I can’t be as bad a mother as I sometimes believe, because this little comment on the Fritzel case literally brought tears to my eyes:
“The most touching detail of those horrible events in Austria has been the pictures of childish decorations in the cellar bathroom. Those homely touches are signs of hope, a reminder that human beings are capable of great love as well as of great evil. For Elisabeth to try to improve the environment for her children, to show them that there are good things in the world as well as bad, to tell a little boy who has never seen them, about the Sun and stars and flowers, a snail, an elephant, an octopus – that is love.”
If you’re overseas and you aren’t familiar with the details, we are talking here about a woman who was imprisoned by her father in a cellar, with barely room to move, and repeatedly raped by her father for 24 years. She bore him seven children down there, one of which died in early infancy and was thrown in a furnace by her father. Three of her other children were adopted and raised upstairs by Fritzel and his wife, who incredibly denies all knowledge of her daughter’s imprisonment.
The remaining three children – and I find this the most haunting and distressing feature of the whole story – aged 19, 18 and 5, were raised in the tiny windowless cellar and saw daylight for the first time when they were released a few days ago. What else they must have seen literally doesn’t bear thinking about.