Germans weep at memorial for five dead children

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Hundreds of Germans, many weeping, attended a memorial service at a church in Luetjenburg, northern Germany for five young boys who were killed by their mother.

09 December 2007

Luetjenburg, Germany (dpa) - Hundreds of Germans, many weeping, attended a memorial service at a church in Luetjenburg, northern Germany, Sunday for five young boys who were killed by their mother.

Many lit tiny candles or placed red roses on the floor of the 850- year-old brick Lutheran church at Luetjenburg, close to the small Baltic-coast village of Darry where Justin, Jonas, Ronan, Liam and Aidan died.

Their mother, 31, admitted herself to a mental hospital Wednesday and told a doctor what she had done. The boys' two fathers, a German and a US citizen, were receiving counselling and did not attend the Sunday service.

The state of Schleswig-Holstein has ordered flags to be flown at half mast, a mark of disaster, on the day when the brothers are buried, but the funeral date has not been set yet.

Germany has been shocked over the past two years by at least five cases where children were starved to death by drug-abusing or dysfunctional parents, and neighbours did not notice.

But many in Darry, where neighbours take a keen interest in one another, were at a loss to explain Sunday how a mother could suddenly drug her children and smother them with plastic bags.

One neighbour, 58, cried as she said outside the church, "It isn't a street where you ignore people. Yet somehow it happened here."

The elderly landlady of the rented house where the tragedy happened burst into tears as she spoke of how cheerful the five boys had been and "how normal, friendly and likeable" the mother had seemed.

"Who would dare rent the place now?" she added.

The villagers have been donating to pay for the funeral.

Prosecutors say the mother is unlikely to be charged because of her insanity.

DPA

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