Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

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Colonel Dr K Prabhakar Rao
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Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by Colonel Dr K Prabhakar Rao » 25 May 2017 18:04

Hitler was obviously highly annoyed at the attempted assassination on 20 July 44. He ordered that the culprits must be arrested alive and tried and they should be hanged by piano wire to ensure that they experience most painful death.Accordingly, most of them were executed by hanging as per his wish.Col Gen Framm of reserve forces got four plotters shot after a very quick court martial in the compound wall of his HQ once the plot failed. Later Fram was also hanged. Some executions were also recorded so that Hitler could view later in comfort. However a woman Elisabth von Thadden arrested after failure of the plot was beheaded. Her body was later handed over to the family for cremation. The mortal remains were cremated and the ashes were preserved by the family and after the war a memorial was built over the ashes at the school that she developed. Beheading is a barbaric method by all means. Why only she was beheaded and not hanged?

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Gorque
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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by Gorque » 25 May 2017 20:21

Elisabeth von Thadden was arrested on 13 January 1944 and sentenced to death on 1 July 1944 by Roland Freisler.

http://germanresistance.weebly.com/the-solf-circle.html

http://de.evangelischer-widerstand.de/? ... en/Thadden

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by Colonel Dr K Prabhakar Rao » 26 May 2017 08:35

Elisbeth was part of Solf circle and in one of the meetings held on 10 sept 1943 a mole was present who betrayed and gave I for nation to G estapo. This resulted in her arrest and she was sent to a post Meaux in occupied France. She was again. Brought to Berlin suffered at various camps and. Then was sent to Ravensburk camp. She he was tried. By friesler on 01 July 1944 and sentenced to death for treason and undermining the morale of the serving personnel. The plot failed on 20 July 1944. She was beheaded on 8 sept 1944 , but not hanged. It was true that she was sentenced to death before the attempt on hitlers life took place.Obviously she was not aware of the plot that could have been gauged by the investigators during interrogation.Plot was not revealed.Therefore the general view is that her execution was unwarranted.But friesler held show trials, he insulted the detainees, condemned them during trial, shouted at them before condemning them to death. WHere was the need to behead the woman. It was unfair affair no doubt.

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by michael mills » 31 May 2017 12:38

Decapitation with the guillotine was the legal method of execution in Germany.

The short-drop method of hanging the 20 July conspirators was the traditional method of execution used in Austria-Hungary, and later in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. German personnel and collaborators sentenced to death in those three countries after the end of the war were executed by this method.

In the short-drop method of hanging, the noose is formed from a thin cord with a slip-knot, unlike the thick rope with the large knot used in hangings in Britain and the United States. The thin cord with a slip-knot is more effective as it pulls tight very easily once the body-weight of the person being executed is brought to bear through suspension, cutting off the flow of blood to the brain and causing unconsciousness from cerebral hypoxia within a few seconds.

A film of a short-drop hanging (of Karl Hermann Frank in Prague after the war) can be seen in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHBiDKOOA2E

It is a contentious issue whether the executions of the 20 July conspirators was actually filmed. There are claims that Goebbels ordered the filming for propaganda purposes, but such films were never found after the war. If they were filmed, there is no reliable evidence that Hitler ever viewed the film.

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Sergey Romanov
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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by Sergey Romanov » 31 May 2017 21:58

There was a rumor that they were hanged on metal (piano?) strings/wires. Anybody know the source?

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by David Thompson » 31 May 2017 22:41

Sergey -- See the discussion thread at viewtopic.php?f=46&t=80680 for various witness accounts. The eyewitnesses speak of a short cord; the earliest "wire" account I found was in John Toland's biography of Adolf Hitler.

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fredric
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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by fredric » 19 Dec 2017 01:18

So much incorrect information about the July 20 executions.
Right now, as in today, there is a possibility that some of the documentary films
of the execution may have been found. Canisters of film have been found in Heinz
Sasse's archives. He was one of the two cinematographers who filmed the executions.
Sasse is, I believe, still alive. He was an important filmaker in Germany after the War.
If those canisters contain even an "out take" it would be a huge discovery. Google "Sasse".
Know the following:
1. Thin cord, not wire, formed the nooses.
2. The beam was in place a few years before the hangings. It was used for hanging
the Rote Kapelle group.
3. For the Juli group, Willi Rottger was the hangman.
4. Johann Reichhart claims in his bio that he and another scharfrichter (Willi?) beheaded
many of those associated with the bomb plot. I have not found documentation.
Last... I have been to Plotzensee and was given access to the beam and hooks. I know
exactly what is there. Three hooks are missing today so only five remain. They are big hooks
possibly from the Berlin Central Slaughterhouse. Perhaps Rottger provided? His hauling business
served the Berlin Slaughterhouse.

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by michael mills » 27 Dec 2017 23:36

Have the films found in Sasse's archives been viewed by anyone who can vouch for what they show?

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fredric
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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by fredric » 28 Dec 2017 00:41

To date I have not seen a report from the archive owner regarding the content of the film canisters.
It is quite a pile of canisters, all old. Google the subject and you will find his site.
I doubt Heinz Sasse retained outtakes or duplicates. The risks would have been
great. The film (color with sound) were sent to Hitler immediately after processing.
Your email caused me to reread this posting.
At this point I am going to say I doubt film of the executions survives. If ever found, it would not be shown.
Have you read a description of what it shows? Some do exist.

Women condemned by the People's Court were beheaded as were most condemned. Beheading was the
quickest and historically the more honorable form of execution.
Hanging was directed, so it claimed, by Hitler to emphasize the severity of their crime.
Hanging was considered the most abhorrent form of execution, reserved for the war front (we see many images of hangings of partisans). The "piano wire". The July 20 group were high level people, some aristocratic Germans...and hanging was unbelieveable. It would have been
expected that they would be shot as military men. Or at least beheaded.

Piano wire noose idea is a myth. Sasse himself says the July 20 group was hanged with "thin cord". Piano wire would have cut into the
neck or severed the head...not good. The agony of the executed was implemented by Willi Rottger who had some
of the victims raised and slowly released repeatedly, extending their torment.

They were strangled.

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by michael mills » 28 Dec 2017 05:21

The agony of the executed was implemented by Willi Rottger who had some
of the victims raised and slowly released repeatedly, extending their torment.
What is the source for that statement? It sounds similar to claims that the hanging of the men condemned to death by the IMT was deliberately prolonged. I think both sets of claims are unlikely to be true.

The method of hanging the July conspirators was the regular Austrian short-drop method, the only difference being that the hook to which the upper end of the noose was attached was suspended from a horizontal beam rather than fixed to the top of a vertical pole. As I wrote in my previous message, this method was also used in the post-1918 successor states Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. When used by practised executioners it is supposed to have caused very rapid unconsciousness and death.
Hanging was considered the most abhorrent form of execution
It was for that same reason that the men condemned to death by the IMT and the NMT were hanged rather than shot or beheaded according to German law.

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by Gorque » 28 Dec 2017 18:34

michael mills wrote:
The agony of the executed was implemented by Willi Rottger who had some
of the victims raised and slowly released repeatedly, extending their torment.
What is the source for that statement? It sounds similar to claims that the hanging of the men condemned to death by the IMT was deliberately prolonged. I think both sets of claims are unlikely to be true.

The method of hanging the July conspirators was the regular Austrian short-drop method, the only difference being that the hook to which the upper end of the noose was attached was suspended from a horizontal beam rather than fixed to the top of a vertical pole. As I wrote in my previous message, this method was also used in the post-1918 successor states Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. When used by practised executioners it is supposed to have caused very rapid unconsciousness and death.
Hanging was considered the most abhorrent form of execution
It was for that same reason that the men condemned to death by the IMT and the NMT were hanged rather than shot or beheaded according to German law.
Hi Michael:

There is some discussion of the sources in Peter Hoffman's History of the German Resistance. See note 26 on pp 719-20.

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by fredric » 28 Dec 2017 20:54

Read Peter Hoffman's book. Extending the agony of hanging by Rottger is frequently discussed in relevant literature. Recommend you
read about the execution of Claus Von Stauffenburg's brother, Berthold, easily accessed on Wiki.
The technique used by Willi Rottger was different from the Austrian pole hanging protocol. Both were, of course, similar in that they
were "short drop" but that is where the similarity ends.

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fredric
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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by fredric » 29 Dec 2017 00:41

Colonel Dr K Prabhakar Rao wrote:Hitler was obviously highly annoyed at the attempted assassination on 20 July 44. He ordered that the culprits must be arrested alive and tried and they should be hanged by piano wire to ensure that they experience most painful death.Accordingly, most of them were executed by hanging as per his wish.Col Gen Framm of reserve forces got four plotters shot after a very quick court martial in the compound wall of his HQ once the plot failed. Later Fram was also hanged. Some executions were also recorded so that Hitler could view later in comfort. However a woman Elisabth von Thadden arrested after failure of the plot was beheaded. Her body was later handed over to the family for cremation. The mortal remains were cremated and the ashes were preserved by the family and after the war a memorial was built over the ashes at the school that she developed. Beheading is a barbaric method by all means. Why only she was beheaded and not hanged?

Colonel Dr K Prabhakar Rao
Over 4900 people were tried and executed for real or assumed involvement in the Hitler July 20 attempt. Some were resistance
members not directly involved but in the frenzy following July 20, they too were executed. I do not have a compilation of the names
and methods of execution but a fraction of the victims were hanged. Many, many died under the fallbeil blade.
The German civil courts typically ordered beheading for both sexes but in major treason cases,
hanging was the mode. The Plotzensee "steel beam" was installed in 1942 for hanging the Rote Kapelle group at Plotzensee. The male leaders died under the fallbeil blade but others, including all women, were beheaded. The beam and its eight hooks continued to be used for hangings, most notably the Sept. 3-4, 1943 execution of 186 condemned prisoners following the damage of Haus 3, the execution shed and the fallbeil to an air raid.
When the July 20 group were to be executed and an especially horrible, slow execution was desired, it made sense to used the hooks. From all the research I have done, I conclude that Rottger was instructed to prolong their death struggles. He did this by reviving the half-dead
victims by lifting and loosing he noose, then slowly lowering them. Others got dropped and the film crew says they died quickly. Many others were guillotined. Women condemned to death by the People's Court were beheaded; I have not found an exception.
The fallbeil executions were carried out at Plotzensee and other execution prisons.

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fredric
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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by fredric » 29 Dec 2017 23:25

Quick correction by fredric:
Some leaders of Rote Kapelle were hanged on the hooks. No women were. Most others were beheaded. The
largest execution I have found was of 13 Rote Kapelle gruppe members at Plotzensee. In every case, Rottger and his
team carried out the executions. In Dach's book, Richhardt mentions an execution of those following July 20 which was
massive (no numbers) and two fallbeille were needed. One was brought, he says, from Stuttgart. The floor was flooded
with bloody water up to the ankles. I think this is all b.s. but who knows?

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Re: Execution of 20 July 1944 plotters

Post by michael mills » 30 Dec 2017 07:32

From all the research I have done, I conclude that Rottger was instructed to prolong their death struggles. He did this by reviving the half-dead
victims by lifting and loosing he noose, then slowly lowering them.
I tend to discount this story, simply because it is not easy to half-hang and then revive a person. That is because unconsciousness and death occur very rapidly after the blood supply to the brain is cut off by the tightening of the noose, and it is very difficult to calculate exactly when to release the noose so that the half-hanged person can be revived. It is most likely that by the time the noose is loosened in an attempt to revive the victim, the point of no-return has already been reached.

That is shown by the number of accidental deaths resulting from attempted erotic self-strangulation, eg the case of Michael Hutchence. In those cases the persons attempting self-strangulation did not realise how quickly they would lose consciousness, and as a result did not loosen the noose in time.

The concept of repeatedly reviving a half-hanged person is theoretically possible but very unlikely to be achieved in practice. Public executioners such as Roettger were not medically trained, and did not have the skill to determine exactly when to loosen the noose so as to be able to revive the victim.

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