HomeElisabeth Fritzl: The Story of the Girl in the Basement

Elisabeth Fritzl: The Story of the Girl in the Basement

The Fritzl case came into the limelight in the year 2008 when a lady named Elisabeth Fritzl told Austrian police officials that she had been held captive for 24 years by her father, Josef Fritzl. Josef used to assault, abuse her sexually, and even raped her many times when she was held captive in a concealed area in the basement of their family home.

As a result of this, Elisabeth had to give birth to seven babies out of which 3 remained captive with their mother, and 3 were brought up by Fritzl and his wife, Rosemarie and one child died prematurely just a few days after birth.

Based on Elisabeth’s complaint, Josef was arrested by police officials on suspicion of false imprisonment, rape, and other sections of the penal code. He was convicted and found guilty on all counts and the court has sentenced him to life in March 2009.

All about Elisabeth Fritzl, the Girl in the Basement

Elisabeth Fritzl was born in Austria in the year 1966 to Josef Fritzl & Rosemarie. She had 6 siblings – 3 brothers and 3 sisters.

Her father used to abuse her when she was just 11 years old in 1977. After completion of her schooling, Elisabeth started preparing to become a waitress when she turned 15.

She then ran away from her home in 1983 and went into hiding along with her friend in Vienna. Police found her within 20 days and returned her back to her parents. She later rejoined her waitress course and completed the same to get a job in the nearby city.

How Elisabeth Fritzl Land in the Basement

In the year 1984, Josef Fritzl called Elisabeth to assist him in refitting a door in the basement of their home in Austria. Elisabeth unaware of his intentions and how life will turn after this event went down the stairs to help her father. When she was about to leave the place, she was held over by a small cloth piece soaked in ether over her mouth and nose.

Elisabeth had no clue whatsoever that she was indeed helping her own father’s plan to lock her up as a sex slave. Josef Fritzl was planning to build an underground prison cell for years and received official permission from the municipal authorities as well much earlier in the late 1970s.

It was pretty normal in those days of the cold war to build nuclear bunkers in the basement of the house so getting permission was not difficult for Josef.

In fact, Josef was provided a grant of 2000 pounds by the local council towards the building costs. There were a series of doors that needs to be opened before reaching the cellar where he planned to keep Elisabeth captive.

24 Years of Life in the Basement

Elisabeth had to go through hell for the next 24 years as the horror unleashed upon her was never-ending. She was at times forced to catch rats with her bare hands. Summer was the worst time of the year for her because of intolerable sweat which she narrated later in her writings.

For the rest of the world, life was moving while Elisabeth’s life was still and stagnant. Initially, her father tied her up with an iron chain in such a way that she could barely move half a meter on either side of the bed. He then gave her more freedom to move by attaching the chain around her waist.

As the chain was causing trouble during sexual activity he has removed it after few months. Josef abused her sexually and used to rape her multiple times a day for many years until she was released in April 2008. He raped her at least 3000 times in those 25 years which resulted in seven babies. Elisabeth’s children had to witness her abuse as they grew older.

Three of her kids were with her in the basement and the other three children appeared mysteriously near the doorstep of Josef Fritzl and his wife, Rosemarie, as per his planning.

Atrocities Unleashed By Her Father

Fritzl used to dictate letters to Elisabeth that she was well but could not look after the kids. He would then drive miles to post them back to his wife Rosemarie. Elisabeth was completely broken inside but she tried to console herself that at least her three kids are having a better life than those languishing downstairs.

Josef used to beat and kick her repeatedly. He used to force Elisabeth to re-enact scenes from violent pornographic films. This has left Elisabeth not only with physical injuries but also caused psychological damage. She had spent the initial five years all alone.

One of her children died prematurely just after his birth in the cellar in 1996. The child was facing difficulty in breathing and died in her arms when he was barely 3 days old. Josef later admitted that he burned the child’s body in an incinerator.

Fritzl tried to defend himself during the trial saying that Elisabeth’s behavior was difficult to predict and in order to protect her from the outside world he locked her up. His lawyer tried to portray Josef as a caring and devoted father who spent time and money maintaining both of his families.

Babies birth gave her a Purpose to Live

When the babies started to come it was really a horror for her. She tried to commit suicide but looking at her kids she had a purpose to live after many years of being alone. She gave birth to all babies without seeking any medical help for almost 12 years. Josef provided her with disinfectant, a dirty pair of scissors, and a book on childbirth.

Fritzl has threatened to kill Elisabeth and her children if they tried to escape. The indictment order released by the court said: “He told them he had installed a system so that the doors would give them electric shocks if they tried to open them and that poison would be released into the cellar if they tried to escape, killing them all instantly.”

Josef Fritzl used to turn off the power supply to the basement for days so that Elisabeth was left alone in complete darkness.

Elisabeth’s way out of the Dark Basement Life

Her painful story came to an end when Kerstin, her 19-year-old daughter, needed urgent hospitalization. Joseph Fritzl who has never shown any mercy earlier drove her to the hospital in his car. The doctors who were attending Kerstin became deeply suspicious looking at her condition. Doctors later alerted police officials about the whole incident.

There was an appeal in the media which were broadcasted repeated for the mother to come forward with the necessary information if they want to save her life. She along with her two boys saw the appeals on the television in their basement. She then requested her father to let her go. Josef Fritzl who was growing old saw his powers waning and was finding it difficult to maintain both families.

He started to hatch a plan as to how he can get rid of all this without too many questions being asked. For the first time in 24 years, he relented. He told some stories to the hospital staff.  However, both police officials and doctors refused to believe in his story.

When Elisabeth was in hospital she was taken to a separate room away from her father by police officials and they intimidated her to charge with child abuse case because of sheer negligence towards her daughter.

Elisabeth then told police officials that she will reveal everything to them on the condition that she would never have to set eyes on her father again.

A Film on Elisabeth Fritzl – Girl in the Basement Story

The film titled “Girl in the Basement” which is a crime film is a true story of Elisabeth Fritzl which drew attention from critics.

The film is based on the story of Sara, a teenage girl who just turned 18 and is desperate to leave her parents’ house. Her father who is not willing to let her go kidnaps her and locks her up in his basement and starts abusing her for years.

Know where is Elisabeth Fritzl now?

Elisabeth first saw sunlight after 24 years of being held captive by her father when she visited the hospital as one of her children needed urgent treatment. She was immediately led by her father back to the basement which triggered suspicion in one of the hospital staff who alerted police.

She was rescued by police officials and they shifted her immediately to the state care center. Elisabeth was given therapy in a nearby village in Northern Austria. Psychologists who have examined her suggested that she should be given lifelong therapy because of the piled-up trauma which she has suffered for years.

Elisabeth is now said to be living in a bright home along with her kids so that there is little chance of being reminded of the past.

Even though Elisabeth is now in her fifties, the latest picture of her was taken more than 35 years ago when she was just 16. Officials have given their best to keep her identity secret from the glare of the public in anticipation of giving her the normal life after the atrocities unleashed upon her.

Elisabeth was then given a new name and identity. She presently lives in an Austrian village referred to as “Village X” to keep her location anonymous.

Elisabeth lives with her children, whose ages now range from 19 to 33. A couple of her children had a difficult time recovering as they have experienced great anxiety and are prone to panic attacks. They were kept on a strict diet plan, regular exercise, and mood-altering drugs to get back to their normal lifestyle.

They keep their bedroom doors permanently open while asleep. Security guards are on alert always and keep patrolling the two-story home which is under the surveillance of CCTV cameras. There is very little information about her post-imprisonment life available in the public domain.

Elisabeth had a strained relationship with her mother Rosemarie initially but later it became smooth and they got close to each other as per news publication major ‘The Independent’.

Where is Josef Fritzl?

Her father Josef Fritzl is in Garsten Abbey prison and is suffering from dementia. Josef Fritzl changed his name to Josef Mayrhoff as he did not want to reveal his identity in his final days.

Archana Kabra
Archana Kabra is a Freelance Writer and has been extensively writing stuff related to Entertainment, Lifestyle, and Technology. She is also an ardent music lover. Twitter handle: @archana153sarda
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28 COMMENTS

    • Ummm did you read it or did you even watch the movie and pornography is more serial killer than and he didn’t have a obsession so In my opinion he watched how his mother was treated by his father and learned off of that in my opinion.

    • How tf is this pornography’s fault, so so sooo many people watch porn and don’t imprison people because they aren’t pieces of shit.

  1. The dumb cops are sooo dumb , saying “we all know eklizabeth was josefs favirite child bc she was so pretty..” favorite child? He woukd punch and kick her, rape her, and as if that wasnt enough he woukdnt bring food for days, not to mention making her deliver all het babies alone!! You dont treat your fav child like this!! If anything you treat them , maybe not like a princess, but a hell of a lot better then that!

  2. I know they say that everybody makes mistakes and everybody can be forgiven at least once. But this is pure evil. This no mistake. This was deliberate pure torture of his own children and his own daughter. This is perverse. This man should have been exposed to the world. He should have been put to death. God help me for saying that. Nobody should kill or be killed but this is unforgivable. Somebody shut me up!

  3. That’s horrible for him to do such a thing and the state her and her children were in they probably wouldn’t have been able to survive in that basement.Niether would they be able to live outside the basement since they have never seen sunlight or even ment other people.I hope the family is doing fine and i agree with you sullaphen leanne he should have been put to death with all those charges he rape her and kept here in the basement for like 68% of he life and refuse to get them the proper care they needed.The should have killed him to know that hes hopefuly dead would be nice but my skin crawls just thinking he’s still around here somewhere.

    • Yes he’s sick twisted disgusting needs to be in jail in little cell torched with no means of sunlight for rest of his life I cried he made her deliver the babies by herself caused her to loose on I believe he buried it in yard dk hard to believe mom was clueless then she raised one of em not knowing I’d like to know I’f she still raise him an how he’s dealing

  4. I am absolutely speechless and shaken at the same time. Presently , I am a 20 yr old girl…and to get to know about people like Joseph is a pure nightmare, not to mention what that little Elizabeth went through!
    No girl would ever imagine even in her worst nightmare, that her own father, the one who gave birth to her, would one day take away her life from her.
    It is often seen that girls are not safe even inside their homes, let alone the outside world, but even inside the home, a daughter’s safe haven is her fathers arms…but to think that that very same person would turn out to be the worst nightmare for her…., the person who is supposed to save a daughter from all the evils of the world, is actually the most evil monster who walked this planet ever…makes my skin crawl…

    I am amazed how this person was allowed to breathe another breath in the prison…when he should have been strangled to death or maybe burned alive…any sort of punishment , torchure, or pain is not enough for this MONSTER who is an insult to the DEVIL himself…

    Its really shocking that such people exist or used to exist…
    if not for the article or the movie, if I had heard this traumatic story from someone else, I could never believe them and might even think that they are SICK in head!

    I don’t have words to explain exactly what I feel right now as a girl…
    Just when it felt that the world is becoming a better place, or maybe even safe….we get to hear or see such evil traumatic incidents…
    If by any chance THE ELIZABETH who suffered all through those years of unreasonable confinement and torchure along with her kids, I am proud of you! You are an amazing, strong woman who has inspired me to never lose hope…and stay strong…as light always comes after the dark!

    I hope nobody has to ever go through anything so inhumane and insane…
    Please I request everyone who read this, stay safe and happy and let the others around you be safe and happy too…life is too short to suffer evil…it would be best to live your life with the best and most beautiful moments of happiness and joy

  5. That’s some sickening cramp to rape your child or anyone! Beyond disgusting that’s some sick/evil cramp!!! The kids are your siblings and that don’t deserve that!!! Praying for them… I couldn’t finish watching the movie because that’s beyond sick/nasty/sinful/evil!!! Praying for peace & comfort

  6. This is absolutely sickening. I really truly hope this man rots in prison. It is SO sad that a female isn’t even safe in the comfort of their own home!! We shouldn’t feel the need to protect ourselves from men like this. But sadly we do. It’s just so unbelievable that men will do any possible thing he can do just for pleasure.

    Elizabeth is a strong woman and she should be proud she worked her way out of said situation.

    Stay strong Elizabeth <3

  7. i just finished the movie and it was heart-wrenching that a girl-women had to go through that awful life. watching the scene where she had to bear with her child in the basement on her own already made cried a bucket. i couldnt imagine how painful it was for Elisabeth. I hope she and her children grow healthily and safely.

  8. Why did I read this??? I have never felt sooo bad for someone in my entire life before she spent 24 years in hell by her own supposedly called father..I can’t judge him but i must admit that he did something i wouldnt imagine it could happen but my Father in heaven will surely give him what he deserves

  9. How could these children not be deformed when fathered by her own father ? I don’t understand. Unless Josef wasn’t her biological father?

  10. I’m truly disappointed about the torture abuse she had to endure no stronger girl//women then her that fought everyday for her children he took her life youth,teenage years adulthood away from not to mention impregnated her how sickening is that.Please God be with that traumatized family.

  11. He was sick!!!! Ugh! I just got done watching this movie and couldn’t believe that a father would do something like this! He had an obsession with his own daughter and couldn’t stand to see her attempting to date. I can’t believe this went on for 24 years. In the movie the dad kept running to the basement and only the sister questioned it by going down there. Ugh! I feel so bad for her.

  12. Judi that doesn’t happen EVERY time. It is just much higher odds of deformity as well as other not so visible health problems.

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