In 1913, around 1000 pupils attended the Saint Marien School in the Walle district of Bremen. They learn German, natural sciences, languages at the Catholic school - but on June 20, 1913, the educational institution becomes a deadly trap. On that day, the first documented killing spree at a German school took place in Bremen.
Heinz Jacob Friedrich Ernst Schmidt is an unemployed teacher who has only been living in Bremen for six months at this point. On June 20, 1913, he entered the school grounds with a briefcase under his arm. According to newspaper reports at the time, there were six to ten firearms in it. In addition, Schmidt carries 1000 rounds of ammunition on his body. He fires 80 shots of it - and kills five girls.
At lunchtime, Schmidt enters the school building and meets a class of girls who are about to take their break. The gunman opened fire, holding pistols in both hands. The seven to eight year old girls flee, some hide in the classroom, Schmidt pursues them. "There he shot indiscriminately at the girls, some of whom had crept under the school desks and pleaded: 'Uncle, don't shoot us!'" Hermann Sandkühler, the former archivist of the Sankt-Marien-Gemeinde, told the "Weserkurier" in 2013.
But Schmidt shows no mercy in his madness. Two students died instantly, and two more died soon after from their injuries. A fifth girl fled from the shots, fell down a flight of stairs and broke her neck. The victims are between five and eight years old. The caretaker, the porter and a school teacher try to overpower Schmidt and are injured by him, sometimes life-threateningly. A total of 18 children and five adults are injured.
It is thanks to Hubert Möllmann that there are not significantly more victims. The only 24-year-old teacher courageously confronts the shooter, grabs his arms and disarms him. He holds Schmidt at bay at gunpoint, then loses consciousness. But there are already enough other colleagues on the spot to overpower the gunman until the police get to the scene of the crime. Möllmann also suffers serious gunshot wounds, but survives and is later awarded the Silver Rescue Medal for his bravery.
The case - at that time a new dimension of violence against innocent children - shook all of Germany. The press headlines "mass murder in the girls' school" and speaks of the "horrible act of a mad teacher". Even in the United States, the killing spree is attracting interest. Bremen is in shock, the Hanseatic city commemorates the victims with a huge funeral march. And Germany is conducting very similar discussions as it is today after such crimes: There is a debate about gun ownership. However, there are no changes in the law for the time being.
Heinz Schmidt is never brought to justice. The perpetrator suffers from a mental illness and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Thus he is considered innocent. He probably acted in his killing spree out of hatred for the Jesuits, whom he holds responsible, among other things, for the death of his father, who died the day before the crime. Schmidt spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital, where he died in 1933.
Sources: "Weserkurier" / "Spiegel" / "Bild" /