Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Pete26
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 24 Jan 2009 21:19

htk wrote: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.
Let me clarify. First, the prisoner was dragged at a fast pace (the author claims jogging pace) from the preparation cell by two guards to the execution room. At this stage, there was no need to cover his eyes. The execution chamber in Pankraz prison consisted of the ante-room, fallbeil room, and the morgue. The prisoner was dragged by two guards into the anteroom where his identity was confirmed. At this point, he was seized by two executioner's assistants, and third one covered his eyes with his hand, just as they reached the black curtain, which hid the fallbeil in the fallbeil room. There was an open passage from the ante-room to the fallbeil room. The black curtain opened and the fallbeil was right behind the curtain, so only a few steps were required to reach the fallbeil bench. So there was no need for fast walking at this stage.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 24 Jan 2009 22:50

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

John
In my opinion this incident could be grounds for dismissal if the execution protocol required that an assistant must hold the victims head by the hair, and this was not done, hence the gory results. Holding the head was probably required before they started using the leather strap to support the condemned's forehead.

However, from what I read, an executioner could be dismissed from his job if he failed to sever the neck with one stroke of an axe, or if the guillotine malfunctioned and partly sliced through the neck, or the blade got stuck halfway down repeatedly, and the malfunction could be blamed on lack of preparation, maintenance, or a sloppy set up.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 24 Jan 2009 22:54

It seems to me that the most terrifying moment for a guillotined person comes when he/she distinctly hears the click at the moment the blade is released. It takes only about 1/2 of the second from that time for the blade to come all the way down, including severing of the head. For a taller French guillotine, with twice the blade fall distance, this time would be about 3/4 of a second.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by JTG » 25 Jan 2009 00:09

Paul53 wrote:Well.he was executed.
For incompetance?

John

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 25 Jan 2009 00:19

JTG wrote:
Paul53 wrote:Well.he was executed.
For incompetance?

John
Not the executioner. The guy whose jaw was cut. Paul is just trying to say that the execution was a success.

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The fate of the sister of writer Erich Remarque

Post by Pete26 » 25 Jan 2009 01:32

Elfriede Scholz, beheaded by guillotine in Plotzensee prison on 16 December 1943 by Rottger:

http://www.osnabrueck-net.de/kulturnach ... 1205a.html

http://www.executedtoday.com/tag/plotzensee-prison
Last edited by Pete26 on 30 Jan 2009 16:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 25 Jan 2009 01:57

JTG wrote:
Paul53 wrote:Well.he was executed.
For incompetance?

John
:D

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 25 Jan 2009 02:05

Well,a rectification has to be made.It seems that there were females executed in Brandenburg/Gorden(called in the text Neubrandenburg)Unknown to me .

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 25 Jan 2009 05:56

THE HEAD STRAP CLEARLY IS SHOWN ON THE 1854 FALLBEIL DESIGN DRAWING HELD IN THE BAVARIAN STATE ARCHIVES. IT WAS A BASIC ELEMENT ON THE 1854 "MANNHARDT" MACHINES AND ON TEGELS. I DO NOT BELIEVE AN ASSISTANT HELD THE VICTIM'S HEAD "IN ORDER TO LET IT BE SLICED OFF STRAIGHT" AND I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF THE AUTHOR DISCUSSES THIS PRACTICE IN ANY DETAIL. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, AN EXECUTION BY FALLBEIL TYPICALLY REQUIRED TWO ASSISTANTS, NOT THREE LIKE THE FRENCH BECAUSE NO "PHOTOGRAPHER-PREMIER AJOINT" WAS NEEDED. ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS?
htk wrote: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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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 25 Jan 2009 06:02

JOHANN REICHHART ELIMINATED THE BLINDFOLD AND INITIATED THE PRACTICE OF HAVING ONE OF HIS ASSISTANTS HOLD A HAND OVER THE EYES. THE REASON WAS THAT OCCASIONALLY A BLINDFOLDED VICTIM WOULD WHIP AROUND SO MUCH THAT THE BLINDFOLD WOULD COME OFF. IT WAS EASIER AND FASTER TO SIMPLY HOLD A HAND OVER THE EYES FOR THE 2-3 SECONDS IT TOOK TO PRESS THE VICTIM ONTO THE TABLE, THRUST THE VICTIM FORWARD, DROP THE HALSBRETT AND THE SLEDGE. SPEED WAS THE OBJECTIVE, NOT A CLEAN, STAIGHT CUT. THE SHARFRICHTER'S PROFICIENCY WAS JUDGE ON SPEED.
Pete26 wrote:
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 » 25 Jan 2009 06:27

fredric wrote:JOHANN REICHHART ELIMINATED THE BLINDFOLD AND INITIATED THE PRACTICE OF HAVING ONE OF HIS ASSISTANTS HOLD A HAND OVER THE EYES. THE REASON WAS THAT OCCASIONALLY A BLINDFOLDED VICTIM WOULD WHIP AROUND SO MUCH THAT THE BLINDFOLD WOULD COME OFF. IT WAS EASIER AND FASTER TO SIMPLY HOLD A HAND OVER THE EYES FOR THE 2-3 SECONDS IT TOOK TO PRESS THE VICTIM ONTO THE TABLE, THRUST THE VICTIM FORWARD, DROP THE HALSBRETT AND THE SLEDGE. SPEED WAS THE OBJECTIVE, NOT A CLEAN, STAIGHT CUT. THE SHARFRICHTER'S PROFICIENCY WAS JUDGE ON SPEED.
Maybe so, but by placing a hand over some struggling prisoner's eyes, that assistant could risk a serious injury if the the condemned grabbed his hand with his teeth. I surely would not want that job. Seems to me that they could hold the blindfold on from behind just as easily, or even design some kind of a canvass hood for the prisoner, like they used in hangings.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by htk » 25 Jan 2009 12:10

hi pete

but what is the use of the blindfolding (by any means) ? People where shot and hanged without a blindfold.
I think is more efficient (and us north europeans like our efficiency) to do without. There is also no risk of biting, falling or kicking or any sort of disturbance in the process.
As mentioned before most condemned went without any struggle (almost no records of convicts running for their lives !), so they were probably in shock (also probably a reason for the high speed pace from jail to execution site), like the proverbial rabbits sitting still in a floodlight.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 25 Jan 2009 23:20

What? No new post form Paul in more than 24 hours? I am shocked. :wink:

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 26 Jan 2009 00:14

htk wrote:hi pete

but what is the use of the blindfolding (by any means) ? People where shot and hanged without a blindfold.
I think is more efficient (and us north europeans like our efficiency) to do without. There is also no risk of biting, falling or kicking or any sort of disturbance in the process.
As mentioned before most condemned went without any struggle (almost no records of convicts running for their lives !), so they were probably in shock (also probably a reason for the high speed pace from jail to execution site), like the proverbial rabbits sitting still in a floodlight.
Well, in most judicial hangings, the condemned were fitted with a hood just before the noose was placed around their neck while standing on the trap door of the gallows. The purpose of the hood was to hide the facial contortions from the witnesses during the final death struggle. Usually, no blindfold was used while bringing the prisoner to the gallows. However, I have seen photos of a recent Iranian hanging where blindfolds were used, and fell off during the struggle after the condemned were suspended with little or no drop. Iranians often use mobile cranes to hang people. Blindfolds are also routinely used for executions by firing squads throughout the world.

As for being led to the guillotine, I imagine that the sight of the raised blade would cause some people to panic. This is why they used the blade shield on some guillotines. We can see in the Eugene Weidmann's video that no blindfold was used in his case, and there was no blade shield installed on that guillotine either.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 26 Jan 2009 02:01

XAVER BLINDFOLDED HIS VICTIMS BEFORE BEHEADING. HE ALSO BELTED THEM TO THE TIPPING BOARD. JOHANN FOLLOWED THIS PRACTICE BUT EVENTUALLY MADE CHANGES TO THE FALLBEIL AND CEASED BLINDFOLDING OR SECURING THE VICTIM TO THE MACHINE.

WEIDEMANN IS OFF OUR THEME BUT IF ONE STUDIES THE TWO FILMS OF HIS EXECUTION AND THE STILL PHOTOS, YOU WILL SEE THAT HE TURNS FROM THE GUILLOTINE AS HE IS ESCORTED FROM THE PRISON. HE DOES NOT WANT TO SEE IT. WRITTEN ACCOUNTS SAY HE HAD HIS EYES TIGHTLY CLOSED. WHEN TIPPED AND RUN FORWARD ON THE BASCULE, HE BEGINS TO STRUGGLE. DESFOURNAUX'S ASSISTANTS HAVE A HARD TIME GETTING HIS NECK INTO THE LUNETTE AND AS A RESULT 11 SECONDS ELAPSE BEFORE DESFORNAUX FEELS HE CAN RELEASE THE BLADE. THE PRESS REPORTED THAT DESFOURNEAUX PUT ON A SLOW, INCOMPETENT EXECUTION IN CONTRAST TO THE MASTERFUL EXECUTIONS CARRIED OUT BY ANATOLE DIEBLER. CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS ON THE BOIS DE JUSTICE SITE AND THE FILMS ON YOUTUBE.

BLINDFOLDS WERE NEVER USED IN FRENCH GUILLOTININGS. ALSO, THE FRENCH USED A BLADE SHIELD ONLY A SHORT TIME. PRIOR TO 1939, GUILLOTININGS WERE PUBLIC EVENTS USUALLY CARRIED OUT BEFORE SUNRISE. THE VICTIM WAS SUBJECTED TO THE HORROR OF SEEING THE GUILLOTINE BECAUSE IT WAS NOT HIDDEN BY A CURTAIN AS IN GERMANY.
Pete26 wrote:
htk wrote:hi pete

but what is the use of the blindfolding (by any means) ? People where shot and hanged without a blindfold.
I think is more efficient (and us north europeans like our efficiency) to do without. There is also no risk of biting, falling or kicking or any sort of disturbance in the process.
As mentioned before most condemned went without any struggle (almost no records of convicts running for their lives !), so they were probably in shock (also probably a reason for the high speed pace from jail to execution site), like the proverbial rabbits sitting still in a floodlight.
Well, in most judicial hangings, the condemned were fitted with a hood just before the noose was placed around their neck while standing on the trap door of the gallows. The purpose of the hood was to hide the facial contortions from the witnesses during the final death struggle. Usually, no blindfold was used while bringing the prisoner to the gallows. However, I have seen photos of a recent Iranian hanging where blindfolds were used, and fell off during the struggle after the condemned were suspended with little or no drop. Iranians often use mobile cranes to hang people. Blindfolds are also routinely used for executions by firing squads throughout the world.

As for being led to the guillotine, I imagine that the sight of the raised blade would cause some people to panic. This is why they used the blade shield on some guillotines. We can see in the Eugene Weidmann's video that no blindfold was used in his case, and there was no blade shield installed on that guillotine either.

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