Girl in the Cellar: The Natascha Kampusch Story

Girl in the Cellar: The Natascha Kampusch Story

by Allan Hall, Michael Leidig
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Girl in the Cellar: The Natascha Kampusch Story by Allan Hall, Michael Leidig

Girl in the Cellar is true and terrifying story of Natascha Kampusch, a young Austrian girl who was kidnapped at age ten and imprisoned for eight years in a cell beneath the home of her captor. Written by Allan Hall and Michael Leidig, the first journalists to cover this story in meticulous  detail, Girl in a Cellar is the definitive account of the abduction, discovery, and trial that made international headline news—a shocking true account of a young girl’s unspeakable nightmare, not unlike those suffered by Elisabeth Fritzl in Austria and Alisha Martinez in Colorado.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061345104
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/02/2007
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Allan Hall has been a journalist for thirty-one years. Now based in Berlin, he was formerly the New York correspondent, first for the Sun and later for the Daily Mirror. He co-founded the Big Apple News media agency and has covered German-speaking Europe for the last eight years for newspapers such as the Times, the Scotsman, the Independent, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail and the Age in Australia. He is the author of several encyclopedias of crime in addition to a number of other books, including A History of the Papacy and Nostradamus and Visions of the Future.

Michael Leidig has worked as a reporter for newspapers, magazines, radio and television since 1988, and has been covering Austrian affairs for the London Daily Telegraph as a foreign correspondent since 1995. He is the founder of the Vienna-based news agency Central European News, which has correspondents in all the Central and Eastern European countries, and has founded and edited Austrian newspapers—the Vienna Reporter, Austria Today and the newly launched Austrian Times.

Read an Excerpt

Girl in the Cellar

The Natascha Kampusch Story
By Allan Hall

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Allan Hall
All right reserved.

Chapter One

A Difficult Childhood

Vienna. A city of romance, of suspense, of intrigue, history and glory. The imperial heart of the Habsburgs, the setting for Graham Greene's masterly post-war thriller The Third Man, the city of the not-so-blue Danube, Strauss waltzes and cream cakes that seem to make one put weight on simply by staring at them. It lures visitors from all over the world throughout the year and hosts important global organisations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and various UN bodies. These are what the visitor knows, the grand buildings of times past are what they see; the boiled beef and Sacher Torte cakes are what they eat. There was never a reason to spoil a holiday with a walk to the dismal 22nd district, where Vienna becomes less of a grande dame and more a pockmarked old hag.

The area is now called Donaustadt (Danube town), in a bid by the city authorities to sever the sinkhole housing estates and decrepit industrial areas from their old reputation, but a name change alone cannot lift the miasma of despair that hangs over much of this area. Tower blocks where up to 25 per cent of the inhabitants are jobless, public areas where addicts shoot up and drunks brawl, fall over, fight again and fall asleep, menacing half-lit walkways of tenements where predators offer drugs or sex or both--these were not what theaverage visitor to Vienna wanted to put on the itinerary. But the 22nd district is on the must-see map now, destined to become a magnet for ghouls, crime enthusiasts and the merely curious. Like the 'grassy knoll' in Dallas, where conspiracy theorists put the second gunman involved in the assassination of JFK, or the underpass in Paris where Princess Diana died, it generates its own aura for a world spellbound by what happened to a little girl who grew up here. Taxis regularly come to the Rennbahnweg estate and pull up outside apartment block No. 38, that houses flat No. 18. The driver winds down the window and points, and his passengers stare, following his finger as it traces an arc in the sky towards the seventhfloor. Sometimes they just click a camera; sometimes they step outside to sniff the air, clamber back inside and are gone, their curiosity sated. Now they can tell their friends, when poring over the holiday snaps, 'That's where she lived, you know.'

This is the touchstone of victimhood, the place where Natascha Kampusch was born on 17 February 1988 and grew up to fulfil her peculiar, unique appointment with history.

Her home was part of one of the huge social housing blocks built by the left-wing government of Vienna in the post-war reconstruction years. The building has more than 2,400 apartments and 8,000 residents. The area she ended up in, by contrast, was designed as a garden suburb for the city's well-to-do.

The story of Natascha could begin with the Brothers Grimm formula of 'Once upon a time', because, once upon a time, life was good for her father and mother. Ludwig Koch, a 24-year-old master baker--thrifty, industrious, solid, respectable--fell in love with attractive divorcee Brigitta Sirny, 29, mother to two daughters. The year was 1980 and Ludwig's business was expanding.

Things are very different now. Eight and a half years of coping with the catastrophic loss of his daughter and of his businesses--he had at one time a string of bakeries on the go--have taken their toll on Ludwig.

He drinks too much, and he seems both confused and saddened by the events of August 2006: overjoyed at an outcome he never dreamed of, while bitter at what he can see is an industry forming around his beloved Natascha--something which, like the forces which stripped him of love and work, he has no control over.

The relationship with Natascha's mother fell apart long before she was taken from their lives, but he has flashes of nostalgia, Kodak moments of tenderness for the woman he once loved. He told the authors in an exclusive interview:

I was never married to Natascha's mother. We were together about 13 years, and we lived together for

between seven and eight years. I can't remember exactly, but it was about that long. We met through a mutual friend, who introduced us to each other and it just went from there. We got on really well at the start and we had a business together--she came to work in the bakery. It was a joint decision to have a baby. She was planned and wanted by both of us. It was our dream to have a family, although Natascha's mother already had two children of her own.

My daughter was born in the Goettlicher Heiland hospital on the Hernalser Hauptstrasse. It was a wonderful moment. I can't remember how long the birth lasted, I think it was for four or five hours. I remember that before I'd been really happy about the pregnancy as the baby was a real planned and wanted thing, but I had been certain I would have a son. I had told everyone I would have a son and made bets, and when we found that it was a girl I was genuinely shocked, but when I held her in my arms for the first time my heart just melted. I knew I would not have changed her for the world. She was just perfect in every way. I was there for the birth, which I suppose for blokes of my generation is a bit different.

We called her Natascha because of my father, also called Ludwig. He had survived five years in a Russian jail after being captured by the Soviets in the war, and when he came back we would always joke about the Russian women, and I called her Natascha for him. I always loved the name anyway.


Excerpted from Girl in the Cellar by Allan Hall Copyright © 2007 by Allan Hall. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Girl in the Cellar: The Natascha Kampusch Story 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
ellekd More than 1 year ago
Very disappointing book! I've been reading True Crime for years and this is one of the least interesting books I've EVER read. I was unable to finish this book, though I tried, thinking it had to get better. WRONG! Total waste of time,energy and money. The story never takes off it just drags on until you've finally had enough.
llilith More than 1 year ago
I kept waiting for this to take off but it's just a series of dry opinions by various 'experts' related to the case. Terrible true crime book. Only one star because zero stars wasn't possible.
douome More than 1 year ago
I bought this book and it was impossible to finish. I follow true crime anyway and about everything in the book can be found on the internet. Wait and see if Natascha comes forward and does her own book. I didn't look closely and assumes that was what I was purchasing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so bad. All it did was repeat repeat repeat the same stuff just worded different! I kept reading thinking it would take off but hope never did. I love true crime stories but this one gives them bad rep. You never find out what REALLY happened and I understand she hasn't really said. That would be my 1st clue not to write a book about NOTHING! Would give 0 stars but not an option. I feel dumber for finishing it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept waiting for an uppercut to the jaw and all I got was a slap in the face. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Complete lack of understanding, knowledge and empathy for victims of crimes. Lacking insight into how victims cope and evolve in traumatic situations and what is normal behavior given their circumstances. Borders on unethical journalism. Victim blaming, you name is in there. The authors essentially exploit the victim by cranking out a novel to make money due to sensational media and hype of the case. Awful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A young girl is abducted and held prisoner in a windowless dungeon. No contact with another human except her captor. No contact with the outside world for the first few years. This book is about her psychological development and how she learned to manipulate her captor to the point of escape many years later.
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