Kriminalmuseum, Vienna

The Kriminalmuseum is located in the Leopoldstadt District, the old Jewish Quarter of Vienna. It is devoted to showcasing crime from the Middle Ages to the present. The house itself dates from 1685 and was owned by a former policeman who purchased the entire contents shown within from the police department and private citizens of Vienna over the years (the family still resides there). Once considered the pre-eminent crime solving body in the world, consulted by countries including the US to solve its hardest crimes, the Vienna Police Department had to disperse its forensic archives during WWII. All this evidence was stored in warehouses throughout the city to avoid detection by the Nazis, and after the war was never fully put back together. But as items surfaced, they were purchased for this collection. It is the largest private collection of forensic evidence in the world. Interesting to note, the Vienna Police were the first to develop certain crime scene and crime solving analytic tools, including taking molds of body parts of known criminals to use in identifying the perpetrators of outstanding crimes. They developed the first fingerprinting techniques, crime scene kits and the use of certain chemicals to reveal blood stains.

Now for my personal impressions. The rooms are dark and difficult to photograph, and all the information is in German (naturally). Having my own personal German-speaking tour guide (my husband) forced me to pay attention to the history of crime in Vienna rather than ogling the rather fantastic items within. Of particular fascination to me were the newspaper etchings of the victims of the crimes - surreal, beautiful, artful and yet unsentimental. Worth the trip alone and a nice antidote to the gruesome and nauseating items that fill out the collection.

Photos in order: Actual hair of murdered child; Nazi arrest warrant; first crime scene kit; hangman's toy; early ear molds to identify criminals; popular news sheet on famous crime of murdered woman; bloody handprint from crime scene; toy with crime theme; skull of murder victim depicted; skull of murder victim; packet of poison found at crime scene; dynamite box found at criminal's house; early bombs (next 2); skull of murdered twin; crime scene diagram showing location of body; drawings of crime victim for newspapers; drawing of crime taking place for newspapers; evidence found at crime scene; drawing of decapitated head of victim; next two - paintings depicting famous crimes of the time; sword with interesting hand details; torture mask; drawing of dismembered woman for newspapers; depictions of hangings.

All photos taken at Kriminalmuseum, Vienna by me, May, 2010.


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  5. All these equipment of torturing may get you into fear by it mere appearance! I cannot understand the aim of these horrible tortures!