Walter Specht

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Walter Specht (born March 5, 1907 in Erfurt , † April 6, 1977 ) was a German chemist and criminologist .


From May 1931 to May 1934 he worked as assistant to the court chemist Schatz in Halle an der Saale. During this time Specht was sworn in and admitted to the courts of the higher regional court district of Naumburg as an expert for court chemistry and comparative writing. From July 1934 to April 1935 he worked in the Botanical Institute of the University of Halle under the direction of R. Mothes as part of the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft. In the early summer of 1935 he worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Forensic and Social Medicine at the University of Halle under Kurt Walcher and in July of the same year he moved to the University Institute for Forensic Medicine in Jena.

In 1936 Specht received his habilitation on the subject of scientific criminalistics in the service of fire investigation . Specht worked at the University Institute for Forensic Medicine and Natural Scientific Criminology in Jena , whose director was Gerhard Buhtz . In 1937 in Jena , Specht developed a method for detecting blood with the help of luminol . When Buhtz had to go to Breslau in 1938 , Specht followed him there. Likewise, when Buhtz became an advisory forensic surgeon of the VI at the end of August 1941. Army, Army Group Center was appointed. Specht was also involved in the excavations of the Katyn massacre . In 1944 Specht became an adjunct professor for scientific criminology at the Forensic Medicine Institute in Breslau.

Specht was a member of the NSDAP ( membership number 5,956,835) and an SS Hauptscharführer .

After the Second World War he was employed by the Free State of Bavaria as head of the forensic department of the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office. Specht became known nationwide as an expert in the two trials against Maria Rohrbach in 1958 and 1961 . After the first Rohrbach trial he became "head of a central laboratory of a federal authority."

The Rohrbach Trial

In 1958, Specht acted as an expert witness in the first trial against Maria Rohrbach, who was accused of the murder of her husband Hermann Rohrbach . In the circumstantial trial, his opinion played a significant role in the sentencing of the accused to life imprisonment . According to his report, Maria Rohrbach had systematically poisoned her husband by giving him a rat poison containing thallium ( Zelio paste ), which was dissolved in mallow tea of ​​the same color due to the strong coloring of the rat poison. Then she divided the body in the marital home, burned the head in the domestic stove and distributed the remaining parts in the surrounding waters. To this end, Specht presented extensive data from spectroscopic thallium measurements of the soot in the stove pipe and also on the corpse. He received a fee of DM 3,500 for the report  .

In 1961 there was a retrial because in the summer of 1959 the allegedly burned head of the murder victim was found in a dry pond. Rohrbach's defense attorney Fritz Gross then had over 100 soot samples taken from various chimneys in Münster's buildings, including that of the Münster district court , where the trial took place, and - more delicately - from the chimney of the house of appraiser Specht. Thallium was found in all samples, in some cases a multiple of the concentration found in Rohrbach's stovepipe. Gross then initiated a retrial that began on May 3, 1961 in Münster. Gross called on 22 experts, including the renowned Dortmund physicist and chemist Heinrich Kaiser , who “tore up Specht's report, sentence by sentence”.

In the retrial, a number of systematic errors on the part of Specht and his staff were uncovered. Before the court Kaiser came to the conclusion: “The author of the report has no ideas about the investigation methods and analyzes used by his assistants. [...] The author does not master the most elementary expressions of scientific terminology. He uses completely meaningless, incomprehensible, non-existent expressions. The author apparently has no exact scientific vocabulary at all. "


  • with G. Buhtz: The importance of scientific forensics in solving fatal poisoning and abortion cases. In: Arch Crimea. 108, 1941, pp. 53-57 and pp. 137-142.
  • Evaluation and identification of pincer tracks. In: International Journal of Legal Medicine. 27, 1937 doi : 10.1007 / BF01753424
  • Sulphurous acid and formaldehyde in body parts. 26, 1936 doi : 10.1007 / BF01749291
  • Evaluation of traces of fire and detection of candle remains by photographic means. 26, 1936 doi : 10.1007 / BF01749291

Individual evidence

  1. ^ W. Specht: Psychological contributions to the clarification of double fires. In: International Journal of Legal Medicine 28, 1937, pp. 322-340. doi : 10.1007 / BF01750501
  2. W. Specht: The chemiluminescence of haemin, a tool for finding and recognizing forensically important blood traces. In: Angewandte Chemie 50, 1937, pp. 155-157.
  3. ^ A. Castello et al .: Bleach interference in forensic luminol tests on porous surfaces: More about the drying time effect. In: Talanta 77, 2009 pp. 1555–1557. PMID 19084679
  4. Official material on the mass murder of Katyn
  5. ^ A b E. Lignitz: The history of forensic medicine in times of the Weimar republic and national socialism-an approach. In: Forensic Science International 144, 2004, pp. 113-124. PMID 15364380
  6. ^ Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. Ficher Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-596-16048-0 , p. 590.
  7. a b c d Searched and found (see cover picture) . In: Der Spiegel . No. 26 , 1961, pp. 28-37 ( Online - June 21, 1961 ).
  8. ^ J. Kehrer: Murder in Munster. Waxmann Verlag, 1995, ISBN 3-893-25375-0 .
  9. Assistant to the Prosecution . In: Der Spiegel . No. 16 , 1971, p. 156 ( Online - Apr. 12, 1971 ).


  • Professor Dr. Walter Specht, March 5, 1907 - April 6, 1977. In: Arch Kriminol. 161, 1978, pp. 65-67. PMID 350174 .
  • J. Kunkel, T. Schuhbauer: Miscarriage of justice! Campus, 2004, ISBN 3-593-37542-7 , p. 32.

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