Satan Came to Eden: A Survivor’s Account of the of the Galapagos Affair



In 1929, Dr. Frederick Ritter and Dore Strauch fled the social and economic turmoil of post-World War I Germany, choosing to abandon the chaos of modern civilization, as well as their respective spouses. They began a quest to reclaim the purity of nature for themselves. They chose as their Eden the dry, uninhabited volcanic island of Floreana in the Galapagos chain. Their experiences in their new paradise-and the ensuing scandals-would captivate the Western world.

Floreana’s unforgiving environment hardly proved to be a idyllic choice, and were it not for the assistance of American yachters, Ritter and Strauch, naive and unprepared as they were, might easily have perished during their first year as colonists.

Yacht crews returned with news of the eccentric couple’s adventures, and they became darlings of the Western press. This unwelcome publicity lead to the arrival of a second family on the island, soon followed by a pistol-wielding Austrian “baroness” and her two young lovers. While not without her charm, this mysterious “aristocrat” could also be sinister and controlling. Tensions grew rapidly, jealousies and resentments raged, and soon this island with a population of 9 was at war with itself.

Floreana was to become rife with danger, suspicion, murderous thoughts, and a notorious scandal that still entices today. Who was the “Satan” who came to Eden? Was it a singular person, or was it the darkness of self-destruction that can arise in every human heart? It is a question for each reader to answer in their own way and it beckons to the aspiring detective in all of us.

Originally published in 1936, Satan Came to Eden meticulously recounts Ritter and Strauch’s often bizarre, true-life struggle from a survivor’s point of view-an account lost to the public for nearly 80 years. Editor Joseph Troise supplements Strauch’s original memoir with previously unpublished photographs and an informative preface, introducing a new generation of readers to one of the strangest stories of the twentieth century.

“All the satisfaction of a well-plotted mystery adventure, with the added fun of its all being true” San Francisco Chronicle


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