Jack the Ripper

Authors: Christian Bauer. No genre - ZDF - 2009 - 45 min

In the late summer and autumn of 1888, Victorian London was shaken by a series of murders which were to become ingrained in the collective memory of the world. Still today, nobody knows who murdered five women in the impoverished district of Whitechapel or who wrote the anonymous letter claiming to be the murderer. It was this letter, signed by Jack the Ripper, that gave birth to the name that still lives on.

More than one hundred years later, a host of criminologists and hobby researchers are still trying to bring the identity of the murderer to light. They have named more than a dozen suspects, but have never been able to prove beyond doubt which of them committed the crimes. But that failure does not deter the international community of Ripper specialists from their continued search for the truth. The past 25 years have produced the most findings about the Whitechapel murders and there are great expectations that the decisive evidence is still out there waiting to be found.

Based on the most recent findings but without homing in on the brutal details of the crimes, the film will reconstruct the cases. We will look at the limited investigation possibilities available to police back in those times and compare them to the technology of the 21st century. We will take a closer look at the most popular theories from the past one hundred years about the identity of the murderer.

With the help of renowned experts, Stephan Harbort and Nahlah Saimeh, ZDF Sphinx - Jack the Ripper aims to construct a profile of the murderer. Ultimately we are not only looking for the identity of the killer, but to understand what it is that drives people to such crimes. Is it a neurological defect or bad social conditioning? To what extent can we explain the unthinkable evil inherent in such crimes?