Sabine Hilschenz from Frankfurt an der Oder hid the remains of her children in flower pots, buckets and a garden fish tank. Hilschenz, who has three grown up children and a young daughter, told the court that her isolation and alcoholism were behind the killings.
“I did not have friendship,” the 42-year old woman told the court. She said that Oliver Hilschenz, the first man with whom she had sexual contact, was the love of her life. However, she said neither her husband nor her parents provided her with companionship.
It became clear during her first trial that she did not want her husband to know about her pregnancy. The woman who has been pregnant 13 times said that contraception was never discussed in her family. Sabine Hilschenz also said that she was an alcoholic and did not have her addiction under control.
“We already had three children, and my husband didn’t want any more children,” she said, according to the transcript read in court. “I always hoped my husband would notice the pregnancies of his own accord,” Sabine Hilschenz added.
Sabine Hilschenz gave birth to the first baby in a toilet bowl, submerging its head in water while her husband slept in the next room. In 1992 she gave birth in a small hotel while on a business trip in Goslar. She left the baby under a blanket and ignored its whimpers until they stopped.
Too scared to go to a gynaecologist for fear of discovery, Hilschenz kept the next seven pregnancies secret. When her labour began, she would get drunk enough not to recall if the babies were born dead or alive. She wrapped other babies in plastic sheets and left them in flower pots.
“I thought that she had a weight problem,” Oliver Hilschenz said in a police interrogation. He denies knowledge of the pregnancies. DNA tests show that all the babies were his.
This case has raised questions about the society in the former East Germany. Many Germans are asking how neighbours and especially family members failed to notice.
Jörg Schönbohm (CDU), Minister of the Interior for Brandenburg, has suggested that decades of brutal communist rule in the former East Germany could have caused a more brutal society. Three times as many babies have been found dead in eastern Germany as in western Germany in the past decade. Schönbohm’s remarks drew heavy criticism as many perceived his conclusion to stem from western German arrogance. The CDU politician grew up in the former West Germany.
Sabine Hilschenz was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2006 for the murder of eight children between 1992 and 1998. The ninth child’s murder was covered by a statute of limitations. The Brandenburg court is hearing an appeal against the severity of the sentence. Hilschenz was said by friends to be a good mother to her four surviving children.