Secrets in the Cellar by John Glatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is as fascinating a book as it was tragic. Elizabeth Fritzl was tricked into an underground bunker by her father when she was about 18 and for the next 24 years, she lived as his pseudo wife & sex slave. She bore him 7 children 3 of whom lived as his cellar children and 3 others as his upstairs children. To cover her disappearance, he made her write a letter stating that she had become a member of a cult and to not try to find her. Several years later, she supposedly left a note with each of 3 of the children born to her who were raised by him and his wife as the "upstairs children." There was another child, one of a pair of twins, who died in the cellar after living 3 days and was disposed of in an incinerator.
It is hard to believe how a seemingly normal man could be so base. In a psychological interview he related a history of abuse by his controlling mother and the influence of the Nazi philosophy, but it hardly seems sufficient to have produced such a monster. He grew up in the shadow of the Amstetten-Mauer hospital which was built as a Nazi death camp and he and his mother ascribed to the Nazi philosophy, but so did scores of others. Ironically, it was to this hospital that his family went to heal from the psychological trauma.
I remember when Elizabeth was discovered and always wondered how he was able to keep this a secret for so long and how she and her children fared. The book goes into the former extensively, but there is little information on the family afterwards as they are desperate to keep their lives private and to heal.
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