Beheadings in the Third Reich

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hmtk1964
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by hmtk1964 » 08 Apr 2021 13:33

Dear Pete, hope this post finds you wel

Question on your below remark

Alois Weiss, when interviewed by a journalist after WWII, stated that his conscience did not bother him and the fate of the people whom he guillotined did not move him. Cynical words by a cynic who killed people only for money.

- why should it have bothered him ? People where "lawfully" sentenced to death.. most of the known executioners have the same feeling

- payment; as the executions were done by what is now called private contractors.. why should they have done the work for free ? (or even give money away as he had to pay the assistant and had other overhead cost)

Not sure however on the psychological strain...and how it affected their dreams and good night sleep.

Pete26
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 09 Apr 2021 04:17

hmtk1964 wrote:
08 Apr 2021 13:33
Dear Pete, hope this post finds you wel

Question on your below remark

Alois Weiss, when interviewed by a journalist after WWII, stated that his conscience did not bother him and the fate of the people whom he guillotined did not move him. Cynical words by a cynic who killed people only for money.

- why should it have bothered him ? People where "lawfully" sentenced to death.. most of the known executioners have the same feeling

- payment; as the executions were done by what is now called private contractors.. why should they have done the work for free ? (or even give money away as he had to pay the assistant and had other overhead cost)

Not sure however on the psychological strain...and how it affected their dreams and good night sleep.
Even the most ardent Nazis who believed Hitler until the last moment that Nazi Germany would crush its enemies and win the War would have to realize how evil this regime was after the War ended and all of brutal and nasty deeds of Nazi Germany were publicly uncovered and denounced, and many Nazi leaders were sentenced to death by the Allies and executed. And many of those Nazi leaders who were sentenced to death were proclaiming their innocence on the grounds that "they were merely following orders". This did not save them from the gallows. Alois Weiss knew only too well that he had put to death hundreds of innocent people whose only crime was that they resisted the invaders of their homeland and in some cases were sentenced to death for listening to forbidden radio stations, providing food or shelter to resistance fighters, or selling a bag of flour on the black market instead of turning it over to German invaders as ordered, or possessing a firearm they may have inherited from their father who fought in WWI. This is why his cynical statement that the fate of those whom he executed did not bother him, is particularly disturbing.

Alois Weiss was not a contractor but a civil servant as he was employed directly by the Third Reich Department of Justice. In fact, after the war he demanded a pension for his work in Prague as a civil servant for the state.

I have no doubt that there are individuals everywhere who would be willing to serve any regime, no mater how brutal, and kill innocent people if properly compensated, and within that group there is also a smaller subset of those who would have no regrets and would justify their actions as "lawful."

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svenga
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by svenga » 09 Apr 2021 11:44

"Two assistants of the executioner took the convict under the arms and led him to the bench, they put him on his stomach, so that the animal of the condemned man put it above the tongue. They pressed the neck with a special board. At the prosecutor's request, the executioner lowered a knife weighing two to three hundredweights. fell into the bathtub, the body and head were put into a coffin.

Before their death, convicts often cried out: Long live Poland! Hearing that gave me a shudder.

The executions took place in a closed period, in a prison on Młyńska Street in Poznań. The room is divided into three parts, separated by a red curtain.

The first, narrow as a corridor, was a table with candles on it. Here the prosecutor of Germany - Kaizer read the convict the sentence, for example: "for illegal slaughter of a pig, for theft or for political activity".

After the sentence was read, the condemned man was returned to the other part of the space where the guillotine stood. The execution took place here. On the farm, the price of a coffin with a corpse.

One person was executed for five minutes. For the summary - because my salary was calculated from each decapitated head - I received thirty marks.

How many executions have I been involved in? "One hundred and eighty two hundred, I think."

In 1942, I wanted to get married. However, I was earning little, about one hundred and sixty marks. There was not enough money to buy and buy. Richard Schtrauch confided in me that apart from the work of a chauffeur in the emergency room, he had an additional job with the executioner. In the middle of this year, I went to the executioner wearing the Bordt brand, living at Mickiewicza Street. Bordt told me that I would be notified of the date of my execution in a prison in Poznań. At the end of January, I was informed that I should be present at 4 p.m. I am summoned. There was an execution of seven people, but then I was just watching. After this first attempt, I was instructed to go to the prosecutor's office, with whom I had to take an oath that I would keep the secret of the way in which people sentenced to death were executed.

In this way, I became one of the three assistants of the chief executioner - Bordt, and I was a full complement from the end of January 1942 to May 1943, that is, until I was called to the Wehrmacht.

Initially, the shouts: Long live Poland, raised by those who were going to their death, made me want to withdraw from this job, but my colleagues advised me not to, arguing that I would get used to it.

In 1942 I got married and at first she didn't know, it was just the beginning of my work. When she found out, she said to me: 'although your job is not good, the money is good for it'.

I do not feel guilty, after all, the court issued sentences, and the prosecutor ordered me to do so ”.

The person submitting these explanations to the Polish law enforcement and judicial authorities is Karol Robert Grams, born on January 5, 1911 in Ostrówek, in Poznań, son of Maria, of German nationality, primary education, Evangelical religion. He was a farm worker by profession, later, during the occupation, until the end of 1940 he worked as a castle in the building of the deaconess hospital, which was taken over by the German army. Then he took the position of an ambulance paramedic at Bernardyński Square.

Karol Grams in the thirty-first year of his life became the assistant of the executioner. Entrusting him with this function created opportunities for additional income. Their amount depended on the number of Poles' heads cut off.

The excerpt comes from the book Józef Musioł, "Judge and executioner, or one day of Dr. Thümmler".
The post comes from the group History of the world overshadowed by wars 1805-1945.

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fredric
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 09 Apr 2021 23:00

Thank you. I did not know of this book by Jozef Musiol. I assume it is in Polish thus difficult to translate.
But it is filled with new information, at least new to me but perhaps not other members.
Thank you.

Pete26
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Agricultural crimes

Post by Pete26 » 10 Apr 2021 03:22

svenga wrote:
09 Apr 2021 11:44

The first, narrow as a corridor, was a table with candles on it. Here the prosecutor of Germany - Kaizer read the convict the sentence, for example: "for illegal slaughter of a pig, for theft or for political activity".
Illegal slaughter of a pig or selling flour on a black market was considered an 'agricultural crime" and was often punishable by death. Deliberate destruction of food was also punishable by death. There were quite a few individuals beheaded in Pankrac prison for such "agricultural crimes" and it was no doubt the same throughout the entire Third Reich.

Some time ago I mentioned the case of a Polish woman who was supposedly beheaded in Katowice for spilling milk on a German woman. If this was done deliberately in anger and considerable quantity of milk was involved it is not difficult to imagine that some zealous prosecutor would secure a death sentence for the crime of deliberate destruction of food. We do not know if this story is true, but I would not be surprised if it was.

There were three central execution sites in Poland during the Third Reich era. Katowice and Poznan sites used a Tegel type fallbeil, Wroclaw used a Mannhardt fallbeil. Both Katowice and Wroclaw fallbeils are quite well preserved to this day and are located in two separate museums. Only a few parts of the Pozanan fallbeil were found after WWiI and are displayed in another museum in Poland.

Poznan execution room also had three hanging pits with vertical rows of hooks set into the wall above each pit so the same length rope and noose could be used for people of different height. I have posted some rare Poznan fallbeil photos a few years ago. The floor drain in front of the fallbeil was huge, much larger than the one in Pankrac, Vienna, or Stadelheim execution rooms. In fact the drain was so large that they fabricated a drain cover which was apparently used to cover the drain during fallbeil maintenance so the tools would not end up falling into the drain.

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Hans1906
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Hans1906 » 10 Apr 2021 10:46

Pete26, the german designation for the Illegal home slaughter of a pig was "Schwarzschlachten" / "Schwarzschlachtung".

For example, please take a look at the following link:
Rothenburg unterm Hakenkreuz / Schwarzschlachtung http://www.rothenburg-unterm-hakenkreuz ... reispruch/

Hans1906

P.S. A so called "Hausschlachtung" https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hausschlachtung was common here in Germany still in the 1960s,
my greatgrandparents always feeded a pig, and the yearly slaughter of the pig was a special event, lots of eating, drinking, celebration.
Lots of alcohol always, a very special day every year...

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fredric
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 11 Apr 2021 01:35

Hope contributors/readers to this topic are vaccinated and perhaps through the pandemic.

For me, this horrible pandemic time gives me more time to pursue projects related to our topic.
I have completed a scale model of a German richtbeil. In doing so I learned a lot. There is no textbook
on the subject. Underway now is a scale model of the English execution axe based on the the Tower of London.
The College of Arms and those at the Tower have been most helpful. Yet they have only one such axe.

Richtbeil and sword were conducted for decades in Germany including the early years of the Reich.
I am sure some Forum readers know about the RMJ meeting on standardizing an of an execution method?
It's well-documented material (see Waltenbacher and Evans). And it is fascinating!
End result: fallbeil.

Hitler never personally ordered construction of twenty fallbeils. The costly design and construction fell to the RMJ to determine.
Thus for a year or so the richtbeil and maybe the sword were still used.

I have concluded the following:

1. Scharfrichters who beheaded by sword or axe realized their "talents" would no longer be needed because standardiztion throughout the Reich was desired by Hitler.
2. The "great" Scharfrichter Groppler had resigned after he axe-beheaded von Falkenhyne and Natzmer. Horrible p.r. for Nazi Germany!
3. . Sharfrichter Ernst Reindel took Groppler's place and was beheading by axe until the "fallbeil" became standard.
(These were transitional years for executionary protocol)
3. Scharfrichter Hehr beheaded with the axe and fallbeil. In WW2 he borrowed an axe from the RMJ when a Central Execution Site he served was were bombed. I believe he beheaded three Whermachten? Richtbeils I think were hidden and kept by Scharfrichters,
4. Every Scharfrichter wanted and needed the money from executions so I theorize some hide their equipment.
When Ernst Reindels home was torn down after the War, the crew found a richbeil under
staircase. It was sold as scrap!
5. Johann Reichhart never used the axe.

I hope others will comment on this subject.

Pete26
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Use of a sword for beheadings

Post by Pete26 » 11 Apr 2021 05:27

Fredric,

You state that both axe and sword executions were conducted in the early years of the Third Reich.
Can you identify at least one judicial execution under Hitler where a sword was used? And which scharfrichter used it? I thought the use of sword for judicial executions in Gemany was abandoned sometimes in the 1800's.

You also say that Carl Groeppler resigned after beheading von Falkenhayn and von Natzmer. I read somewhere that rather than resigning, he was forced into retirement because of his age. He was already 68 years old when he beheaded these two women.

English execution axe was very poorly designed. It was badly balanced and the handle was too long and the blade too narrow to enable the executioner to aim accurately every time. This is why more than one stroke of the axe was often required to fully sever the head if the executioner was not experienced enough using this axe. German Richtbeil, on the other hand was much better designed and balanced, with a short handle and heavy and wide blade, which enabled far better control and more accurate blow every time. Because of its heavy weight, the Reichtbeil did not have to be swung form an overhead position which provided far better aim.

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fredric
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 11 Apr 2021 16:05

I agree that the English "heading axe" (also called a "socket axe") is inferior to the German richtbeil for the reasons you give.
It also was of a fragile design for both the blade and the shaft. Few English heading axes are known to exist today.

A good film version of an axe beheading in England can be seen in the film "The King". Single blow by either a lucky or experienced
headsman is all it took. But the shaft could twist in the headsman's sweaty hand and the blow be painful and gory.

The richbeil could reliably slice through a neck just by its weight. Traditionalists at the RMJ stated that when talking about the
richtbeil, "we are dealing not with a normal 'chopper' but with a specially made execution axe. Because of its unusual weight, it has such a powerful cutting force that it is absolutely unnecessary to swing it. The weight of this instrument of execution also helps achieve
a particularly accurate blow." In 1936 Gropler's role as the leading executioner in Germany was coming to an end. At 68 years old he was
past retirement age. An official noted that Gropler's abilities were "falling off a bit." The RMJ relieved him of this duties and he left
gracefully, retaining his annual retainer of 1500 marks as a pension. This pension was below the average wage and he had no other income. Thus for all purposes, Carl Gropler was almost penniless. RMJ officials worried that Gropler would raise a protest which he had done in the past. Their worries were well-founded because in 1937 Gropler was offered a lucrative deal for his life's story from a NY newspaper. Nazi bureaucrats forced Gropler to promise to decline the offer. Then Gropler disappeared. He did not reappear until after the War when the Soviets arrested and imprisoned him. Gropler is reported to have died in prison.
As far as the sword being used in Nazi Germany, I recall reading that it was still used rarely in a region where the sword was traditonal and had not not been replaced by either the richtbeil or fallbeil. I do not remember the small area of Germany where this was claimed to be true so I will do some digging. Sources here are Evans and others.

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