Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 18 Sep 2008 19:09

On the German Internet,I found info on both Spandau and Lehrterstrasse prisons.
The prison Lehrter Strasse is identical,according to Wikipedia,with Moabit.Lehrter Strasse is the official name,Moabit the name in everyday conversation,from the part of Berlin it was located.The prison was,from 1940 onwards, in use as a military prison for Wehrmacht personell,as a prison for Polizei prisoners,after july 20th 44,also for Gestapo prisoners.From 1946, it was the only execution site in West Berlin until the abolishment of the death penalty 1949.From 46 till may 1949, 12 executions are said to have taken place there.The prison was torn down in 1957/58.Berthold Wehmeyer was the last executed,1949.Strange detail:Wehmeyer was reported in this article to have been beheaded with a guillotine,that was captured by German troops in 1871 in France,after their victory over the French army,and is reported as being the same as the guillotine that Robespierre was beheaded with in 1794.
This story does not seem plausible to me.

Spandau.Located at the Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin/Spandau.British occupation zone,as was Moabit.First death sentence carried out august 21th 1946,on a certain Karl Kieling, a high ranking post official who shot one or more anti nazis in april 1945.More death sentences for a female doctor and a nurse, convicted for euthanasia during nazi years.Unclear if the executions were carried out in Spandau.No further info was found.There is a record of shooting prisoners on a nearby field in Spandau,a few hours before the Russians overran the site.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 18 Sep 2008 21:25

Paul53 wrote:Thanks for the informative posts Fredrick.I looked the Lehrter strasse up on Wikipedia.The confusion is partly caused by the fact that there were no fewer than 3 prisons located on the Lehrter Strasse:
1...Das Militaergefaengnis[ military prison] on Lehrter Strasse 60/61
2 Haus 3 des Strafgefaengnisses Plotzensee on nr 60
3 Zellengefaengnis Moabit,nowadays only some remains of it left.

Your info could be quite correct I think.Do you have some on Spandau?


I did find a report that Spandau had a guillotine at the end of the war and that it was removed by Allied soldiers.
I doubt either claim is true and have not found support in other sources. You of course know Spandau was not an execution prison.

Haus III in Plotzensee is not on Lehrter Strasse. You found this on Wiki? Haus III was one of the wings of Plotzensee. It was demolished in 1952. Other buildings still stand. Check any Berlin map and you will find the prison, still in use as well as a memorial. And it is not on Lehrter Strasse.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 18 Sep 2008 23:13

Some misunderstanding here.Haus 3 was reported as belonging to Plotzensee,not being Pl.itself.Plotzensee is located Goerdeler Damm/Huettigpfad.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 19 Sep 2008 05:39

The misunderstanding here is due to the fact that I forgot to mention that Wikipedia gave the present situation,instead of the one during the war.Sorry for that.As Haus 3 was demolished 1952 as you say, it was apparently moved to the Lehrter Strasse.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 19 Sep 2008 07:20

Paul53 wrote:The misunderstanding here is due to the fact that I forgot to mention that Wikipedia gave the present situation,instead of the one during the war.Sorry for that.As Haus 3 was demolished 1952 as you say, it was apparently moved to the Lehrter Strasse.


Too bad no one has discovered records from the prison beyond those at the Memorial site headquarters...which are valuable but not extensive. They must have had photos of staff, operations, etc. and detailed records...which would be of interest to us. My German is not good enough for me to try to look into this by contacting the prison itself...and of course they may duck the question. I also wonder if the Russians took prison files. And what did they do to the German administrative staff, guards, etc.? Any one know?

The Haus III of today may be part of the Lehrter Strasse prison?

The arial photos of Plotzensee which can be found on their site are good and interesting to compare to the one arial photo in the memorial center's brochure.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 20 Sep 2008 10:22

If you have the correct postal or e mail adress,I can give it a try if you will, but they will understand English too,as the memorial is intended as international.English is the most internationally used language here .

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 21 Sep 2008 04:03

Paul53 wrote:If you have the correct postal or e mail adress,I can give it a try if you will, but they will understand English too,as the memorial is intended as international.English is the most internationally used language here .


Plotzensee Prison has a website with contact information. It is an interesting site worth checking out because it includes two early photographs of the prison.
The Memorial is not run by the Prison. It is run by the Gedenkstatte Deutscher Widerstand, Stauffenberstrasse 13-14, 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten. It would be interesting to know what happened to the records of the prison...where are they today? Are the documents now at the Resistance Center? Are they at the prison? Are they in the Bundesarchivs...if so which one? There must have been identification cards for wardens, guards, and detailed documentation that would be of interest to us. This may also include photographs. The documents displayed at the Plotzensee-Memorial (at the Prison) and at the Resistance Center are reproductions.
My guess is that the Center does not have the archives if they still exist. When I was there, I inquired about any information they had about Wilhelm Roettger, the executioner at Plotzensee, and they only had the book by Gostomski. Nothing else...they referred me to the Bundesarchiv...and after several letters to them...they replied they had no record of Roettger. Maybe the Russians took all the prison documents?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 29 Sep 2008 18:43

fredric wrote:
Paul53 wrote:If you have the correct postal or e mail adress,I can give it a try if you will, but they will understand English too,as the memorial is intended as international.English is the most internationally used language here .


Plotzensee Prison has a website with contact information. It is an interesting site worth checking out because it includes two early photographs of the prison.
The Memorial is not run by the Prison. It is run by the Gedenkstatte Deutscher Widerstand, Stauffenberstrasse 13-14, 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten. It would be interesting to know what happened to the records of the prison...where are they today? Are the documents now at the Resistance Center? Are they at the prison? Are they in the Bundesarchivs...if so which one? There must have been identification cards for wardens, guards, and detailed documentation that would be of interest to us. This may also include photographs. The documents displayed at the Plotzensee-Memorial (at the Prison) and at the Resistance Center are reproductions.
My guess is that the Center does not have the archives if they still exist. When I was there, I inquired about any information they had about Wilhelm Roettger, the executioner at Plotzensee, and they only had the book by Gostomski. Nothing else...they referred me to the Bundesarchiv...and after several letters to them...they replied they had no record of Roettger. Maybe the Russians took all the prison documents?


The occupational forces did obviously capture loads and loads of documents.I also noticed,as you did, that the Gedenkstatte does not seem to be as well informed as one would like.When I was there{1988 and 1996,in the former Wehrmacht hq Bendlerstrasse}all they could come up with was the book "'Sterben um zu leben'" about Brandenburg Gorden.Much more is likely to be found in the Bundesarchiv,or in the Zentralstelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen zur Aufklaerung von NS Verbrechen, in Ludwigsburg.
Another source may be the Imperial War museum London,the Deutsche Presse Agentur{photographic material}and Reuters.

I will try to compose a letter to the Zentralstelle in English,referring to this forum,and on this thread,so that we can sum up the questions that we have,and suggestions may be made,if everyone agrees.Please let me know what you think.
I would"'nt be surprised if the material that we are looking for is concentrated somewhere,making it easier accessible to historical research.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by htk » 30 Sep 2008 19:26

hi paul

though it doesnt hurt to ask,but i really doubt if there will be an answer. This because this theme, the justice department(s) are not willing to lay bear something delicate as this theme. Even in our own holland the dutch authorities like police, justice etc are not willingly cooperating in themes when they where activly cooperating in searching, arresting, holding and even mistreating enemies of the Germans. So let alone the german justice where almost every member of the courts, attornies etc went back to work after the change of government in 1945. I rember something from gordon about a fallbeil somewhere hidden in a active german prison and where as was asked to be silent about (about the whereabouts)

rgds

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 30 Sep 2008 20:20

Absolutely right.The item is still a hot potato here,so to say.But the various nations,as the Germans themselves,are showing signs of coming to terms with their own past, so that fact hopefully will lead to more willingness to co operate in investigations like this.Hopefully.This topic is still a very little known item in ww 2 history ,hence the importance,and the dedication of us all to clear its history.

Yesterday, I followed Frederics example and tried to extract some info from the site that I mentioned, the Zentralstelle in Ludwigsburg. It was not encouraging.I fed some questions into the searcher and was rewarded with ..no info found.
However,I discovered the website of the Dutch Centre for WW2 studies, and will approach prof. Peter Romeyn , in order towrite him a letter shortly in relation to our topic.-From our point of view, I would expect him to be interested and perhaps he can offer some valuable suggestions.After all, some sources state that there were between 400 and about 600 Dutch executed in German prisons during the was years{although this number is questioned by other authors.} Anyway,prof. Romeyn must have a short lead to other sources of interest to us.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 30 Sep 2008 20:37

By the way Hans, what happened to your picture about our very own Guillotine in Maastricht[or where was it}?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by htk » 05 Oct 2008 20:45

hi Paul

foto still there http://www.limburgsmuseum.nl/media.asp?media=1034
Came from La Veuve (pjotr i think)
Its in venlo but i dont know if it is original or not. Think its very close to your home ?

rgds

hans

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 06 Oct 2008 03:43

Paul53 wrote:Absolutely right.The item is still a hot potato here,so to say.But the various nations,as the Germans themselves,are showing signs of coming to terms with their own past, so that fact hopefully will lead to more willingness to co operate in investigations like this.Hopefully.This topic is still a very little known item in ww 2 history ,hence the importance,and the dedication of us all to clear its history.

Yesterday, I followed Frederics example and tried to extract some info from the site that I mentioned, the Zentralstelle in Ludwigsburg. It was not encouraging.I fed some questions into the searcher and was rewarded with ..no info found.
However,I discovered the website of the Dutch Centre for WW2 studies, and will approach prof. Peter Romeyn , in order towrite him a letter shortly in relation to our topic.-From our point of view, I would expect him to be interested and perhaps he can offer some valuable suggestions.After all, some sources state that there were between 400 and about 600 Dutch executed in German prisons during the was years{although this number is questioned by other authors.} Anyway,prof. Romeyn must have a short lead to other sources of interest to us.
I commend your attempts to obtain new information on a topic many would like to ignor. Keep up the good work and good luck. I have obtained many "no information available" replies over the years but still believe a wealth of information and photos must still be buried in archives. The Germans documented everything. A subject I am investigating right now is the identity of the executioner at Brandenburg-Gordon. Reindel? Roettger? Or were executions carried out by prison staff rather than an official RMJ scharfrichter?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 06 Oct 2008 19:25

Well, I wrote and send the letter to prof.Romeyn.I can give a word to word translation if desired, but in short, it comes down to this group being seriously studiyng this little known topic,the fact that we have no effective access to the many German files on this subject (if available) and the question whether prof. Romeyn can and will help us out.Also,as a matter of personal interest,I asked about the number of Dutch executed in German prisons during the war.I mentioned the literature that we have already cited from in this thread,Evans, Mortimer, Dachs and others.Reference was made to the Zentralstelle in Ludwigsburg, and to the lack of success we had in contacting this organisation ,especially in relation to Scharfrichter and their fate.I said that we have sofar been able to construct a reasonable correct picture of the use of the Nazi Fallbeil , but that there were a lot of questions that remained open.Thats about it


Fredric,the only time that I heared the name of a Scharfrichter being mentioned in relation to Brandenburg /Gorden ,was in a fictional book, called "" Bomber"" by Len Deighton.Don''t laugh, because it is one of the very best books I have ever read about the WW2.Wikipedia tells me it is rated as one of the ten best books written in the 20th century.I cannot judge that, but it took many years for Deighton to complete his research, and the result is in my opinion highly recommandable. Anyway, the Scharfrichter was Roettger,and the epilogue reads thus:

Gericht der Wehrmachtskommandatur, Berlin NW 40 den 23-8 43

An den Verwaltungsrat des Gefaengniswesens in Brandenburg Gorden;

Monday, the 13th of september 1943, the death sentence of the former Unteroffizier Christian Himmel, born 12th september 1922 in Ottobeuren,Bavaria,Catholic,will be carried out in your prison. Scharfrichter Rottger is assigned with the execution of the verdict.The verdict will have to be made public on the same day at 11.00 hours.
Assigned with the supervision of the execution is Feldjustizinspektor Kaiser , with Oberleutnant Dr Henze..The convict is kept in the House of Custody of the Wehrmacht,Berlin Tegel, Seidelstrasse 39.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 06 Oct 2008 19:30

The Polizeipraesidium Berlin is requested to move the convict in the morning of september 13th 1943 to Brandenburg.Please take the convict in.
The local prison physician is requested to be present at the execution.
Signed Jost
Oberkriegsgerichtsrat.

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