Grave of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
The grave of German film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau A. Savin/ WikiCommons

The embalmed head of Nosferatu director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau has been stolen from a cemetery near Berlin, according to local reports.

The thieves reportedly broke in the 200-hectare Stahnsdorf cemetery over the weekend, opened the door of Murnau mausoleum 22, which was built in 1932, and stole the head.

The ghastly discovery was made by cemetery warden Olaf Ihlefeldt, who regularly checks the condition of the corpse since a previous damage to the grave.

Ihlefeldt called the theft a "scandal" that undermines the dignity of the dead director. The body is in good condition and Murnau's head still has facial features such as hair and teeth.

Murnau, one of the most influential German directors of the early 20th century, was the man behind cult silent movie Nosferatu – A Symphony Of Horror, an expressionist adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula featuring Max Schreck as vampire protagonist.

Max Schreck in Nosferatu directed
Max Schreck in Nosferatu, directed by Murnau in 1922

The German director died in a traffic accident in California in 1931 and his body was embalmed and placed in a metal coffin. He was entombed in Southwest Cemetery in Stahnsdorf and his funeral was attended by just 11 people, including Greta Garbo and Fritz Lang.

Police said they have no clear indications as to the perpetrators' identity.

Many visitors and fans around the world make a pilgrimage to visit the tomb of Murnau, who is buried along with his brothers Robert and Bernard Plumpe.