Residents of the Austrian town where Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter in a cellar and kept her as a sex slave have complained that tourists are flocking to visit the “House of Horrors”.
Two weeks ago the small town of Amstetten, with a population of 23,000, was a tranquil place where little of note ever happened.
But the town, formerly known only for its apple wine production, has been suddenly put into the spotlight after it was revealed that one of its respected citizens, the retired engineer and property developer Josef Fritzl, 73, had imprisoned his own daughter Elisabeth, in 1984 and kept her as a sex slave, producing seven children with her.
Two weeks after the story broke, residents are now complaining about the “ghoulish tourism” that is developing around the Fritzl family house in 40 Ybbstrasse.
People are travelling from neighbouring countries such as Germany and Hungary to visit the street and have their picture taken in front of the house.
According to reports, the three-storey house facing one of Amstetten’s main roads has also been put on the route of a sightseeing bus tour which now routinely stops in front of it.
“It is bad enough that journalists and TV crews have beleaguered our town, but now there is this ghoulish tourism with people coming to Amstetten just to see the house in Ybbstrasse. It is appalling, we just want to be left in peace,” said one Amstetten resident.
The house is guarded by police around the clock as over 40 forensic experts are investigating its interior.
One of the officers on duty outside the house said: “People are coming especially to have their picture taken in front of the house. It has become a sort of pilgrimage site.”
Police say that Elisabeth Fritz was kept in a specially designed concrete bunker beneath the house for 24 years and subjected to sexual assaults by her father.
Six of their seven children survived, while one, a baby boy called Michael, died three days after his birth and was allegedly hurled into an incinerator by his father, who was at the same time his grandfather.