Would you marry a convicted criminal
Seven murders, 25 years in prison : "I am not human, I am a monster"
When the investigators arrested Thomas Rung on February 28, 1995, because he was suspected of having murdered his partner's girlfriend, they had no idea who was caught by them. Thomas Rung says nothing for the first three hours. In the interrogation room, the giant sits on the chair that looks so small below him, arms, shoulders and head sagging, and pretending to be asleep while the inspector asks him over and over and entices him.
Then Rung unpacks - everything. He did not regret this decision "for a second," he says in retrospect. "I see that as part of my responsibility to my victims."
He doesn't speak until the book rights have been sold
His confession to the police links Rung, he is now 34 and has a four-year-old son, on the condition that he can sell the book and film rights first. On March 16, 1995, the magazine “Stern” was published with Rung's portrait on the front page, with “I confess” underneath.
On a Thursday in mid-February 2020, Thomas Rung is sitting at the table next to the children's play area, at the other end of the room, where the judicial clerk is doing his paperwork in his glass case. 1.90 meters tall, shoe size 47. The plastic cup that well-groomed fingers keep turning back and forth and around looks like a thimble in its paws. Freedom can be stolen from him. He still has 16 years imprisonment ahead of him, at least.
Out? Never want Rung again
Rung has never belonged to the world outside, and everything that holds it together has always been alien to him. Rung waves it away. He would be “powdered with the clip bag” if he finally allowed himself to be deported from prison to an old people's home at the age of 75.
"Why should I go over there and get beaten up?"
Who was going to hit you, Mr Rung?
"Do you know? I'd rather stay here! "
It is 8:40 a.m. and the official visiting time in the Celle correctional facility does not start for three hours. A video camera is mounted on the ceiling, and microphones are embedded in the middle of the tables so that the institution can overhear if the court so orders.
The prisoner gets to Berlin through his memories
Rung no longer sees any of this. Not even the houseplant, which underlines the desolation with its thick-leaved robustness. Rung's handshake is firm, and when his initial nervousness evaporates, he looks you straight in the eye as he flips through his memories.
25 years ago Thomas Rung went down in crime history as Berlin's most dangerous serial killer. Thomas Rung murders for 13 years until his series, which the investigators never recognized as such, is stopped. It is March 1, 1995, when the prison gates behind Thomas Rung close one last time, probably forever, he confesses to the police and explains to the interrogators: "I am not human, I am a monster."
- Making of
The answer from the JVA Celle arrives only a few days later: "With your topic you run into open doors with me", wrote Thomas Rung on December 24th, 2019 in his first letter. He is ready to talk about his 25 years in prison: everyday life, problems and successes. Rung encloses a "Declaration on the processing of personal data in the telephone system for prisoners and persons in preventive detention" with his letter. Rung is allowed to telephone alone in his cell from 8.30 p.m. About a dozen phone calls follow, some lasting two hours. Rung sends what has accumulated over the years and can substantiate his statements: enforcement reports, letters from the Ministry, the Penal Enforcement Chamber, newspaper articles, photos and letters. He agrees that the Tagesspiegel evaluates the forensic reports by Professor Hans-Ludwig Kröber from 2004 and 2017. During the visit on February 13, 2019, the JVA Celle insists that a judicial officer is present; the conversation lasts about two and a half hours. The subsequently planned meeting with Rung's girlfriend is canceled and will not be made up for because of the outbreak of the corona virus in Berlin. You and Rung's volunteer supervisor Julius Krizsan are ready to provide information on the phone. The book “The Confessions of the Serial Killer Thomas Rung“ by Peter Niggl. The prison is available for a general discussion about the prison system in Celle, but does not comment on the Rung case.
Pity? He doesn't know, Thomas Rung said at the time. He has enough problems himself to think about the suffering of others.
This Thomas Rung is now sitting, a quarter of a century later, in the visiting room of the Celle correctional facility and claims to be a different, someone who has been rung. Someone who stood up for others, as a spokesman for the prisoners' representatives, as a board member of the football club.
And then one day a group of servants storms his cell and takes him to the Wolfenbüttel JVA for six months: security station, solitary confinement. September 14, 2016 was, he knows very well, the day when his reputation and his past caught up with him. For the man who sits here in the visitors' room, perhaps the most significant day of his new life: because he has lost something there, possibly for the first time ever, that he has worked for himself and that was worth something to him - recognition.
"Ballerköppe", says Rung and crosses his arms in front of the mighty stomach. He looks through the barred windows at the walls with further lattice windows, in the sky the sun sparkles behind dark clouds like a fading headlight. An older man, 59 years old, glasses, black sweatpants, white shirt. "I don't understand that people are still afraid of me."
A series of mistakes and sloppiness
Some say: Thomas Rung's transformation is real. This man, who brutally murdered seven people in Berlin, did not suppress a single day, not a single act, had renounced violence.
The others fear: A great anger continues to simmer in Thomas Rung, which can turn into excessive violence. On December 24, 2019, Rung and his Adler Contessa de Luxe wrote a letter from prison: “Change processes take an incredibly long time, nobody can talk or write nicely. The most important thing is to get enemy images out of your head. "
He attacked, raped, suffocated, drowned his victims
For Thomas Rung, enemies used to be: the state, the judiciary, the police, the prison, its servants ... Above all, he saw old people as easy prey. Thomas Rung killed seven people, most of his victims were elderly women. He ambushed her, raped her, suffocated her, drowned her. The mistakes and sloppiness of the authorities, the police and the judiciary were also unprecedented in the Rung case. Investigators attributed two of his murders to the wrong people, and two of them were filed as accidents.
No wonder that he is frightened today by the world in which he has caused so much damage: Thomas Rung spent a total of 38 of his 59 years in prison. Since he was 14 years old, Rung has never lived in freedom for more than two years. “I know I will never leave prison alive.” In 1996 the court sentenced him to two life sentences and preventive detention. Twelve years, eight months and a second preventive detention are then given as "surcharges" because he attacks other inmates in Tegel JVA.
He confesses in a monotonous voice, case by case
The Stern publisher pays him 50,000 Deutschmarks for the rights to his story. When business stands, Rung keeps his promise. Because he doesn't gloss over anything, doesn't evade a question, the trial, which begins on January 30, 1996 before the Berlin district court, only takes five days.
There is no space left in the hall, the spectators jostle in front of the doors. “They all wanted to see the monster,” says Rung. The defendant confesses in a low and monotonous voice, case by case:
It was Thursday evening, October 13, 1983, when Thomas Rung committed his first murder. He is 22 years old, just released from prison and lives on Silbersteinstrasse in Neukölln. His landlady Melanie S. is considered a quirky old lady among the residents of the new building from the 1970s. Rung kills the 77-year-old, robs her. The police arrest an ex-tenant as a suspect.
He covers her head with sand. She suffocates
Less than six weeks later, on November 24, 1983, Thomas Rung strikes again. In the courtroom, he describes how he sits at the bar and drinks in the “Silbersteineck”, a pub on Hermannstrasse. After about a bottle of schnapps, it is well after midnight, he steps outside and sees Susanne M. on the opposite side of the street, going home. When he noticed the 22-year-old student, “I made up my mind: I'll take it!”.
He ambushes Susanne M. from behind and drags her to the playground. After the rape, he chokes his victim and then covers the unconscious head in a bush with sand, in which she suffocates. On the way home he “feels bad”.
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On December 1, 1983, Rung robbed a confused 85-year-old woman. The injured Frieda K. freezes to death before passers-by discover her. The police noted in the files as the cause of death: accidental death.
On the morning of December 24th, he raped the 62-year-old Josephine G. and drowned her in the Neukölln shipping canal. Only a few hours later he tries to rape a kiosk owner, a customer intervenes.
Rung doesn't look for explanations
Rung doesn't look for explanations. From his point of view, the fact that he kills his victims is almost inevitable, “because I didn't want to go to jail”. Although the police cannot track down Rung in the murders, they arrest him for other crimes. Until 1990, Rung was sentenced to prison for rape, attempted rape and assault. When the now 29-year-old comes out, the wall fell. He gets used to exploring the city by bike.
In September 1990, he raped 58-year-old Helga K. in a demolished house in Mitte and then forced her to let the bathtub in, where he drowned her. The police initially assume an accident.
What was he thinking? "You can all do me."
What did he think when he attacked his victims? "You can all do me."
In August 1993 Rung was sentenced to one year and eight months' imprisonment for rape while intoxicated and was sentenced to imprisonment in the Karl Bonhoeffer Psychiatric Clinic.
On February 25, 1995, he got into an argument with his stepbrother Eckard, who admonished him not to drink alcohol. He knocks the 53-year-old unconscious, drowns him in the tub and disappears from the apartment with 1,800 D-Marks.
Three days later, on February 28, he raped and strangled the 34-year-old friend of his partner. Then he sets a fire in her bedroom.
The appraiser says: Rung could have been saved
Is someone who murders so coldly and so frequently normal?
The expert Wilfried Rasch explains in the process that Rung is not mentally ill, but "a rarity". When he meets the serial killer in the Moabit prison for the first conversation, he expects an abnormal perpetrator. But Rung is a "nice, amiable, friendly man who, despite his normality," committed these acts. A killer with "teddy bear charm". The course for this life was set early, says the appraiser. "Rung could have been saved from his life."
After his confession he changes: nothing
In his closing remarks, the defendant explains: "Only through my life confession can I come to terms with myself and my deeds." For the first time in his life he wants to take responsibility.
In the judgment, the judge pays tribute to Rung's appearance. The court was spared theatrical expressions of remorse and its detailed report accelerated the proceedings considerably. This does not give him a lighter sentence.
In the JVA Celle the cooling of the drinks machine switches on. Rung expects another visit today, a friend, Patricia, 30, has announced that she is from Thuringia for 11.30 a.m. Rung wears the collar of his shirt open, his sleeves rolled up above his elbows. After the murder trial, he often received letters from women, "but now not evidence of the laundry basket".
Women write Rung letters to prison
He stays in contact with Ulla for a few months, "’ ne very love ". A Buddhist who sends him books to reach him esoterically. “But then she obviously couldn't cope with my clear pronunciation.” It doesn't matter, says Rung, he never wanted to make himself a “love affair”.
And Patricia? "This is something very special."
Rung goes into raptures: total trust, no expectations, one wavelength, but he insists: “This is not a love affair.” In the photos, a pretty young woman at Rung's side smiles into the camera, brown eyes, glasses.
"Dear Thomas Rung, you touch me!"
One and a half years ago Patricia Mann, whose name the editors had changed at her request, wrote to him for the first time, and when Rung talked about her on the phone one evening in February, he read the letter without asking in a solemn tone:
“Dear Thomas Rung, I'm not sure how to say, but you touch me! Your life, the sadness that resonates, everything that should have turned out differently. Maybe you think I'm crazy, but I look into your eyes and see a sensitive person who yearned for stability and love all his life ... I myself know the feeling of not being seen. As being labeled differently ‘... Please feel hugged, maybe nobody has done that for a long time!"
Rung would not release himself from custody
He could talk to Patricia about everything, everyday life, her fears, his past. They write to each other, talk on the phone at least once a week, sometimes for 15 minutes, sometimes for two and a half hours, four times they have met in person - suddenly the judicial officer is at the table. "Your visit has just been canceled." Patricia Mann was sitting on the train when she realized that she had forgotten her identity card.
In the visiting room, Rung needs a few minutes to shake off his disappointment. After the second coffee, he squeezes a coke from the machine. For him, who is actually lifelong, every love relationship is “doomed to failure”. He himself would not be released from prison because he found the risk too great. “Not so much because of the instinct”, but because the inhibition threshold for aggressive acts has been lowered with him. He has not touched alcohol since he came to Celle eleven years ago, not a drop. But who knows what would be outside? So often he swore to himself, “just a glass” - and then it degenerated into excess. "Alcohol is poison for me."
He still feels his temper to this day
There is one scene, says Rung, that he can still see in front of him today: how he chases a boy on his folding bicycle and kicks him off the saddle with all his might. Maybe he never forgot the kick because it was his first of five youth convictions. But maybe also because he still feels this anger today, "because it has seized so deeply".
Rung had to go to jail for the first time at the age of 16, three cases of handbag theft. "That was cruel, it was my downfall: the pure oppression," says Rung. He always told himself that if the court had given him this chance at the time, he would have gotten around to it. In any case, everything that came after that was shit.
Thomas Rung was born on January 3, 1961, the sixth of seven children of engine fitter Karl Rung. He cannot remember his birth mother as such, as his parents separated when he was two years old. The mother “took off” to marry her husband's son from his first marriage, Rung's half-brother, says Rung. He himself was of legal age when he saw his mother for the first time.
There was "threshing until you pee"
He calls the stepmother, a hard-hearted woman, “aunt”. The father, so it is in a youth court assistance report of the district office Wilmersdorf from 18.September 1981, is a "markedly authoritarian, easily excitable and filthy cursing and also slamming man who scared all children". There is a “tough family climate” in which “emotional appeal” does not play a role. The family lived in a five-room apartment in the Märkisches Viertel until 1976.
No authority is interested in the lot of the Rung children, they are left to their fate. For his father he was a no-brainer, says Rung, the “idiot” and “bum”. His world is determined by the experience of power and brutal oppression. He remembers “threshing until you pee”, first with his bare hands, later with a dog spiked collar or club.
Thomas closes himself off, becomes a loner, a then still thin boy. Because of its particularly undisciplined behavior, it is no longer wearable in school and is sent to the special school for people with learning disabilities. When the parents move to West Germany, they only take the youngest with them, the others have to find their own way. Thomas is just 15.
Only his sister Sieglinde sticks to him
He starts out as a worker and now lives with friends of his boss. At the age of 20, Rung was certified by the youth court assistance report of the Wilmersdorf district office that he was “in no way able to live independently - even if only in a modest way”.
His sister Sieglinde, who is seven years older than him, is a saleswoman in Berlin and is now a pensioner. He is the only one in his family who has kept in touch with Thomas Rung over the years. She visits him once a year, they talk on the phone irregularly. The two never talk about his crimes.
When he drinks, the urge comes
Rung never misses an opportunity between his stays in prison. He raids kiosks, taxi drivers, and chases old men and women on the street, only to rob them on the street or in their homes. Rung steals cars, a truck with coal, breaks into restaurants at night. He's been drinking schnapps since he was 16. When he drinks, the urge comes. "You're horny, you're already shaped by brutality, so I take what I want."
He doesn't have a girlfriend. On August 30, 1983, the 22-year-old married the prostitute Christa. It is a purely fictitious marriage, Rung collects 5,000 D-Marks for his bride to receive a residence permit. At the Neukölln registry office, he doesn't understand what the officer means when she asks the couple to swap the rings. Rung replies: "No, we have some ourselves."
Rung writes about his childhood at the poetry slam
Rung processed his childhood in a poem that he has been adding to, rewriting and expanding for years. When a Berlin artist gave a workshop in the prison in September 2016, Rung was there with his text "Lost Childhood":
"Born as a baby,
not hugged as a small child.
What will become of this child one day
but don't fight back.
The child only battered and without love,
has little perspective.
Now childhood is over too
the brooding remains.
A child is the greatest good on earth,
and must never be beaten.
What I'm never forgiven in my lifetime
these are the many victims
and what I did to them
I'm so sorry.
It just doesn't change anything! "
Rung is happy about the chance to "get a message out", but a fellow inmate, Olaf D., once again poisoned the mood. Rung constantly clashes with the 50-year-old serial killer, who in 2001 became known as the "Grandma Killer of Bremerhaven". Olaf D. is preferred, enjoys a special status because he helps as a sexton in the church. At the poetry slam everyone agreed not to distribute any points, but then D., “this temple whore”, prevailed. Rung gets few points, after all: Olaf D. too.
Friends? You're not in jail, says Rung
Friends? You're not in jail, says Rung, but there's nothing more than buddies with whom he makes the area unsafe outside.
In 1990 Rung hoped, he is now 29, that a life with a family might be possible for him too, when he met his girlfriend Christine. Christine, two years younger than Rung, is the daughter of his stepbrother Eckard. She thinks she has found her dream man, this big, strong guy with brown eyes and broad shoulders. He moves to Hellersdorf with her and her two little sons. Thomas Rung remained unpunished for almost two years - the longest phase in his life. His son Christopher was born in 1991. “A mendacious life,” says Rung, but he was in love with his little son.
He is fond of his newborn son
Seven years ago Christopher got in touch, he is 22 years old, works as a building cleaner, and asks on the phone: "Are you up for contact with me?" Literally, says Rung - and he replied: "Of course I'm up for it."
For a year and a half it went back and forth because of the first visit, Rung reserved the pastor's cozy visiting room for the big day, bought meat and was in the kitchen on his ward to prepare everything when the news came: canceled - without giving reasons. “Fat,” says Rung, saying that he was sad.
“Oh, story,” says Rung with a shrug.
Months later, the son comes by after all. "The meeting was weird," says Rung. He did not understand "what the kid wanted" and never heard from him again afterwards. Rung suspects that his mother sent Christopher to find out whether he could get any money.
“Oh, story,” he says with a shrug.
Rung has not exchanged a single word with Christine since the day he was arrested for the murder of her friend, but the relationship began to show signs of cracking after Christopher's birth. He thinks it is too messy for it to drunk him. At the beginning of 1993, when Rung was admitted to the Karl Bonhoeffer Psychiatric Clinic, Rung asked for an appraisal, "wants to know why I am so aggressive". He doesn't talk about the murders.
The doctors only concentrate on Rung's alcohol problem and do not find out that there is a patient in the 2nd forensic department who has already killed four women - and will continue to kill afterwards. In 1994 he was released as cured. The therapist said at the end: "Get the alcohol out of your head and the world will be fine." And he thought: "Manno man, that's easy."
Rung's therapist committed suicide in 1998
During the murder trial, the appraiser speculated that the subsequent murders might have been avoided if Rung had been treated in the mental hospital for mental health problems and not for excessive alcohol consumption.
In 1998, Rung's station manager commits suicide. In his farewell letters he writes that he can no longer bear the tension between the therapy for sick offenders and the risk of incorrect prognosis and the protection of the population. He can no longer look people in the eyes in the subway when former patients like Rung commit and kill crimes.
The suspicion falls on the wrong tenant
Rung's first murder also shows side effects: The suspicion falls on the 20-year-old ex-tenant Michael M., who now lives in a homeless shelter. He'd rang his landlady's doorbell on the morning of the day, begged for money, and then knocked her down. The old lady got up again - and opened the door to her tenant and murderer Thomas Rung that evening.
Michael M. is not up to the pressure of the interrogators. In 1984 he was sentenced to eight years of youth imprisonment. Neither the police officers nor the appraisers, the court or public defenders notice the blatant contradictions in the false confession. This is how M. claims to have knocked the lady down in the living room, she was found in the bedroom. Also, nobody checks his alibi at the time of the crime. In August 1996, the Berlin regional court acquitted Michael M. retrospectively and awarded him 30,000 D-Marks as compensation for his detention.
Bankruptcies, bad luck and mishaps: the murderer remains undetected
Police target a psychiatric patient for the murder on the playground. The investigators are convinced that he played the guitar on the bench that night, got into conversation with the pastor's daughter and then killed her in a “maddened love”.
The man is only released from psychiatry by court order after eight months. Rung knows that today, traces of DNA would probably have found him after the first crime.
In the Tegel JVA, the serial killer Rung shows no sign of turning back - on the contrary.
He conducts illegal business in jail, and his files collect reports of assault, threats and insults against employees. The other inmates do not dare to approach Rung. In 2001 he was given an “allowance” of two years and eight months for dangerous bodily harm.
Rung asks to "dispose of" his victim from the cell
On the morning of June 29, 2003, Rung beats and strangles a fellow inmate almost to death in his cell because he got in his way on his drug deals and embezzled 86 grams of hashish. Before he pushes the lifeless man under his bed, he sticks a note on his chest. "I'm a junkie and steal, cheat and lie to pocket money recipients." Then he walks across the hall and asks the servants to "dispose of" the man from his cell.
When the psychiatrist Hans-Ludwig Kröber visits him in the Moabit prison, the expert meets a "soon to be 43-year-old, tall, squat, normal-weight man who calmly and confidently made contact with the expert and was consistently cooperative and appropriate to the situation." .
The inmate says: That's the way the laws are in jail
Rung doesn't understand what this is about. Again this question! He has confessed, is ready to accept his sentence - and he has no regrets about the excess in his cell. Nothing has changed about that to this day, says Rung. “This is not a criminal offense for me. Those are the laws in jail. "
In his report dated January 6, 2004, Kröber describes the prisoner as a “ruthless man experienced in violence” who seems to act free of empathy. Like all of his predecessors, the psychiatrist asks himself: What drove and drove Rung to these outbreaks?
Maybe he just enjoys killing
In the report he draws the conclusion: "It may have given Rung a particular pleasure to attack female victims in particular, to choke them to the point of unconsciousness and to kill them." Rung defended him offensively that he was looking only at his interests, because yes nobody else stands up for him and the institution only works against him. Rung lives in harmony with his criminal identity.
After the incident, the Tegel prison wants to get rid of Thomas Rung. In 2006 he came to the Sehnde prison in Lower Saxony as part of a prisoner exchange, and in 2009 he moved to Celle. It is only a few steps from the Celle train station to the visitor entrance. Until a few years ago, all of Lower Saxony's murderers were sitting in the maximum security prison. Of the 205 inmates, 69 are still serving life imprisonment. The youngest inmate is 25, the oldest 81 years old.
A-Ost base station, cell number 9
When Rung announces that he will be in touch at 8.30 p.m., immediately after being locked in, the phone rings at 8.30 p.m. To the minute, evening after evening. "Rung, good evening, on time like the bricklayers." He has a deep, powerful voice. For around a year now, Lower Saxony's cells have been equipped with telephones, and Rung can make calls all night if he wants.
A-Ost base station, cell number 9. Thomas Rung sits on his bed and describes what he sees. A wooden table, a chair, the sideboard with the files, the shelf with around 25 books and a few notebooks: Upholstery textbooks, “Did you know that?”, “Amazing facts around the world”, the “Letter to my father “From Kafka, a gift.
Go to work in the jogger
He has no pictures on the walls, just the pin board, on it: photos of Patricia, Patricia's postcards with sayings (“Some people fit my heart perfectly”) and a Berlin-by-night postcard as a reminder of his homeland: the Brandenburg Gate , TV tower and Victory Column.
Foreman Rung arrives on duty at 6:30 am in his dark blue "prison jogger". "Normal for me here is a baggy look", jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts. "Could also be walking around here in a nightgown, I don't give a shit." Rung is deployed in hall two, responsible for five companies and a good 20 people. The prisoners make ironing board covers here, items for hardware stores, two-component spatulas. Rung supervises the work, writes receipts and talks the way bosses sometimes talk. "Pile of rubble, some don't feel like it, some have no idea."
His pay slip shows 350.64 euros
His pay slip shows 350.64 euros for November 2019, 253.41 euros in December 2019. For three sevenths, he can order food and luxury goods, tobacco, tea and sweets, which are delivered in plastic boxes. 100 euros per month go to the daughter of a victim. What is left over is saved for phone cards, dentures, varifocals. Rung also needs money for his legal disputes with the institution. “Theoretically, I can have every notification checked by a court.” A complaint to the Penal Enforcement Chamber costs 30 euros, and a complaint to the Higher Regional Court costs 100 euros.
Thomas Rung is 51 when the institution realizes that its most notorious prisoner is beginning to change. In a treatment examination on November 23, 2012 it was stated that the inmate showed a "clear calming of behavior". There have been no criminal offenses for nine years. It is important to him to get recognition at work. If he exercised his superior functions in an authoritarian and rigid manner, Mr. Rung was able to accept critical comments and change his behavior.
Writing, says Rung, has been hard work for him to this day
In order to be able to train as an upholsterer, Rung first takes part in a specialty course. In summer 2010 he graduated from secondary school, in January 2015 he successfully completed his upholstery apprenticeship. "It all sounds so easy now," says Rung. But even as a little kid he had problems concentrating at school. In Celle he had surpassed himself. Writing, says Rung, has been hard work for him to this day.
Polite, punctual, reliable - the Celle prison is satisfied
Rung's enforcement plans, which the Celle prison draws up at least once a year for the prisoner, all read similarly from 2012: “The conduct within the enforcement authority can be described as free of complaints. Polite and respectful demeanor. He submits concerns factually. Mr. Rung goes about his work regularly and punctually. Mr. Rung regularly uses the free period. "
In September 2013, the prisoners elect Thomas Rung as spokesman for the “Prisoners' Interests Representation”. In September 2015 Rung becomes chairman of the Aller-Sportverein Celle von 1968 e. V. elected. In his free time he plays with the theater group.
With three guards, the lifelong man is allowed out for the first time
In autumn 2015, Rung was allowed to run for the first time. The prisoner has three companions in civilian clothes at his side on the excursion into the old town of Celle. A chain that goes from the wrist to the right foot inside his pants prevents him from taking too big steps. If he puts his left hand in his trouser pocket, nobody will see that there is a prisoner on the way out.
They go to a café, have breakfast, and climb the church tower. Climbing up the iron spiral staircase alone was a “strange feeling” after such a long time, says Rung - and especially at the top, “but also beautiful”. One companion said: “Here you can see the North Sea!” Rung laughs. “I also saw the shop.” He later eats fish there after visiting Celle Castle.
The four following executions, which are permitted once a year, also proceed without incident.
Rung took part in a therapeutic discussion group for a year, but it was not thanks to this event that he had changed. “All notorious whimpers,” Rung complains about the other inmates. “Pretend that they are the victims.” In return, Thomas Rung finds people outside who stand by him.
"Julius is the only friend in my life"
"Julius Krizsan has looked after me for seven years is the only friend in my life," Rung wrote in one of his letters.He underlined the word friend in bold with a blue ballpoint pen.
Krizsan, 83 years old, sat for the Greens in the Bundestag in the 80s and then worked as a pedagogue at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp documentation center. He has been volunteering for prisoners for more than 20 years, but a deep relationship has only developed with Rung. "My friend, the serial killer," says Krizsan on the phone. They meet every month, often talking on the phone three or four times a week.
The festival, the meat scandal, the foam kisses: the situation is escalating
Rung does not notice that he is overbearing: the meetings with the prison management as spokesman, writing minutes, and in early 2016 the tax return for the last three years of the sports club is due. "That was the time when I no longer knew whether I was male or female."
Rung's story can be told a dozen times - and you will never fully understand what ultimately led to this recent incident in prison. Olaf D. plays a role who taunts Rung among the staff. It's about a meat theft from the kitchen, missing foam kisses, the existential needs of his football club, a summer party and an institution management who does not appreciate his commitment.
Rung threatens and scolds: Kasperköppe!
Rung lets out his frustration, threatens and grumbles that the social service employees are Kasperköppe and would try to sell him for stupid. He will not allow himself to be further lied to.
Rung apparently terrifies a social worker in her first year. She reports to her colleagues that his posture and tone of voice suggest a high potential for aggression.
An individual case conference on September 7, 2016 came to the conclusion that placement in another institution was "essential": in solitary confinement, without contact with others, even when walking in the yard or doing sports. It is the sharpest means available to the Celle prison. Apparently Rung recognized his lack of prospects and compensated for this by rejecting the social service staff.
Shortly before 4 p.m. on September 14, 2016, Thomas Rung is lying on his bed in work clothes, as he describes it. “Then my cell door opened and my cell filled with a number of employees. I was asked to stand by the closet with my hands up and handcuffed. ”The uniformed men told him that he was endangering the security and order of the institution.
Julius Krizsan stands up for his friend, protests at the institution, at the ministry. Rung completely changed his life and completely socialized, although he knew that he would not leave prison during his lifetime. The transfer was a scandal based solely on "the suspicions, fears and fears of the staff".
The appraiser meets a desperate Rung
Once again, Hans-Ludwig Kröber is commissioned to assess the “current dangerousness of prisoner Thomas Rung”. The appraiser has not seen him since 2004 and in Wolfenbüttel meets the much grayer, somewhat fat and rather desperate prisoner. "It was remarkable how long-lasting Mr. Rung still hung with his heart on the club and its fate, how close the disputes about the sports festival were to him," wrote Kröber on February 24, 2017.
He comes to the conclusion that Rung's dangerousness - as long as he is in custody - is considerably reduced. "The relaxation of the situation was not an optical illusion, but an expression of an actual change."
What remained was a certain choleric aggressiveness that he was able to control and keep "in the purely verbal area". “Rung wants to achieve something, also wants to gain a reputation; against the background of his crimes and with the prospect of an actual life imprisonment, this is an important mechanism for regulating self-esteem. "
The prisoner is allowed to go back, but "set to zero"
After half a year, Thomas Rung is allowed to move back into A-Ost, but "set to zero": without upholstery. Without honorary posts.
Rung exhausts every legal possibility to get on the nerves of the institution. He files a supervisory complaint against the head of the prison, criminal complaint against the head of the social services, he complains to the Ministry of the Interior about: the closure of workplaces on bridging days, the regulation of free hours, the regulation regarding the delivery of mail on Saturdays, the reduced time for the Leisure activities table tennis ... On October 19, 2019, the “Cellesche Zeitung” has a whole page under the heading: “Too few staff and too many sick people: serial killers complain about abuses in everyday prison life”.
The management of the JVA Celle does not want to talk about the personnel Rung. The prisoner sends heavy A4-size envelopes to the Tagesspiegel editorial office to prove that he is telling the truth: prison reports, personal letters, photos, newspaper articles, complaints, notes, replies from the ministry.
He sounds relaxed, almost cheerful
Rung does not rest until the prison director visits him on February 4, 2020 on the ward. On the phone that evening, Rung sounds relaxed, almost cheerful. You have spoken out. "If you can have an honest conversation, we can continue to work together constructively."
One Sunday in late February, Patricia Mann is on the phone. When she wrote the first letter, she felt a certain emptiness in her life. An American documentary series gives her the idea of listening to people who “everyone wants to forget”. She decides in favor of Rung because it is guaranteed that he won't come out straight away and then stand in front of her door. When they first met, they immediately felt a tremendous familiarity.
Rung's time in prison is not re-socializing - it is socializing him.
The excessive violent perpetrator that Kröber describes in his 2014 report is not the person she met in September 2018. The contact with the outside world, the knowledge that someone is listening to him and appreciating him, is obviously good for him. Sure, Rung can be very impulsive. “But he has very fine antennae and always finds the right words,” says the 30-year-old. Thomas Rung has become one of the most important people in her life.
"I don't have any more hateful thoughts."
Rung says of himself: "I have no more thoughts of hate."
Rung's time in prison is not re-socializing - it is socializing him.
He has observed this phenomenon in Germany's prisons several times, says Hans-Ludwig Kröber, who is still researching and making crime prognoses for criminals even after his retirement. "With many older dissocials, prosocial interests suddenly become clear during the course of imprisonment, including the desire to be recognized by others for prosocial acts."
For the older long-time convicts, it is no longer about fighting and assertion, about status, property or women, they no longer have to achieve anything. They no longer fight each other, at most react aggressively to negative notices or dedicate themselves to the hobby of writing applications and complaints. The fact that Rung had apparently succeeded in developing a new role concept surprised him in view of the discouraging initial situation.
Kröber says: "For many it takes a long time, for some it never happens."
More true crime stories from Berlin:
Rung now wants to look ahead. He regretted his irascible demeanor. Sometimes he thinks that something like compensatory justice was involved when the prison took everything he had built up from him. “All the suffering I caused cannot be excused or made good.” Thomas Rung knows that after this episode he can forget his wish to go back to the Tegel JVA in Berlin. Perhaps in a few years, when the physical condition becomes worse and the ailments become more numerous and one finally believes that he will no longer allow himself to be drawn into “any fistfights”. My bones, says Thomas Rung, belong in Berlin.
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