Thursday, May 2, 2019

Axenia Varlan (Mara Varlane), Trophy-Collecting Sadistic Serial Killer – Moldova, 1928

“The Ogress of Bucovina” (a region that today is half in Romania and half in Ukraine) lived in Fundukl Galbenei commune in Moldavia. 13-14 VICTIMS: small son, small daughter, her father, her mother, her sister 3 or 4 domestics, her lovers, 5 or 6 shepherds. Name variants: “Xenia Varlan,” “Axenia Varlan,” “Maria Varlane.”

This case presents a rare instance of a female serial killer who collected “trophies” – body parts pof her victims. --- Nicole Mott [Hickey, E. W. (Ed.). (2003). Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime. London: Sage Publications]: “A trophy is in essence a souvenir. In the context of violent behavior or murder, keeping a part of the victim as a trophy represents power over that individual. When the offender keeps this kind of souvenir, it serves as a way to preserve the memory of the victim and the experience of his or her death. The most common trophies for violent offenders are body parts but also include photographs of the crime scene and jewelry or clothing from the victim. Offenders use the trophies as memorabilia, but also to reenact their fantasies. They often masturbate or use the trophies as props in sexual acts. Their exaggerated fear of rejection is quelled in front of inanimate trophies. Ritualistic trophy taking, as is found with serial offenders, acts as a signature. A signature is similar to a modus operandi (a similar act ritualistically performed in virtually all crimes of one offender), yet it is an act that is not necessary to complete the crime”


FULL TEXT (translated from French): Vienna, August 3rd. - We hear from Czernowitz, that the Romanian police have just arrested a veritable female Landru, who has not committed less than 9 crimes, whose horror exceeds all that one can imagine. She is named Axenia Varlan. In such cases human ears and other human remains were found. With creepy cynicism, she confessed to have cut them off the corpses of 9 victims, to keep them as "memories."

Axenia was denounced by her last servant, Rachille Hoiffan, who was near death. In fact, her mistress having learned that she had talked about her in the village, came in surprise her in her room and gave her a blow with her hatchet.

For four years, the odious woman had killed and robbed her victims. She murdered and then cut into pieces her four children, her mother, her father, her mother-in-law, her brother-in-law and a sister of the latter.

["An odious ‘ female Landru’ in Romania - She kept as memory the ears and the fingers of her victims" Paris-Midi (France), Aug. 4, 1928, p. 3]


FULL TEXT (translated from French): Vienna, August 3rd. - We hear from Czernowitz, that the Romanian police have just arrested a veritable female Landru, who has not committed less than 9 crimes, whose horror exceeds all that one can imagine. She is named Axenia Varlan. In such cases human ears and other human remains were found. With creepy cynicism, she confessed to have cut them off the corpses of 9 victims, to keep them as "memories.”

Axenia was denounced by her last servant, Rachille Hoiffan, who was near death. In fact, her mistress having learned that she had talked about her in the village, came in surprise her in her room and gave her a blow with her hatchet.

For four years, the odious woman had killed and robbed her victims. She murdered and then cut into pieces her four children, her mother, her father, her mother-in-law, her brother-in-law and a sister of the latter.

["An odious ‘ female Landru’ in Romania - She kept as memory the ears and the fingers of her victims" Paris-Midi (France), Aug. 4, 1928, p. 3] 


FULL TEXT (translated from German): Czernowttz, October 26th. - Yesterday, the trial of the mass murderers Varlan began in Kimpolung. Axenia Varlan, a forty-five-year-old unsavory farmer from Fundul Moldovei, has eradicated her entire family, father, mother, sisters, her own four children, servants and maids. Her terrible crime has kept her secret for years. She lived in her village community as a brave and pious peasant woman, nobody  suspecting that the woman was Satan, as she later turned out to be. Her horrible crimes might never have been discovered unless a mere coincidence had led to their discovery.

~ Father, Muller, sisters and their own four children murdered. ~

The defendant, who faces the jury today, and admits four out of the seven murders committed to the juice, confessed to having murdered her own mother, Ileana Morosan, in order to take possession of some pieces of cattle that were hereditary after the father had fallen to her mother. But she has also recently dispatched her own father through poison in order to get a share in the paternal estate. Her married sister, Irina Gabor, she killed and then burned the body. She killed her to take possession of a few small fields. The murders of her own four children she has been charged with she stubbornly denies, claiming that they all died a natural death.

~ The human hand in the dung heap. ~

At the beginning of June this year Varlan took a young girl, named Vachira Haisan, as a maid to her service. One day, when Rachira cleaned the stable, she discovered a half-rotted human hand in the big pile of fertilizer that had been there for five years. She made a note of her terrible find to her employer; but she was told to tell nobody. Then she threatened to strangle her if she said anything about the discovery. The intimidated maid did not tell anyone about the terrible find, but it was the starting point for the illumination of the mass murderer's atrocities.

~ The sorceress in the Sennhülte. ~

The Sennhütte, on the more than 1000 meters high Obcina Ursului, belongs to the of Varlan household. On the night of June 10, Varlan lured the young maid into the mountain hut under the pretext that she was going to do magic there. In the cabin Varlan lit incense and, as the girl gazed intently into the spell, the Varlan struck a terrible blow on the skull with a hoe. Rachira broke down, terribly hurt, but remained alive. The farmer's wife, whose senses and intentions were to eliminate the girl in whom she had to know a cousin of her murder, believed that the maid was dead and left the hut. Only the next day a woodcutter found Nachira Haisan in the hut and took her to the hospital in Kimpolung.

~ The mass murderer attempts suicide. ~

In the hospital, the girl recovered and told how she was to the injury came about. Now Axenia Varlan was arrested. During the first interrogation, she tried to cut her wrists with a small knife. She was prevented, however, and was taken to the prison compound. The investigations of the police now led to the uncovering of the gruesome crimes of this woman.

~ The bodies are dismembered in a bestial way ~

According to the indictment, Varlan strangled her four children, aged between one and five years old, burned the bodies, and cut off their toes, ears, noses, and fingers, and kept those body parts in spirit as a keepsake. The prosecution also exposes the mysterious disappearance of a maid and two servants of the defendant, and it is likely that Axenia Varlan has also murdered her own servants to take possession of their meager savings.

~ The trial. ~

The picturesque little town of Kimpolung, where the sensational process is taking place in front of the County Council, has never seen so many strangers in its walls as in the last few days. Forty journalists, hundreds of peasants, compatriots of the accused, have poured into the city. The building of the District Tribunal is cordoned off by the military. The trial is attended by fifty witnesses and a number of medical and psychiatric experts.

~ The trial is adjourned – the defendant arrives in a lunatic asylum. ~

After reading the indictment, the defendant was called. The chairman asked her if she pleaded guilty. The accused answered in a shout: “ I do not know anything, I'm a poor woman, I've been beaten up in jail ...!” The judiciary guards pulled back the defendant, as she lunged at the chairman.

Now, one of the defense attorneys requests an adjournment of the trial. He explains that the defendant has undoubtedly murdered her parents and indeed her sister. The defense was not prepared to admit it openly, if the defendant tried to deny it now. But a woman who was capable of such deeds can not be spiritually normal and can be charged. He is therefore requesting the transfer of the defendants to the Chernivtsi asylum, where she is to be observed for several weeks for her state of mind.

The Tribunal decided to terminate the term indefinitely so that the defendant could undergo psychiatrc examination.

["The woman who exterminated her whole family." The mass murderer of Fundul in front of the Fugles. - A Sensational Criminal Trial in the Bnkowina. "The Small Leaf (Vienna, Austria), October 27, 1929, p. 4-5]


FULL TEXT (translated from French)::

Yes, Romania has done much to humanize its penitentiary system. French system, improved.

- Oenele-Mari. . .

- Our oldest prison. Built in 1850.

- It was there that I started.

- Never mind! Do you know our “Moral Review”? Belgians have “Light” at Forest, “Effort and Good” at Leuven. Do you have the equivalent in France?

- No.

- The law of April 16, 1929 will transform everything. We have convicts, we want to find men. Integral, healthy, fervent for good and truth.

- Re-educated

- Here!

The chief doctor looks at me. A very young man, despite salt on the temples, slender, amiable, elegant. From the Faculty of Paris. A doctor always remains a student. This one would reserve a surprise:

- What are you doing?

- Doctor of the prisons!

- Oh!

We are at the “Director General of the Penitentiaries,” office of Mr. Negulesco, the most chic of Bucharest. Calea Victorei. Our street of peace. You can see the royal palace from our windows, its burned part rebuilt in fresh bricks. No more prisons, no more convicts. It only took one night to clear all that. A brush stroke, a comb, a touch of sponge. A bath remakes a man. And the reporter is metamorphosing quickly.

- However, crime is increasing. Twenty-five percent, in two years. In 1928 we had 8,000 inmates. Today we have 10,000.

- Why?

- Crisis. But the low water level remains below the general crime. In Belgium, for 7 million inhabitants there are 4,200 delinquents. In Romania, a rural country, out of 18 million inhabitants, only 10,000 offenders. Few children: 140 sentenced, 250 years of preservation. There is room in Gherba for 600.

The women?

- Very little!

- Never mind!

- How, too bad?

- I need a woman. Three hundred convicts, this haul is enough for the males. I have room for a woman, at least.

- There are only 160 convicts in Mislea. And, as in Turkey, very few criminals. Out of 100, 70 killed their husband out of jealousy, 22, mostly gypsies, were accomplices of highway robbery, 6 are epileptic. There are two real criminals left.

- About three in all.

- About three.

Including Maria Varlane. The doctor does not speak to me about

- Maria Varlane, I said.

- Did you go there?

- No.

- I have not crossed in Moldova the door of the forbidden monastery.

- “Inchisoarea Centrala de Femel”:

The Central House of Women. But I know that Maria Varlane, sentenced a year ago [1931], is there.

- The ogress of Bucovina!

She is in all three [meaning unclear?]. In hysterics too. And if the new system can turn this monster into a human person, it is because she has virtue.

Maria Varlan! His story is simple and terrible.

Small, thin, insignificant, she was a well-to-do peasant woman in Fundul, on Moldavia, a village hung on the mountain as if he were dizzy. At twenty-five, she was married. Or, rather, according to custom, she chooses a husband. Her husband, Varlane, was a little bandit. He ransomed the Modovei, rustled pigs, and finally left Maria. She remained alone. With two children.

What overcame her then? We do not know. Nobody ever said it, it remained unexplainable. One day, taken with vertigo, she grabs one of her little ones, strangles him and puts him in the oven. In the evening, people looked everywhere for the poor angel. The mountain was searched with lanterns, they scanned the river, they called out. Nothing!  The searchers came back empty-handed. The mother is crying. People pity her, console her as best we can, and sympathetic neighbors come to give her the funeral veil. You know what they say, in such cases:

- The dear, so beautiful, so sweet, so tender.

The boy was in the oven, cooked. No one opened the oven. Nobody thought of that.

In the morning, the servants left. She, Maria, goes to the oven, leaves the poor remains, breaks them up, fills her apron and goes up to its pine forest which it sows of ashes still hot. Then she goes home quietly.

It was scarcely noticed, then, that she often walked there.

She was thought to distract her pain in the open air. In the long run, we did not think about it anymore.

She, yes. The following year, she starts again - with her other child.

This one too, one day, disappears, like his brother. We look for it in vain, and we end up believing that a bear or a wolf has won. The unhappy mother is complaining again, so painfully tested.

And then everyone goes back to his business.

And then, Maria, the ogress, continues.

- It’s almost not to believe.

She killed her father, her mother, her sister, three or four servants, her lovers, and finally five or six shepherds.

All in the same way, all put in the oven, all reduced to dust, all the ashes scattered in the wind.

Her home was called the cursed farm. And it was believed that the Rusali, the bad fairies, intractable old girls, unleashing the storm, tear off thatch roofs and field corn, hurt men, women, and children, cast a spell on him. We strayed from his path. But we were not going to look any further. If we had said to her:

- Where are they?

She would have answered:

- They are gone. . .

How can we be sure who’s going, who’s coming, in the mountains?

And, perhaps, one would never have known the truth if, taken in frightful remorse, her lover of heart, her gigolo, her darling, who helped her in her frightful work, had not denounced her in the end.

They were put in prison.

She denied everything. But the gallant quoted evidence. We ran to the wood, we found bones.

- Here are your victims! said the judge.

So, cynical, she confessed. And she gave all the details we wanted:

- I killed my elder brother like this, my younger brother like that. I stunned my father in such a way, strangled my mother in such a way; slit my sister that day. Gheorge, my valet, succumbed in my arms; Pietru the shepherd under my pillow, Amos in the kitchen, and Tichon in the stable. She did not hide anything and did not demur any longer. The judge was horrified.

- But why ? he said, why? To see the blood flow?

- No.

-To hug some inert bodies?

- No.

- To make you suffer?

- No.

- So why?

- I loved the smell of burnt flesh among the scent of fir trees!

In jury court, it did not vary:

- I killed twelve or thirteen, I do not know anymore. Do what you want!

The doctors examined her.

- Healthy!

They observed her reflexes, palpated her limbs, pinched his nerves, studied her pupils, watched her walk, go, come, sit, eat. They listened to her sleep and set traps for her.

- Healthy!

She was isolated. She was mixed up with the others. She was given [colles]. She was palpated, she was auscultated.

- Healthy!

Her heart was beating normally, her pulse was steady.

- Do you regret?

Her nostrils swelled.

- I regret nothing!

- Would you do it again?

- I would do it again willingly!

They lost their Latin there. [They could not comprehend her alien mentality]

- What did you lack?

She lacked nothing. She had money, she had a mother, a father, men. The products of her farm were selling well. She was flirtatious, but serious too.

She had no memory problems, no heartaches, no trouble. Her children, she loved them! She cared for them, cajoled them, until the day of cooking.

At parties she mingled with the hora dancers. On Sunday she went to church and kissed the pastor’s hand. In the summer, when the peasants sleep in the fields, she slept there too. In the winter, she told legends at the vigil. She knew them all: the Calindes, the Herods, the Cuckoos. She could tell the paparudele [magic spell] rain get rain and rusalile definition?]. She sang if we prayed to her, spun wool, embroidered.

- Healthy!

She was sentenced to forced labor for life.

Now, quiet, close-lipped, she makes carpets and sews clothes for prisoners. Always calm, always peaceful. She never attracts attention, she never makes demands. She is docile and calm.

- You had Landru, in France, said the doctor. Germany had the vampire Hartmann.

- I will report Maria Varlane.

Ogress. Healthy. Unexplained. And respected the pope.

- She never says anything.

She ruminates.

(To be continued.)

Copyright by Emmanuel Bourcier 1932 all rights of translation, reproduction and adaptation reserved for all countries including Russia (U.R.S. ,,, “).

[Emmanuel Bourcier, "Le Bagne Des Carpathes - L'ogresse Maria Varlane,” Paris-soir (France), 18 Febrier 1932, p. 2]


FULL TEXT: Vienne, 3 Août. – On mande de Czernowitz, que la police roumaine vient d'arrêter une véritable femme Landru, qui n'a pas commis moins de 9 crimes, dont l'horreur dépasse toute ce qu'on peut imaginer. C'est une nommée Axenia Varlan. Chez telle on découvrit des oreilles humaines et dl'autres débris humains. Avec un cynisme effrayant, elle avoua les avoir recoupes sur les cadavres de 9 victimes, pour les conserver comme « souvenirs ».

Axenia' fut dénoncée par sa dernière domestique, Rachille Hoiffan, qui vit la mort de bien près. En effet sa maîtresse ayant appris qu'elle avait bavardé dans le village, vint la surprendre dans sa chambre et lui asséna un coup de hachette.

Depuis quatre ans, l'odieuse femme tuait pour voler ses victimes. Elle a assassiné et puis découpé en morceaux ses quatre enfants, sa mère, son père, sa belle-mère, son beau-frère et une sœur de ce dernier.

[“Une odieuse «femme Landru» en Roumanie - Elle gardait comme souvenir les oreilles et les doigts de ses victimes “ Paris-Midi (France), 4 Août 1928, p. 3]


FULL TEXT: Czernowttz, 26. Oktober. – Gestern begann in Kimpolung der Prozeß gegen die Massenmördenn Varlan. Axenia Varlan, eine fünfitndvierzigjährige unansehnliche Bäuerin aus Fundul Moldovei, hat ihre ganze Familie, Vater, Mutter, Schwestern, ihre eigenen vier Kinder, Knechte und Mägde ausgerottet. Ihre furchtbaren Verbrechen hat sie jahrelang zu verheimlichen verstanden. Sie lebte in ihrer Dorfgemeinde als brave und fromme Bäuerin, in der inan nicht das satanische Weib vermutete, als welches sie sich später entpuppte. Ihre gräßlichen Verbrechen wären vielleicht niemals entdeckt worden, wenn nicht ein bloßer Zufall zu ihrer Entdeckung geführt hätte.

~ Vater, Müller, Schwestern und die eigenen vier Kinder ermordet. ~

Die Angeklagte, die heute vor den Geschwornen steht, Und von den sieben zur Saft gelegten Morden vier zugibt, hat gestanden, ihre eigene Mutter, Ileana Morosan, ermordet zu haben, um sich in den Besitz von einigen Stücken Vieh zu setzen,die als Erbe nach dem Vater ihrer Mutter zugefallen waren. Sie hat aber auch ihren eigenen Vater durch Gift kurz vorher aus dem Leben geräumt, um sich einen Anteil an dem väterlichen Anwesen zu verschaffen. Ihre verheiratete Schwester, Irina Gabor, hat sie erschlagen und die Leiche dann verbrannt. Die Schwester brachte sie um, um sich in den Besitz einiger kleiner Felder zu setzen. Die ihr zur Last gelegten Morde an ihren eigenen vier Kindern leugnet sie hartnäckig und behauptet, daß sie alle eines natürlichen Todes gestorben seien.

~ Die Menschenhand im Düngerhaufen. ~

Anfang Juni dieses Jahres nahm die Varlan einjunges Mädchen, naniens Vachira Haisan, als Magd in ihren Dienst auf. Als Rachira eines Tages den Stall reinigte, entdeckte sie in dem großen Düngerhaufen, der dort feit Jahren lag, eine halbverweste Menschenhand. Sie machte von ihrem grauenvollen Fund ihrer Dienstgeberin Mitteilung; diese hat sie aber stehentlich, niemand etwas davon zu erzählen. Dann drohte sie auch, sie zu erwürgen, wenn sie von dem Fund etwas verlauten ließe. Die einge schüchterte Magd sagte zwar niemand von dem furchtbaren Fund, aber er bildete doch den Ausgangspunkt zu der Aufhellung der Schandtaten der Massenmörderin.

~ Die Zauberin in der Sennhülte. ~

Zu der Wirtschaft Varlans gehört auch die auf der über 1000 Meter hohen Obcina Ursului befindliche Sennhütte. In der Nacht zum 10. Juni lockte die Varlan die junge Magd in die Gebirgshütteunter dem Vorwand, daß sie dort zaubern werde. In der Hütte zündete die Varlan Weihrauch an und, als das Mädchen gespannt in das Zauber gefäß blickte, versetzte ihr die Varlan meuchlings mit einer Hacke einen furchtbaren Hieb auf den Schädel. Rachira brach, furcht bar verletzt, zusammen, blieb aber am Leben, Die Bäuerin, deren Sinnen und Trachten dahinging, das Mädchen, in der sie eine Mit wisserin ihrer Mordtaten wissen mußte, zu beseitigen, glaubte, daß die Magd tot sei und verließ die Hütte. Erst am nächsten Tag fand ein Holzknecht Nachira Haisan in der Hütte auf und brachte sie in das Spital nach Kimpolung.

~ Die Massenmörderin vernbt einen Sebslmordversuch. ~

Im Spital erholte sich das Mädchen und erzählte, wie sie zu der Verletzung gekommen sei. Nun wurde Axenia Varlan verhaftet. Während des ersten Verhörs versuchte sie, mit einem kleinen Messerchen sichdie Pulsadern durchschneiden. Sie konnte jedoch gereitet werdenund wurde in das Gefängnisspltal gebracht. Die Nachforschungen der Gendarmerie führten nun zu der Ausdeckung der grüsslichen Verbrechen dieses Weibes.

~ Die Leichen auf bestialische Weife zerstückelt ~

Nach der Anklageschrift hat die Varlan ihre vier Kinder, die im Alter von einem bis fünf Jahren standen, erwürgt, die Leiäien verbrannt, ihnen aber vorher, noch die Zehen, Ohren, Nasen und Finger abgeschnitten, und diese Körperteile in Spiritus als Andenken zurückvehalten. Die Anklage legt auch das rätselhafte Verschwinden einer Magd und zweier Knechte der Angeklagten zur Last, und es ist anzunehmen, daß Axenia Varlan auch ihre eigenen Dienstboten erniordet hat, um sich in den Besitz ihrer dürftigen Ersparnisse zu sehen.

~ Die Verhandlung. ~

Das malerisch gelegene Städtchen Kimpolung, wo vor dem Kreistribunal der Sensationsprozeß stattfindet, hat noch niemals so viele Fremde in seinen Mauern gesehen Wie in den letzten Tagen. Vierzig Journalisten, Hunderte Bauern, Landsleute der Angeklagten, sind in die Stadt geströmt. Gebäude des Kreistribunals ist vom Militär abgesperrt. Zur Verhandlung sind melir als fünfzig Zeugen geladen sowieeine Reihe von medizinischen und psychiatrischen Sachverständigen.

~ Der Prozeß wird vertagt – die Angeklagte kommt in eine Irrenanstalt. ~

Nach Verlesung der Anklageschrift wird die Angeklagte vorgerufen. Der Vorsitzende befragt sie, ob sie sich schuldig bekenne. Die Angeklagte antwortetin schreien dem Ton: “Ich weiß von nichts, ich bin eine arme Frau, man hat mich immerzu geprügelt im Gefängnis...!" Die Justizsoldaten reißen die Angeklagte zurück, die Miene macht, sich auf den Vorsitzenden zu stürzen.

Nun stellt einer der drei Verteidiger der Angeklagten den Antrag auf Vertagung der Verhandlung. Er führt aus, daß die Angeklagte zweisellos ihre Eltern und wahrseinlich auch ihre Schwester ermordet hat. Die Verteidigung stehe nicht an, dies offen zuzugeben, mrch, wenn die Angeklagte es jetzt abzuleugnen versuche. Aber ein Weib, das solcher Taten fähig war, kann nicht geistignormal sein und kann rricht unter Anklage gestellt werden. Er beantrage daher die Überführung der Angeklagten in die Czernowitzer Irrenanstalt, wo sie einige Wochen auf ihren Geisteszustand beobachtet werden soll.

Der Gerichtshof beschließt daraufhin, die Verlmndlung aus unbestimmte Zeit abzubrechen, damit die Angeklagte psychiatriert werden könne.

[“Die Frau, die ihre ganze Familie ausgerottet hat.- Die Massenmörderin von Fundul vor den Gefchmornen. - Ein Sensationsprozetz in der Bukowina.” Das Kleine Blatt (Vienna, Austria), 27. Oktober 1929, pp. 4-5]


Headline: LA BAGNE DES CARPATHES. Grand reportage, par Emmanuel BOURCIER - XIV. L’Ogresse Maria Verlane.


  Oui, la Roumanie a beaucoup fait-pour humaniser son régime péniteattaire. Système français, améloiré.

— Oenele-Mari. . .

— Notre plus vieux bagne. Construît en 1850.

— C'est par lui que j'ai commencé.

— Tant pis! Vous connaisses notre « Revue morale » ? Les Belges ont la « Lumière » à Forest, l' « Effort et le Bien» à Louvain. Avez-vous l'équivalent en France?

— Non.

— La loi du 16 avril 1929 va tout transformer. Nous avons des forçats, nous voulons retrouver des hom- mes. Intègres, sains, fervents du bien et de la vérité.

— Rééduqués.

— Voilà!

M. le médecin-chef me regarde. Un tout jeune homme, malgré du sel aux tempes, svelte, aimable, élégant. De la Faculté de Paris. Un médecin reste toujours étudiant. Ce-lui-ci réserverait une surprisse:

— Qu'est-ce que vous faites?

— Médecin du bagne!

— Oh !

Nous sommes à la « Directunea Generala a pénitenciarélor », bureau de M. Negulesco, au plus chic de Bucarest. Calea Victorei. Notre rue de la Paix. Le palais royal est dans nos fenêtres, sa partie incendiée reconstruite en briques fraîches. Plus de bagne, plus de forçats. Il n'a fallu qu'une nuit pour effacer tout ça. Un coup de brosse, un coup de peigne, un coup d'épongé. Le bain refait un homme. Et le reporter se métamorphose vite.

— Cependant, la criminalité augmente. Vingt-cinq pour cent, en deux ans. En 1928, nous avions 8.000 détenus. Aujourd'hui, nous en avons 10.000.

— Pourquoi?

— La crise. Mais l’étiage reste en-dessous de la, criminalité générale. En Belgique, pour 7 millions d'habitante il y a 4,200'délinquants. En Roumanie, pays rural, sur 18 millions d'habitants, 10.000 délinquants, seulement. Peu dienfants: 140 condamnés, 250 èn préservation. Il y a de la place, à Gherba, pour 600.

Les femmes?

— Très peu!

— Tant pis!

— Comment, tant pis?

  Il me faut une femme. Trois cents forçats, ce butin me suffit pour les mâles. J'ai de la place pour une femme, au moins.

  Il n'y a que 160 condamnées à Mislea. Et, comme en Turquie, très peu de criminelles. Sur 100, 70 ont tué leur mari par jalousie, 22, surtout tziganes, furent complices de brigandage sur les routes, 6 sont épileptiques. Il reste deux vraies criminelles.

— A peu près trois en tout.

  A peu près trois. Dont Maria Varlane. Le docteur ne m'en, parle pas.

— Maria Varlane, dis-je.

— Vous y êtes allé?

— Non.

— Je n'ai pas franchi, en Moldavie, la porte du monastère interdit.

— « Inchisoarea Centrala de Femel »:

La Maison Centrale de femmes. Mais je sais que Maria Varlane, condamnée il y a un an, est là.

— L'ogresse de Bucovine!

Elle est dans les trois. Dans les hystériques aussi. Et, si le nouveau système peut faire de ce monstre une personne humaine, c'est qu'il a bien de la vertu.

— Maria Varlan! Son histoire est simple et terrible.

Petite, maigre, insignifiante, c'était une paysanne aisée, à Fundul, sur-la Moldova, un village accroché.à la montagne comme s'il avait le vertige. A vingt-cinq ans, on la maria. Ou, plutôt, suivant l'usage, elle se choisit un mari. Son époux, Varlane, était un petit peu bandit. Il rançonnait la Modovei, courait la gueuse, et, enfin, quittait Maria. Elle resta seule. Avec deux enfants.

Qu'est-ce qui lui prit, à ce moment-là ? On ne sait pas. Personne ne l'a jamais dit, c'est- resté inexplicable. Un jour, prise de vertigo, elle empoigne un de ses petits, l'étrangle et le met au four. Le soir venu, on cherche partout lé pauvre ange. On fouille la montagne avec des lanternes, on scrute la rivière, on pousse des appels. Rien! On revient bredouille. La mère pleure. On la plaint, on la console comme on peut, et des voisines compatissantes viennent passer près d'elle la veil- lée funèbre. Vous savez ce qu'on dit, dans ce cas-là :

— Le cher mignon, si beau, si doux, si tendre.

Il était dans le four, cuit. Nul n'ouvrit le four. On n'y pensait pas.

Au matin, les domestiques partis, elle, Maria, va au four, sort les pauvres restes, les brise à coups de masse, emplit son tablier et monte à sa pinède qu'elle ensemence de la cendre encore chaude. Puis elle rentre tranquillement chez elle.

On remarqua à peine, ensuite, qu'elle se promenait souvent par là.

On croyait qu'elle distrayait sa peine au plein air. A la longue, on n'y pensa plus.

Elle, si. L'an d'après, elle recommence — avec son autre enfant.

Celui-ci aussi, un beau jour, disparait, comme son frère. On le cherche à son tour, vainement, et l'on finit par croire qu'un ours ou qu'un loup l'a emporté. On plaint à nouveau la malheureuse mère, si douloureuse- ment éprouvée.

Et puis chacun retourne à ses affaires.

Et puis, Maria, l'ogresse, continue.

— C'est presque à ne pas croire. Elle tua son père, sa mère, sa sœur trois ou quatre domestiques, ses amants, enfin, cinq ou six pâtres. Tous de la même manière, tous mis au four, tous réduits en poussière, toutes les cendres dispersées au vent.

On appelait sa maison la ferme maudite. Et l'on croyait que les Rusali, les mauvaises fées, vieilles filles intraitables, qui déchaînent la tempête, arrachent le chaume des toits et le maïs des champs, font du mal aux hommes, aux femmes et aux enfants, lui avaient jeté un sort. On s'écartait de son chemin. Mais on n'allait pas chercher plus loin. Si on lui avait dit :

— Où sont-ils?

Elle aurait répondu :

— Us sont partis.

Comment vérifier qui va, qui vient, dans la montagne?

Et, peut-être, n'aurait-on jamais su la vérité si, pris d'affreux remords, son amant de cœur, son gigolo, son chéri, qui l'aidait dans son affreuse besogne, ne l'eût à la fin dénoncée.

On les mit en prison.

Elle niait tout. Mais le galant citait des preuves. On courut au bois, on trouva des ossements.

— Voilà vos victimes! fit le juge.

Alors, cynique, elle avoua. Et elle donna tous les détails qu'on voulut :

— J'ai tué mon aîné comme ceci, mon cadet comme cela. J'ai assommé mon père de telle manière, étranglé ma mère de telle façon; égorgé ma sœur tel jour. Gheorge, mon valet, succomba dans mes bras; Piétru le pâtre sous mon oreiller, Amos dans la cuisine, et Tichon dans l'étable. Elle ne cachait plus rien et ne tarissait plus. Le juge s'horrifiait à mesure:

— Mais pourquoi ? disait-il, pourquoi ? Pour voir couler le sang?

— Non.

—Pour étreindre des corps inertes?

— Non.

— Pour faire souffrir?

— Non.

— Alors, pourquoi?

  J'aimais l'odeur de la chair brûlée parmi la senteur des sapins!

En cour de jury, elle ne varia point :

— J'en ai tué douze ou treize, je ne sais plus. Faites ce que vous voudrez!

Les médecins l'examinèrent.

— Saine!

Ils observaient ses réflexes, palpaient ses membres, pinçaient ses nerfs, étudiaient ses pupilles, la regardaient marcher, aller, venir, s'asseoir, manger. Ils l'écoutaient dormir et lui tendaient des pièges.

— Saine!

On l'isola. On la mêla aux autres.

On lui posa des colles. On la palpa, on l'ausculta.

— Saine !

Son cœur battait normalement, son pouls était, régulier.

— Regrettez-vous?

Ses narines se gonflaient.

— Je ne regrette rien!

— Recommenceriez-vous?

— Je recommencerais volontiers!

Ils y perdirent leur latin.

— Qu'est-ce qui vous manquait?

Il ne lui manquait rien. Elle avait de l'argent, elle avait une mère, un père, des hommes. Les produits de sa ferme se vendaient bien. Elle était coquette, mais sérieuse aussi.

Elle n'avait pas de troubles de mémoire, pas de peines de cœur, pas d'ennuis. Ses enfants, elle les aimait bien ! Elle les soignait, les cajolait, jusqu'au jour de la cuisson.

Aux fêtes, elle se mêlait aux danseurs de hora. Le dimanche, elle allait à l'office et baisait la main du pope. L'été, quand les paysans couchent aux champs, elle y couchait aussi. L'hiver, elle contait des légendes à la veillée. Elle les savait toutes : les Calindes, les Hérods, les Coucous. Elle pouvait dire les paparudele qui font obtenir la pluie et les rusalilé. Elle chantait si on l'en priait, filait la laine, brodait.

— Saine !

On la condamna aux travaux forcés à perpétuité.

Maintenant, tranquille, lèvres closes, elle fait des tapis et coud des vêtements de prisonniers. Touj ours calme, toujours paisible. Jamais elle ne s'attire d'observations, jamais elle ne réclame. Elle est docile et apaisée.

— Vous avez eu Landru, en France, dit le docteur. L'Allemagne eut le vampire Hartmann.

  Je rapporterai Maria Varlane.

Ogresse. Saine. Inexpliquée. Et que le pope estime.

— Elle ne dit jamais rien.

Elle rumine

(A suivre.)

Copyright by Emmanuel Bourcier 1932 tous droits de traduction, de reproduction et d'adaptation réservés pour tous pays y compris la Russie (U.R.S...").

[Emmanuel Bourcier, "Le Bagne Des Carpathes - L'ogresse Maria Varlane,” Paris-soir (France), 18 Febrier 1932, p. 2]



FULL TEXT: Vienna, Aug. 1 – Unmasking of a female Landru is told in a dispatch from Cernowitz, Rumania, today. Axenia Varlan, in whose home the police discovered human ears, rings and fingers with rings on them, together with other limbs, confessed she had severed them from nine bodies and kept them as souvenirs. The story became known through Rachille Hoifan, her last maid, who escaped after receiving a blow on the head with a hatchet by Axenia, who learned the maid had been gossiping in the village. The maid, left for dead, recovered from the blow and apprised the police. Axenia, according to the police, confessed killing, in the course of six years, her four children, mother, father, stepmother, brother-in-law and the latter’s sister for gain.

 [“Woman Kept Souvenirs of Nine She Murdered – Admits Killing When Police Find Severed Ears and Fingers in Home,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pa.), Aug. 2, 1928, p. 1]


Emmanuel Bourcier (1880-1935) “Le Bagne des Haïdoucks,” Editions Baudière: Review: Les Potins de Paris (France), 23 Octobre 1932, p. 14

EXCERPT: Il conte l’histoire d’Ogarou celle de l’ogresse Maria Varlane et de cent autres bandits, les brigandes de Bessarabie ou l’Oit, la visite des mères, des femmes et des fiancées au bagne, la révolte des forçats et le terrible châtiment réservé par kes gardes aux évadés.



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