Natascha Kampusch

Natascha Maria Kampusch (born 17 February 1988) is an Austrian woman who was abducted at the age of 10 on 2 March 1998 and held in a secret cellar by her kidnapper Wolfgang Přiklopil for more than eight years, until she escaped on 23 August 2006. She has written a book about her ordeal, 3,096 Days (2010), upon which the 2013 German film 3096 is based.

Natascha Kampusch
Natascha Kampusch (2019)
Natascha Maria Kampusch

(1988-02-17) 17 February 1988
Vienna, Austria
Disappeared2 March 1998 (aged 10)
Vienna, Austria
StatusFound alive 23 August 2006 (aged 18)
Known forKidnap survivor

Early life

Kampusch was raised by her mother, Brigitta Sirny (née Kampusch), and her father, Ludwig Koch, in Vienna, Austria. Her early life with her mother was reportedly not a happy one, according to Ludwig Adamovich, head of a special commission looking into possible police failures in the investigation of the kidnapping. He claimed that "the time Kampusch was imprisoned might have been better for her than what she experienced before", a statement absolutely denied by Brigitta Sirny, who threatened to sue the commission chief over his remarks.[1]

Her family included two adult sisters, and five nieces and nephews. Sirny and Koch separated while Kampusch was still a child and divorced after her abduction. Kampusch spent time with both of them, and had returned to her mother's home from a holiday with Koch the day before her kidnapping.[2][3]


The 10-year-old Kampusch left her family's residence in Vienna's Donaustadt district on the morning of 2 March 1998 but failed to arrive at school or come home. A 12-year-old witness reported having seen her being dragged into a white minibus by two men,[4][5] although Kampusch did not report a second man being present.[6] A massive police effort followed in which 776 minivans were examined,[7][8] including that of kidnapper Přiklopil, who lived about half an hour from Vienna by car in the Lower Austrian town of Strasshof an der Nordbahn near Gänserndorf. He stated that he was alone at home on the morning of the kidnapping, and the police were satisfied with his explanation that he was using the minibus to transport rubble from the construction of his home.[9]

There were speculations of child pornography rings or organ theft,[10] leading officials to also investigate possible links to the crimes of French serial killer Michel Fourniret.[11] Kampusch had carried her passport with her when she left, as she had been on a family trip to Hungary a few days before, so the police extended the search abroad. Accusations against Kampusch's family complicated the issue even more.[12]


During the eight years of her captivity, Kampusch was held in a small cellar underneath Přiklopil's garage. The entrance was concealed behind a cupboard. The cellar had only 5 square metres (54 sq ft) of space. It had a door made of concrete and was reinforced with steel. The room had no windows and was soundproof.[13] For the first six months of her captivity, Kampusch was not allowed to leave the chamber at any time, and for several years of her captivity she was not allowed to leave the tiny space at night. Afterwards, she spent increasing amounts of time upstairs in the rest of the house, but each night was sent back to the chamber to sleep, as well as while Přiklopil was at work.

In later years, she was seen outside in the garden alone,[14] and Přiklopil's business partner has said that Kampusch seemed relaxed and happy when she and Přiklopil called at his home to borrow a trailer.[15][16] After her eighteenth birthday, she was allowed to leave the house with Přiklopil, but her kidnapper threatened to kill her if she made any noise.[17] He later took her on a skiing trip to a resort near Vienna for a few hours. She initially denied that they had made the trip, but eventually admitted that it was true, although she said that she had no chance to escape during that time.[18]

According to Kampusch's official statement after her escape, she and Přiklopil would get up early each morning to have breakfast together. Přiklopil gave her books, so she educated herself. She did not feel that she had missed anything during her imprisonment, but she noted, "I spared myself many things, I did not start smoking or drinking and I did not hang out in bad company". But she also said: "It was a place to despair."[19] She was given a television and radio to pass the time with, although she was initially only allowed to watch taped programmes and listen to foreign radio stations so that she would not be aware of the publicised search for her.[20] At one point, she tried to escape by jumping out of a car.[19]

A large portion of Kampusch's time upstairs was spent doing housework for Přiklopil and cooking for him.[20] Dietmar Ecker, Kampusch's media advisor, said that Přiklopil "would beat her so badly that she could hardly walk."[21] Přiklopil would starve her to make her physically weak and unable to escape. Her body mass index had reached as low as 14.8 during captivity (normal BMI: 18.5 to 25).[20]Kampusch was also raped by Přiklopil.[22][23]

Přiklopil had warned Kampusch that the doors and windows of the house were booby-trapped with high explosives. He also claimed to be carrying a gun and that he would kill her and the neighbours if she attempted to escape.[24] Nevertheless, Kampusch on one occasion fantasized about chopping his head off with an axe, although she quickly dismissed the idea.[25] She also attempted to make noise during her early years of captivity by throwing bottles of water against the walls.[25] She said that on trips out with Přiklopil, she had attempted to attract attention, but in vain.[25]


The 18-year-old Kampusch reappeared on 23 August 2006. At 12:53 pm, she was cleaning and vacuuming her kidnapper's automobile in the garden when Přiklopil got a call on his mobile phone. Because of the vacuum's loud noise, he walked away to take the call. Kampusch left the vacuum cleaner running and ran away, unseen by Přiklopil, who completed the phone call without any sign of being disturbed or distracted. Kampusch ran for some 200 metres through gardens and a street, jumping fences, and asking passers-by to call the police, but they paid her no attention. After about five minutes, she knocked on the window of a 71-year-old neighbour known as Inge T, saying, "I am Natascha Kampusch".[26] The neighbour called the police, who arrived at 1:04 pm. Later, Kampusch was taken to the police station in the town of Deutsch-Wagram.

Kampusch was identified by a scar on her body, by her passport (which was found in the room where she had been held), and by DNA tests.[27] She was in good physical health although she looked pale and shaken and weighed only 48 kg (106 lb); she weighed 45 kg (99 lb) when she disappeared eight years earlier. She grew only 15 cm (5.9 in) during her captivity.

Sabine Freudenberger was the first police officer to speak to Kampusch after her ordeal, and she said that she was astonished by her "intelligence, her vocabulary". After two years, Přiklopil had brought her books, newspapers and a radio, which she kept tuned mainly to Ö1, an ORF station that is known for promoting education and classical music. She also states that she constantly had a feeling that she lacked something: "a deficit. So I wanted to make that better and I tried to educate myself, to teach myself skills. I have learned to knit for example."[28]

Přiklopil knew that the police were after him, so he killed himself by jumping in front of a train near the Wien Nord station in Vienna. He had apparently planned to commit suicide rather than be caught, having told Kampusch that "they would not catch him alive".[29]


Wolfgang Přiklopil
Born(1962-05-14)14 May 1962
Vienna, Austria
Died23 August 2006(2006-08-23) (aged 44)
Vienna, Austria
Cause of deathSuicide by jumping in front of train
OccupationTelecommunications technician
Criminal statusDeceased
Childrenan anonymous daughter (alleged)
Parent(s)Karl and Waltraud Přiklopil

Wolfgang Přiklopil (14 May 1962 – 23 August 2006) was an Austrian communications technician of Czech origin. He was born to Karl and Waltraud Přiklopil in Vienna, and was an only child. His father was a cognac salesman and his mother was a shoe saleswoman.[30] Přiklopil worked for a time at Siemens as a communications technician.

Evidence recovery was complicated, as Přiklopil's only computer was a 1980s Commodore 64 which is incompatible with modern-day data recovery programs.[31] Přiklopil allegedly had a daughter with the sister of a business partner.[32] Before Kampusch escaped, Přiklopil was trying to procure false papers as a Czech citizen in order to "begin a new life" with Kampusch.[33]

After the escape

In her official statement Kampusch said "I don't want and will not answer any questions about personal or intimate details".[34] After Kampusch's escape, police investigated whether Přiklopil had an accomplice,[35] but they eventually determined that he acted alone.[36]

Kampusch sympathised with her captor in the documentary "Natascha Kampusch: 3096 days in captivity". She said, "I feel more and more sorry for him—he's a poor soul".[37] According to police, she "cried inconsolably" when she was told that he was dead,[38] and she lit a candle for him at the morgue.[39] She has, however, referred to her captor as a "criminal".[40]

Newspapers quoting unnamed psychologists suggested that Kampusch might suffer from Stockholm syndrome,[41][42] but Kampusch says that this is not the case. She suggests that people who use this term about her are disrespectful of her and do not allow her the right to describe and analyse the complex relationship that she had with her kidnapper in her own words.

In 2009, Kampusch became the new face of animal rights group PETA in Austria. In June, she wrote to Ilse Aigner, agriculture minister in Germany where the campaign is based, demanding freedom for zoo animals, stating: "The animals would, if they could, flee as I did, because a life in captivity is a life full of deprivation."[43]


After reportedly "hundreds of requests for an interview" with the teenager, "with media outlets offering vast sums of money", Kampusch was interviewed by Austrian public broadcaster ORF. The interview was broadcast on 6 September 2006 with her approval. ORF did not pay for its interview,[44] and said any proceeds from selling the interview to other channels would be forwarded to Kampusch. The interview was sold to more than 120 countries at a fee of 290 euros per minute. This money, estimated to some hundred thousand euros,[45] was to be donated to women in Africa and Mexico by Kampusch. Likewise she was planning projects to help these women.[46] Interest was enormous.[47]

The newspaper Kronen Zeitung and news magazine NEWS also interviewed Kampusch. The interview was published on 6 September 2006. Both press interviews were given in return for a package including housing support, a long-term job offer, and help with her education.[48]

New developments in Kampusch's case challenged the Austrian government in February 2008.[49][50] Politicians of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) threatened to break up the newly formed SPÖÖVP ("red–black") coalition government in April and May 2008.[51] Kampusch said that she had lost confidence in Austrian justice. Revelations of mistakes in the interior ministry's investigation of her kidnapping came to light, as well as statements of a policeman which were repeatedly ignored in 1998.

On 16 June 2008, the newspaper The Times published an in-depth interview with Kampusch by Bojan Pancevski and Stefanie Marsh.[52]

On 17 February 2010, the British TV channel Five broadcast an hour-long documentary about the case, including an exclusive interview with Kampusch: Natascha: the Girl in the Cellar.[53][54]


The book Girl in the Cellar: the Natascha Kampusch Story[55] by Allan Hall and Michael Leidig appeared in November 2006, written in English. Kampusch's lawyer described the book as being both speculative and premature, and therefore planned to take legal action against it.[56]

Together with two journalists, Kampusch's mother Brigitta Sirny wrote a book about the ordeal, Verzweifelte Jahre ("Desperate Years"). Kampusch appeared at the initial presentation of the book in August 2007, but did not want to be photographed or interviewed. Sirny writes that she did not have much contact with Kampusch after the escape because Kampusch was shielded from the outside world.[57]

Kampusch wrote a book about her ordeal, 3096 Tage (3,096 Days), published in September 2010.[58] It was adapted into a German movie, 3096, in 2013.

On 12 August 2016 Natascha Kampusch released her second book titled 10 Years of Freedom.[59][60]

Media endeavors

Kampusch established her own website containing personal information including pictures of herself on 5 December 2007.[61] She had her own talk show on the new Austria TV channel, PULS 4, starting on 1 June 2008. The show had the working title of In Conversation with…Natascha Kampusch and eventually premiered as Natascha Kampusch trifft (Natascha Kampusch meets...).[62][63] It ran for only three shows.

On 17 June 2010, German film-maker and director Bernd Eichinger announced that he was making a film based on Kampusch's captivity and wanted Kate Winslet to star in the film.[64] Bernd Eichinger died on 24 January 2011; Kampusch attended his funeral.[65]

In 2011, the Austrian film Michael, which has a plot that resembles the Natascha Kampusch case, was released.

On 15 April 2012, a German newspaper reported that a film based on her autobiography with the same name was to be made, featuring Antonia Campbell-Hughes as Kampusch[66] and Thure Lindhardt as Přiklopil. The film 3096 Tage (3096 days) was directed by Sherry Hormann[67][68] and was released on 28 February 2013.[69]


The house where Kampusch was imprisoned was built by Přiklopil's grandfather, Oskar Přiklopil, after World War II.[30] During the Cold War period, Oskar and his son Karl built a bomb shelter, thought to be the origin of Kampusch's dungeon. Přiklopil took over the house in 1984 following his grandmother's death.

Kampusch now owns the house in which she was imprisoned, saying, "I know it's grotesque – I must now pay for electricity, water and taxes on a house I never wanted to live in". It was reported that she claimed the house from Přiklopil's estate because she wanted to protect it from vandals and being torn down; she also noted that she has visited it since her escape.[70] When the third anniversary of her escape approached, it was revealed she had become a regular visitor at the property and was cleaning it out possibly to move in herself.[71]

In January 2010, Kampusch said she had retained the house because it was such a big part of her formative years, also stating that she would fill in the cellar if it is ever sold, adamant that it will never become a macabre museum to her lost adolescence.[72] The cellar was indeed filled in, though as of 2013, Kampusch still owned the house.[73]

See also


  1. "Kampusch mum may sue commission chief – General News – Austrian Times Online News – English Newspaper". Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  2. Boyes, Roger (7 September 2006). "Natascha: I ignored omens on day of my kidnap". Times Online. Retrieved 7 September 2006.
  3. "Entführer täuschte Lösegeld-Erpressung vor" (in German). Der Spiegel Online. 30 August 2006. Archived from the original on 2 September 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2006.
  4. "Further details emerge of Austrian kidnapping case". The Raw Story. 25 August 2006. Archived from the original on 26 October 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2006.
  5. "Fall Kampusch wird neu aufgerollt" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung (online). 24 October 2008. Archived from the original on 28 October 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  6. "Translation of Natascha Kampusch's letter". London: Times Online. 28 August 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  7. So ließ die Polizei Nataschas Entführer laufen Archived 3 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine T-Online extract from Sirny's book, German
  8. «Wer fotografiert seine Tochter nackt mit einer Peitsche?» Interview with the primary Police investigator Max Edelbacher, German
  9. "Er war ein Teil meines Lebens". Kurier (in German). 29 August 2006. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006. Retrieved 29 August 2006.
  10. "Jahrelang Spekulationen um Natascha" (in German). Die Presse. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  11. "Missing Austrian Girl Resurfaces After Eight Years". Spiegel Online International. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 6 September 2006.
  12. Paterson, Tony (16 March 2007). "Kampusch mother accused of kidnap to hide sex abuse". London: The Independent. Archived from the original on 19 March 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2007.
  13. "Inside the Austrian girl's 'dungeon'". BBC Online. 25 August 2006.
  14. Kole, William J. (30 August 2006). "Neighbors say they saw captive girl alone outside". Archived from the original on 14 May 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
  15. Leidig, Michael (31 August 2006). "Kidnapper's friend says he met 'cheerful' Natascha". London: The Times. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2006.
  16. "Die Erklärung von Ernst H. im Wortlaut (The explanation by Ernst Holzapfel in his wording)" (in German). ORF (broadcaster) (online). 30 August 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2006.
  17. Leidig, Michael (1 September 2006). "Natascha tells of abductor's violence and terrifying lies". London: The Times. Retrieved 2 September 2006.
  18. Leidig, Michael (16 September 2006). "I went on ski holiday with my kidnapper, admits Natascha". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  19. Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September 2006. "It was a place to despair: kidnap girl". Accessed 7 September 2006.
  20. Natascha Kampusch; Heike Gronemeier; Corinna Milborn (September 2010). 3,096 Days. Penguin.
  21. Paterson, Tony (21 September 2006). "Mother of Austrian kidnap survivor 'knew abductor". London: The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 September 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2006.
  24. "The First Post: Victim or villain: Austria decides". The First Post. 20 September 2006. Archived from the original on 12 October 2006.
  25. "Girl relives kidnap ordeal on TV". BBC News Online. 7 September 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  26. Elkins, Ruth (27 August 2006). "Natascha's survival is due to her young age and 'iron will'". London: The Independent Online. Archived from the original on 30 August 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2006.
  27. "Austria girl 'describes kidnap'". BBC News. 25 August 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2006.
  28. Transcript: Natascha Kampusch TV interview: Times Online. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2006.
  29. Connolly, Kate (25 August 2006). "Held captive by 'the master', she lost her childhood in a tiny room". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August 2006.
  30. Patrick Foster. "The silence of the lamb". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  31. Mark Oliver (5 September 2006). "Kidnapper's retro computer offers scant clues". The Guardian. London.
  32. Allan Hall (3 April 2013). "Natascha Kampusch's father names a second kidnapper and claims police covered up errors in the search for his daughter in explosive new book". Daily Mail. London.
  33. Crooked nose drove Kampusch kidnapper claims his best friend, The Independent
  34. "Text: Austria kidnap girl's statement". BBC News Online. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2006.
  35. "Europe – Kampusch kidnapper acted alone, probe finds – France 24". France 24.
  36. Moore, Tristana (23 August 2007). "Ex-kidnap girl attracts media glare". BBC News Online. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  37. "Kidnapped girl weeps for dead 'master' World news Europe". NBC News. 26 August 2006. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  38. "Natascha abductor buried secretly". BBC News Online. 8 September 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  39. Connolly, Kate (7 September 2006). "Kidnapped Austrian Teenager Thought 'Only of Escape'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 September 2006.
  40. "Escaped Austrian Teen May Have Stockholm Syndrome". ABC News. 31 August 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  41. "Austrian girl 'found' after years". BBC News Online. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  42. Cellar victim Natascha Kampusch may strip for animal rights, Daily Mail, 19 June 2009
  43. "Kidnap girl to give TV interview". BBC News Online. 4 September 2006. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
  44. "Home". ExtraDienst.
  45. Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung: Natascha Kampusch - the interview, 7 September 2006
  46. Buxton, Alexandra (11 September 2006). "Natascha Kampusch: 400 interview requests — that was just the start". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 8 October 2006. Retrieved 11 September 2006.
  47. "Kampusch spricht – am Boulevard" (in German). 6 September 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2006.
  48. "Part of an Interview with Natascha: The Kampusch Case — A Chronicle of Failure" (in German). ORF 2. 11 February 2008. Archived from the original on 14 February 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  49. "ORF-Interview" (in German). ORF. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  50. "Ermittlungspannen – Fall Kampusch führt zur Regierungskrise" (in German). Stern. 12 February 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  51. Pancevski, Bojan; Marsh, Stefanie (2 June 2008). "Natascha Kampusch: from darkness to limelight". London: Times Online. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  52. Simon, Jane (17 February 2010). "Natascha: The girl in the Cellar, FIVE, 8pm". the Daily Mirror. MGN Limited. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  53. "Natascha: The Girl In The Cellar". DocumentaryTube. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  54. "Girl in the Cellar". Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  55. Skandal-Buch über entführte Natascha erzürnt Familie Archived 11 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Der Spiegel, 30. November 2006. (in German)
  56. "Natürlich verdiene ich daran" Spiegel Online, 10 August 2007. (in German)
  57. Online, FOCUS. "Kampusch schreibt Autobiografie". FOCUS Online.
  58. Kampusch, Natascha. "10 Jahre Freiheit" | Natascha Kampusch". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  59. ""Saying No to defeat is the only way to survive" – Interview with Natascha Kampusch". MoonProject. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  60. "Natascha Kampusch".
  61. Kidnapped Austrian girl to host own show Digital Spy, 13 December 2007
  62. "". Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  63. Brooks, Xan (17 June 2010). "Natascha Kampusch film director eyes Kate Winslet as lead". The Guardian. London.
  64. "German filmmaker Bernd Eichinger dies at 61". Reuters. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  65. "Film review: Natascha Kampusch's eight years in captivity – distilled into 111 minutes of cinematic brutality in 3096 Days". The Independent. Retrieved March 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  66. Flower, Alex (15 April 2012). "N.Irish actress to play Natascha Kampusch in movie: report". Zimbio. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  67. "Story of kidnap victim Natascha Kampusch set to be turned into film – with unknown Irish actress in lead role". Mail Online. London. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  68. "Natascha Kampusch im Interview mit BILD – Zum 1. Mal spricht sie über ihre Vergewaltigung". 19 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  69. "Kidnap Victim Owns Her House of Horrors". Sky News. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2008.
  70. "Kampusch to auction off horror house items – Panorama – Austrian Times". Archived from the original on 3 June 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  71. Natascha Kampusch: He put me inside the cellar for eight-and-a-half years, preserved alive like an Egyptian pharaoh, Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  72. Abductee Natascha Kampusch speaks out about her 8 years in captivity, YouTube

Further reading

  • Natascha Kampusch, 3,096 Days, (Penguin, 2010) ISBN 978-0-670-91999-4.
  • Allan Hall and Michael Leidig, The Girl in the Cellar, (Hodder, 2009) ISBN 978-0-340-99787-1.
  • Natascha Kampusch, mit Corinna Milborn und Heike Gronemeier: 3096 Tage. List, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-471-35040-9.
  • Pelu, Martin: Der Fall Natascha Kampusch. Tectum, Marburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8288-2294-8; 2013 auch als E-Book, ISBN 978-3-8288-5608-0.
  • Kathrin Röggla: Die Beteiligten, Theaterstück, 2009[1]
  • Sirny-Kampusch, Brigitta: Verzweifelte Jahre, ein Leben ohne Natascha. Aufgezeichnet von Andrea Fehringer und Thomas Köpf, Ueberreuter, Wien 2007, ISBN 978-3-8000-7295-8.
  1. Ulrike Gondorf: Der Fall Kampusch auf der Bühne. In: Deutschlandradio Kultur vom 19. April 2009.
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