The Life Story That Inspired ‘Orphans’

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Editor’s Note: The following contains accounts of abuse that some readers may find disturbing.

The Big Picture

  • The movie Orphanage based on the true story of Barbora Skrlova, who posed as a 12-year-old girl named Anicka in the Czech Republic.
  • Barbora’s lies and manipulation led to her being taken in by a woman named Klara Mauerova, who abused her own children.
  • Barbora managed to evade capture and flee to Norway, where she posed as a 13-year-old boy named Adam until she was finally captured and taken back to Czechoslovakia to go to court

Have you ever seen the movie Orphanageor his introduction Orphans: First Dead? Well if not, consider this a major miller field. Orphanage sees a married couple, devastated after the stillbirth of their third child, adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl, Esther (excellent Isabella Fuhrman). Esther is not just Esther. She’s Leena Klammer, from Estonia – and she’s not 9. She’s 33, but she looks younger because of a condition called hypopituitarism, and she’s been a little girl for most of her life. life Oh, and she’s a serial killer, with at least seven known murders under her belt.

The very idea that a 33-year-old adult could pose as a 9-year-old child, and be adopted as such, must be the ultimate Hollywood fantasy, right? Even after watching Orphanage, you will never feel that it is something that could happen in real life. Someone would definitely notice. Here’s the kicker: it happened in real life. It is the story Barbora Skrlova, a 33-year-old woman who posed as a 13-year-old boy named Adam in Norway. It is an inspiration for Orphanage and, somehow, it’s even crazier in real life.

What did Barbora Skrlova do?

Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther in Orphans (2009)
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Barbora Skrlova, as Esther in Orphanageborn with hypopituitarism, so when she met Clara Mauerová in the Czech Republic, her story of being a 12-year-old girl named Anicka certainly seemed plausible, as did her story of escaping from a gang violent home. A single mother of two took Barbora – Anikka – home, where she lived with her children and sister Katerina. She treated her as a member of the family right away, with the intention of accepting her. Anikka said that she was very sick, requiring several doctor’s appointments, but strangely he would not let Katerina take her.

As it turned out, the two were involved in a cult called The Grail Movement, a group that follows a 19th-century mystery teaching from Germany and Barbora’s father was the head of the Czech branch of the movement at the time To keep up the charade, Katerina wrote notes about the treatments called Anikka, acting as her doctor. Over time, Barbora convinced Klara that all her problems were due to her two children and that they should be abused. And they were – horribly.

STORY: ‘Dexter’ was heavily inspired by this chilling true story

Barbora Skrlova encouraged child abuse

Esther cries mascara in Orphans (2009)
Photo via Studiocanal UK

Klara bought in completely, and the list of abuse reported by The Daily Mail of her 8-year-old son Achrej and 10 years old Jakub Suffering is enough to wear down the hardest souls. Klara locked and tied the boys in the cellar, keeping them in cages, or just taking them to a table for a long time, beating them to stop them from screaming, and making them stand in the their own sound. It wasn’t just Klara either, as relatives – including Barbora and Katerina – also took part by putting out lit cigarettes on their bare skin, hitting them again with belts, and trying to drown them.

Still, there is more. The boys were sexually assaulted and forced to cut themselves with knives. The most horrific act done to young Ondrej, however, was being partially skinned, with flesh eaten by these same relatives. He was sick and was only found after a nearby neighbor happened to install a TV baby monitor to check on his newborn. That monitor happened to be the exact same model as the one Klara had installed to watch the boys suffer from the comfort of her kitchen. But when the signs got mixed up one day, the neighbor saw one of the boys beaten, naked, and chained. The police were called and they freed the children – Ondrej, Jakub… and Annika. Barbora, despite being one of the torturers, managed to avoid persecution by keeping her interest “Annika” and used the opportunity to escape from the police who had to put down.

Has Barbora Skrlova been caught?

Barbora Skrlova, the inspiration for 'Orphans' 2009
Photo via Lidovky, YouTube

By the time the Czech police discovered that “Annika” was not who she claimed to be, Barbora (also known as “Czech Esther”) had already fled the country. A couple involved in the sector supported Barbora, allowing her to use their son Adam’s passport to enter Denmark, and then on to Norway. The same couple enrolled Barbora into the Marienlyst school near Oslo as 13-year-old “Adam”, and Barbora could pass by taping her breasts down and shaking her head.

From September to December 2007, Barbora managed to trick the police, classmates, childcare workers, and teachers into believing that she was, in fact, 13-year-old Adam. The only problem, however, is that she did not underestimate how deeply she had deceived people. When “Adam” disappeared from a children’s home in Oslo, concerned staff at the facility called the police, who launched a national investigation and released photos of the missing “child” to the media. They soon found Barbora in Tromsoe, and the jig was up, with Norwegian police officers taking her back to Czechoslovakia, where she stood trial for her role in the Mauerová abuse case.

How did Barbora Skrlova get away with it?

Photo via CTK, Czech Police

But just how did Barbora manage to deceive people, people who stood close to her every day, for so long? Maybe Ingerd Eriksenthe principal of the school that Barbora attended for four months as Adam, explains it better through their experience, as told to the Norwegian daily Dagbladet (as translated in the previous reference Reuters article): “Looking back, we can say that we thought about the behavior of ‘Adam’. But this is not easy to understand. Children at this age are very different, and they can be male or female. “

Interestingly, Orphanage he himself would give impetus to the very wonderful story Natalia Grace as reported by PEOPLE magazine, a Ukrainian orphan who was adopted by a couple in 2010 after the release of the film. Michael and Kristine Barnett she adopted the 6-year-old girl but she grew to believe that she was not the age she said she was. This led them to believe that Natalia was an adult woman with bad intentions, who has a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal. It’s a story about unfounded claims, changes to birth certificates, abandonment, and more… but that’s an article for another time.

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