A pound of flesh? Phantom mince deposits mystify German town

Raw mince deposits near the train tracks in Berghausen have stumped police and locals

No one knows who puts the mincemeat near the train tracks at Berghausen, mostly on Mondays near the fence, and no one knows what it means. Photograph: istock

No one knows who puts the mincemeat near the train tracks at Berghausen, mostly on Mondays near the fence, and no one knows what it means. Photograph: istock

 

Not since Shylock has a pound of flesh caused as much drama.

For weeks, locals in the southwestern German town of Berghausen have been mystified by the appearance of a pound of raw mince that appears regularly at the tracks of the local train station.

No one knows who puts it there, mostly on Mondays near the fence, and no one knows what it means. Is it art? And why, after the remains of the meat are removed, does a fresh pile appear days later?

“We’re completely mystified,” said Nicolas Lutterbach, spokesman of AVG, the company that owns the site around the train station in Berghausen.

Police in nearby Karlsruhe are similarly puzzled but say they have more important things to worry about. A pound of flesh may have been high drama in Shakespeare’s day, particularly to merchants of Venice, but not in rural Germany.

“There is no case here,” said a police spokesman in Karlsruhe.

The quantities of mince that are deposited in Berghausen are too small to qualify as illegal dumping, so the police are powerless to act. Police don’t believe the meat is a poisoned lure to kill animals.

But no one has carried out an analysis of the meat – for poison or splinters of glass – as there is usually little left by the time police are informed.

With no help from the state, residents of Berghausen are mystified by the strange case of the “Mincemeat Phantom”. They have formed a closed Facebook group to discuss the case, and to speculate about who might be behind the red, meaty deposits near the train tracks.

Some want the police to hide nearby and wait for the phantom to strike again. Others suggest keeping an eye on locals’ mincemeat consumption at the local butchers.

Germans are notorious meat lovers, eating 60kg per head annually. They even have the curious habit of eating raw mince meat with raw onions, called “mett”. Given such dietary habits, the circle of suspects in Berghausen, population 7,072, would defeat even Hercule Poirot.

For now, the mincemeat deposits have ruined locals’ appetite. But while they demand answers and action, local officials say they are powerless: the phantom mince is deposited on the property of the train station, owned by AVG.

And its spokesman Nicolas Lutterbach is not a man to mince his words, adding drily: “We have yet to create a special investigating committee.”