Harry Dobkin

Harry Dobkin

Harry Dobkin was born in London in 1901. After leaving school he worked in the cloth trade. Dobkin married Rachel Dubinski in 1920. A child was born but the marriage did not last and the couple separated and in 1923 Rachel Dobkin applied for maintenance. Over the next few years Dobkin served several periods in prison as a result of her complaints about his non-payment of maintenance.

Dobkin had a variety of different jobs including that of a tailor, ship's steward and cook. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War Dobkin found work as a fire-watcher to a firm of solicitors in London.

During the Blitz Dobkin realized that so many people were killed in air raids that it was impossible for the police to investigate every death. Victims were buried quickly and very few post mortems were carried out. In April 1941 Dodkin murdered his wife and buried her under the ruin of Vauxhall Baptist Chapel, hoping she would be discovered as an air raid victim.

The body was not discovered until May 1942. It became clear that the person had not died recently and a pathologist was called in. After examining the body Dr. Keith Simpson argued that the broken bone in the throat suggested that Rachel Dobkin had been strangled. The body was coated in builders' lime. The police came to the conclusion that the murderer had done this to destroy the body. However, he had obviously not known the difference between quicklime and builders's lime, which actually helped to preserve the body.

The jury took only twenty minutes to find Harry Dobson guilty of murder and he was hanged at Wandsworth Prison. This case raised the issue of how many people had been murdered during the war and had been successfully buried in the rubble of bombed out buildings.