Beheadings in the Third Reich

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htk
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by htk » 23 Jan 2009 20:31

regarding the some posts two questions come to mind

- Pankraz execution process : about laying a hand across the eyes; how can that be? one guy to the left/one guy to the right dragging the convict. Nr3 should be placed behind the convict shutting his eyes ?
not really practicle i think (and why bother ??)

- qte "Some assistants were not up to their duties, so that they were assigned(until 1940) with the easy task of holding the condemneds head in order to let it be sliced off straight." I thought that this was the purpose of the leather strap in the basin. This raises the question; or this part is not quite true or not all FB's had a leather strap in the basin.

rgds

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Jan 2009 21:17

Right Piotr.It was found that,after an execution that occured in 1940, where an inmates lower jaw bone had been severed.the Guillotine had better be equipped with something to hold the head in,in this case ,the leather belt,which prevented the convict from bending his head too low,so as to prevent the Beil from travelling through the lower parts of the face.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Piotr1 » 23 Jan 2009 21:47

Paul53 wrote:Right Piotr.It was found that,after an execution that occured in 1940, where an inmates lower jaw bone had been severed.the Guillotine had better be equipped with something to hold the head in,in this case ,the leather belt,which prevented the convict from bending his head too low,so as to prevent the Beil from travelling through the lower parts of the face.
http://pl.youtube.com/watch?v=SHJ1e64XQ7Y

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 23 Jan 2009 23:28

htk wrote: - Pankraz execution process : about laying a hand across the eyes; how can that be? one guy to the left/one guy to the right dragging the convict. Nr3 should be placed behind the convict shutting his eyes ?
not really practicle i think (and why bother ??)

The third assistant apparently walked behind the prisoner covering his eyes. It is possible that they started covering the eyes of the condemned after some struggled after they saw the fallbeil and its raised blade (there was no blade shield on the Pankraz fallbeil). This way the condemned would never see it and hopefully not put up much resistance. Not practical, I agree, a simple blindfold applied before the black curtain was opened revealing the fallbeil, would have made a lot more sense.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 24 Jan 2009 03:38

Piotr1 wrote:
Paul53 wrote:Right Piotr.It was found that,after an execution that occured in 1940, where an inmates lower jaw bone had been severed.the Guillotine had better be equipped with something to hold the head in,in this case ,the leather belt,which prevented the convict from bending his head too low,so as to prevent the Beil from travelling through the lower parts of the face.
http://pl.youtube.com/watch?v=SHJ1e64XQ7Y
So this is the execution scene from the first White Rose movie. The execution room looks more credible than shown in the "Last Days" movie, but the chamber appears to be inside a larger building, not in a separate execution building. Large ornate doors like this would most likely not be a part of the Stadelheim prison execution shed. The guillotine looks like a stage prop job. The bench legs are all wrong. The "winch" handle is Tegel-style in orientation, but the handle is on the basin side of the guillotine, which we know is wrong. The sledge appears to be genuine in appearance, but the blade is too wide, spanning the whole width of the sledge, which is wrong. The vertical release lever appears to be some sort of a hybrid between the 1854 model and the early Tegel. The pendulum style release rod was sleeved on the upper section on a genuine fallbeil. When you first see the guillotine, there appears to be some sort of a shroud on top so you cannot make out its top features. The 1854 model would of course have a large rope pulley on top. There is a leather strap (none was used in the "Last Days" movie), but is is anchored to the sheet metal of the basin, which is wrong. On the real thing the anchoring pins are in the fallbeil frame, outside of the basin. I am not aware of any fallbeil model that has restraining straps built into the bench itself. Such straps were provided on the hinged board (bascule) on the 1854 model, and the prisoner was strapped to the board while in vertical position. When the lunette is closed on the actress's neck, the gap between the neck and the upper board remains far too large to be credible. The girl is escorted into the execution room by only one female prison guard. In reality, two guards escorted Sophie Scholl to the execution building in Stadelheim prison.
Last edited by Pete26 on 26 Jan 2009 06:36, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 24 Jan 2009 04:27

Paul53 wrote:Right Piotr.It was found that,after an execution that occured in 1940, where an inmates lower jaw bone had been severed.the Guillotine had better be equipped with something to hold the head in,in this case ,the leather belt,which prevented the convict from bending his head too low,so as to prevent the Beil from travelling through the lower parts of the face.
Something similar occurred during the beheading of Anna Mansdotter in Kristianstad, Sweden on 7 August 1890. She was beheaded with the axe on a low execution block, which meant that she had to lie on the ground on her stomach with her neck raised only about 20 cm or so from the floor, resting on the block. The angle of the axe swing was such that the blade of the axe passed through the mouth and the lower jaw remained attached to the neck.

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Re: Plotzensee fallbeil and execution room

Post by fredric » 24 Jan 2009 07:38

First I apologize for not submitting any posts for a long time but I have not been receiving notifications that new posts had been made on this topic and assumed it had dried up.

The posts about the book Zentarale Hinrichtungsstatten are exciting! Finally some new information ! Thanks to Paul! I Please keep the information coming. Could you post the photos of Bordt and other executioners as well as any of the rooms and fallbeils? Am I correct that the author Waltenbacher not identify his sources? I am very interested the information about Sharfrichter Willi Rottger. Where did Waltenbacher get this new information? Is there any more the other sharfrichters?

Regarding modifications to the Bruchsal fallbeil: I believe we could deduce that modifications were made after it arrived at Plotzensee. These modifications are in the interest of speeding up the execution process. Beheadings on the 1854-style machines took longer than on a Tegel (according to quotes that can be found in Xavier Reichhart's diary) due to positioning and strapping the prisoner, tilting the board and running it forward, positioning the head, dropping the halsbrett, etc. The sight of the sledge/knife also could bring on a struggle by the prisoner so the blade shield was added as we see on many Tegels (as it was for a short time on the French guillotine). I think someone (probably the Sharfrichters Reindel or Rottger, tweaked the machine to operate like a Tegel.

Regarding the photo from Plotzensee, author Richard Evans says "Note the board, front left, onto which the prisoner was strapped, with a hole for the chin, before being moved hoizontally into postion." To me his claim does not make sense and I have not found any support for this idea. How would this strange board fit to the machine? This board is a mystery. I am sure it served some purpose in the execution room...maybe for carrying away the bodies? The same board may be visible in "basket-tub" photos, laying flat on the floor behind the fallbeil. The objects on the floor I believe channelled blood and water toward a sump located in the far right corner of the room and covered in diamond plate. The room always had drainage problems due to the water table and the small drain beneath the blood chute could become plugged. Sawdust was used at Plotzensee to absorb blood (according to Pastor Harald Poelchau) and that plus the effluvia could have clogged the floor drain. There is one report of two fallbeils working in tandem at Plotzensee and that the whole chamber was flooded with bloody water. Channelling the flow is the only reason I can find for those strange objects which might be bricks or wood. The place was a slaughterhouse.

Regarding the photos of Plotzensee: At least four and possibly five photographs of the fallbeil were taken by the Soviets. Another photo of the Plotzensee fallbiel is identified as being taken at Moabit. It is the same machine (identifiable by scars on it)
My research shows the Soviets, eager for War trophies, took the fallbeil to Moabit. I have a report that it eventually was then traded to the Allies/German authorities in exchange for food. I think that this fallbeil then went to Brandenburg-Gordon memorial but I am not sure of this. It definately is not the fallbeil displayed today in Kiev.

Tiled Floor? No. I had a unique experience in being able to visit the room accompanied by an architect who works with the memorial center so I got to examine the floor and the drains. The floor does not show any signs of ever being tiled. Beneath the gray/white floor paint is a layer of dark red paint and I think that is the color when the shed was converted to an execution chamber upon installation of the fallbeil. Also, the floor clearly shows marks where the machine stood (you can see them in the photo of the chamber on the cover of the Memorial Center booklet) so I do not think the floor was tiled. It was a storage shed. The only tile was behind the sink. The walls were whitewashed stucco over brick which spalled (visible in some photos) due to the damp.


Pete26 wrote:We know that the Plotzensee fallbeil is a modified 1854 model. Was it modified before it was transferred from the Bruchsal prison, or after? The modifications included removal of the hinged board for the bench, replacing the cloth bucket with a rounded basin and installing a blade shield. Were there any other mods done?

I am curious how the inspection team proved to themselves that the fallbeil was "effective"? Did they perhaps behead an already dead inmate (executed by hanging)?

You mentioned that the execution room was tiled at one time. Does that mean tiles on the floor as well and walls? The only tiles visible in the post war photos of the room are the backsplash area tiles behind the sink. Because the fallbeil was located approximately in the very center of the room, it is highly doubtful that tiling the entire room would be of any practical use. And later, why would somebody go to trouble to chip away the existing floor tile or pour another layer of concrete over them?

This photo of the operational Plotzensee execution room shows several mysterious objects. First, in the left lower corner there is a wooden board with a cutout in it, whose purpose is not clear. Then, immediately to the left of the fallbeil there are several objects on the floor, and we do not know what they are or what is their purpose. Any mention of these in your book? You can see from the photo that the room is not tiled. Notice two large black solid shutters for the front windows.

http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/image49.jpg

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 24 Jan 2009 13:17

You are probably right for the tiles on the floor Fredrick.I only translate,thats all I do.I have visited Plotzensee twice,but did not get the impression that there were ever tiles on the floor(but I did not know anything about this topic then, so did not really pay attention)As for posting of the photos,I will require some help of friends,as I am still an acknowledged computer dumbo.But it will be done in time.
Waltenbacher researched original documents of the RJM and very little else it seems.But gentlemen, do you realize that we, as a group of individuals,are among the very few people in the world to have some overview of this topic,combining all sources of information?

I will continue now with the material Waltenbacher provided.

Hamburg-Stadt.

The central extermination site for Hamburg was the Untersuchungsgefaengnis Hamburg,adress Am Holstenglacis #3.Capacity 1089 men,111 women.Until the execution site was closed,due to bombing damage,in December 1944,468 persons were executed.The execution room was a former desinfectation room,converted in august 1938.The Fallbeil was ordered,as usual, at Tegel prison Berlin, and was delivered 23 september 1938.The blade of the machine was so badly tempered,that it required constant resharpening.A new blade was soon ordered.
As a rule, executions did take place after 1800 hours.Hehr however, requested that the execution hour was changed to 1600 hours,or 16.30, so that he was able to catch his 1800 hours train back to Hannover.Which was granted.
Tipically,the executioner and his assistants were payed off immediately after an execution, so that the execution leader had a box with cash money on the table in front of him.This was thought to be undesired and was later changed.

As the second largest city in Germany,Hamburg was a main target for the allied bombing offensive.July 1943,the city center was reduced to smouldering rubble,as it was visited by 1000 allied bombers,who failed to reach the extermination site however.The prison was devoid of water and electricity by the bombing,so that executions were seriously hampered.Those condemned to die, were transported to nearby Celle ,and were eventually executed in Wolffenbuettel.In the night of 28/29 july 1944,the execution building in Hamburg was hit by bombs, causing two walls to collapse.The Fallbeil however was unscaved.Yet it was not possible to carry out executions anymore in Hamburg, so that the responsible officer of the execution site,contacted the police with a request to have the inmates,condemned to death, shot,in the nearby Neuengamme concentration camp.Which was carried through.
After three weeks ,the execution room in Hamburg was again in operation,but it was decided on grounds of the total chaos that the city of Hamburg was in, that the executions were from October 1944,were to be held in Dreibergen/Buetz ow prison,150 kilometers east of Hamburg, and 30 kilometers south of Rostock.The last executions were carried out in Hamburg on december 15th 1944, the Fallbeil,was after that packed in and shipped to Dreibergen/Buetzow by personell from that institution on a lorry.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by htk » 24 Jan 2009 15:08

hi pete

several sources claim that the convicts where dragged quickly to the FB. So i think its almost inpossible without stumbling or fallling that a 3rd person would be covering the eyes.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 24 Jan 2009 15:41

Dreibergen/Buetzow


A small village in Mecklenburg,isolated location.Prison had 724 men,187 women.Execution room was installed in a former apple cellar,of which is was reported:after the delivery of the F-Geraet, a week is needed to let the concrete basement of the machine harden out.28 december 1944, the site was reported ready, and the first executions took place on january 9th 1945.When the site was overrun on april 23th 1945, about 50 executions took place there.

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 24 Jan 2009 16:18

Pete26 wrote:
Paul53 wrote:Right Piotr.It was found that,after an execution that occured in 1940, where an inmates lower jaw bone had been severed.the Guillotine had better be equipped with something to hold the head in,in this case ,the leather belt,which prevented the convict from bending his head too low,so as to prevent the Beil from travelling through the lower parts of the face.
Something similar occurred during the beheading of Anna Mansdotter in Kristianstad, Sweden on 7 August 1890. She was beheaded with the axe on a low execution block, which meant that she had to lie on the ground on her stomach with her neck raised only about 20 cm or so from the floor, resting on the block. The angle of the axe swing was such that the blade of the axe passed through the mouth and the lower jaw remained attached to the neck.

Terrible

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a propos Butzow....

Post by Piotr1 » 24 Jan 2009 18:00


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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Piotr1 » 24 Jan 2009 18:44

Executions in Hamburg and Altona 1933-1944
http://www.bestwebbuys.com/Hinrichtunge ... c=b-search

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by JTG » 24 Jan 2009 19:15

Paul53 wrote:
Pete26 wrote:
Paul53 wrote:Right Piotr.It was found that,after an execution that occured in 1940, where an inmates lower jaw bone had been severed.the Guillotine had better be equipped with something to hold the head in,in this case ,the leather belt,which prevented the convict from bending his head too low,so as to prevent the Beil from travelling through the lower parts of the face.
Something similar occurred during the beheading of Anna Mansdotter in Kristianstad, Sweden on 7 August 1890. She was beheaded with the axe on a low execution block, which meant that she had to lie on the ground on her stomach with her neck raised only about 20 cm or so from the floor, resting on the block. The angle of the axe swing was such that the blade of the axe passed through the mouth and the lower jaw remained attached to the neck.

Terrible
Well, on a scale of 1-11... but certainly unprofessional: grounds for dismissal as being incompetent, by German standards, if I understand correctly?

John

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 24 Jan 2009 20:55

Well.he was executed.

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