“Not since the panic-ridden days in 1888, when Jack the Ripper was abroad in the East End, had London known such a reign of terror as that which existed in this wartime February...” — Scotland Yard Chief Superintendent Fred Cherrill
What I am going to tell you is one of the craziest serial killer stories that you have never heard of. And there are very good reason why most people have never heard of this. In 1942, Death stalked London. Death came from the sky in the form of German bombs. And on the ground it came in the form of the blackout ripper—this is the name by which the monster came to be known. But publicising the infamous activities of the Blackout Ripper is not something that was in the best interest of the nation at that time. The reaction of the citizens of London in the face of the German Blitz, the bombing campaign unleashed by the German Luftwaffe, has always been portrayed in heroic terms. The traditional version tells us that tough British people took the bombing in strides. They’d get bombed all night only to emerge with a smile in the morning ready to go to work as if nothing had happened. In part this was certainly true, many British people displayed incredible courage and resilience in the face of the German attacks. And this was a great propaganda weapon for the British government. It allowed them to tell Germany ‘your bombs can’t shake our resolve. They are having no effect on us, so feel free to stop any time you want and spare yourself further embarrassment.’ There clearly is something powerful in the ability to take your enemy’s best shot and smile back at them. It discourages them, and forces them to reconsider their strategy. So, of course, the last thing you want is to let them know that their strikes are hurting you. If you were to admit that the blackout is giving rise to a huge black market, if you were to talk too loudly about the doubling of the murder rate in your city, if you were to discuss how the bombing campaign indirectly gave a perfect cover for an incredibly brutal serial killer, then it’d be like admitting that bombs were working in opening fissures in British society. And if you were to admit that, then you could be sure that the bombs would keep on falling. And thousands would keep on dying. So, the Blackout Ripper was not just any other serial killer. He was a potential propaganda weapon in the hands of the enemy. For this reason, he had to be stopped, and stopped quickly. And better yet, he should be talked about as little as humanly possible. So, if you are wondering why his Ripper-colleague, Jack the Ripper, is pretty much a household name, whereas few have heard of the Blackout Ripper, you don’t have to wonder no more. The context of WWII made burying this tale a wartime necessity. This is simply not a story that anyone in Britain at the time had any interest in publicising.
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