respects her privacy, of course!

  • vinitha

    I am terribly shocked at what this father did to his child. As I think deeply on this tragedy I think Elisabeth has not helped her self when she could. What is the use of blaming the mother.
    Why did Elisabeth not tell a soul from the time she was 11 to 18 about the abuse. She could have told the police when they brought her back after she ran away.Was there not even one good person she could trust within her family or outside her family? Is the whole of Austria so uncaring?

  • vinitha

    I fully agree with Kelly. We would like to see how Elisabeth and her children are doing rather than give the maniac father so much importance. I pray for their wellbeing ever since I became aware of them.

  • Anonymous Please

    I cannot speak for what it must have been like for Elizabeth, but I can tell you that children who have been sexually abused by a family member can feel more helpless than you could ever imagine. They do not tell for many reasons.
    Or, if they have told an authority figure and been rebuffed–and, yes, it happens–it is extremely unlikely that they will try to reach out again.

    Trust is very much shattered for the abused child, and the child may fear that others in the family will not believe the child and that the abuse will continue unabated.

    Then there is the very real scenario where a child believes that they have ‘brought on’ the abuse somehow, and the that the other members of the family will be repulsed by the child as well as (or instead of) the abuser. Or they fear that their only known security–the family unit (flawed as it is)– will be torn apart because of their speaking out. Not a logical way of thinking, but children have a different way of processing things sometimes.

    As Dr. Michele has said, some abusers use these fears as a tool to maintain power over the child.

    I say, lay the blame where it undeniably belongs–with the abuser. And, everyone, please look around you with fresh eyes and look out for the little ones. My heart bleeds to think how many children are living with through this private hell right this minute, even as we sit and talk about it so calmly.
    The flood of memories and emotions that this news story brings is something I am trying to deal with in a healthy way, and I thank you all for your patience with me.

  • Icarus

    I can believe the mother didn’t know. Or, if she had any suspicion at all, went into very deep denial. I’ve read that Elisabeth completely submitted to her father after awhile, because she was so intimidated and fearful of him. Why wouldn’t Rosemarie be the same? Completely and utterly fearful, submissive and in denial.

    As for checking the basement, they couldn’t even if they wanted to because it was sealed off with multiple doors and electronically coded devices.

  • Cindy

    I heartily agree that children who are victims of sexual assault and, in particular, incest often seek to protect their families while going through the actual abuse. There is often a desire to keep the family, or that which is familiar, intact. Disrupting that which hurts them is more of a threat than stopping the abuse. But I am not pointing fingers at the children. I am not even pointing fingers at Rosemarie Fritzl as a young wife and mother. I am looking at Rosemarie outside of this – after a daughter disappears out of thin air. I am seeing a woman who saw her husband do jail time for rape. I am seeing a woman who must have seen outside indications of behavior changes in a young Elizabeth. I am seeing a woman who knew Josef had a huge cellar and was not ever permitted entrance into that realm. He spent nights there. Hours and Nights there, and she was not even permitted to bring him coffee? According to a recent article, Rosemarie was seen in an Austrian brothel with her husband where she was forced to watch him perform on other woman. There is sexual depravity here, and whether Rosemarie was too victimized to say something or not, she knew her husband had a strong sexual problem. She knew Elizabeth ran away several times as a teen and had gotten into drinking. Why would Elizabeth disappeared to join a cult after writing letters to her friends telling them she’d be in touch shortly after she left? And how about the tenants who complained about high electric bills, food going missing out of their flats, and noises from underneath them? We cannot believe that Rosemarie didn’t get any news at all of those complaints. Josef the Electrician had an entire floor that was “off-limits” to every person in the house. Elizabeth’s abandoned children appear out of nowhere on their doorstop every few years with a note. Then there is the phone call that Josef felt compelled to make, pretending he was Elizabeth. Rosemarie expressed surprise that Elizabeth knew their new phone number. Why did Josef feel compelled to make the phone call in the first place, and specifically spoke to Rosemarie? My theory is that Rosemarie’s suspicion was growing, and Josef and he hoped to quiet that. Regardless, it still remains that all the therapy in the world will not give Elizabeth and her kids the prime of their lives back, and that not much can be done to punish a 73 year old man who. He’ll be dead in a few years anyway, and really – where is the justice in that?

  • Karen

    Sexual abuse in a family does not occur as an isolated act between the abuser and the victim. Most times, the abuser acts out because he has assessed the risk and has decided that the other members of the family will accommodate him-either consciously or unconsciously. Often, the wife and the other children in the family remain passive despite knowledge on some level of the abuse. The abused child becomes the family sacrifice- she suffers and the other family members will perhaps escape the worst of the abuse.

    I’ve read most of the articles on the Fritzl case and it seems to me that Elisabeth’s mother and siblings allowed her to absorb the worst of it from Joseph Fritzl. Apparently, Elisabeth was sacrificed for the general benefit of the others.

    A therapist I know once described such situations as a system (a sick and destructive system, yes) that is “working” for the family. They have arrived at an arrangement which allows the abuser a designated victim. They will fight to maintain the system because it works for them.If the incest is disclosed, they usually claim ignorance of the facts in order to maintain deniability.

  • Stephanie

    I can’t stop thinking about this woman and her children and how they are doing right now. I am overcome with curiosity as to how they survived so many years in this condition. I wonder what goes through their minds now that they are free and in the “real” world. The world one 5 year old believes to be Heaven. The world which allowed Elizabeth to be abused the way she had been. I can’t stop wondering if their “freedom” is as great to them as it is to us. I’m sure that Elizabeth is probably in her own form of denial. Not wanting to believe that her mother might have known what was happening to her, and did nothing to save her. She already must deal with the evil of her own father. Should we expect her to cope with an evil mother as well ? Elizabeth Fritzl needs to believe that if somebody had known…they WOULD have helped. If anybody had known…they would have saved them. Their mother, their siblings, the tenants. How do you think that poor girl survived as long as she did ? Not by giving up on the hope that one day somebody WOULD realize she was in there…and they would help. I find myself completely uninterested in why a man would do this to his own daughter…what causes a person to be so cruel…I’m not interested in what he did on holidays in Thailand…what his wife might have suspected or might have known. It no longer seems to matter. These little tidbits aren’t going to help or change the life that Elizabeth and her children must live.

    What they need is physical, medical, emotional and financial support by all means possible. They need to be allowed to heal. And allowed to live in peace. I believe it is human nature to be curious and feel the need to know. We all want to know as much as possible about how they lived in that environment. We want to know about their recovery. And five years from now we will want to know how they have adjusted. No doubt we are all praying that her sick daughter lives to enjoy her freedom as well.

    At this very moment though…I imagine in my own thoughts… that they are not comfortable in “our” world. And they secretly yearn to be in the only place they have known for so many years. And this is what pains me. From the deepest corner of my heart. This is the reality of what this man has done to his family.

    We have no choice but to wait for Elizabeth Fritzl to tell us otherwise. She probably has no idea the impact her survival has had on the world.
    I would love one day to tell her the impact she has had on MY life.

  • Prithvi

    This is a very well written article, you should be writing for the NYT or something. Fritzl’s wife was obviously an accomplice in some way or the other to this. It’s impossible for her to not put 1 and 1 together when the daughter ran away twice and all the other stuff went down. I’m shocked as to how they authorities let the perpetrator mother stay with Elizabeth in the hospital. How come no one is raising the obvious questions that you are? She’s not a victim…please!

  • Zork

    Let’s not forget that,in addition to raising their children solo while waiting out Josef’s 18-month pittance sentence for rape in 1967 instead of taking the children away and divorcing/separating as soon as he was sentenced, Rosemarie also informally separated from Josef in 1973 by moving to their ‘country house’ . Before anyone applauds her, she did so but left those poor children (including Elisabeth) behind. For seven years she lived solo then she had to go back after the ‘country house’ burned down after a suspicious fire. Authorities are now saying it’s possible Josef burned the house down to compel her return but I wonder if it’s possible that one of their children (including Elisabeth) might have done so out of desperation for their mother to return in the hopes that she might be a buffer against their monster father! And if Elisabeth told several friends about Josef’s rapes of her as a teen,I’d say the chances are quite high she may have tried to tell Rosemarie. So with knowledge of Josef’s rape conviction, her willingly leaving her children with a monster for seven years, we’re supposed to think Rosemarie had no choice but to believe his version of Elisabeth’s disappearance+ appearances of her grandchildren and was unable to consider summoning a locksmith to force open the cellar door in 24 years time during one of Josef’s extended vacations?! Rubbish!

  • Karen

    I see per a Times of London article just out that the Austrian police are just now getting around to “questioning” Rosemarie and searching the upstairs apartment that she and Joseph shared. Now that all parties have had plenty of time to hide evidence and get their stories straight, the police finally take action. But Polzer, the head of the investigation repeatedly stated that he did not think Rosemarie was complicit in Joseph’s crimes. Oh, uh, right.

    Interesting way to conduct an investgation-announce to the world your foregone conclusions. It’s also grotesque that Rosemarie was allowed unfettered access to Elisabeth and the cellar children in the hospital before she had even been interviewed in custody as a potential suspect.

  • David

    Ask yourself this; what were you doing in 1984??? When I think back to that year when I was just 17 and working is a supermarket and than think of all the things I have done since, all the people I got to know and all the events, and that whole time this poor woman was in a basement with no natural light and being raped and tormented by her father. I cannot get my head around it all.

  • Tiina

    I just read an internet article in which a family friend told that Fritzl bullied mercilessly his family, beating his wife and chldren. Althoug I understand that the wife feared him, it still pisses me of that some women stay with their husbands even when he is hurting children.

    I also read that Fritzl has asked his wife to visit him prison and has complained that he feels claustrophopic JUST AFTER FOURTEEN DAYS in prison. My God, what a wimp this man is! He seems to think himself that he is strong, but in reality he is weak. Only a weak man needs to bully women and children and helpless victims in order to feel strong.

    The best punishment to this coward would be that his children and the whole world told him what a loser he really is, how weak he really is. He should also be ridiculed in every way.

    His lawyer said that he is an “emotionally broken” man. As laughable as that sounds, it actually might be true, because he has now lost his power over his helpless victims and must feel “very weak”.

  • Stephanie

    Happy Mother’s Day Elizabeth !

  • Dr. Mitchell:
    You give great insight into a story that has horrified many including myself. Has anyone questioned that maybe Elisabeth is not his biological daughter and that maybe why he chose to lock her up instead of the others? I ask this question after reading that he was away several times doing the early years of his marriage. One was during his stint in prison and another when they were separated for seven years. This man would be unforgiving towards anyone or any child that did obey or belong to him. I do not believe that the mother is innocent. Maybe, just maybe, Elisbeth represented her unfaithfulness or her own short comings as the perfect wife and she was the sacrifical lamb in this horrible story. I have heard many women blame themselves for the husband’s abuse and accept this as partly their fault. She inturn, turns a blind eye to the cruelty inflicted on her children. I read that she left Elisabeth while she vacationed with the other girls. by the time the mother left elisabeth to go on vacation he was by then had revealed all sides of his personality to his wife.

    If he was able to make Elisabeth write a letter saying she was with a cult, why would we accept the “postcard” from the mother who was on vacation. What about the son who still lived at home with the young children. Abusers usually raise abusers.

    I have birthed three children natually. My husband heard me in the parking lot of a large hospital yelling me head off with the last kid. I find it very hard to believe she gave birth without someone hearing something. My gut tells me others in the family know far more than what is being told to the public. This case has too many holes for the police to accept the information that has been given so far.

  • Genma,
    Thanks so much for your comments and the points you raised, very interesting and certainly something to ponder.
    I think that there is so much about the Fritzl family that we do not know. It may take years to sort out and even then none of us may ever know the whole truth. It seems that anything is possible.
    The horrors Elizabeth and her children have experienced are beyond one’s capacity to comprehend. She truly is a survivor in every sense of the word.

  • I have thought of them daily since this story first came to light. I am praying for their recovery and the truth and nothing but the truth is told.

    At the same time I am pondering the mother’s innocent in the Fritzl saga, the young lady who was locked in a cellar for eight years case has revealed that her mother was involved in her ordeal. What in the world is going on in that country that the mothers are suspects in two cases that are so vile and disgusting!

  • Tiina

    I wonder if it was a wise desicion to put Rosemarie with Elisabeth in the psyciathric unit.

    In the poster they made to thank public for support, she writes “I miss my dear friends and my freedom”. Is it just me or does it sound really selfish after what her daughter has been through? Losing her freedom for 24 years, living in an airless, windowless dungeon, being repeatedly raped and beaten (and I don’t even want to think what sick games he has played with her…), giving birth to seven children on her own in that dungeon, seeing her children suffer in those conditions…

    And her mother misses her freedom spending just a week in a comfortable clinic! You’d think she’d feel guilty as hell and were just praying for forgiveness (of letting her daughter down, not noticing what whas happening, if we believe that she didn’t know what was going on) and her daugter’s recovery. But no: she misses her freedom. Is she still in denial or what?

    What do you think, Dr. Mitchell? Am I over-sensitive or does that statement bother you, too?

  • Stella

    I was also taken aback by Rosemarie’s comment of missing her friends and freedom.

    A lot has been said about Rosemarie’s dependence on her husband and speculation about why she didn’t leave him and whether she knew abuse was happening before Elisabeth disappeared. However, I believe an important coping strategy for Rosemarie was in fact her independence from Fritzl.

    Over the years it sounds as though she detached from him, in order to preserve herself and also to carve out some sort of independent life for herself. She did her best for the children, ran the guest house, met friends, served on school boards. The one thing she avoided as far as practicable was her husband. The relationship (for want of a better word) they shared no discussion would have been tolerated. When Fritzl presented her with the news Elisabeth had left to join a cult, her response was to be sad and miss Elisabeth. No dialogue would have happened between husband and wife to work out strategies on what they should do about this situation. He wouldn’t have even needed to have kept lying.

    Now all these years later Fritzl (who she is detached from) comes along and presents her with the most enormous problem imaginable (a lost child and now six children fathered by her husband) and all in the full glare of publicity. Yes, I can understand how Rosemarie might yearn for the life she had carved out for herself, prior to this nightmare.

    However, blame thrown at Rosemarie is probably counter-productive. Rosemarie is Elisabeth’s Mother. They were overjoyed and deeply relieved to see each other. I don’t doubt Rosemarie will be a great support to Elisabeth and will be an on-going help to her with raising the six children.

  • Tiina

    I understand very well if Rosemarie misses her life. I just hope she would keep her feelings to herself when she is in Elisabeth’s company, because it is Elisabeth and her children who need most support now. If you were Elisabeth, would you like to hear even a hint that your Mother would like to be somewhere else than by your side?

    If Elisabeth was able to hide her suffering from her children in the dungeon (at least as well as she could), couldn’t Rosemarie do the same? Who knows, maybe she does. Maybe she is able to give her daughter the support she needs.

  • Eva

    I have to say that I agree with Tiina about Rosemary’s comment being selfish. Is she even capable of having any empathy towards her daugther and grandchildren? does she comprehend what thay have gone through, locked up for all those years? She is either completely clueless or extremelly insensitive and thoughtless. Missing her “freedom”, please! So far I’ve tried to give Rosemary the benefit of the doubt about her not knowing about Elisabeth’s ordeal, however, after reading that message on the poster, I’m not so sure. Perhaps I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but my view is those words speak volumes about her lack of empathy towards Elisabeth.
    I still think that right now Elisabeth needs her mother more than ever and I hope that Rosemary takes a good look at herself and realises that she needs to stop thinking about herself for a change and think of what’s really important. She has the potential to be a source of strenght and comfort for her daughter, I hope she starts doing the right thing by her.

  • Eva

    I appologise if my earlier comments have offended anyone, I just feel so strongly about this story for personal reasons.

  • No need to apologize Eva, I think your comments were spot on. I’d love to think Elisabeth is being lovingly mothered and nurtured after everything she has been through.

    Rosemarie will also need counselling I’m sure to deal with the lifetime she has spent with an abusive husband, the recent events that have transpired and how she can best help Elisabeth and the children. I’m sure she will be having to confront issues she has not previously done and accept new challenges that she never thought she would need to. It would have to be daunting, although she owes it to Elisabeth to embrace it.

  • In terms of Rosemarie’s comments about missing her freedom and her friends I am not surprised. Since I have not interviewed her I can only speculate on what she meant. Being in a psychiatric facility with Elizabeth and her children would for the first time bring Rosemarie face to face with the realities of what her child and grandchildren experienced at the hands of her husband Josef. She can no long deny anything because every hour of every day she has to face the realities of what took place the last twenty four years of her daughter’s life and deal with it. If the family is together in the hospital then probably everyone is receiving individual therapy and most likely family therapy too. I dont know if Rosemarie ever had any fantasies about being famous but if she did I doubt that she wanted the world to be looking at her, questioning her innocence, suspecting her of complicity, etc. Her life is now under a microscope and the world is watching and waiting. For a woman who seems to have spent much of her life in a state of denial or escapism this must be overwhelming to say the least.

  • Kelly

    Since I’m only seeing bits and pieces being reported about this whole ugly mess, I’m still inclined to think that Rosemarie wasn’t, at least consciously, aware of any of the disgusting things that man was doing. I’m getting a vague picture from the media that the women of Austria are still treated as 2nd class citizens and if that’s true, then I can understand where her “ignorance” began. Now, add that abusive, dictatorial, arrogant, violent, filthy, repugnant and lying man to the mix, and her identity and sense of self gets pushed back further into the recesses of her being until one day, she barely exists – emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. She’s just a body that breathes in and out day after day.
    Did she hear or see anything? Probably. Did she fully understand what her senses were telling her? Instinctively, she probably did. But I think that it didn’t fully register in her consciousness. Why? Because what that man was doing was so vile, so incomprehensible, so obscene and so unimaginable, that her mind couldn’t even begin to fathom it. How many of us here have really, really tried to imagine what Elisabeth has endured? You can’t can you? You know why? Because it would probably cause a nervous breakdown – it’s too much to handle. That’s what happened to Rosemarie when she learned about Elisabeth being held prisoner, right under her feet for 24 years. Her head, figuratively speaking, exploded. When I first read about Elisabeth, I actually felt myself change deep inside, as if something snapped off inside me and it’s gone forever. If I can react that way, I can’t begin to imagine how Rosemarie, the matriarch, the caregiver to the 10 children she knew existed….must feel.
    She honestly expressed that she misses her freedom and friends. Of course she does! She’s human! She desperately needs something familiar and safe to hold onto, too. I don’t believe that she would have shared that if she weren’t encouraged to do so by the therapists, or at least knew that Elisabeth wasn’t holding her entirely responsible for what that man did – to the whole family.
    For all we know, this may well be one of the few times when Rosemarie has been “permitted” to say what she really feels.
    I think we need to take care in pointing fingers at anyone other than that man. HE is the one who did this, that we know for certain. Anyone else’s involvement apart from him, remains to be proven.
    I would hate to see other people’s lives destroyed simply because they are related or live down the street, or worked in the same office or went to the same school or whatever.

  • Menno

    Great to find this blog. Thoughtful and considerate. I guess many here read and post because they “just feel so strongly about this story for personal reasons” as Eva put it.

    I don’t want to distract others commenting on the current main subject (the mother’s guilt or innocence) but still want to comment on another subject.

    We are told that authorities (such as police, and social workers keeping an eye on the “grandchildren” in the “upstairs family”) did not know of Josef’s history as a rapist because records have been erased according to legal requirements, and Austrian politicians are now proposing to change these laws.

    I dont buy that story.

    Amstetten is a small town, and the Fritzl family lives in a small suburb of it. When Josef was convicted for rape in 1967 it must have been the talk of the town.

    Indeed we have seen some neighbours reporting in the Austrian press that they, as children in the 1970s, were warned that a rapist lived in that house. Moreover when the story broke in april, neighbours told reporters about the rape in 1967, this was how the story about the 1967 case came to our attention in the first place. So, after 40 years (fourty years !) neighbours still remembered the rape, still remembered the rapist, the case, the conviction, the sentence.

    Everybody in town knew about the rapist. Everybody except the authorities, the police, the social workers, the town mayor. Don’t believe that story! The problem is not that authorities closed their eyes because law required so. Authorities closed their eyes because living is easy with eyes closed. Changing the law won’t change that.

    Wishing you all the best, Menno.

  • Eva

    Kelly, I am grateful for your comment and you’re absolutely right, we’re all expectator’s in this story, gathering bits of information as they come to hand. Who of us could TRULY immagine, let alone understand what those people have gone through (including Rosemary), I can’t even begin to comprehend it.
    I know for myself, and others I’ve spoken to, this story has brought up strong feelings, as we can relate it to something painful that might have happenned in our lives, or someone we care about. My best friend was abused by her father as a child and her mother did nothing to protect her, in fact she went as far as testifying against her in court to save the family’s reputation. Her selfishness and the pain she caused my friend with her actions cuts deep in my soul and makes me angry beyong words.
    Being a mother myself, there’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do to protect my children, even if it means living in a women’s shelter, or under a bridge, anything would be better than knowing my child is hurting while I pretend everything’s fine.
    Having said that, I agree that, in this case, our anger should be directed at the tyrant who put his family through hell, and also not to be so quick to judge Rosemary as can’t possibly know what’s going through her mind right now.

  • Katrina

    Yes, we all know that Joseph DID it ! Was he alone ? Nobody helped him in a way or the other ?

    I am very sorry but I can not excuse Rosemarie!
    There are so many things that don’t make any sense!

  • Eva

    The point is that we don’t know for sure about Rosemary. My head is split in half about her.
    I know I despise Josef Fritzl and also that I feel immense empathy towards Elisabeth and her children, but I still don’t know where Rosemary fits in this story, it is such a grey area, so complex. Only she knows the truth about the extent of her complicity/involment/denial, and perhaps we will never find out.

  • Kay

    The article here and the many comments are so insightful into this horrible case. I can’t help but to feel so deeply hurt for Elisabeth, her mother and the children in this case. My father had mental problems and my mother was an enabler. He didn’t beat us but he would fly into insane rages of hateful screaming. My mother would tell me that “you cause him to go into those rages by the things you say and I have to take the brunt of it.” Everyone, including my sisters and relatives were schooled to not say things in front of him to anger him. In my mother’s words, “there are other kinds of abuse besides physical abuse”. My three sisters left at 18 and my mother took a night job and was gone most of the time. I retreated into my room as a teen and retreated farther and farther into myself so as not to deal with my father. One of my sisters dragged me to a cult. My mother saw some improvement in my behavior due to the community offered in the cult and the structure and so was all for it thinking it was the best thing for me. She never seemed to acknowledge that the symptoms I was showing were the fault of her and my father. Intense guilt was unloaded onto me. When I finally left home because I couldn’t deal with my life there anymore, I was 24 and very naive. I pretty much went wild with the drinking and staying out every night, etc. I would bounce from that back to the cult until I was 33. (I read where poor Elisabeth did this and was dragged into that cellar by her father…) After I left home, by the way, my mother wanted to leave my father but only decided to stay because she didn’t want to give up her life style financially and because my father was “mean” and she couldn’t endure the court proceedings. I am now 54 and sometimes feel I have been in a fog for many years just going through the motions. The mind has a strange way of protecting itself…I wonder how much Elisabeth, Rose and the children are living like robots in emergency mode so to speak. It took me years to finally get out of the cultic thinking…I still have problems with it, but less and less due to major counseling and help from good people over the years. It also still bothers me about my parents who are both deceased now. My husband came from a dysfunctional home with an overbearing, abusive father and a mother who killed herself. For the past 25 years of our lives together we have built a private, structured, pleasant life together. We do not have children. We have 4 small dogs which we shower with love like children. I only tell these things, because I can empathize so deeply with this whole situation. I cannot see how Elisabeth, her children or her mother will ever be able to deal with all of this extreme evil and depravity they have been through. Especially with the harsh glare of the whole world on them and the harsh judgement they will have to endure from people. It would be better if they were given aliases and just disappeared to a structured world where they can have supportive friends and healthy experiences as has been suggested by the professionals dealing with them. I feel that when they “come out of the fog” so to speak, anger and many emotions are going to hit and hit hard during their healing process!! Thank you for letting me share and give my opinion.

  • Kelly

    Menno, you’ve brought up a very interesting point! It seems that if so many citizens of the town knew about the pervert down the street, the authorities had to have known as well. They have accepted some responsibilty by admitting to being gullible for believing what that man had told them about Elisabeth running off to join a cult and dumping her children on his doorstep. But if they have any hope for redemption as far as the citizens of the town, let alone the world, is concerned, they need to revamp their entire judicial system, now!

    I can’t help but wonder…prostitution is legal there, right? Have they lumped consensual sex in with incest and rape and just consider it all the same? Judging from their light punishment for crimes, destroying prison records and their view of women in general, I can’t help but wonder if they really don’t think rape and incest are all that awful – except when it becomes international news? Wasn’t it their chancellor who announced that he would be working to restore Austria’s image?…as if to say, “image” is so much more important than the reality of the Elisabeth’s and Natascha’s of the country?

  • It is amazing how people are viewing Rosemarie. Many are judging her on what they perceive as the role of a mother. No one wants to believe that a female could be a party to such a nightmare. I think that there are numerous unanswered questions yet to come out. But, I am curious, how could a terrorized woman take a holiday to Italy by herself or for seven years operate a guest house without her husband? I am not quick to condemn, but so many dismiss the possibility that Rosemarie knew about what was going on. By the way, with all the babies born in the basement, who took care of buying and disposing diapers? Were there diapers? Hopefully, the authorities sift through all the emerging information and present a clearer picture. Then again, maybe Austrians really do not want to know the truth.

  • Brandy

    Interesting article and viewpoints. I liked your article because you gave a lot of information and background and tried to make some ‘sense’ of what happened i.e. to analyze it.

    I’m struck that you called an 18 year old a child, however. And I disagree (but it’s only an opinion) on two points:

    1. Most likely a man that sadistic was abusing his wife as well, or at the very least, psychologically controlling, intimidating, and degrading her. There is a very good chance the man’s wife had “Stockholm Syndrome” and would have believed him had he told her Martians kidnapped their daughter and she would soon be their new First Lady. I think after years of living with such a man there was likely little of her left.

    2. I think the man likely took the granddaughter/daughter to the hospital because she is his ‘trophy’ and proof of his deeds, and his ego would not let her disappear. I’m sure the kids had no medical or dental care otherwise. She was taken only because she might die. He may have also been abusing the offspring of his daughter, and/or grooming them for eventual abuse. I do agree with you that real concern would not be anything he’d be aware of.

    I hope everyone in this situation is getting and will continue to get counseling. If the offspring witnessed the rapes and abuse then they were abused also (apart from the imprisonment of course). None of them will have any idea what a normal life is. They will all need long term guidance, counseling, mentoring etc. The one exception to ‘receiving counseling’ would be the perpetrator himself. Sociopaths do not get well, they only become more manipulative having had counseling.

    One news story claimed this man is also suspected in at least two murders. If he raped others perhaps he would not have seen them as ‘his’ and so he would not have had a reason to keep them around – in essence his toy, even more so than he regarded his own daughter as such. He was not a man with limits, only with compulsions.

  • Eva

    Dr. Mitchell
    I just wanted to let you know I that I agree with your comments in the article about Fritzl’s motivation to take Kerstin to hospital having nothing to do with humanity or guilt, he was just looking after himself once again. How can a person be so utterly evil and self-centered is beyond me.
    There’s something I read in an article that I can’t get over, shortly after being released Elisabeth said to the police that when she got pregnant for the first time, she was worried that her father was going to be mad at ther because now he was going to have to release her (so she thought), his answer was: “Don’t think you’re getting away so easily”…I can’t stop thinking about those words and the dispair Elisabeth would have felt upon hearing them, her small gimmer of hope for freedom gone.
    It’s almost too unbearable to think about, I find myself thinking about new details everyday, not because I want to torture myself, but because what happened to her is real, this is a person like any of us who has been made to suffer unimaginable pain. How I wish I could somehow take some of her pain away, but I can’t. I wish her all the best in her recovery.

  • Eva

    Dr. Mitchell
    I just wanted to let you know I that I agree with your comments in the article about Fritzl’s motivation to take Kerstin to hospital having nothing to do with humanity or guilt, he was just looking after himself once again. How can a person be so utterly evil and self-centered is beyond me.
    There’s something I read elsewehere that I can’t stop thinking about, shortly after being released Elisabeth told police that when she got pregnant for the first time, she was worried that her father was going to be mad at ther because now he was going to have to release her (so she thought), his answer was: “Don’t think you’re getting away so easily”…I can’t stop thinking about those words and the dispair Elisabeth would have felt upon hearing them, her small glimmer of hope for freedom gone.
    It’s almost too unbearable to think about, I find myself thinking about new details everyday, not because I want to torture myself, but because what happened to her is real, this is a person like any of us who has been made to suffer unimaginable pain. How I wish I could somehow take some of her pain away, but I can’t. I wish her all the best in her recovery.

  • Eva,
    Thank you for all your comments and insights. I think this family is haunting for many of us. Elizabeth has suffered so much that it hard to comprehend. Josef is a twisted, narcicisstic, sadist who cares only for himself and no-one else. Rosemarie? We will discover more about her and her life with Josef as time goes on. Yes, I agree Elizabeth is a real human being who has endured unimaginable horrors at the hands of her father. I, too wish her well and hope that she is able to find peace and happiness in her new life.

  • Kay,
    Thank you for all that you shared. Please know that the abuse you experienced was not your fault, your father was the only one responsible for his own behaviors, you were not to blame. The same is true for your mother, you did not cause or create your father’s violence. You have been through so much, you are courageous and strong to have broken free from the cult. I wish you continued happiness and peace. Animals can be so healing, they accept us and love us for who and what we are at any given moment in time. Wishing you all the best.

  • To each and every person who has been commenting on Josef, Rosemarie, and Elizabeth Fritzl thank you so much. I have read each and every comment at least twice and I appreciate everyone’s insights and thoughtfulness in responding. Obviously this family has touched our lives and taps into our beliefs about fatherhood, motherhood, and survival. Because Elizabeth is truly a survivor in every sense of the word. Again thank you one and all.

  • sonya

    Someone wanted to know why Elisabeth didn’t tell someone what was happening to her before her imprisonment. To this day my Grandmother will still say about my fathers physical abuse of my mother “I didn’t know what was happining. Why didn’t she tell me? I thought he was such a nice man.” If my Mother,a grown woman,couldn’t tell what was happening to her how could a child.It takes a lot of courage especially when the victim is a child and the perpetrater is your own father. May God help her and her children for they are going to need all the help they can get.

  • Elise

    I am appalled by the lenghts the media is going to in order to get that first picture of the Fritzl family. It goes to show how greedy some people are, they don’t care about how their actions affect others.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m as curious about this story as anyone, but I don’t NEED to see a photo of Elisabeth or her children, I just don’t. Why don’t photographers sneak into the prison where Fritzl is being held and harass him? he’s the one that created this mess after all. We need to remember that the family is recovering from an enormous ordeal, they haven’t asked for the media attention, they haven’t had any choice in what’s happened to them, they have merely survived and escaped from a cruel monster.
    I feel very protective towards Elisabeth and her children, I wish them nothing but peace and well-being, and long after this story calms down, and the photographers move on to their next target, I’ll continue to think about them and to send my blessings for all of their wishes to come true, and for them to find the happiness they deserve.

  • Brandy

    It’s been occuring to me that perhaps not only did the man’s wife know – at least in a vague way – but that perhaps Elizabeth knew her mother knew. And in her lifelong role as family scapegoat and sacrifice, Elizabeth continues to protect everyone at her own expense.

    It seems inconceivable that the man’s wife never ventured into the basement or never heard a thing. Was the basement soundproofed? What about babies crying, or as someone else said, diapers? Unless, of course, she was so traumatised and brainwashed herself that she existed in some sort of fugue state.

    Still, I can’t dismiss the thought that Elizabeth is still in a sense being sacrificed. As she must have tried to protect her own children in some way as well. What ‘protection’ meant to her in such a skewed setting is anyone’s guess, of course.

    The home video of this man showed him sizing up an array of slinky dresses and choosing one. I shuddered because I couldn’t help wondering, did he choose that dress for his daughter?

  • Elise

    Dr. Mitchell,
    What do you make of the reports that Fritzl cries himself to sleep at night? I think that he’s feeling sorry for himself and no-one else, he probably also realizes that trying to manipulate the public with his tried-and-tested tactics didn’t work and now he truly feels helpless, then again, could his conscience be catching up with the old man?

  • I’m wondering too what is behind Fritzl apparently crying himself to sleep at night. His crimes have now been exposed to the world and he can no longer hide behind a carefully planned image of the caring grandfather family man and respected citizen that he had previously deliberately cultivated.

    I think he wants to use his family now to help him to get back to feeling ok about himself. If one of them was to visit him, send him a message etc., from his point of view he would have asserted his authority once again and by so doing would have regained a measure of power and control over his world once more. He manipulated situations and people before and this is unchanged now. I hope none of the family buys into it. His behaviour is for himself not them.

  • survivor

    whoa, some of you bloggers cannot be serious! You say the mother will enable the abuser to allow the abuse to happen by pushing the abuser toward the child and set up the children with the abuser or care givers, because they feel more comfortable in that role of an enabler??!! The enabler only feels calm when the child is broken! This sounds like something you read in a textbook this is way off the mark and not in any realm of reality. This kind of attitude softens the sex acts in which the abuser performs, it minimizes and denies the heinous acts that the incest abuser does. I can assure all of you who buy into this nonsense philosophy that when my children were sexually abused by their father, I had no knowledge of incest and did not have any inkling until the day my 2 1/2 daughter disclosed to my mother, after the local police station closed the case for “lack of evidence” ( In Canada a toddlers must 1. be ripped from stem to stern in their perianal area. or 2. have a semen specimen found on their body, in order to be charged because they cannot testify themselves) I fought long and hard for them to re-open the case and to protect them from him even being held in “contempt of court” by the supreme court of Canada, for not allowing the children visitation, because I knew they were being re-abused by him. some say the non- offending parent will dress the children in sexual clothing! hogwash!~ although some parents do not dress their children is age appropriate clothing, and in sexualized clothing, sexual abuse is a “crime of power” not of extreme libido. I doubt any mom would consciously or sub consciously do this to attract the abuser of the abuser! Some comments on here are very insensitive and ignorant(that means without knowledge it doesn’t mean rude.) some comments are taking me back more than 22 years to the 1980’s and beyond with the huge minimization denial and the attack on the mothers. The mother is called the “forgotten victim” and let me say I first found out about my children’s abuse by their father almost 22 years ago and I too am still a victim. I had to pick up the pieces after he destroyed and demolished our family and I fought very hard to keep them safe while they were growing up in my care, because he was never charged, I even contacted a underground railway to flee with them after it looked like he may have been granted sole custody! I deal everyday with their lack of confidence and self-esteem ( they are in their 20.s now. I deal with my one child’s flash backs and my other child’s memory loss and many many other dynamics. I still, to this day deal with the mind $%*(()&^( that’s the real clinical term, but I didn’t want to swear) my ex-husband’s family puts on my now adult children and myself. This has effected their whole lives and mine too. My daughter remembers and in no way blames me for the abuse or thinks I allowed it to happen. As she understands I too was a victim of my child’s abuse, If any of you who has had children who have been victims of your husband’s sexual abuse, you will understand. To say mothers allow this to happen is inappropriate and unforgivable of you who posted these uneducated comments, I feel as if myself and my children are being re-abused by misinformed people who are minimising this. And yes we had intense therapy specifically for incest victims. Having said that I know their are some women who are paedophiles and abusers of adults too, so yes, in those cases the mother would know. if she allowed it to happen, she is not the victim, but also an abuser. Please don’t blame me for what happened to my children, I was a young mom and had no knowledge of sex with children by their fathers. I was in know way shape of form, an enabler and I am not in denial!

  • Joy


    With all due respect, if you are to believe that there are mothers who are innocent of knowing about incest, then you must also believe that there are family systems whose whole existence rely on the pairing of an abusive parent and a parent in denial.

    When I hear of stories where abuse propagated itself for years, I return to the abuser/enabler model. You simply cannot have a case of incest that stretches across three decades without the enabler parent having some sense of something being amiss. In particular, Mr. Fritzl’s conviction (not accused, but CONVICTED) of rape is about the BIGGEST RED FLAG imaginable. That she chose to continue to expose her daughters to this man after he was CONVICTED of rape is unconscionable to me.

    And then, there are the classic signs: drinking in adolescence, running away, taking part in activities at all hours to stay as far away from home as possible. Taken separately, they mean nothing. Taken together, it shows a pattern: the child is NOT COMFORTABLE AT HOME. Again, this is a massive red flag.

    Brandy earlier mentioned the “scapegoat effect” — where one person is singled out for abuse in the family. I agree that this was almost certainly in play. Whether any of the family members want to admit it or not … by Elizabeth taking on the brunt of Dad’s abuse (emotional, sexual, etc.), everyone else benefited. He clearly was a man with sadistic tendencies, and poor Elizabeth was thrown at him to keep everyone else (relatively) safe. In that scenario, no one in that family has any incentive to save Elizabeth because Elizabeth is a buffer between them and the dangerous daddy.

    Sure enough, you neither hear about Elizabeth’s disappearance nor her abuse until someone nearly dies.

    I think that if the Austrian police wanted to do Elizabeth any favors, they would separate her and her children from the rest of the family and give them a lifetime of free, comprehensive therapy to counteract decades of abuse, neglect, and persistent messages that they do not matter.

    For what it is worth, my own family was built on an abuser/enabler model … and I have washed my hands of all of them in order to sort out my own feelings about having been abandoned and neglected for so long.

  • Eva

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re referring to your own situation only. We cannot assume that because you were unaware about your child’s abuse until she disclosed it to your mother, as you said, that we should assume all other mums are oblivious also.
    In the one case I know of personally (my best friend), her mother did know about the abuse, my friend actually told her mum about it, to which she responded that she must be “making it up”. I would have taken so much courage for a child to tell anyone, and when you do, you hope to be helped in some way…
    I knew that there was something wrong with my friend; she had become withdrawn and moody. When I prompted her to tell me what was wrong, she made me swear not to tell anyone before revealing the abuse at the hands of her father. I encouraged her to talk to her mum about it, but unfortunately her response was to deny that it was happening, perhaps because it was too difficult for her to deal with it, or because she truly didn’t want to believe that it was happening.
    It would take a lot of prompting for her to finally tell one of our teachers who did help her, the matter ended up un court where the father was found guilty due to physical evidence; mind you, my friend’s mother still testified against her.
    My Friend ended up living with family friends, moving from one place to the other with very little stability in her life. To this day, she has issues of trust and intimacy, which has a negative impact in her relationships.
    I don’t mean to say that the majority of mums know about abuse and ignore it, not at all, because I don’t know the figures, and I don’t believe anyone in this forum meant to attack you personally. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot, and have done the right thing by your children for many years. Sadly, this is not always the case.
    You’re right when you say that the abuser creates a huge mess in the lives of the entire family. However, the number one person affected by the abuse IS the child; he/she is one who needs the most support, first and foremost.

  • Elise,

    My apologies for taking so long to respond.

    I suspect that Josef Fritzl is feeling both helpless and powerless. Everything is all about him, as he is quite narcicisstic, still a sadist, and most likely a sociopath. It is all about Josef, as it has always been, and will continue to be so, until he takes his last breath. Rehabilitation is out of the question for this man, One of the thins I have wondered about is his childhood. People are not born sociopaths, narcicissts, or sadists. What horrible things happened to him as a child? However, he is incapable of feeling guilt or remorse for all his heinous acts. Emotionally he is dead. Any tears he sheds are for himself and no-on else.

  • Diana Sholl

    At last an article that does not believe the mother to be totally innocent. Simply being a mother appears to exempt, by this status, any type of punishment however many times it is obvious they are involved, directly or indirectly. The word ‘mother’ is taken as an absolute to mean its definition not the actual performance of the person with that title. ‘Mothers’ raise, in the main, sons and a child is not born a monster, monsters are made.

  • Carlita

    As many of you other readers have commented, I too am unable to turn away from this fascinating story of survival. It truly is a miracle that Elizabeth was able give birth and raise her children in such conditions. Being a pediatric occupational therapist, I have worked with many children who have come from neglected homes who were extremely malnourished and received little medical attention until the time of adoption, (as where negligent parents rarely take their children to therapy).

    The question I bring up is what sort of therapy are the children and family receiving? Are they in the care of the competent psychologists and psychiatrists? We all have witnessed the competency of the local police and social workers. Hopefully, their mistakes will not be repeated. But one must question the intentions of the people taking care of survivors. Regardless if the mother consciously or subconsciously knew about the abuse, why would you allow her to be reunited with her family without further investigating all the facts? The police are just now re-investigating Rosemarie AFTER they have allowed her to rejoin her family. Clearly, her parenting ability has been questionable in the past. So again, why would you want her influence and presence to be around Elizabeth so quickly? Not only will she have to answer police interrogations but what does she tell her grandchildren when they realize what she has done or did not do? Even though some people may blame Rosemarie for her lack of action, this is not my intention. I just don’t necessarily believe that her presence is a positive influence at this moment until “the dust settles”.

    And in response to cases of mother’s being enablers and mother’s completely innocent, I am sure there are cases of both. It is erroneous to assume that all cases fit one stereotype or the other. And as Survivor has let us know, it is extremely difficult for women to escape abuse even if they actively escape their abuser. So in response to Survivor’s comment, I think you have misunderstood some of the intentions of the other bloggers. We applaud women who fight against the odds especially when it seems like it’s a losing battle. None of us have any idea what we would do in that instance of Rosemarie because we weren’t there. They live in a completely different country with different customs and values. It is really easy to blame those who did nothing about their situation. As where she seemed to ignore the signs of abuse, Survivor saw her children suffering and sought help. And that is the difference within you two women.

    Let’s remind ourselves that not all countries are friendly towards abused women. Remember, Austria released men accused of rape to give men a second chance. And what message did this send out to the women like Rosemarie? I’m not trying to make this a feminist issue but it seems like we women are arguing with each other thus perpetuating the problem. Even in civilized and westernized countries in current society, women are still treated unfairly and unjustly. Instead of passing the blame on to the enablers or other abuse victims, let’s help increase abuse awareness and change the public opinion so women like Rosemarie can find help when they need it the most!

  • lunchlady

    These are great comments! I am a new arrival but I saw this article linked on the CNN InSession board.
    The fact that Elizabeth didn’t seek help before she was imprisoned means that she didn’t think it was possible to get help. A 12 year old girl accustomed to physical abuse at that place and time may have thought being raped was just a new type of punishment. Why didn’t she tell her mother or someone else who might have helped her? Even nowdays in Western countries kids often don’t tell anyone for years for all sorts of reasons: shame, threats, fear that they won’t be believed, misplaced obedience, ignornance of the law, etc. Elizabeth was living with an autocratic abusive father and a beaten down mother who had 6 other children. When she got older she did tell a friend and ran away twice with that friend, but the police found her and brought her home both times. Even then she and her friend didn’t tell, or if they did the police brought her home anyway.

    My point in this post is to point out the social atmosphere which allowed the abuse to go on for years before the dungeon years started. Elizabeth didn’t feel she had any recourse or power to change her situation. She just looked forward to being able to leave home when Daddy no longer had legally enforceable parental rights, not realizing that Daddy wasn’t going to let his plaything get away.
    Rosemarie was in a similar situation. She had been brutalized and humiliated for years by the time Josef started raping Elizabeth. If she had any inkling of what was happening she also felt helpless and too afraid to do anything about it. I could fault her for having so little courage and ability to protect her daughter, but its easy for me to think I would do it all correctly if I was in that situation. I have never been raped and almost never even been struck by anyone in my life. The men in life have been angelic compared to Josef and some other creeps.
    So the Fritzl family drama leaves with me with renewed vigor to support women and children’s rights. If there isn’t external support for abused women and children then bad things happen and go on and on, and the abusers feel smug about getting away with it. They feel like Real Men, not pussywhipped, not quiche eaters, strong to do what they really want to do and rule the roost.

    So it all goes back to female empowerment and fighting the old paternalistic patterns of abuse and domination. Given the opportunity some people will abuse others, so a system of checks and balances needs to be in place to limit those opportunities to have power over others.
    The legal protections which women and children now have weren’t easy to get. The courts and other institutions looked the other way and apologized for bad behavior but did little to help prevent bad things from happening or to help remedy the situation when bad things occurred. There are still lots of victims out there, feeling trapped and powerless and afraid.

  • anakris

    Just as in every family the abusive family members each have their designated roles. One is the abuser, another the victim, and still others are the enablers. Fritzl’s wife was undoubtedly the co-dependent enabler in this family. For one thing knowing her husband’s enormous sex drive where did she think he was getting sex from. Did she think he was celibate after sex was eliminated from their relationship for the past 20 years. Or did she assume he was just seeing prostitutes which he was 3x’s a week. But any wife worth her salt aould have been curious about that one factor alone. Then when it did dawn on her that Elisabeth (faked by Fritzl)called the family’s unlisted number should have caused her to become even more suspicious. Rosemarie appears to be a very naive and stupid woman who was more concerned about herself than she was about anyone else in her family. Good wives and mothers question the things that go on in their families and do not just take their husband’s word for what things. I think the police should really question her and not just assume that she was an innocent housewife who knew nothing. The fact that her husband was a “tyrant” and abusive to her and the children should have raised a continual red flag in her mind as to why 2+2 wasn’t adding up to 4.

  • lunchlady

    I think that given the cultural expectations in Austria of male and female roles it is unlikely that Rosemarie will be called to account for herself any further. I agree that Rosemarie should have thought harder about it all, I certainly would have, but I also would have not gotten together with Josef Fritzl and stayed together with him through thick and thin. Men like him don’t deserve to be around women at all. This woman probably has very different ideas than I do about what she is able to do and what she is obligated to put up with. And subversive thoughts about White Male Power probably don’t enter her head even now. I imagine or at least hope that she’s good and mad at Josef, but might not yet be able to fathom how things got to be such a mess and how she could have helped make things turn out better. I wonder if the Catholic thing made divorce seem impossible even once she realized that she had married a vile sadistic bastard. She didn’t manage to do anything about the physical abuse of the children, so she probably didn’t feel she could do anything about the sexual abuse either, if she was ever consciously aware of it.
    I’m not saying I don’t think she should have done things differently. But I don’t think she felt she could have done things differently.
    But whatever Rosemarie’s failings are or were, Josef is definitely the Big Bad Wolf in this ugly story.

  • Each day more and more is revealed about the Fritzl family except we have only heard but once from any other siblings. I find that odd. I have not read where they have visited their mom or sister except one time. Is it me or does anyone else find this strange? Again, I ask about the 37 year old brother who was still living at home with his parents? Is he being questioned? The more that is reveal shows how much more is hidden. I am even starting to wonder if the family may have suspected something was not right in the basement but did not realize it was a family member in the basement.

  • Kay

    Dr. Mitchell may correct me if I am wrong as I am in no way a professional…but in homes where mental illness or dysfunction is going on, the family puts up a wall and a cloak of secrecy and it is the “job” of the healthy members to give the family an appearance of normalcy. I believe many recovering alcoholic families in AA or Alanon will attest to this. Healing comes when the issues are faced and dealt with otherwise it just festers and gets worse as is this horrible case. It sounds like the family has been forced into this at the clinic where they are now. Not sure?

  • Kay

    One other thing I wanted to say is that the “thrill” of this to Josef seems to have been keeping secrets from the world and Rosemarie especially. What is this? I am curious why he would go to such great lengths to pull dirty tricks behind Rosemarie’s back as it seems he did!

  • lunchlady

    The thrill is at least partly the thrill of breaking taboos and getting away with it. Breaking the rules and avoiding punishment is an adolescent type of thrill which some people never stop wanting to get. Josef apparently found happiness in an extreme form of domestic violence, as well as violence against women outside the home. It was apparently directly tied to his sexual urges- a classic sort of perversion and hard to extinguish because the sexual urges renew themselves quickly and the pervert needs another dose again and again. That’s why pedophiles are so hard to treat effectively. They can only try to control their urges, not change the nature of them. And eventually they often lose control, or that’s how they justify reoffending.
    I read somewhere that Josef made Rosemarie watch him having intercourse with younger women at a sex club, apparently to humiliate her about being old and fat. I think he enjoyed her knowing that he had sex with prostitutes and elsewhere, but perhaps he felt that if Rosemarie was forced to Officially Know about the dungeon then even she would have to Do Something About It and report him. I don’t know why she would put up with her husband going to prostitutes- I would consider that more than adequate grounds for the Big Goodbye, even if I wasn’t being put at risk for disease transmission.

  • Hi Kay,

    I think you are right on the money with your comments about the family presenting a guise of normalcy to the world.
    My family had a severely mentally ill grandmother who lived with us off and on for years while I was growing up. I can remember my mother asking me not to saying anything at school or to my friends about my grandmother, she told me people wouldnt understand. Which was true as things were pretty crazy at our house. I know why she asked that of me, and she and I have talked about it since then on a number of different occasions. My mother did the best she could with what she had to deal with.
    However, one doesnt need to do too much investigating to determine that dysfunctional families have carefully constructed houses of cards and the images presented to the world are fragile at best. Often what is going on at home is revealed in children’s non-verbal behaviors, play behaviors, and/or their drawings.
    It’s like the elephant sitting in the middle of the living room floor that no-one talks about, everyone walks around, but every single person in the family knows the elephant is there. They just don’t know what to do about it and pray that one day the elephant will just disappear and life will go on as usual.
    There are still so many unanswered questions about the Fritzl’s perhaps we will all learn more in the coming weeks and months. I suspect that Elizabeth is still trying to take care of and protect her mother. It seems that was a role she assumed at an early age.

  • Helen

    Hmm, I somewhat do not agree with the discourse that is being constructed here. It contains grandiose generalising statements that focus blame in all inappropriate directions.

    Who is really to blame here? I’ll tell you, it is primarily the perpetrator and secondarily, it is people like you.

    Continually postulating that mothers of sexualy abused children do know what their partners are doing is harmful. How do you know what Rosemarie knew? Are you all mind readers?

    It is dialogues like this that shut down women in shame and blame them. And, if Rosemarie did at any time have a glimmer of any suspicion at all, then is it this sort of ignorance that is to blame for women’s silence, not the individual.

    Hence, you are responsible because you make silence possible.

  • Katrina

    To Helen: your message is very disturbing and your attitude very rude!

    I let Dr. Mitchell to give you the right answer !

  • Helen

    Sorry to offend you Karina, but I just find ignorance very disturbing. This is my exact issue – Aren’t we forgetting who is really at fault here? This sort of article reinforces myths, opinions, stereotypes and discourses with no evidence. It is a very old game of ‘mother blame’.

    Yes I have a bee in my bonnet. No I am not a partner of a child sexual offender and never have been as far as I know. I am in strong agreeance with Carlita above – maybe a response is required to this post too.

  • Hi Everyone,
    Please remember this article was written as an Opinion piece. The Fritzl’s have struck a nerve with many of us. I would like to think we can all respect one another’s opinions, as that is what our responses are, just opinions. None of us know all the facts and probably never will. Anything written is speculative at best and based on our own perceptions and some information from the media.

    Please know that I am pro-human being. This is not a gender issue for me. Both men and women sexually abuse children and both men and women are survivors of abuse. It would not surprise me at all if both Josef and Rosemarie were abused as children. As I stated in the original article, knowing about something and feeling empowered enough to act on it are two totally different phenomen.

    I’ve had three books published. The first one was about understanding and preventing child sexual abuse ( Rape Of The Innocent:Understand and Preventing Child Sexual Abuse, the second was about females who sexually abuse female (From Victims To Survivors: Reclaimed Voices Of Females Sexually Abused In Childhood By Females), and the third was about grief and crises (The Dynamics Of Crisis Intervention: Loss As The Common Denominator). A part of my professional work has been with many courageous survivors,both men and women who were physically, emotionally, and sexually abused as chidren. Their strength and resiliency has been inspiring.

    At times it seems this has become a right/wrong, good/bad situation. Josef was wrong and bad, Elizabeth most certainly was good and right. But the situation involving RoseMarie is much more complicated. Where does she fit in this paradigm? Cognitive dissonance is a psychological state that occurs when something the person believes to be true is not. When new information is provided and is in conflict with what the person believes to be true then a state of cognitive dissonance is created. It is very uncomfortable psychologically for the person in this state. Because it creates a sense of internal conflict a person either blocks out the new information or begins to accept and assimilate the new data and change their beliefs or perceptions. This can be quite challenging for the person experiencing cognitive dissonance. This may explain in part what happened with Rosemarie.

    In terms of why the mental health professionals immediately reunited her and her children with her mother, I dont know the answer to this. Again, without more information it is hard to second guess what they were thinking. What I think is important is that Elizabeth’s needs and wishes be respected and honored. This is a woman who has survived unimaginable horrors and abuse.

  • lunchlady

    Excellent post, Juliann. I agree with everything you said.
    This case is interesting because it illustrates lots of things about a family being controlled by a sadist. It also illustrates how the outside world can fail to do anything to help.

  • joanne

    I have read through the posts here and all is very interesting, particularly the reminder from Juliann that all of this is just opinion. Then why is there a need to justify whose opinion is more credible through restating a publication list. I too have a PhD that focused on child molestation, well published and have worked in child sexual abuse with primary victim’s family members. Cognitive dissonance is one explanation, but it is possible that it is not THE explanation. I honour you for careful use of non-committal language in this response.

  • Anonymous Please

    OMG, I have cognitive dissonance disorder!

  • Terry

    Great article, Dr Mitchell! It’s good to find a forum like this, where most comments are thoughtful and relevant. I’ve enjoyed reading your responses.
    It’s an interesting and controversial topic, that of Rosemary’s role/involvement in her daughter’s 24 year nightmare.
    I am, personally, of the view that no mother could let something like that happen under her nose without her (consciously or not) knowing about it. I agree with the comments that, dysfunctional families have a way of hiding secrets from the outside world in order to appear “normal”. I grew up in a family where child physical and emotional (rather than sexual) abuse was our everyday reality.
    My father was a violent man, who hit our mother at the slightest provocation. As we grew older, the children became the target of his rage. The oldest children became protective of mum, as she wouldn’t protect herself. My brothers would risk a beating by shielding Mum from her attacker; they would have been only nine or ten years old.
    By the time I was a teenager, my younger siblings were taking the brunt of the abuse, and the rest of the family (myself included) was relieved.
    I left home at the earliest possible opportunity, to marry young and continue the cycle of abuse.
    I’ve never gotten over the guilt of allowing my siblings to suffer, so I didn’t have to anymore. Even though I realize that it wasn’t my role to protect them, because that should have been our parent’s role. It was almost as if, in many ways, I was forced onto the parent role because our father was the abuser, and our mother was merely a victim and on the same level as her children.
    Having said that, I don’t understand how a mother could allow any kind of abuse to be inflicted upon her children. I say that because, even though I come from a dysfunctional family, even though, I allowed my husband to abuse ME, not for one second did I tolerate our children being abused by him in any way.
    Once you are a mother, you live to protect your children. They become your number one priority, and being selfish is out of the question. Or is it?

  • Tiina

    I don’t find Dr Mitchell’s opinions or those of others here generalising or judgmental. Most of us, I guess, wonder how this could happen, how Josed Fritzl was able to get away with his crime so long.

    I personally know something about “not wanting to know”. I used to have a sadistic boyfriend. He wasn’t violent at the beginning, but all the signs were there. In hindsight, I can trace back in my memory all those things that I somehow chose to ignore back then, things he said, the way he talked about other people, how he behaved towards me, etc.

    In one of my previous comments I was upset that Rosemarie wrote in the poster that she misses her freedom. The reason that I was so upset was that I was worried how that kind of expressions of sentiments affect Elisabeth. For some odd reason, I feel very protective her. As Dr. Mitchell said, she has survived unimaginable horrors and abuse, and respecting her needs is the most important thing now.

  • Kay

    Dr. Mitchell,

    I just read in the news that the entire family (including the siblings who we had not heard much about before) is now going to get new identities and not do interviews. The doctors feel that they are being imprisoned again due to the press. I have mixed emotions as to whether this is the best route to take….was wondering what your professional take is on this latest development. And by the way, thank you so much for this site. I find it so informative and helpful in dealing with this awful case.

  • Anonymous,

    I certainly have experienced cognitive dissonance repeatedly. But now at least we know what label to give it. 🙂
    Thanks for reading and commenting.


  • Terry,
    Thank you so much for sharing about your experiences growing up and as an adult. I am so sorry for all that you have been through and it sounds as if it was so much.
    It might be that you could not have protected your younger siblings no matter what. It seems as if all of you suffered a great deal.
    Please know I wish you health, happiness, and continued healing.

  • Joanne,
    Thank you for your comments. I would enjoy reading what you have had published on abuse where could I find the info?
    Yes the phenomenon of “cognitive dissonance” is just me presenting an idea for what perhaps was taking place in the Fritzl home. Without interviewing the family members anything I say is specualtive at best.

  • Kay,
    I am so glad you are here with all of us as we try to share and make sense of this horrible situation.
    We have Eric Olsen to thank for creating Blogcritics. Thanks Eric!
    As for giving the Fritzl family members new identities I can understand the need to do this. I also hope they continue to give them counseling as I dont think a new identity is simply enough. Having a new name and livig in a new community does not address the traumas the family members have experienced for decades. To have to learn to be “someone else” and integrate all that process entails will present many, many challenges for the Fritzl’s.
    There are no easy solutions to this situation. It is indeed a travesty.

  • lunchlady

    I read somewhere that the Austrian government has already set some sort of limit on what they will provide for the family, and this contributes to the movement towards suing Josef for any assets he has that aren’t already mortgaged away. Not sure where that will leave Rosemarie, but Josef has created his own population explosion so I would imagine her other children would keep her off the street at least. But since all Elizabeth’s siblings also were physically and emotionally abused they may not be all that keen on helping Mom and Elizabeth and her kids out- I sure they have their own issues and their own families.
    As things die down and the new identities are put into place I fear that Elizabeth and her kids will end up being separated from the rest of the family again. All the non-dungeon people want to get back into the world and start trying to salvage something of their old lives. That might be challenging, which will give them more reason to not interact much with Elizabeth and the other 3 dungeon people.
    I appreciate the non black-and-white nature of this discussion- keep up the good work Juliann, and everyone else.

  • Hi Lunchlady,
    You make some excellen points! Thank you for your very well thought out comments.
    I agree, the rest of the family could distance themselves from ELizabeth and her three children who lived with her in the dungeon.
    There could be all kinds of things going on psychologically in the siblings and the children that Rosemarie and Josef raised–guilt, anger, resentment, relief, etc. Elizabeth’s siblings feelings most likely are a mixed bag– some positive, some negative.
    If everyone has to assume new identities that can be very challenging. They will have to leave their friends, jobs, and old life behind. Not an easy thing to do especially if onr liked their old life.
    Also in these circumstances it is not uncommon for someone in the family to be “scapegoated.” In other words the scapegoat is blamed for all the rotten stuff that has happened and continues to happen in the family, i.e. change identities,move away, negative publicity, etc. I hope it is Josef but am not totally convinced it will be him.
    Once again it could be Elizabeth and her three children who suffer are victimized and scapegoated. She too may have tremendous guilt for her siblings having to assume new lives. I sincerely hope that she and everyone else are getting the therapy that they need. Treatment for this family should be long-term. Helping someone put a life together who has been abused since the age of 11 and was held captive for 24 years is an incredible undertaking for Eliazabeth, her children and the professionals who are working with them. Elizabeth’s basic rights as a human being have been violated for more than half of her life and all of her adult life and it was by her father. My since hope is there is a very experienced team of trauma professionals who are working with the family. It is a daunting task because there are so many facets to this family and so many family members to work with.

  • Kellyd

    Hello everybody,

    I have been following this story for few weeks now. A very disturbing one !
    In searching for news about it I found this great article and I saved it in my Favorites so I can go back and be in touch with your comments.
    Thank you Dr. Mitchell for giving us the opportunity to express our feelings on this site and also thank you for your time to answer our questions.

    I would like to say that I do not like Rosemarie and I had this feeling about her from the very beginning. It is just my intuition !
    She was not a good mother at all at least with Elizabeth ! It is hard for me to believe that she did not feel that something bothered her girl !She was first raped when she was 11 !!!!!
    Why did she go in vacations with the other kids while Elizabeth had to stay home with Joseph ? How could she accept that ?
    Yes, I know , we can find excuses, etc….

    I would like to ask you, Dr. Mitchell, what do you think about the possibility, for Elizabeth, of giving an interview ?
    I am wondering if they asked her if she agreed with that…….. or again someone else has to decide in her place !
    Do you think that it can hurt her to talk about her ordeal ? WE all know that when you have a “problem” it makes easier if you talk about it as it takes away the “pressure”.
    On the other hand I consider that giving an interview will help her to be HERSELF, to move on !
    Even if they change the names they will be tracked as everybody knows them/the story.
    I wish we could do something to help her !
    Ther are so many people with huge influence-(e.g. Arnold Schwartzeneger)who can DO something for Elizabeth ! We all have a lot to learn from this extraordinary woman !!!!!

  • Jodie

    I am just finding this all so sad.

    Isn’t it interesting that the forum is predominantly a bunch of women and, that bunch of women are predominantly casting verbal attacks at Rosemarie, another woman.

    Surely in today’s day and age, we should have realised that Josef is to blame here. Surely, we should not be using Rosemarie as a scapegoat to shift the attention away from him.

    Think about it for a moment…..

  • Hi Kellyd,

    So glad you found this website too! Welcome!

    Thank you for your thoughts and comments.

    In terms of Elizabeth giving an interview I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon. She and her children have been through so much. Probably right now it would be in her best interests not to talk about her ordeal to the media or the public. These interviews can be brutal and sometimes talking about what has taken place especially in a pressurized situation can trigger flashbacks, etc. I would think (again, my opinion) that she has PSTD (post traumatic stress disorder).

    Yes I agree that it can be healing to talk about one’s experiences and maybe at some point in time she may do so, but right now I think she is probably trying to come to grips with everything that has taken place. This woman and her children have been severely traumatized. Elizabeth is a survivor and has demonstrated great strength but she and her children have a long road ahead of them.

    What does everyone else think?

    By the way everyone please call me Juliann, I’ve had this name my whole life– much longer than I’ve been Dr. Mitchell.


  • Hi Jodie,

    Thank you for your comments and welcome to you too!

    I think it is clear that Josef is a sadistic, narcicisstic, sociopahic individual. He commited heinous, atrocious acts against his daughter and the children they had together.

    With Rosemarie the issues are not quite so clear cut. Josef is bad, Elizabeth is good, but Rosemarie seems to be in the gray area and there are thousands of shades of gray in life. Did she know about the abuse, did she not know? If she knew about the abuse why didnt she intervene, why did she stay, etc. We will probably never know what is the truth–what did Rosemarie really know or not know?

    Again I don’t see this as a gender issue. It is a human issue. I have worked with families where the mothers were the tryants and the abusers of the children and the fathers too. In these situations the fathers did not intervene on behalf of the children or themselves but ignored everything as a way of surviving in the family systems.

    I think it is positive that we can share our thoughts and express our perceptions and agree to disagree.


  • Tiina

    Dear Juliann and others,

    Josef is the biggest villain here, no doubt about that. Still, I wonder about some things I read. A family friend said in an interview that Josef favoured some of children over the others. According to her, Elisabeth wasn’t one of Josef favourites. The woman had asked Rosemarie why Josef liked some children more than others and Rosemarie has answered that she didn’t know. The man obviously treated the children differently. Some got more beatings than the others. A school-friend of Elisabeth claimed that Josef used his fists beating the children, which means that beatings were brutal.

    If it is true what those people said, Rosemarie didn’t stand up to her husband when he treated some of the kids worse than others and not even when he brutally beat them. You could always argue that she didn’t realise that Elisabeth was sexually abused, but she saw how he violated his children other ways and still let it go on.

    Elisabeth’s story is heart-breaking in many ways, but it seems that she got the sort end of the stick very early in her childhood. It must been hurtful to little Elisabeth that her Father didn’t like her as much as others.

  • Stella

    I agree with your assessment Juliann regarding Elizabeth giving an interview. An interview, at this early stage would probably lead to further trauma. In addition, I suspect it would actually increase the media attention rather than satisfy it. If further down the track Elizabeth ever felt like telling her story anonomously; it may be that this would be empowering for her. I think the market would always be there for her story!

    I just want to give full marks to the health care professionals who are looking after her. Many people have been criticised over this case, some undoubtedly deservedly so; however from the perceptive and resolute doctor who broke this case, through to those who are doing a terrific job of shielding Elizabeth and family from the media and guiding their decisions regarding issues such as pressure for interviews, I hold in high regard.

    I think it’s difficult for us to assess Rosmarie without knowing a lot more about her. It’s easier to assess and come to conclusions about Fritzl. I think she lived in an extreme situation where the odds were completely stacked against her in terms of being able to act in any way contrary to the dictates and will of her husband.

  • Stella

    Actually Tiina, I don’t know that Elizabeth would have been hurt that Fritzl appeared to like the other children more than her. An early photo of Elizabeth shows a defiant look. I imagine she was strong and picked up at a very early age that all was not alright with her Father and her attitude towards him would have been defiant. I think Fritzl would have picked up on her defiant streak and been determined to break it. I imagine he was attracted by her strength, and at the same time her dislike and desire to get away from him made him want to dominate her. I only wish her early attempts to flee from home had been successful.

  • Kellyd

    Thank you, Juliann !

    I’ve just read this.

  • Juliann, if you stick an http:// at the beginning of the link to your website in the little box immediately above the comments box, it will then make a working link back to your site, which it isn’t doing right now. This will help people to find your site.


    Christopher Rose
    Blogcritics Comments Editor

  • Christopher,
    Thank you so much for your suggestions. I did make the correction and the problem has been resolved


  • Kay

    I just saw an article in the paper that “60 Minutes” is going to have a documentary on Elisabeth Fritzl on their Sunday, June 1 show. Her lawyer, Mr. Herbst, is going to be on the show.

  • Ruvy

    I’m sorry if I seem a bit cold in these comments:

    I’m not surprised at all by what happened to these unfortunate women, and I’m not surprised at all that the police and officials responsible for public order should close their eyes for decades.

    The Austrians have brought us racism (the philosophy the Nazis followed so assiduously was developed in Austria, and emerged full grown in Germany after the international markets collapsed); they brought us the scum who carried out that racism in a holocaust of murder; they brought us the “Ve don’t see nuttin’ und follow orders” philosophy, the mantra of those convicted at Nürnberg. Yup, they have brought us all these wonderful things – given that, that this Josef Fritz got away with the stuff he did is not surprise at all.

    Let’s all have some delicious Austrian chocolate and Kaffe mit Schlag to go with all of this, ja?

  • lunchlady

    Hi Ruvy: I tried to post the link to an opinion piece from the Telegraph from 2-3 weeks ago that has the same general opinion of Austria as yourself but it triggered the spam filter for some reason.
    I have been to Austria 3 times and I found it rather grim and low on fun, in spite of the picturesqueness and the beer. I hated the gory religious art and the officiousness of anyone who dealt with the public and the Verboten signs everywhere.

  • There were reports that the Fritzl’s story would be on 60 Minutes. Was this reported wrong?

  • Hi Genma,

    I checked out 60 Minutes also but nothing related to the Fritzl’s.


  • Kellyd

    Hello everybody,

    Here is the link for 60 Minutes.
    It is an Australian channel-initially I thought that was 0n 60 min in USA.
    To be honest with you the documentary was very very shallow…

  • Terry

    Re: Tiina’s comments: I’ve been following this story closely and also feel very protective towards Elisabeth and her children.

    I think Stella hit the nail in the head whith her comments:
    “Elizabeth shows a defiant look. I imagine she was strong and picked up at a very early age that all was not alright with her Father and her attitude towards him would have been defiant. I think Fritzl would have picked up on her defiant streak and been determined to break it. I imagine he was attracted by her strength, and at the same time her dislike and desire to get away from him made him want to dominate her”

    I have this thought in the back of my mind, that Fritzl might have wanted to dominate his mother when he was a young man, but couldn’t. Is it possible that Elisabeth reminded him of his own mother, who was a strong woman? Am I getting in Freud territory here?

  • lunchlady

    I think Freudian territory is appropriate here. Kampusch says that her captor also idolized his mother, and compared Kampusch to his mother. Kampusch of course came up short.
    Raising boys is tricky. If you aren’t tough enough they think they can walk on women with impunity and do nothing around the house. If you are too tough they take their rage out on other women who come too close. But maybe its the Y chromosome that’s the problem. Some men seem to turn into predators and violators for no apparent reason.

  • Marcie

    To Terry,

    You got the Freud thing all mixed up – go read a bit more.

  • Terry


    May I suggest you do some reading yourself: the link to the comment policy is provided just below.

    I appreciate that you disagree with what I think, and that’s fine, but there’s no need for you to post such an arrogant comment.


  • Anna

    What an interesting site – there is almost a hysteria here, built on an obsession about this case. What a horrible man this Josef is and how sad it is that Elizabeth has had her life destroyed, as if HE let her have much of a life in the first place. And, how interesting that so many are are targeting Rosemarie with hatred when we dont even know anything about her.

  • Kellyd,
    Thanks for the link. No depth. Nothing new. You were right. We are all commenting on this from different perspectives. It is good hearing so many share their opinions. This story is powerful.

    Thank you for giving us something to think about so deeply.

  • Deanie

    Rosemarie Fritzl was living in their guest house when Josef starting raping their daughter in 1977. She lived in the guest house from 1973 to 1982, 9 years, because Josef beat and bullied her. Josef insisted on the children continuing to live with him during those years. And it was during those years that Josef started building the cellar prison. So both the start of incest and the dungeon construction went on while Rosemarie was away.

    I still think the mother should have known, but apparently Elisabeth never told her when she visited her mom.

    Regarding giving a TV interview I think it would be best to prepare well for it, keep it solely under Elisabeth’s control, and then go ahead and do it. I don’t think changing identity and hiding and pretending to be someone else is healthy in the long run. It’s far better to be honest and have things out in the open. She will receive a lot of sympathy when people can attach a name to a face. She’s clearly not ready but I think it would be a good thing to do eventually.

    Maybe she’s reluctant to take $ for interviews because she always had to sell her own body just to keep her family from starving or being murdered outright. But this Austrian way of “looking the other way” and extreme privacy and outright denial of what’s going on is definitely not healthy. I hope Elisabeth can break free from that kind of thinking.

  • lunchlady

    Anna: I’m a little confused by your mixture of compliments and censure. Rosemarie’s role is interesting, even if her exact role is unclear- I don’t think anyone has expressed hatred for her, just disbelief that she was totally clueless, or dismay that she didn’t do anything if she did know something. I find it more interesting that few if any men are arriving to say anything, not that it is being considered that Rosemarie was not totally in the dark and virtuous.
    Female circumcision is performed by women and is being kept in place as a requirement for virtue partially by women. Sexual abuse of children probably also has some complicity by women and mothers. This is not a new idea.
    Leaving your children with a husband you know to be abusive seems like bad judgement. It would imagine that I would sever relations with such a husband and try to also end such a man’s custody/visitation rights, but Austria may even now be a place that doesn’t recognize such requests. I hope Rosemarie acted as she did from a sense of helplessness, not self-protection at the expense of her children.

  • Kay

    I am not sure how much Freud is accepted in the psychiatric field in today’s world. One question for Juliann. It is wonderful to come to this website and have professionals give us some sound insight into this awful case. Another question for Juliann is why many of us have been so personally affected by this story. It is not easy to cope with this when we feel helpless to do anything for Elisabeth. I think that’s why we want to see her triumph over this in some way like Natasha has. Natasha has used her experience to help others. A beautiful woman inside and out. I hear horrible stories in the news quite often in the USA. This incites extreme sadness in some that hear and extreme and violent thoughts of justice against the perpetrator (spelling?) in other hearers. In the end, the act has been committed and we weren’t there to help in some way. How could we have helped? The last one that bothered me as much as this was when Foster parents wrapped a 3 year foster child in the closet in a blanket in the dead of summer and left for a family reunion for the weekend. He was dead when they returned. Marcus Fiesel was the child’s name if one wanted to search on the computer for the case. He was three and never had a chance in life due to his caregivers. Both Foster parents are in prison for life. I feel quite helpless and dumbfounded when I hear of these cases and marvel at what would possess a person to be this selfish and merciless! We all have thoughts and get angry at relatives. But, most of us would never carry out such a horrendous, premeditated crime. Long story short…what possesses the criminal mind…what goes wrong when a father does this to his daughter or a parent to their baby? There may be no absolute answer!

  • bloggergirl

    The point that concerns me most in recent reports is that therapists see it fit to have Elisabeth in ‘family therapy’ with her mother. Does this not perpetuate the dysfuntion and ignore the inexcusable ‘blind eye’ that woman turned towards her daughter for 24 years?

  • Kay


    Doesn’t someone have a responsibility to help reconnect Elisabeth with her mother, physically and emotionally, if that is what Elisabeth might want? I would expect that a therapist would not force either of them into ‘family therapy’ if they did not want some form of future relationship.

  • Sandie

    I agree with you Kay. They are both adults and the ‘family therapy’ would be by consent. Elisabeth has been isolated for so long, it would be unfair not to try to help her re-build a relationship with her mother.

    I do not believe that Rosemarie is a “colluder”. Nor do I believe she was the “silent one”. You have to know something to be silent about it.

    And as for now, she has become the “silent one” because too many people in the world are prepared to blindly blame her.

  • Jeannie Boo

    Freud was known for saying that little girls desired to have sex with their fathers – I think the Freud stuff above is a little tacky.

  • molly


    Spot on!! This monster of a tyrant, Josef Fritzl, would have driven an emotional wedge between Elisabeth and Rosemarie long before the imprisonment and the sexual abuse. It is about time that someone helps to remove that wedge.

  • Jane

    I have just read all the comments in this site and think, ‘WOW’. What can I say?

    The line that got me the most was from post no. #19, which said:

    “Who would think the ‘unthinkable’? Would you?”

    I started to think about my partner and would I ever think that he could do such a thing – “No, I wouldn’t – he wouldn’t do such a thing”. I bet Rosemarie thought this too.

    I then started to think about if my partner had done this and whether people would believe that I did not know – “No, they wouldn’t – they would say I had a repressed memory, cognitive disonance or chose to look the other way”. Just as they have said about Rosemarie.

    Could you ever believe that your partner would do such a thing? If he did, do you think you deserve to be blamed?

    How do you know your partner is not doing horrible things now?

  • kelly

    Jane, ooh, this sends shivers down my spine. I certainly wouldn’t think I was to blame if I found out my man was getting it somewhere else – my child, a prostitute or otherwise. I get your point and I think others should stop blaming the mother too. You go girl!

  • Kellyd

    In my opinion it was not a good idea to reconnect Elizabeth with her mother…they/we do not know too much about Rosemarie’s role in this story.
    Elizabeth can not be HERSELF ! She might have some questions for her mother…questions that she might not be able to ask (under these circumstances) because she has to “protect” her mom…

  • Lane

    I imagine that Rosemary has never received any professional counseling (or any other kind of help, for that matter) before now, and this might be the first time that she fully comprehends the extent of the damage caused by Fritzl’s actions, as well as her own shortfall as a mother.
    I think that Rosemary and Elisabeth need to be together to allow them to build the healthy mother-daughter relationship they’ve never been allowed to have because of Frizl.
    It would be a difficult time for Rosemary having to deal with the unthinkable reality of what her daughter has suffered, and even if she suspected that something was wrong, the extent of the details would have been shocking.
    I don’t believe that Rosemary intentionally turned a “blind eye” on her daughter, but I do think that she became somewhat detached as a way of protecting herself, perhaps because she didn’t know how else to deal with the situation.
    I honestly hope that the help they are receiving is in Elisabeth’s best interest as well as the children.

  • Kay

    Jane and Kelly – Agreed!!!!

    Thinking or pretending that the mother did not know or is in any way to blame is hypocrisy.

  • Sandie

    Lane, I too think that Elisabeth and Rosemarie need time together. Who else could begin to understand what each of them have been through and who else will continue to suffer the consequences of all that went on, other than each other. They are probably the best support that each of them will ever find, so long as they are helped to help each other. Lets give them a chance and lets hope they can build something new that will be good for each other.

  • molly

    I do not understand why Elizabeth can not be HERSELF?

  • Lane

    I agree Sandie, those two women have been under Fritzl’s control for so many years, and they have both suffered greatly because of him.
    I hope for them to be able to be strong for each other from now on.
    My biggest wish is that Rosemary learns to be the sort of mother Elisabeth needs, and not a negative person in her life, someone she needs to take care of and defend, when it is Elisabeth who needs the most love and care.
    As you say, though: they do deserve a chance.

  • Why is it so important that Rosemarie be blameless?

  • Kelly

    I don’t know that it’s important for Rosemarie to be blameless…but I do strongly believe that she shouldn’t be tried in the court of public opinion until we have solid proof that she’s done something wrong. Think of John and Patsy Ramsey, Gerry and Kate McCann, Lindy Chamberlain.

  • Lane

    On the other hand, it could be asked: Why is is so important to blame Rosemary?

  • I am curious, how many of those that have commented on this article, been sexually abused by one parent with the other unconsciously ignoring the realities of the situation? This entire story seems to push a lot of buttons for people. Many appear so concerned that the Norman Rockwell like mother-daughter relationship be preserved. What if the situation was reversed and Rosemarie had been sexually abusing Elizabeth and Josef was thought to be unaware for many years? Would people feel as passionate for a man?

  • Original Kay

    Just to clarify what we mean by is “Rosemarie to blame”…are we thinking she took an active part in abusing the children for her own sadistic pleasure …. or …are we thinking Rosemarie was an enabler out of personal weakness due to her fear of Josef? I’m not clear on what the suspicions are here. This, of course, is being investigated by the police and we’ll get a report on that in a few months when the trial starts. I would like to say that it seems alot of people knew about the abuse that went on in the family and were powerless to do anything. It appears that Josef was part of a “good old boy” system that supported his behavior even as far as for him to get out of prison after raping someone in less than two years! Apparently, he “knows” people? The right people? If this is true, what, short of Rosemarie taking the law in her own hands and gunning him down…could she do…if her society and the law would not back her up? In my humble opinion..Rosemarie knew what was going on when Elisabeth was at home and may have been glad that Elisabeth was off anywhere as long as she was away from Josef. But, I don’t think she knew Elisabeth was in the basement. If she did, then she would definitely be an accomplice. That will be for the police to investigate and determine. So far, they are saying she didn’t know. I am not making excuses for her or for anyone, but this Josef character is a dangerous criminal and should have been handled by the law as such to protect all involved! Less than 2 years for rape at knife point and breaking and entering??????? NO WAY! Life in prison???? YES!!!

  • tags

    The mother knew!!!!!!! I hope this truth is exposed and she is prosecuted along with her husband!!!!!!

  • lunchlady

    I think the larger question we are all asking is more like “How can something like this happen?” rather than “Is Rosemarie to blame?”
    I also think about how less severe cases of incest and abuse can go on for years. Even if no adult figures it out and decides to do anything about it, why don’t the victimized children come forward more often and complain? I know some of the reasons but its so sad that there isn’t more protection for children, which in turn protects the perpetrators.

  • Mary SzuJin

    I believe Rosemary knows everything about her monster husband and his double life.She even accepted him after he was being convicted once for rape. She just chose not to do anything about elizabeth because it would mean exposing the whole truth since too many children are involved as the family got bigger and bigger it was probably also too late and too messy to do anything about it.So she just shut up and let her monster husband do as he pleased.She does not care about elizabeth. Her monster husband had not slept with her for years and chose instead to sleep with their daughter elizabeth.rosemary may be resentful about this fact and chose to ignore everything.Looking after all the babies also kept her busy and happy. Rosemary is not a victim, she is worst than the monster. I believe the Police are not doing much about her because she is very important for elizabeth and the whole family at this stage. They need her and to know that she is as guilty as her monster husband would probably kill them. The thought of it would distroy them totally.

  • Lane

    If Rosemary knew everything, then why would Fritzl wait until she left for Italy to take Kerstin to hospital?
    I’m not defending Rosemary, just wanting to see what others think.

  • Lane

    Sam Weaver,
    You make a great point when you ask: What if the roles were reversed? I think the reason why the issue of Rosemary’s involvement has affected so many people is because a mother is meant to be the child’s protector; her job is to shield her child/dren from harm and Rosemary failed miserably in that role.
    If she had been the abuser and the father claimed to know nothing, would we be just as furious towards him? Probably not, after all, it’s the mother’s job to protect her children…as most people see it

  • Have anyone read any news about the other siblings? I think I saw only one article about one of sisters speaking about her visit to Elisabeth. And the young grandchildren that lived with him. Any other updates about them?

  • Original Kay

    The UK Telegraph has an article today that things are going to start moving with court testimonies from Elisabeth probably next month. They’ve been interviewing over 100 witnesses to collect evidence. Josef will be in his cell watching Elisabeth’s cross examination and testimony in court. I couldn’t copy the website here, but search for it on the UK Telegraph. I hope they “throw the book” at Josef this time. He’s gotton away with too much in his life and it’s time to play hard ball!

  • Original Kay

    Here’s the name of the article if you want to search for it….this site wouldn’t accept the web page when I tried to copy it: “Josef Fritzl to see ‘dungeon family’ for first time since arrest”.

  • lunchlady

    This old sick guy doesn’t have much time left to play hard ball with. Reports are that he is wasting away and crying in his cell. What a wimp compared to Elizabeth.
    I think it would be more satisfying for new legislation in Austria to be enacted with his name attached to it.

  • Original Kay

    Crocodile tears! He got caught! He’s probably rueing the day he took Kerstin to the doctor when she was dieing. Otherwise, they’d all still be stuck down in that cellar and possibly starving to death when he dropped dead. As long as he’s alive, he’s a torment and fear to them. That despot could hire a hit man from prison to get revenge. Don’t put anything past him. If stronger legislation is passed it should have Elisabeth’s name on it, NOT his!

  • For anyone interested in how Kirsten is doing please click on the link.

  • Jen

    According to a Telegraph UK article, Kerstin has regained consciousness and has now been reunited with Elisabeth. I hope this is accurate; it would be fantastic news if it is.

    I read in another article that Elisabeth might be ready to testify soon, in front of a hearing panel, in order to speed up and clear the way to trial. So, more positive news!

  • Kelly

    I hope that Elisabeth is there when Kirsten starts to regain consciousness. I can’t imagine how terrified she may feel when she opens her eyes and finds that she’s surrounded by strangers.
    I would love to see her face when her mom tells her that they’re all finally free from the dungeon!

  • Kelly

    Thanks Jen, you answered my prayers! 🙂

  • Judy

    Dr Mitchell,

    It is important for Rosemarie to be blameless for the abuse until proven otherwise. It is an underpinning tennet of our legal system.

    She can be blamed for staying with this horrible man, but what good is that going to do anyone??

  • Jen

    Here’s a link to another article about Kerstin. Hope it works.

    I’m over the moon about this latest news!

  • Kellyd

    Wonderful news, Jen. Thanks for sharing! It is just a MIRACLE ! She SAVED them and she SURVIVED !!!!!!! I am just crying !

    How would they explain Kerstin that the world she is in now is the real one ? OMG………..

  • Jen


    I cried too when I read those articles, I don’t want to get my hopes up too much though, as it’s hard to know what to believe with so much contradictory information out there…
    I’m hoping for the best for Kerstin.

  • mary szujin

    The monster thinks Rosemary is dumb and ignorant and doesn’t know anything except looking after babies, so he waited for her to go to Italy before taking Kerstin to the hospital. Just as well for her not to be around. She hasn’t been around for 24years so she is innocent. She may not know the extend of his crime but she sure as hell knows more than anyone dares to believe. If she was such a doting mother as some say, then how does she not know when her children are hurting? Even some of the tenants knew Elizabeth had been abused at an early age, but did not want to be involved. So where is the doting mum?? Okay so she is weak and terrified for herself. How can she be so terrified at the cost of her beloved daughter’s life? not to mention the strings of grandchildren that followed who will suffer the rest of their lives all because she was too scared or was she just pretending not to know. If no one believes she had any idea of what was going on, does anyone think the monster would think otherwise? She fooled him too. So this is why he waited for her to go to Italy.

  • Kellyd

    These kids (the “upstairs” ones who were “selected” by the monster) will be “mutilated” for the rest of their life ! How could they ever overcome the fact that they were raised by their “grandparents” while their mom was down in the cellar …and their “grandpa” was their “dad” ?

  • bloggergirl

    You indeed have to know something to be silent about it. Just like Rosemarie knew her huband was a convicted of raping someone at knifepoint and continued to bring her children up around him, continued to to fail to question why one of her daughters repeatedly made attemtps to escape. I understand how sigificant a part denial plays in a dysfunctional family unit. I also hope that the human conscience truly knows right from wrong and that the instinct to protect our own is one of the strongest forces in existence. Without them, where does that leave us?

  • If anyone is interested in what graphologist Michelle Dresbold (author of Sex, Lies, and Handwriting) has to say about Elizabeth’s handwriting. Click here. Scroll down and on the left-hand side of her home page is a link Elizabeth Fritzl. Click on it and it will take you to the page where Michelle writes about what she saw in Elizabeth’s handwriting since her release.

  • Lane

    So, what you’re saying is that Rosemarie knew all about the cellar and Elisabeth being trapped right under her feet for years, giving birth to a number of babies down there, yet she pretended not to know? And she fooled Fritzl for all those years by putting on an innocent act? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it doesn’t really make sense to me. Why would she do that? Do you really think Rosemarie could be that cunning and heartless towards her own daughter?

  • Lane

    I agree with you in that Rosemarie didn’t do enough to protect Elisabeth before she was locked in the cellar.

  • Juliann,
    I read the article on the handwriting “expert”. I would find it more interesting if she saw samples of Elizabeth’s handwriting without knowing it was Elizabeth’s and THEN came to the conclusion she wrote. But to know that she has read countless articles about the family, I find it hard to believe her analogy.

    It reminds me of the body language “expert” lady on Fox who is only going to read into the body language that Bill O’reilly agrees with.

  • original Kay

    I found the handwriting analysis quite interesting. Elisabeth’s “h” was very odd the way that she signed her name with the tail jutting down.

  • Cindy

    Juliann Mitchel – if you could delete the two other posts from me, I would really appreciate it. This is the correct version – correctly edited.

    I want all readers here to know that my suggestions and comments are not to be taken as scripture. I vent and I write on this blog because it is currently the only way I have of expressing my own hurt over what Elizabeth’s family has suffered, and my inability to help her. This being said………..

    I think Austria as a whole needs to focus on aiding the Fritzls – psychologically, physically, emotionally, and financially. There needs to be some accountability here. If you have an entire culture so hell-bent on forgiving criminals, then you also need to be accountable for when that criminal commits another crime. The financial resources for the therapy and future of the Fritzl children should not even be questioned. Tax every official or office in that country with a small fee for this family’s therapy. The women who were raped by Frizl previously, the parents of that girl who was murdered — they should all benefit from this tax till the day they die.

    The rest of the world – what we need to do is to make Austria as a country accountable for their actions. I believe it is now painfully obvious that countries notorious for crimes against humanity need serious and long-lasting influence from other cultures to repair the damage to their psyche’s – to restore their compassion for humanity. This is all hindsight, of course, but perhaps from the end of World War II onwards, the rest of the world should have forced humanitarian-type organizations into Austria. I was reading up on Austria as a whole and have found other stories of police brutality against blacks, against Jews, and against other minorities within the past 10 years. While this is true of every country across the world, we have to take into consideration the historical flavor of Austria. Their whole structure and country needs to be infiltrated with cultures from Across The World. Hitler is dead. His ideology should be dead also. I feel it was easy to overlook how their minorities are treated, because Austria as a whole appears to be a stable country. Crimes against minorities should not be tolerated and it should be the world’s responsibility to step and do what they can to replace that animosity with good-will.

    On a happier note, I would like to mention how inherently pleased I was to learn that Kerstin was jamming away to Robbie Williams while coming out of her coma. She was smiling at doctors and nurses and wanting to go to a concert!! How satisfying was that?! I was also near tears hearing Elizabeth wants to push the trial forward as quickly as possible so that Josef does not have an opportunity to use his failing health as a platform in which to avoid trial. Elizabeth is truly an amazing woman to be admired and commended for her ability to prevail against one of the world’s most heinous crimes. In two short months, since learning of this tragedy, I can tell you that she has become a personal hero to me!

  • Tags

    God bless you and your children Elizabeth!!!! Nothing in this world can make up for what you have been through but I hope the rest of your life finds you overwhelmed with love, joy and peace. Please know that there are people the world over who hold you dear in their hearts and pray for you daily!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are my hero!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kellyd

    Wondeful comments, Cindy.
    Elizabeth and Kerstin are a heroes for me, too !

  • Jen

    Well said, Cindy.
    Elisabeth must be such an incredibly strong woman to have survived what she did. I admire her greatly and feel inspired by the extent of her recovery. Kerstin has obviously inherited her mother’s will to live. They are both constantly in my thoughts, and as you said, they deserve to be looked after in every possible way.
    I hope that Elisabeth remains strong and that she is able to go through the process of giving evidence for the trial.

  • Kay


    Beautiful expression of your feelings. I get the gist. I looked at a website about Austrian crime and it appears that violent crime is rare and they have a low crime rate. This all the more does not give Josef an excuse of “Nazi occupation when he was a child” for his crimes. Most others in Austrian society apparently haven’t followed his route. I am the first to give people benefit of the doubt and I did ponder this excuse. My final conclusion: He is a cruel despot and a danger to society. He probably worshipped the Nazi. He can only be handled by professional law enforcement. Professional law enforcement needs to be backed up by strong laws. In the next few months we will see how this pans out. I agree that the “world” should collectively question Austria on any punishment for Josef short of life imprisonment. It is good to have a place to express our opinions and our hurt over this with sane people….because…I think the worst is yet to come in details and how this case unravels in terms of sensory shock.

  • Lane

    After reading today about another case, this time an Italian woman who’d been held in captivity for 18 years by her brother, sister AND MOTHER because she became pregnant out of wedlock, I’m beginning to have second thoughts about Rosemary’s innocence…

  • Tracey

    Does anyone think they have OCD in relation to following this case??

  • Jemma

    How can we judge people by knowledge of other people? Aren’t we all individuals?

  • Lane

    I don’t know about OCD, but I know I have never being this affected by any other news story before.
    I just can’t let it go…

  • Lane


    You’re right – we can’t judge one case by the details of another one. I stand corrected.

  • anakris

    All of the comments posted here seem sincere and for the most part well thought out. I think the main thing is that this whole 24 year saga is over for the Fritzl family. We may never really know for sure what Joseph Fritzl was thinking and feeling when he committed his crimes but what we do know is that no matter how hard we try (including the psychiatrists) we can never crawl into another person’s head and know exactly what goes on there. That is the ultimate area of privacy for all of us and it is our “kingdom” as Fritzl himself alluded to. So all we can do now is learn from all of this and report courageously anyone we suspect is abusing another human being. I am sure Austria will never ignore again a situation that looks suspicious.

  • Another story about a mother locking her children in the cellar. In this case, she skinned them and ate the children’s flesh. The more we question the innocence of Rosemarie Fritzl, more stories are revealing mothers can be as cruel and abusive as perverted fathers.

  • deanna

    I realize that Elisabeth loves her kids but I dont know if I could knowing they were made in such a terrible situation like rape by your own father …..its amazing to me that she sees no hate when she looks at them I realize that it is not the kids fault but damn

  • Jen

    I understand what you’re saying, deanna – I think Elisabeth has been able to emotionally separate her children from her/their father, which wouldn’t be an easy thing to accomplish. More proof, if we needed any, of this amazing woman’s spirit and positive thinking…I’m, in awe at everything she has endured, there are no words to describe Elisabeth, an amazing woman and human being.

  • deanna

    Jen, I agree she is amazing I dont think I could have survived that ordeal. She is very strong they are saying he might have raped Kerstin too and they want to question her why not just ask Elisabeth she would know.

  • Gayle

    I have been reading your comments and agree that they are “sincere and well thought out”, more so than any other blog I’ve found on the Fritzl situation. I, too, have been very affected by this case, I think mostly because I admire Elizabeth and would like to know more of how she coped and even triumphed in such a hell–where did she draw her strength from? I don’t know how long I would have lasted without going crazy or committing suicide, trying to abort the pregnancies, etc. I wish I could tell her how very much I admire her.

  • Tiina

    My belief is that her children motivated her to keep going on. I read a news story in early days of this case in which it was said that she had contemplated suicide at some time, but didn’t do it because she was afraid how aggressive her Father would have become towards the children afer her death.

    I am sure she did everything she could to protect her children.

  • Judy

    I know that Elizabeth must love her children but I wonder also when you have children under these circumstances (Not Out of Love)do you look at them in a different way. When she looks at her children what does she see?????? They are a constant reminder of the hell she has lived over these past 24 years.

  • deanna

    Judy I agree and the was my point in a few posts back…..

  • deanna

    I just have to say something else …Mr fritzl is the Devil I hate him for what he did to that poor girl it makes me sick Im fasinated with this story because its amazing to me how she lived and was treated so badly all those years, and kept going the kids must have been the ticket without them she would have ????

  • Judy

    I also wonder about Elizabeth’s brothers and sisters, not much has been said about them. How has this affected them???? Are they in hidding too, they must also have children, what about them. So many questions and so few answers.

  • Gayle

    I’ve wondered a lot about Elizabeth’s brothers and sisters, too. When she disappeared, did any of them try to find her? Austria is a small country, and apparently there is at least one expert on cults in the country(the one who spotted Elizabeth’s letter as a fake when the doctor showed it to him). Even if they believed she did join a cult, didn’t they want to try to contact her? The fact that her family allowed her to drop off the face of the earth is one of the saddest things among many heartbreaking aspects of this story. What about the sister she was planning to live with–wasn’t she a little curious about why Elizabeth suddenly changed her mind and didn’t tell her? How about the brother she said she was so close to in one of her letters?

  • Jen

    Isn’t that THE saddest things about this case – the fact that no one went looking for Elisabeth? That the entire family just accepted her disappearance and the story about her joining a cult? Either Fritzl had that much control over them all or they simply didn’t care…
    I can’t help but think of Elisabeth in that cellar for years, hoping that SOMEBODY would care enough about her or the babies, supposedly abandoned at her parent’s doorsteps, to try to find her. I can imagine there would’ve been moments, like when the first baby was taken “upstairs”, were she might’ve dared hope that it could raise alarm bells, but it didn’t. How hopeless it must’ve all seemed at times!
    I agree with Tiina that her children were a strong motivation for her to survive. They are certainly a reminder of the torment she has endured, but at the same time, they also became her strength and her reason for living.

  • deanna

    I agree for the first 5 years before the kids arrived she must have been going crazy OMG I cant imagine thinking aobut boyfriends, flowers, trees, shopping etc…she had nothing NOTHING only lame food Im sure and sex sex sex with her father It makes me sick. but after her kids came I think it did give her a reason and something to do.

  • Kay

    I feel SO sorry for Elisabeth with this latest news that she is too ill to testify at this time and face Josef! I can feel her pain! My prayers are constantly with her!

  • Brenda

    It is kind of strange but, now the 3 children that lived upstairs are now being held captive. Since this has all happened they can no longer live their “free” life. I am sure these 3 children must miss their friends, school and freedom.

    What a mess this all is for the ENTIRE family, how can any of them have a normal life again.

  • I am sorry to inject here but this family never had a normal life. Never.

  • Deanna

    I dont see how she could ever have a normal life again. She missed so much in those 24 years. Im also wondering why they have shown a photo of felix and not stephen or kerstin. Another thing I dont understand is why the rosemarie went to the celler to retrive items for them if I was elisabeth I would want NOTHING out of that hell hole they can get all new things.

  • Kellyd

    Deanna, where have you seen a photo with Felix ?

  • Kay

    The children don’t know the world as we do. Their world was the cellar from birth and that’s all they know!

  • Lane

    I remember reading somewhere that either Felix or Stefan made a comment that “the outside world is so beautiful”. They have so much more to discover once they are able to leave that clinic where they are, it’s so incredibly sad that they have been deprived of so many things we take for granted, even clouds passing by are fascinating to them! It sounds like Kerstin and Felix will probably adjust better than Stefan, just by what I’ve read about their personalities.

  • Kellyd

    I feel so sorry for Stefan ! They do not talk too much about him !

  • Lane

    I think Stefan is having a harder time adjusting to the change than the others. I read that he spends a lot of time staring at the fish tank and playing video games, but on a positive note an article said that his academic skills are very good. He’s been having tutoring, like the other children and it sounds like he’s quite bright. Perhaps he’s just an introvert.

  • Tiina

    “why the rosemarie went to the celler to retrive items for them if I was elisabeth I would want NOTHING out of that hell hole they can get all new things.”

    I read that she went to pick some things for Kerstin who had been brought to clinic. Felix and Stefan also had been brought familiar things from cellar to help them adjust to the outside world. As great as freedom is, being suddenly transferred to a new environment is very stressful for them also and familiar things can bring them some comfort. That’s why they created the “bunker space” to the clinic so that the children can go to that bunker when the new environment gets too stressful for them.

    By the way, I agree with Lane that Stefan might just be introvertive but very bright. If he can already play videogames – wow! There has been no mention that videogames had been played in the cellar, so he must have learnt in the clinic.

  • deanna

    ok first off I saw a photo of felix with the ones of elisabeth and her parents and lisa and monkia as well as the older sister Ulrike and rosemarie. As far as felix goes he will ajust ok I think he is araid of rustling leaves the color blue and cell phone sounds but he will get over that fast. Stephen from what I have read is very smart but has trouble with balance and he is hunched over due to the low ceilings in the celler.

  • deanna

    I forgot to say the video games he is playing are on a computer they gave the family in the hospital.

  • Kellyd

    Deanna, you might have seen Alexander. They did not show any photo with Elizabeth or any of the cellar kids…

  • Kellyd,
    I am positive it would be Alexander, and Rosemarie, not Felix and Elisabeth; only because if were Felix and Elisabeth, it would be splashed across every tabloid and news paper from here to New Delhi, and the guy who got the picture would be whistling his way to Fort Knox with the cheque…

  • Sharon

    I am concerned about the comments that identify what Rosmarie “should” know – they all assume a certain mindset and emotional capacity. Sorry if I sound judgemental, but from my experience this demonstrates an ignorance to the effects of abuse.

    I came from an abusive family (beaten frequently by an enraged father) – On occasion I could not sit at school due to the extent of the bruising from beating. As no-one commented I accepted that I had been beaten because I was so bad. My mother retreated into a haze of alcohol.

    Then I got married – it was fine at first – but then his rage grew too. I retreated into a haze of alocohol 🙁 His rage was absolute, he became sexually abusive and through his rages screamed that this is what men are like “get used to it”.

    I only mention this to try and explain. Someone above identified it as living in a fog. For me I was living in ‘black’. It as all-consuming. It was too much for me to tidy my house, look after myself, or even read as I could not concentrate on the words. The world was just about surviving the black. Yes my children suffered. I feel so dreadful about what I allowed them to survive. I don’t know what he did to them – the world was too black. I could not overcome it.

    After a few years of therapy, I still am not sure what decent treatment one should be able to expect from another human being in a personal relationship. I don’t know at what point I should have drawn the line – or even how. I do know that just surviving can be a supreme effort.

    Elizabeth seems to be a far greater person than I – she did more than survive. She seeme to have what it takes through all of that to care for her children. And what incredible respect I have for her, for that.

    We find ourselve where we find ourselves – maybe I should be a better person, but I can’t behave in a way I cannot. Maybe Rosemarie chose to ignore. Maybe she too was surviving in the ‘black’?

  • deanna

    Sharon , no offense but we are talking about the fritzl’s NOT you thanks

  • David

    What I have seen on the net, in attacks on Rosemarie, (and your site is far from the only one) have been subjective speculation, based not on knowledge of the woman herself, or her situation as it was, but based on hearsay evidence, slander and tabloid gossip…
    it would seem that many women and some men, are so afraid that they would be like her, that they have to repudiate any positive comments on her, and her situation… it saddens me that this is so, even though I can understand it’s origins…

    Sharon, don’t take Deanne’s comment to heart, she doesn’t understand, and can’t possibly… all the knowledge/education in the world cannot substitute for one hour, one day, or one week, one year, of personal experience… and that is what is missing in a lot of these discussions… thank you for your input…

    you have been stronger than you give yourself credit for, you took that first step into therapy, and you actually went through 2 years of therapy; I am sure the good doctor here can testify to the many who don’t even make it to her door for the first appointment, out of fear of finding out something about themselves or their situation, they don’t want to know… and end up in worse shape or situations…

    Rosemarie is finally getting that therapy now, and with the support of her family, she will recover, and live out her life in some freedom, maybe even re-marry; even at her age, she’s not a bad looking woman, and NO I am not visually impaired or desperate 😉

    who knows, if JF can be getting love letters, what about Rosemarie, Kerstin and Elizabeth… has no one thought of that…Lydia Gouardo, after 28 years of sexual abuse, and REAL physical torture, found a man (or was found) and had 3 more children with him, along with the 6 from her father… and is living a happy life, outside Paris…

    if Rosemarie’s daughter is big enough to forgive Rosemarie, {and again, what hard evidence is there that she has to), then who are we to judge her… I say, leave the poor woman alone, she has enough to deal with…

    Sharon, that goes for you to… God bless you, and keep on fighting… I’ll remember you on my prayer wall… have one wall, dedicated to prayers for others… even at 4×6 it gets full… got the idea from the West Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem, when I worked for a certain international church… began posting prayer requests on my office wall… now do it at home… good place to meet with God, if that is the inclination… or if not God, to meditate… it is non-denominational, all religious beliefs welcome, even atheists… but that is off topic, excccccccuuuuuuuse me ;)feel free to edit this out…

    speaking of out, I’m out of here, to get some fresh air… spending way too much time on this… summer is here, and there are better things to do… like play with my grand children, get to know my new daughter in laws to be, do some gardening and get a tan in the process(sister in law says I am looking pale, like Elisabeth:-) perhaps see you in the fall when The Trial starts… but more than likely not, will go find a more positive blog at that time…

    Kellyd, say hi to anita for me, deleting the URL’s, Cha…

  • Kellyd

    David, it is your choice to “leave”. Personally, I am sorry, because you always had good comments.
    Yes, we all have our live to take care of…
    Please, remember that Elizabeth needs OUR “collective” positive thoughts/energy… for her.

  • Kay


    Thanks for sharing. You give a real insight into how an abuse victim feels. I found your testimony extremely relevant to this topic and very moving.

  • Sharon,

    Thank you for sharing it sounds as if you have endured so much. I wish you health, happiness, and healing. You are a survivor and brave, yes brave is the word I want, for allowing us to read a little of what you have experienced. It takes so much to talk about being abused especially when you dont know how others will respond. Thanks for reaching out. There can be healing in the telling. Be good to you! You have a resilient spirit!


  • jennifer

    I for one think that Mr. Fritzl is hot …I think that elisabeth is one lucky girl getting to have such great sex all those years and he gave her 6 beautiful kids ..elisabeth I envy you girl ….


    how sad all this is Im so sorry for the whole family

  • Donna

    Who knows what Elisabeth Fritzl must be going through? Despite knowing what was happening was wrong, she must have tried to normalize it after a certain amount of time, even try to find pleasure in it. For my own part I imagine I would have to pretend that this man is NOT my father but someone who has done this to me , but is good to the children… I would have to try to make some positive out of it. Consequently she might be feeling waves of guilt. Elisabeth and her children might not want to prosecute their father. What do you do then? Someone take the continued burden off the shoulders of Elisabeth Fritzl and her family. I’ll make the choice for you Elisabeth. Sorry about this. Despite what you all might want, I am going to incarcerate him for the rest of his life . I will keep him alive for you and well fed so that if ever any of you need his organs, blood, anything ,I will take it from him for you. You don’t need to make a single decision, darlings, and all of you can always blame me. Live free!

  • Kay

    An excerpt from the UK Telegraph June 08: “Andrea Humer, 48, is Austria’s most senior female judge and will preside over the trial when it starts later this year.

    One of her first tasks will be to oversee the taking of a statement from Fritzl’s daughter Elisabeth, 42, who was held for 24 years in her father’s cellar in the town of Amstetten.”

  • Lane

    You’re definitely confusing Felix with Alex – thankfully there have been NO pictures of any of the three children held captive or Elisabeth. Sadly, we have seen the faces of Monica, Lisa and Alex, (the 3 “upstairs” children) which is bad enough.

    The second thing I wanted to say is that we’ve all had life experiences which influence our opinions, whether that entails abuse at the hands of carers, or neglect or we simply know of this things, we’re all equally entitled to our feelings and opinion on this matter.

    Lastly, I agree with David: There’s a life to live out there and I’m abandoning all forums to do with this case, as it has consumed too much of my time and energy. I will continue to think of Elisabeth and wish the best for her.

  • Wilfred

    Fritzl seems to have been a very cruel but creative creature, and he may have committed or planned further crime. I hope the police will investigate whether he was hiring some people to assist him and then killing them immediately. I also suspect that he was planing to save Kersten as the replacement for Elizabeth, whom he would kill soon.

  • lunchlady

    Two things in the news. Fritzl is writing and trying to sell his memoirs. Elizabeth is wanting to sue the doctors and police for releasing details about her family to the press. Apparently the old fox isn’t at death’s door after all. And Elizabeth has an unrealistic expectation that the world still stop being interested in her story.
    Does Austria not have the laws which prevent criminals from profiting for stories about their expolits? The article about Fritzl also says that the other prisoners are shouting out “Come out Satan, we want to play.” If celebrity criminals get protective custody then they aren’t getting the full experience of prison. I think the wardens don’t want to deal with the publicity of celebrity criminals getting hurt so they give them preferential treatment.

  • mary

    I wonder how she must have felt seeing the dungeon for the very first time in her life. She must think to herself “what kind of fool am I. Did all this really take place right under my feet all those years and my poor daughter giving birth to all those babies all alone.” I think it must surely make her ill. Not to mention, the air in the dungeon is enough to make anyone sick and to spend 40mins in there looking for things she’d never seen before in her life…. How could elizabeth make poor mum go through all that? Did she need those items for sentimental reasons or what? Was it the dress he bought her from Thailand and all the toys he bought their children on their birthdays, maybe even the christmas tree?
    I hope she won’t send her poor mum in there again incase there’s something else she forgot.

    The sooner she testifies against her father the better. This whole case is absurd!
    May God bless them all.
    Not till we hear the whole story in detail about what really happened can we rest. And may the lord have mercy on us too.

  • Kay

    The latest is (if we can believe everything we read in the media) that Fritzl will only get 10 years for incarceration….rape and murder can’t be proved. Elizabeth has not yet given a testimony! Austria does not run their sentences cumulative…..Fritzl plays Austria’s system and his family like a fiddle!

  • Deanna

    mary I agree…I had mentioned a few posts back that why would the mother go get Items for elisabeth and the kids HOW Stupid LIKE THEY CANT GET THEM IN THE HOSPITAL??? YOU WOULD THINK THAT SHE WOULD NOT WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THOSE iTEMS. She is out of that celler why long for the things that were in it I dont understand that at all.

  • Judy

    I don’t understand why the family does not give and interview so the public can see who they are and understand what they have been through.

    The longer they keep themselves locked up (again) in the hospital the more curious the public is going to be of them. Come out in the open, get it over with and it will be amazing how they will soon be forgotten. Only then can they get on with their lives.

    I just don’t understand what all this sercrecy is about, come out in the open and tell you story.

  • lunchlady

    I agree with Judy that outright exposure to the public eye would be easier in the long run, but Elizabeth’s mental and emotional state is hard for me to imagine and she might be unable to stomach the idea of cooperating with all those photographers and journalists jostling to get to them. She might be really angry at the world in general- they didn’t help her get out of the cellar, and now they want to stick their long noses into her business. She might be intensely ashamed and horrified at being identified in public as the Cellar Girl. It might make it impossible for her to have any sort of emotional stability. When I think I’m coping reasonably well with something difficult I start crying when someone gives me some sympathy, as it makes my stiff upper lip seem like fakery. She is also mad at the doctors and police who have been helping her and her family, because of the leaks of information. It doesn’t surprise me that she doesn’t trust anyone with authority and control over her, even before the leaks.
    So how do they get the freedom of a normal life, which is the thing they really need and deserve? It’s not realistic to think the world will respect their privacy, even if we were pre-Internet. The new identity idea might work for awhile, but the intrigue will make someone want to hunt them down, which probably wouldn’t be terribly hard even if they went to live in some super isolated place, which they might not like anyway.

  • Deanna

    well I dont know….if I was her I would probly just come out and face the world and take the money and just try to live normal I realize there is nothing normal about all this but she is free now and she needs to take advantage of it. Now maybe she is to fucked up in the head to ever live normal I dont know then again I dont know if its possible for someone to ever live peacefully with a past like hers and the kids omg I dont know how she can live normally anyway with people knowing her kids are incest kids no one will execpt them . the whole thing is fucked up but I do think she needs to befriend her old girlfriend who is trying to reach out to her a friend from the past is something she should lach on to.

  • Tiina

    Judy, your wrote: “I just don’t understand what all this sercrecy is about, come out in the open and tell you story.”

    This is not about secrecy, but want of privacy. Elisabeth’s wounds are very deep and I can understand very well that she does not want to come out in public and be always known as that “cellar girl”. I also believe that her chances of recovering are better if she can keep her real identity secret. When it comes to little Felix, do you think the little boy would like to be known as a cellar boy? They just desperately want to try to live as normal life as possible. Couldn’t we allow that to them? I don’t see that they have any obligation to come and tell their story to us.

    To Mary who wrote: “How could elizabeth make poor mum go through all that? Did she need those items for sentimental reasons or what?”

    Perhaps it wasn’t Elisabeth’s idea at all that Rosemarie went to the dungeon. Maybe Rosemarie herself wanted to see the place where her daughter was kept as a prisoner? Maybe Rosemarie wanted to punish herself (for not realising what was going on) by going there?

    As for bringing some items from the cellar: I already wrote about that. In one article it was mentioned that those items were for Kerstin. Since the cellar was the only place Kerstin had known in her whole life before the hospital, doctors probably wanted to have some familiar items brought for her so that there were something familiar in her new environment. Even though the new environment is much better than the old, it is still very stressful to get used to the new environment. Some familiar items might help the transition a little bit.

  • tracymae

    I wonder if elisabeth will ever be able to make love to a man after what she went through all those years. I believe that she should not come forward for the world she needs to say hidden cause if she comes out she will never have peace and the kids will never have peace. I just can’t see how she loves those kids. I realize they are hers and its not their fault but they are the kids from a monster situation. those kids are the product of INCEST ugly RAPE and terrible memories its amazing to me. I think they need to have Felix adopted into a good home and no one will know who he is and he will have a good life without the celler boy title.

  • Deanna

    tracy I kinda agree, if he was adopted into a new home he could have a good life. its to bad all those kids are not young enough to have been adopted out. if felix was adopted out he might never have to know that he is the product of incest how can they go on knowing that wow

  • Jen

    Traceymae and Deanna,
    I don’t believe little Felix would be better off if he was adopted out, he needs to be with Elisabeth and his siblings, do you honestly think mother and son would ever want to be separated????

    By the way, Deanna the one who’s “fucked up in the head” as you put it, is Fritzl.

    Couldn’t agree with you more: Elisabeth should NEVER be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do (including showing her face on TV) EVER AGAIN.
    The woman has lived a nightmare no of us can imagine, yet some people say “just get the interview over with”…well, it wouldn’t be that easy to just sit there and calmly relive 24 years of incarceration and rape to the whole world, SHE DOESN’T WANT TO DO IT, simple! She and her children haven’t asked for any of the things that happened to them, they are innocent victims of a horrendous crime and as such and their privacy should be respected.

  • Kelly

    Jen, I agree with everything you say! Well put!

    I know I was a bit disappointed to learn that Elisabeth doesn’t wish to have her personal life on display (so that people can pick it apart and make judgements about her or her children), but I certainly respect her decision. Maybe, years from now, when she’s ready, she’ll share some of her story with us and how she’s getting along now that she’s free.
    But I do think we all must be very careful with regards to what we think she “should” or “shouldn’t” do or has done. There isn’t one person here who has shared an identical experience such as Elisabeth and her family and it’s not up to us to define what is right and wrong for her.
    Just keep her in your prayers, that’s what she needs most from us right now.

  • Jen

    I just read your comment above also. Well said!

  • lise

    When it comes to Elisabeth Fritzl and her family, there are few models to compare. The length of time she survived, the abuse, and the source of the abuse is indeed horrific beyond our understanding. Publicity about the case is based upon the curiosity of the public. From what I have read, I think that Elisabeth is an amazing woman… she gave birth alone to seven children and provided them with love and nurturing while she herself was abused. As has been mentioned before, these are children born out of horrific abuse, yet Elisabeth has been nothing but a remarkably caring woman. The person in all of this who is a mystery is her mother. Over and over again, it has been proven that mothers’ of incest victims knew “something” was going on and failed to help. Given that we can again look at Elisabeth (who must have used her mother as a model in caring for her children alone) even more credit for pushing her mother into the role she presently occupies, caregiver for the group. It is the mother/grandmother who has faced the public and gone to the cellar to obtain the requested items, it is the grandmother/mother who has remained with the children and her daughter. People may be curious about this awfulness, but I think that maybe we can be more congratulatory to these people who have been victims of a horrific experience

  • Mary

    How could they ever live a normal life again? Maybe she could learn to accept that she and her children were born to suffer like this and nothing can change it. They were the chosen ones. They need not be ashame of themselves. They are innocent victims and should try to live life the best they can and be thankful that they did finally escape from hell. The world can go to hell because no one knows and no one would want to trade places with them. To testify or not to testify is up to her. Even if they hung the monster or sentence him to life in prison, it would not change anything. We all love to put him in his cellar chained up for 9mths and be whipped everyday for the rest of his life.

    But what’s More important is for Elizabeth to get plenty of support maybe from spiritual healers to learn to become peaceful, and maybe learn to live again as best she can. leave the past behind, get healthy and move on. She would also need plenty of money to help her get there. She should have daily exercise and meditation sessions and talk to professional care givers and get whatever she needs to help her cope everyday. She does not necessarily need to shun the public and be afraid of the media because nothing should ever hurt her anymore than what she had lived through till now. She can be helped to learn how to handle her new status in life. People will be talking about them for a long time and she can learn to not be afraid of what people think of her and her family and to learn to be able to talk about her pain.
    To achieve mental freedom is not impossible. She needs all the help possible and it would take time to heal. I wish she could achieve all these things one day.

  • lunchlady

    Their privacy should be respected, but it won’t be. They are celebrities now, like Paris or Britney. It wasn’t their choice, unlike the annoying ladies I just mentioned, but they are in the same boat. The world’s interest in the family, including us, is what will drive the media to hound them. A good picture gets someone a nice check because it sells magazines or generates clicks on a website.
    The practical and realistic thing to do, I think, is to go ahead and get the blood money (their own blood) from the press and then use it to live the celebrity life style with a bodyguards and a good security system. When the press and the public lose interest, which they eventually will, hopefully, then you can get rid of the bodyguards and go about your business with an occasional annoying photographer catching you out shopping or your kids walking to school. Actually, the bodyguards might continue to be needed because of the weirdos being sexually intrigued by the family. They may have to wait for a decade for the public to tire of seeing pictures of them at grocery store.
    However I doubt anyone in the family is in the emotional condition to withstand this sort of additional stress-inducing excitement. But they may not have any choice if they want to get out of their current prison.

  • Kay

    The latest I’ve read is that Elizabeth has given her testimony about her ordeal at Josef’s hands in a special court. Josef waived his right to attend the video transmitted questioning of Elizabeth. Lisa, the 15 year old that was raised above ground, has attended a 4 day camp under an alias…no one knew who she was at camp. The family is healing and busy writing replies to the hundreds of letters they are receiving from well wishers. Does anyone know their address? I would like to send them a nice get well card. A simple card with nice wishes can be so healing to someone who is ill!

  • Kay

    Also read that little Felix is learning to swim!

  • Deanna

    mary I agree

  • Mary

    You could try to send your greeting cards address to their Horror House which is located at the infamous street Ybbsstrasse

    Rosemarie may be going back to collect her mails every week who knows. Unless someone else knows of another address where they could be reached. goodluck!

  • Mary

    Thanks, Mary….

    That would make sense that someone is getting the mail from their house. I’ll send a card and hope they get it!

  • lunchlady

    The address for the hospital is probably relatively easy to find online. I’ll try to do that later, gotta go right now.

  • Hi Everyone,

    Just a comment on the address for Elizabeth and her children. I would encourage anyone who finds the address NOT to put it up here.

    Please keep the address private and ask the people who want to have it to email you privately.

    A lot of people, it seems, have been reading the comments but not posting, which is fine, but we do not want to put Elizabeth and her family in a situation where they might receive mail that is not caring, compassionate, thinking of them and wishing them well.

    Yes, it can happen, and everyone’s heart is not in the right place. I wouldn’t want Elizabeth to be further victimized by those who might send sick or vicious mail to the address posted.


  • Kay


    Sorry. I agree with you and thanks for pointing this out….I should have known better…not a good idea to put their address here.


  • Deanna

    elisabeth does not need mail she needs peace

  • Mary

    …and money too Deanna. lots and lots of money for the therapy she and her family will need for a long time and other expenses needed to cope with such an extreme and exceptionally difficult life.

    As for the monster, lots of people are waiting to get him. He has angered the world through his wicked deeds and surely he won’t escape us. I won’t be surprise someone out there will kill him if not the inmates will torture him to death in prison.He is already a dead duck. The whole of Austria I imagine is also very angry for having been given such a bad name and being held responsible for his evilness.(They demanded to burn down the Horror House remember?)They want to kill him too. If the law does not do it, people will. But in the end, the coward will probably commit suiside like hitler.

  • Go Figure

    ” whole of Austria I imagine is also very angry for having been given such a bad name and being held responsible for his evilness. ”

    They deserve it, how evil can they all be? A renter in the Shitzl house was quoted as saying that he knew E. was being raped, but he didn’t want to be evicted so he didn’t say anything. And I guess he forgot after he moved out.

    The social workers swallowed the cult story lock, stock and barrel -no one bothered to look for E. even after babies showed up every year on the doorstep with dictated notes.

    Shitzl was allowed adopt/foster even with a prior rape conviction, which he served a whole year for. And now we’re hearing that they can’t prove any current rape charges because of “lack of forensic evidence.” What are the six kids?

    Eurotrash, pure Eurotrash, that whole country.

  • Go Figure

    One more thing, Rosemarie wins the Goober Eurotrash Dumbass of the Century Award.

  • lunchlady

    Herr Fritzl is reading multiple newspapers to catch all his coverage, and is getting attentive medical care for his various complaints, even asking for anti-aging cream for his ugly old pruneface. Maybe he wants to look more attractive for the other inmates.
    Go Figure: I agree with you that it takes a lot of looking the other way and

  • lunchlady

    oops, I meant to finish my post before I published…
    What I wanted to say is that I agree that it takes a lot of looking the other way and giving someone like Fritzl the benefit of the doubt for something like this to happen. He was very crafty and arrogant etc, but there are numerous missed opportunities to have discovered the crime before Elizabeth finally managed to rescue herself and her children.
    Things have only gradually and mostly recently improved for women and children in America, with plenty of lapses still. Plenty of men still think they should be able to abuse women and children if they want to, and plenty of people feel bad taking them to task for bad behavior.

  • survivor

    Hi, so glad you have this site about the fritzls! I want to inform you and your readers that my ex-husband sexually abused my children. I found out when they were 2 and a half. Maybe Rosemary knew maybe she didn’t, we may never know. I need to tell you and your readers I did not have a clue until my 2 and a half year old told my mother then told me also. No, I was not in denial I was and still am to this day “the forgotten victim” I was only 22 when I found out. I was lambasted, hit over the head, slammed into a brick wall at 150 miles an hour, when I found out. I did not know. I feel re- victimized by you saying you have done therapy for 20 years and never came across a mom who didn’t know. I didn’t know until the childrens disclosures. I know some moms do and for what ever screwed up dynamic that they have going on, can’t or won’t do anything about it. by I didn’t even have a inkling of what was going on. I know other mom’s who didn’t know also. Like I mentioned before, I was and still am the forgotten victim. He messed them up with all his threats and emotional abusives and all the other deep dynamics he put on them and I had to deal with thier low self esteem, anger issues, inability to have success in life. Poor grades in school, although they were treated by a child psychologist who specialized in incest and who diagnosed them as “gifted” please please don’t make the mistake of thinking because you have never come across a mom who didn’t know, that they always do. My children are almost 24 now and we are still living the reprecussions of what he did. I don’t live my life thinking about it every day and I have survived and moved on from it, We are not in the acute trauma of it because it has been a lifetime away now, but my children who are grown, sometimes still have issues from thier abuse and they are still struggling, yes, at those times we are all still victims. But please be aware some mom’s really don’t know.
    Thanks cheers

  • lunchlady

    survivor: sounds like you did the right thing when you did find out. Think of the damage if you had refused to believe your daughter, maybe even telling her that she’s a liar or has an overactive imagination. The good news in your story is that your daughter decided early on that she could get help and that she got it. I don’t think Elizabeth did, and many other children don’t.

  • Mary

    What did Rosemarie think about the wheel barrow of food that he brought down to the cellar. Did she not see it and think who they were for? why is the police so doubtless of her innocense. Where are all the older siblings of Elisabeth. Why is there no mention of them.Is this a typical Austrain way of doing things? Hushing up everything? I guess nobody will ever know why.

    I feel that eventhough not all mothers know, “this mother” must have some knowledge at least and if so, this makes her evil too. One day the truth will be out and I will be very surprise if she turns out as innocent as ever.

  • Kay

    The world is watching this case. My main reason for following it is to join the outcry if justice isn’t served to Josef. I hope Elizabeth and the family have a good advocate to represent their rights. Right now they are in no condition to make decisions that will affect them for years! I read that Kerstin and Stefan may choose not to testify. They are so emotionally scarred, it could cause them to relapse. Polzer, the Amstetten police chief feels they have mountains of evidence to be used against Josef. But, for how long? Just 10 years and then out again on “good behavior” as was what happened in his rape case years ago?

  • Kelly

    It’s incredible that the “authorities” don’t know that they can hang a manslaughter/murder or rape charges on that man because “so much time has passed and there’s no evidence” except for Elisabeth’s word. WHAT!?! A convicted sex offender, keeps his daughter imprisoned for 24 years and who has already admitted to raping her, threatened her and her kids with death by poisonous gas should they try to escape…and ya think he isn’t capable of murdering a baby or rape!?! How frickin’ stupid are those “authorities”!?! You have all the evidence you need!! Throw a rope around that b*stard, tie it to the back bumper of a car, and drag him through town til there’s nothing left but the frayed ends.
    Elisabeth…get your kids and get out of that country as fast as you can!!

  • Deanna

    the World is NOT watching this case most people I talk to about it dont want to talk about it cause its so hidious. I just find it fasinating because its so unbelieveable. This case is NOT even in the news anymore you have to go look for news on it anyway I dont know why of all things he would ask for anti aging cream what a dork lol. I really dont know what elisabeth and the kids will do they can never lead a normal life the only one that might is Felix. It was never clear if fritzl burned baby michael in the celler or the garden I hope it was not in front of elisabeth but with the air quality poor in the celler i dought it was in there …

  • Mary

    I don’t think its fair to condemn a whole nation for not knowing or being ignorant of what their neighbours do. Do we prefer to have suspicious neighbours gossiping and or reporting every little unusual event to the police. Should we encourage people to be suspicious of everyone. Should the Austrians in future become more concern about other peoples affairs just so that no more Fritzls or abuse cases would happen again? Should Elisabeth and family leave Austria because its evil and relocate say to the USA or the UK or Africa because its safer? How could we be so prejudice. Every country has its own law. If JF were in another country he would have got his head chopped off or be stoned to death. What about OJ Simpson who never paid for his crime. So lets give Austrians a chance and wait to see what will happen to JF at the end of the trial.

    Not everything we read in the media is 100percent true. Some are made to stir the public as we know but we often forget and get all worked up and over react.

  • Kay

    I didn’t agree with OJ’s verdict and I’m a US citizen, but I wasn’t on the jury and apparently the jury of his peers felt there wasn’t enough evidence that would make him guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. He was found guilty in a civil trial. And yes, Deanna, the world is watching this case because it’s one of the most hideous crimes anyone has ever heard of. I first heard of it on the Michael Savage radio program. Closing our eyes to it doesn’t make it go away. And, how will poor Elisabeth or her kids ever make it go away? It doesn’t matter what country it happened in, but it does matter what happens to Josef and his family. Let’s hope that justice is finally meted out to this tyrant.

  • Kelly

    Have a look at Austria’s laws and their idea of punishment for crimes such as rape and then come back and tell me again why I can’t judge a country by its laws. Women and children there are 2nd class citizens. I’m sick and tired of being told how we need to be “fair” to criminals and the countries who all but encourage those filthy b*stards to do what they want by doling out lax punishment with no expectation of accountability for their actions.
    The initial response from the Austrian chancellor was his concern that the Fritzl case would tarnish the image of Austria.
    Yeah, Elisabeth…get out while you can!!

  • Deanna

    Kay, I dont know who you talk to but people have accused me jokingly about my fasination with this case. saying only perverts would even think about this not to mention bloging about it. Most people I know just shudder and change the subject. saying there is more importent news out there then just a perv story . I know that its not just a perv story its real for Eliabeth, but this story is not all over the news anymore like it or not I have to search for new coverage not until he is convited will it be main stream again

  • Kay

    Deanna, just google the name Fritzl and you will get 1,040,000 hits. A publisher would offer millions and millions to Elisabeth for a book deal; a rag would offer millions and millions to Elisabeth or any of her children raised in the bunker for just a picture. That’s what we are discussing here. That Josef get justice and none of this money and that Elisabeth and her family get justice and as much money as they can out of this. The hospital in Amstetten can no longer afford to pay for security to protect the family, Deanna. I’m not sure why your friends would think people are perverts who are sensitive enough to care about these people and want to see a somewhat happy ending to the story for Elisabeth!

  • did someone say their two year old told them about being abused? is it me but a two year being able to articulate sexual abuse? am I missing something? not to be mean but I am confused?

  • Deanna

    Kay first of all that is my point you have to google for news about this its not on fox etc. People are not talking about this anymore unless they are really interested in it. it not the type news people are talking about. Kay I dont know where you read that the hospital does not have the money to fund their care anymore I have not read that anywhere and I have read everything about this story. I do agree that she should get all the money she can and run I would.but she seems like she does not want the money I dont know she should sit down with a writer and tell her story and make a book but maybe its to soon and maybe she never will. and as for my friends thinking im a pervert I was kidding but my point was most people dont sit around thinking or reading about these kinds of stories…that was my point.

  • Deanna

    and maybe I worded that wrong you said not enough money to fund their security. my bad but same difference I have not read anywhere where they said that but in any case she needs to look at where she can get the bucks cause she will need her own money in the future.

  • Kay


    Many of the stories about the family are in the UK Telegraph….search for UK Telegraph and then if you want the most current articles, enter “newest date” in the dates fo relevance bar at the top. Yes, the town was having to pay for so much security for Elisabeth and the family that they have now been moved to a secret location. And, yes, the town of Amstetten feels they are being watched by the world and are getting bad press about it. I do not feel that you should judge a whole town or country by one incident, but apparently Austria is talking of toughening some of their laws on sex crimes as a result of this case as often happens in these cases in all countries. However, they did just release or recommending releasing the “angel of death” nurses aides on good behavior…they were murdering patients in nursing homes. Deanna, you will just have to look these stories up in the different papers around the world. Fox, of course, wouldn’t be reporting much on this story constantly. I’m sure when the trial starts, they will have something on it. Don’t you think so?

  • Deanna

    Kay, maybe you are missing my point…sighs… Im talking about the average person is not going to go look up these stories. Most people rely on fox, cnn, cbs etc. I for one google the latest articals on this story from all over the world. for instence the newest news I can get is that she testified aginst JF july 11 through the 18th I do read all the stuff. I was just saying that if you dont go look for it you will not hear about it is all im saying. does that make sence? unless you are really interested in this story the only way you are ging to get daily or weekly coverage is to go search thats all im saying.But she does need to look at how to rake in the bucks even if its hard for her cause she and the kids are gonna need it for the rest of their lives.

  • Kay

    I think I get your gist, Deanna. Peace, dear.

  • Mary

    Kelly, you cannot judge a country (its people) by its law because many European countries do not punish rapists and sex offenders as heavily as others do. They get maximun of 20-25yrs and they very rarely do serve the full term. Their prisons are not as over crowded as the US for example.They also have a lower crime rate than the US or other European countries.The women are not treated like 2nd class citizens they just are not as liberated as in the USA or most western countries. They are very conservative folks and women are not discriminated as the way you make them seem to be. This case has outraged a lot of people and I feel sorry that some people think its great to attack this country because of their past and Hitler and because the horror of this crime like as if it can only happen there in Austria. The monster Fritzl was a respectable guy in town and he knew people and was always well dressed and he and his family were respected. They had money too.Who would know or think otherwise of him. No doubt the police failed in many ways but I don’t think they were corrupt and the Austrian law will change after all this. But they are not the only country that are lenient to sex offenders. Elisabeth and her family will stay put in that country because its their home. Austria is not an evil country period!

    “women and children there are 2nd class citizens”
    you must have gone FRITZLS! to make such a strong statement.

  • Deanna

    OMG elisabeth has tossed her mother out of her home new news GOOD FOR LIZ YOU GO GIRL

  • Kay

    Excerpt from an article called “Evil lives Here” by Linda Stasi in the New York Post about the Fritzl case and a Sunday night special:

    “If the Fritzl story intrigues you, and if you’ve got the stomach for it, on Sunday night, MSNBC presents an hour-long special, “The Longest Night: Secrets of the Austrian Cellar.” It fills in many details that have now become available before the monster’s upcoming trial.
    But make no mistake. What they do have will leave you shocked, disgusted and enraged at both Fritzl-the-fiend, and his clueless wife, who supposedly knew nothing about what was going on. (Hard to believe, since Fritzl had served time for rape, while they were not only married, but had already had four children! )
    Correspondent Lester Holt and the Austrian producers who made this documentary didn’t get an interview with the daughter, Elizabeth Fritzl. (She remains one of the most sought-after TV interviews in the world.)”

  • Deanna

    kay what channel will it be on>?

  • Kay

    I am in the Midwestern US and notice it is on MSNBC on Sunday night. Look at your TV guide (probably on cable) for it. Unfortunately, I don’t have cable and was hoping one of the regular NBC networks would pick it up.

  • Deanna

    KAY, thanks I will hope to see it, I think that elsabeth finALLY FIGURED OUT THAT HER MOTHER NEW WHAT WAS GOING ON THE WHOLE TIME …..let the story play out

  • Shae

    I watched the MSNBC episode on this case and believe it or not, it was the first time I had heard of the story. I don’t watch the news often. If it isn’t posted on my Yahoo page, then I don’t see it.

    It was extremely heartbreaking to me. To know that such evil exist in the world is so heart renching. I can’t begin to fathom what Elizabeth had to endure all of those years (my entire life). I hate to hear about children being mistreated, especially by their parents whether it’s the mother or father. Parents are supposed to protect their children at all cost. I don’t care if a spouse allows their mate to abuse them in any shape, fashion, or form. But if that mate raise their hands, mouth, or any part of their anatomy to your child/ren, then it’s time to stand up and fight. (Notice that it’s not gender specific. Abuse can come from either parent.)

    I don’t know if Rosemarie knew or not. Should she have known?? Yes. Should she have done something about it if she did?? Yes. Should she have stayed with an abusive man and a convicted rapist?? No. Should she have allowed her children to stay in that abusive situation?? No. But as I stated before, I don’t knew if she knew or not.

    What’s important to me is (1) Elizabeth remained strong throughout this terrible ordeal, (2) Elizabeth and her children are finally free (no longer in the dungeon since they have no privacy), and (3) they were freed before something happened to Josef. My mom made the statement that she was glad that nothing happened to Josef before Elizabeth and the children were freed. If something had happened to Josef, would they have ever been found?? Then, it would have been a total tragedy.

    I pray to God that Elizabeth and her children (and everyone involved) receive the help that they need, that they are able to live a semi-normal (if not normal) life, that they adjust to this new world, and that foremost they find happiness and peace.

    I’ve enjoyed reading all of the previous posts (there was a lot to catch up on) but we most remember the victims in this story: Elizabeth and her children. We may never know the truth about Rosemarie. Let’s focus some of this energy on prayer for things to turn out right for Elizabeth and her family.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Tabitha

    I don’t believe the mother knew. They checked for DNA evidence in the basement and only found the fathers. The basement was built and soundproofed by the father, who was an engineer. And there were 8 locked doors, that someone would have to go through before getting to the area that Elisabeth was being kept in.

    And he made elisabeth write letters saying she was living with a cult, and that she was happy.
    So why would her mother continue looking for her?

    And why would someone assume people were being kept in the basement, if they heard strange knockings? Most assume some animal is in there or old pipes. My house knocks all the time, and I don’t assume someone is being kept locked in my basement.

    It’s extremely easy to make accusations in hindsight.

    The mother had 7 other children to look after, which doesn’t make you the most observant person. And the father taking food somewhere in a wheelbarrow, doesn’t make a person automatically assume, he’s taking it down to some hidden family in the basement.

    This is a tragic situation, and my heart goes out to elisabeth, her children and her mother.

  • Deanna

    tabitha, the mother was not in the celler no. However she had to have known you dont hide something like that for a feaking 24 years….there was no dna in the celler cause she was not there she was told never to go down to the celler> WHY NOT? when he was on vacation she would not get curious why she was never permitted to be down there? all those nights he would not sleep up stairs? all those kids showing up? and he had to have known he was raping her before the lock up COME ON .She might have been so scared to have gone aginst him thats why she let it happen I dont know but she had to have known maybe he threatened to kill her maybe after she wanted to turn him in she though wait I knew and could go to jail too. there is alot involved there but I do in my heart of hearts believe she knew.

  • Judy

    I wonder how the 3 children that were raised upstairs are doing, especially now that Elizabeth has tossed her Mom out. Elizabeth’s mother was really the only Mother that these 3 kids knew. It must be very difficult on them.

    I don’t understand why they just don’t come out in the open and introduce themselves to the world and get on with living. As it is now they are still prisioners but instead of being underground they are above ground. I don’t understand why they are not encouraged to come out, surely it would be best for the children.

  • Tiina

    “I don’t understand why they are not encouraged to come out, surely it would be best for the children.”

    I disagree. It surely would not be the best for the children. Would you like to be identified as an incest child yourself? This is a major crime that holds such an interest that they would not have ever normal life anywhere. The trial will be in the end of the year and the media circus will start again. If they get new identities, they will have a better chance for a normal life. But that’s just my opion.

  • Kay

    This is so hard to get my mind around….the latest is that Rosemary is divorcing Josef…..apparently, 66 more rooms were found in the house and in one locked room was a diary Josef had kept of his comings and goings in the last 50 years!!! In the diary was a notation that he had raped Rosemary’s sister! That diary must be priceless to publishers!!! There really is alot of money at stake here….what a mess one man has created….how diabolical…so many people that have had their lives destroyed by him!

  • Deanna

    kay I have yet to read that there was 66 more rooms found good lord what a sicko…..

  • Kay


    There are articles in the UK Metro about the latest news and I think the Telegraph. I’m sorry…I think I meant the entire house has 66 rooms…however, they did supposedly find some locked room with writing about Rosemary’s sister being raped by Josef….it will probably all come out at the trial with evidence the police are finding in the house.

  • Deanna

    I wonder which sister it was not thatit matters but the heavy set one with the dog on her shoulder in that one video ? good lord this man is to much I saw the tv domumentary the other night but I had seen it all before on the computer through videos …..Im just glad elisabeth kicked her mother out…

  • consuelo

    there is such thing as stupidity. the mother may be just not smart enough to connect the dots, maybe she just believed the bastard.

  • Reader

    Here is a comment that I would like to make about Josef Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie …

    Clearly that “person” (and one has to stretch the definition of the word “person” in order to apply it to that creature) known to the world as Josef Fritzl was/is the DEVIL-INCARNATE – AND he should burn in h*ll for all of eternity for his evil.

    In addition, it also needs to be stated that no person on earth should allow themselves be fooled for even one moment by the lies of “I didn’t know” that are currently being claimed by that lying and equally evil wife of this evil DEVIL!!!

    That vile, evil, perverted, disgusting, devil of a wife of that MONSTER KNEW!!


    She KNEW the whole time (or at least had literally no excuse whatsoever to have not at least ‘suspected’ something was amiss!!!)

    She is a LIAR and she must think the entire world is as perverted as both she and her husband are and that by coming up with that ridiculous and flimsy excuse that she can then convince the rest of
    the world to then respond to her own complicity the same way she chose to respond to that of her husband’s evil – by ‘turning a blind eye’.

    BOTH of them are utter DEVILS and one cannot help but to hope that they both burn in h*ll for all of eternity for their evil acts!!!!

    She expects anyone on this planet who has even half-a-brain-stem to believe for even one fraction of a moment that she didn’t know anything at all?!?! Give me a break!!!

    For crying out loud – unless this woman is Helen Keller – she has NO EXCUSE at all to not have known (or at least ‘suspected’) something strange and conspiratorial was going on regarding her daughter’s whereabouts and situation and that the husband’s stories were just far too incredulous and absolutely made no sense in the least bit!!!

    After all – think about it – daughter runs away as a very young teen; daughter mysteriously disappears at the age of 18 (an age when she can both make her own decisions and choose to get away from her father and even bring charges against him); the (convicted rapist/arsonist) father gets a letter from daughter 1 month after her disappearance which ridiculously claims she has joined a cult and does not want to have any contact with the family – yet amazingly then later chooses (for 3 years in a row) to simply leave 3 of her newborn babies on the doorstep of very home that she tried to run away from at least 2 X’s before and is “allegedly thought” to have finally left in order to join some sort of “phantom” cult (a “cult” which, unlike every other cult, just somehow, seemingly has no desire to try to indoctrinate the youth from birth, but rather it simply allows it’s members to select a home – one which in fact, is both not a part of the cult AND is the very home from which the member ran in order to join the cult – to raise their babies and kids of the cult members) – ALL THE WHILE – the father forbids ANYONE to ever for ANY REASON dare to go ANYWHERE NEAR the mysterious basement (which he always keeps locked, disappears to for hours and days on end; has ‘unseen’ bathroom equipment installed; and has a cement-barricaded
    door installed which both has a security-code and which was so complicated it needed inspection by local government authorities in order to install).

    Just 2 years before the “discovery” of what this monster (and his devil wife via her complicity of silence) did to their poor child – another young girl, and former kidnap victim, was also found in Austria.

    It was discovered that the other young kidnap/rape victim had disappeared 8 years earlier and had been held in a basement/dungeon where she had been repeatedly raped the entire time by the individual who had also kidnapped her.

    Now – even if the public was expected to simply throw all common sense to the wind and accept this monster’s devil-wife’s excuse that she “didn’t know”, say, in the beginning… it still stands to reason that after hearing about the case of the other young girl 2 years earlier this creep’s equally creepy wife would have said something to herself like, say…

    Hmmm… a young girl who disappeared 8 years ago, out of no where, has been discovered to have been held in a basement the entire time and while there she was repeatedly raped by the person who trapped her there.

    Hmmm… my daughter, who repeatedly tried to run away from my convicted-rapist husband as a child has also mysteriously disappeared
    and my convicted-rapist husband is always coming across both ‘letters’ and ‘grandchildren’ that were allegedly left by my daughter (who has vanished without a trace) and meanwhile my convicted-rapist husband also has a mysterious basement that he keeps under lock and key and never allows anyone to come near – ever.

    Hmmm… now I cannot help but to wonder if that convicted-rapist husband I married just may have had something to do with the disappearance of our daughter – and the appearance of all these grandkids and letters – and I also can’t help but to wonder if that mystery-basement room of his would, in some way/in any way, be connected somehow to our child’s disappearance and/or the mysterious
    appearance of all of these grandchildren.

    Yes – one would think that – even if this woman could have claimed ‘ignorance’ earlier – (a lie which, again, no one with any common sense should ever consider buying into) – once the discovery was made of a similar situation 2 years earlier – she then had NO excuse to not have at least been suspicious of something about her convicted-rapist husband and his ever-so-mysterious hidden basement room.

    That vicious devil simply did not care at all about her own daughter or she simply cared more about her own creature-comforts and keeping up with her middle-class appearances than she did about the torture being done to her own child.



    She is clearly as much of a pervert and devil as is he!!

    Would anyone even be remotely surprised if further investigation later revealed that ‘Rosemarie Fritzl'(who is actually trying to
    get the world to see her as a co-victim of her daughter’s horrific nightmare of a life) was actually just another ‘Rosemary West’ (a woman whose husband also originally – and falsely – claimed that she had nothing to do with his unbelievably evil sex crimes)?

    What kind of a woman, after all, chooses to marry (or remained married to) a man who had already committed and also been convicted of previously raping another woman and has shown absolutely no remorse about any of it whatsoever in the least.


  • I completely agree with the previous comment.


    In almost any case involving sexual abuse of a child the complacent equally evil partner (mainly women) know and keep their silence. This allows the abuse to continue without detection from outsiders and when the perp is finally accused they come running to their rescue and deny it and stick by their side. They are equally as evil and vile. I read about one of the sickest examples of this.

    What is so astonishing to me about this particular story (Elisabeth’s story) is that it is one of the most horrendous, unimaginable one of its kind. Unfreakin’ believable…

    I commend Elisabeth for her mind-boggling strength and faith in God. How did she manage to continue without going completely mad?? That is the question. She managed, in spite of all her suffering, to find all the love she had to give to her offspring and cared for them better than many mothers under normal circumstances would do. She has a better head on her shoulders than I think anybody else could possibly have. She has made the best decisions as far as what’s best for her and her children in this aftermath. And the fact that she had a fallout with that vile, evil thing she calls mum is more proof of her sane judgment. I pray for Elisabeth and her children as well as all those suffering behind closed doors, my heart bleeds for them, but a bleeding heart is not what they need.

    The perps need to be punished in a manner sufficient with their disgusting deeds. The complacent mothers need to be punished right along side them as well. And we need to address the fact that 1 out of 5 children will have been sexually abused. The idea of child sexual abuse, probably even more so for incestual abuse, is taboo. This problem needs to brought to the forefront (Kudos to Dateline for their To Catch a Predator series). And we need to bring this to the classroom and let the children know THIS IS NOT NORMAL!!!

  • mrwjd

    Icarus says, “Elisabeth completely submitted to her father after awhile, because she was so intimidated and fearful of him. Why wouldn’t Rosemarie be the same?”

    Elisabeth was a child, knowing nothing but parental control; Rosemarie was an adult, but more than that, she was a mother. MOST mothers will run into flames to save the child. Just because there are other mothers who allowed themselves to ignore or deny abuse of a child doesn’t make it right.

    Yes, fighting back would have been hard, and dangerous. But who sacrifices her child on the altar of self-protection?

  • Deanna

    I agree that rosemarie was scared. Fritzl might have threatened her life and or told her she would go to jail if she said anything. but what about when he went on 3 weeks holiday??? that would have givin her time to call the police and had him in custody before he could hurt her. The dont you dare go into the basement I would be like why not and go look when he was away. If the doors were locked I would want to know why and call a lock smith or something. She had plenty of time.

  • Kay

    The UK Telegraph is reporting that the prosecutors are possibly going to charge Josef with slavery which carries a 20 year sentence in Austria.

  • Deanna

    Kay I dont doubt that monster will spend al his next living years bahind bars ……ha hA HA HOW DOES IT FEEL MR FRITZL YOU EVIL SON OF A BITCH….ROT IN HELL HA HA HA

  • Kay

    Deanna, dear, I hope you are right. Just his being alive is a torment to his “family”. He’s a horrible, horrible man. I can’t imagine him being let out on “good behavior” in a year….

  • Deanna

    I just wish they would turn him loose in the main jail with the other prisioners….he would get his lol……I understand there is quite a rift in that family now , understandably.

  • Ronald Oscar Diaz

    When i first heard about this i saw it on the TV on a show called “The Longest Night”. It explained their situation alot better than me actually reading it on a forum or article. When the show was over i was left in shock at what this “person” did to his own flesh and blood daughter. If i was the judge that was in mr.Josef Frtzl’s case i would sentence him to life in prison, and not kill him so that he wouldn’t take the easy way out with just a simple death. I would like him to regret every single second of what he did to his innocent daughter, Elizabeth Frtzl. If you saw he picture at the top of this page you’ll see a little girl who did not ever in her lifetime deserve such cruelty and punish like what happened to her. I cannot get that poor girl and what she went through for 24 YEARS OUT OF MY HEAD !!! If i were there in that household in 1983 before he claimed they first had sex, I (a 15 year old boy) would grab a blunt weapon and would not hesitate for a second to kill him so that his daughter Elizabeth Frtzl would not endure the torture that her father sent upon her. In conclusion I hope and pray that the day josef Fritzl died his soul when straight to the depths of HELL where he would burn for all eternity.

  • Judy

    I wonder what kind of relationship Elizabeth has with her brothers and sisters, especially now since she has tossed her mother out.

  • Deanna

    Im amazed that elisabeth was strong enough to return to the celler. I realize she was there to help the police with their investigation but wow….she is one tough cookie.I have read she is rollerblading alot and baking. good for her Im glad she is tackling life.

  • Mary

    I am glad she is not relocating to another country nor will she change her identity. So far she seems very sensible,clever and courageous as ever and She just never ceases to amaze. I’m beginning to admire her more and more each day. If you think about the ideas some of us readers have for her like wishing for her to escape that horrible place and run as far away and as quickly as possible from her horror town, shows us how clueless some of us are about life, and Elisabeth having lived in the dark for most of her life can actually see alot better than most of us fortunate ones. She is simply amazing and we all sure can learn something from this beautiful person. God bless!

  • Deanna

    Mary I agree I think she is making some very smart choices. She How ever I did read she will not change their first names but she is thinking about changing her last name and I dont think that would be a bad Idea. the name Fritzl is thought of as evil.

  • Kay

    I think it’s cruel to leave the other three children with Elisabeth and the three she raised in the horrors of the cellar with Fritzl. How shocking must this be for the 3 upstairs kids! They really don’t know Elisabeth or their siblings and the 4 from the cellar are so suffering from mental/emotional fatigue that it would be hard for the upstairs children to cope or understand this without being damaged themselves. I am reading that the 4 from the cellar are on mind and emotion controlling drugs (understandably) and that Kerstin was tearing her hair out (understandably!!!) and ripping her clothes and stuffing them in the toilet while in captivity by Josef! Wouldn’t the three raised upstairs be better of with a foster family and back to school and their normal routine? This bothers me, if it is; in fact, true that the upstairs children are still at the clinic. It seems they are being punished for something they had no control over. How can someone in Elizabeth’s condition possibly raise 6 kids?

  • Judy

    I agree Kay, it seems to me that the 3 upstairs children are now the ones in prison. I wonder why Elizabeths brothers and sisters have not come forward to help raise these children.

    Keeping them locked up with Elizabeth and the 3 children from the cellar to me seems cruel, they have a lot of mental conditions that the other children could not cope with or understand.

  • Kay


    I don’t know why the siblings haven’t come forward…unless Elizabeth has demanded that these upstairs children be with her and she has rights as a parent in Austria. But, what hell for these seemingly well adjusted upstairs children now to be thrown into this horrible situation! We just don’t know all the facts, I’m sure.

  • Deanna

    well kay I totally agree…these upstairs kids lives are all torn apart. the man they trusted is in jail for raping their mother and they find this out one day .then elisabeth and rosemarie the only mother they have known are fighting and basically the upstairs kids parents as they knew it are gone. Now they live with this women that is their mother they have never met and find out they are of incest I mean these poor kids. Kay you also made a good point how can a woman in elisabeth’s place take care of 6 kids?
    basically the 20 and 19 year old kerstin and stephen are like little kids learning everthing. These kids cant ever live on their own they dont have the life skills so they are like little kids for elisabeth. what a mess Mr fritzl has made its a damn shame.

  • Kay

    Yes, Deanna, my heart goes out to those kids!

  • Elisa Showanwald

    Above all else, Elizabeth has shown the world how unecessary are obstetricians and medicine. Think of what she endured without traditional medical help with those babies, which were sent to her to keep her so damn busy and concerned, thus saved her sanity.

    The vilest crime against humanity ever–in this century, the last century and the century before that!

    Elizabeth is living proof that God exists.

  • Deanna

    Elisabeth is NOT proof that god exists ….first of all none of us know unless we are dead. Second of all she is very strong and I agree with you in part that she was able to go on for so long cause she had a reason to. those kids gave her a reason to live. Had she not had any kids I dont think she would have made it.I think she would have shut down and died. The lonelyness would have made her go insane.Please lets not being god into this. God is a belief for many and a faith for many but not a FACT:)

  • Deanna

    sorry that is bring not being typo

  • boomtown

    they had rats down there they said

  • ARIEL swerf

    ITS JUST A CYCLE OF ABUSE and a stream of neverending
    multi faceted truths
    she may have kids to live for but remember they are kids spawned from the evil man himself she must look at them with some sort of repulsion because they are an extension of him how has she dealt with that fact????
    and in the way that they were conceived and how were they delivered? with no doctors? its truly amazing that any of them have survived at all im surprised they dont have more physical disabilites?? as children from insest do in some way i guess all she had to cling too was that her children were a part of her too she is a very strong woman who has had to deal with more issues from this traumatic story than we ever will have to grasp
    and as for the mother ….what mother????? mother instincts were non exsistant as far as im concerned you know when your daughter is living below you you can just sense it feel thier vibrations …and when josef comes to bed smelling of sex or takes lots of showers or creeping around the house at strange hours or suddenly things have doubled in quantity buying toys,extra food for them? where THE HELL WAS SHE???? DURING ALL THIS ? I MEAN the woman is either completly dumb or totally in DENIAL but i refuse to belive she was innocent in all this there are just to many telltale signs and poor elizabeth …..i hope she can have some sort of healthy life with all her children together
    and that the abuse cycle stops here.

  • Sandra

    My mother was a terrible person who did things to me on the groungs that I had been “molested” by my father and others.

    In fact, the only person who did anything to me was her. Nobody knew this stuff was going on. The picture that was presented to the public was that she was the best.

    She did not do this stuff to my sister, who knew what was going on and that all this was a lie. I confronted her several times about it and she put it down to “protection”. She confessed to me on her deathbed that she knew it was a lie, but she could not do anything about it because she couldn’t work like I did. In fact, there was nothing wrong with her. She was just lazy.

    At least, I know my mother died alone. That brings some satisfaction.

    It is entirely possible that the mother did not know, especially if her husband was doing work on the house. If she did know, he could have intimidated her to the point where she was almost too scared to do anything.

  • Eleanor

    Something about Elizabeth is transcendental – she’s a beacon of light for us all – I am so amazed and in awe of her strength, endurance and capacity for love for her children. I wonder whether she has any idea of her effect on the world. Re Rosemarie knowing, remember the reason we are here searching for answers on this blog is because even with knowledge of the facts this is unimaginable.

  • Blue_Wave

    Fritzl I hope you suffer the worst death you nasty old dog.

  • This case has satanism all over it –possibly generational satanism. I have written to the Austrian police and given them links to photos with satanic symbols (three hexagrams = 666) in the Fritzl basement –all to no avail. No wonder Rosemarie was frightened to death and behaved as if she did not know anything. May God help Elizabeth, her children, and her mother to recover.

  • It is not Fritzl’s ‘ordinariness ‘ which is ‘terrifying’ but his complete and utter lack of empathy.
    We should remember that when we lack empathy for others we become a little less human. In that , it could be true to say that a possibility exists that we are capable of behavior which is by degrees selfish to completely narcissistic ( which ,I think , describes Fritzl)

  • Parsooramen

    The story of Josef fritzl is beyond human imagination. Is it actually a human being?i can,t even imagine how one can survived for 24 years imprisoned like this??? If this jf is effectively a human being ,then I think we are all somewhere responsible for this ..