“Dr. Satan,” France’s World War II Serial Killer Physician

No one knows how many people Dr. Marcel Petiot murdered

Tim Gebhart

--

Mugshot of Dr. Marcel Petiot after his 1944 arrest (Source: Wikimedia Commons)’

GGay Paree didn’t exist while German forces occupied Paris in World War II. The “City of Light” had blackout requirements, a 9 p.m. curfew, and shortages of food, clothing, and tobacco. Amidst this, a man who would be called “Dr. Satan” preyed upon those desperate to escape. No one knows how many people Dr. Marcel Petiot murdered. A jury convicted him of 26 killings, he admitted to 63 he said were justified, and a leading forensic scientist estimated 150.

Petiot’s questionable behavior long predated the occupation that made him infamous. When arrested for stealing mail as a teenager, a psychiatrist found him mentally ill. A similar situation occurred after he joined the French Army in January 1916. According to author David King, physicians said several times during the war that Petiot had numerous mental health conditions. He spent the last several months of the war in mental institutions. He was discharged on disability in July 1919 even though doctors later said he required institutionalization with “continuous surveillance,” King wrote in Death in the City of Light.

Somehow, though, Petiot attended an accelerated medical school program after his discharge. He graduated with honors in 1921 and…

--

--

Tim Gebhart

Retired Lawyer. Book Addict. History Buff. Lifelong South Dakotan. Blog: prairieprogressive.com