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“Onboard an electrified speeding train in Nazi Berlin, Selby reveals an equally electrifying story of the railroad employee who could not stop murdering.”

Robert Graysmith
New York Times bestselling author of Zodiac

The true story of Paul Ogorzow, a serial killer in the heart of the Third Reich.  

As the Nazi war machine caused death and destruction throughout Europe, one man in the Fatherland began his own reign of terror.

This is the true story of the pursuit and capture of a serial killer in the heart of the Third Reich. 

For all appearances, Paul Ogorzow was a model German. An employed family man, party member, and sergeant in the infamous Brownshirts, he had worked his way up in the Berlin railroad from a manual laborer laying track to assistant signalman. But he also had a secret need to harass and frighten women. Then he was given a gift from the Nazi high command.

Due to Allied bombing raids, a total blackout was instituted throughout Berlin, including on the commuter trains—trains often used by women riding home alone from the factories.

Under cover of darkness and with a helpless flock of victims to choose from, Ogorzow's depredations grew more and more horrific. He escalated from simply frightening women to physically attacking them, eventually raping and murdering them. Beginning in September 1940, he started casually tossing their bodies off the moving train. Though the Nazi party tried to censor news of the attacks, the women of Berlin soon lived in a state of constant fear.

It was up to Wilhelm Lüdtke, head of the Berlin police's serious crimes division, to hunt down the madman in their midst. For the first time, the gripping full story of Ogorzow's killing spree and Lüdtke's relentless pursuit is told in dramatic detail.


The woman appeared to be alone. That was Paul Ogorzow’s first mistake. Eager to attack, he failed to ensure no one was nearby to save her.

She walked along a pathway through the gardens of Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, a suburban area in eastern Berlin. Although it was near a station to central Berlin, this residential area felt distinctly rural. She’d walked this path many times through lush gardens with cherry, chestnut, and apple trees, alongside carrots, onions, potatoes, hedges, and grasses.

Paul Ogorzow, twenty-seven, hunted in this area, stalking and attacking lone women at night. In wartime Berlin, night had acquired new meaning—a government-imposed blackout meant the only illumination at this hour came from the night sky.

He looked rather average—on the short side of medium height, white with short black hair parted on the left. Mostly clean-shaven, he occasionally had a wisp of a mustache. His beady eyes, thin lips, thinning hair, and prominent ears were overshadowed by his nose—the right nostril oversized from an improperly set break in his youth.

During his attacks, Ogorzow often wore his uniform, which was generally all his victims noticed. His railway uniform, though, resembled many other uniforms of the Third Reich.

In the dark, and with the suddenness of his attacks, it was difficult to discern the details that would reveal the exact type of uniform he was wearing.

This was not Ogorzow’s first time looking for a woman to assault. By now, he’d emerged from the darkness to attack around thirty different women, using the war’s chaos to evade police, and choosing victims he could overpower.

Taking advantage of the darkness that evening, he rushed his victim. She only saw him at the last moment and reacted by screaming as loudly as she could. Ogorzow wrapped his large hands around her neck, squeezing in an attempt to silence her and render her unconscious. She fought him tooth and nail, managing to keep breathing and continue screaming.

What she knew—and he did not—was that help was only a short distance away. Her husband and brother-in-law were nearby, and she hoped they would hear her screams and come to her aid.

Horrified, they rushed to the scene. Although Ogorzow was strong from a lifetime of manual labor, he was not a big man and had already exhausted himself trying to subdue his victim.

The husband and brother-in-law yanked Ogorzow off her and began pummeling him. After beating him, they threatened to turn him over to the police if he survived.

Ogorzow experienced a sudden reversal of fortune—one moment, he felt godlike with his hands around her throat; the next, he was being beaten. If they didn’t kill him, the state would soon enough.

In the darkness, Ogorzow broke away and hid among the bushes and trees. Knowing the area well, he evaded the men who eventually gave up and took the woman for medical attention. By the time they reported the incident to the police, Ogorzow was safely home.

Afterward, Ogorzow reflected on his mistakes and the fact that he had left behind three witnesses. He had relied on the speed of his attack and the darkness of the garden path to prevent his victim from describing him to the police. The prolonged struggle now made him worry that the woman and her two saviors might be able to identify him.

Contemplating his narrow escape, Ogorzow considered how he could lower his risk of getting caught. He focused on improving his tactics.

After this close call, Ogorzow realized that he needed to silence his victims quickly. So, he would immediately choke them with his hands, threaten them with a knife, or hit them over the head with a blunt instrument. Unsure what would work best, he knew he had to solve this problem if he was to avoid getting beaten up again—or, worse yet, caught by the police.

He set his sights on a new hunting ground in the heart of Berlin, with an almost limitless supply of victims. Soon, he would expand his repertoire and become one of Berlin's—and perhaps Germany's—most notorious serial killers.  

Reviews & Praise

“Onboard an electrified speeding train in Nazi Berlin, Scott Andrew Selby reveals an equally electrifying story of the railroad employee who could not stop murdering.”

Robert Graysmith

New York Times Bestselling Author of Zodiac

"An expertly told detective story, in which the author presents a fascinating case without digesting the facts for his readers...As a chronicle of unknown German history, few recent books are as compelling."

“Scott Selby’s true story is both intriguing and exciting—and made even more compelling because as the investigators search for a killer they are urged on bygovernment officials committed to an official policy of mass murder."

Howard Blum

New York Times Bestselling Author of American Lightning


"A compelling read."


“In the darkest days of tyranny, in a blacked-out Berlin in the grip of panic but with a politically neutered police force, the hunt for a serial killer becomes a game of cat-and-mouse that reaches far up the chain of the Nazi state…Scott Selby meticulously recreates one of the most horrific but fascinating murder investigations of twentieth-century Germany.”

Paul French

New York Times Bestselling Author of Midnight in Peking

“A fascinating story.”

“A chilling, fast-paced narrative full of shocking twists…A unique and riveting historical account of a lone predator hunting in the shadows of World War II Berlin.”

Julian Rubinstein

Author of Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

“Darkly fascinating…It’s a story of determined detective work by a police officer with a surprisingly clear sense of justice given his surroundings. And it's a story of the ways that killers rise and fall on multiple levels, one that still resonates decades later."

Deborah Blum
New York Times Bestselling Author of The Poisoner's Handbook

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