Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 00:23

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 00:35

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 00:50

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 27 Jan 2009 03:21

Thanks for the interesting photos, Paul. I would like to discuss several issues. The first one is about the autopsy room and scharfrichter's quarters in the execution shed built in Wolfenbuttel. Were all these contained within the same building? Did they actually conduct autopsies on the dead bodies? What exactly was the purpose? They knew why they died so they were definitely not trying to determine the cause of death. Odd as it seems, autopsies are not all that uncommon following judicial executions. For example, they were conducted by law in the US Sing Sing prison after the inmate was electrocuted. Some said that the real purpose of these autopsies was to make sure that nobody cheated the electric chair. Whereas there is a small probability a person could survive a no drop hanging, surviving electrocution is very remote, so one could see why autopsies done following such executions would make sure nobody left alive. But a beheading? Chances of surviving that are exactly zero. So why an autopsy? Maybe it was done for purpose of performing some medical experiments?

Second subject is providing sleeping quarters for the scharfrichters in the prison where executions are taking place. This was a common practice in 20th century England. The executions were typically conducted early in the morning and by law the executioner had to arrive at the prison the night before, so he had to sleep on the prison grounds and the quarters were provided, as well as food. Was there a similar law/rule in the third Reich? Is seems that most executions were done in the afternoon hours, so the scharfrichter could arrive at the prison an hour before, or so. This was the case of Johann Reichart arriving at Stadelheim prison about an hour before the scheduled execution of the White Rose conspirators at 5 PM.

About the pictures:

In the photo of the Poznan fallbeil room, what is the purpose of the short lever on the left upright? The blade release lever is a long vertical rod visible in the picture.

In the photo of the Tegel fallbeil without any background, no blade release rod is visible, but again there is the short pull chain attached to a short pivot. Is this some kind of modified blade release mechanism?

The photo of the Mannhart fallbeil shows the tipping board in the near horizontal position, but there is a slight incline to it. Would this board become completely horizontal with a person on it? The massive blade release mechanism is clearly visible. This is by far the most reliable, and foolproof design. Solid massive rod with with rigid linkage directly connected to the blade release claw. As reliable as it could be. It is safe to say that the Tegel design was a giant step backward as far as quality and reliability of the machine.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 27 Jan 2009 05:47

Paul53 wrote:As for Fredricks re mark about the head strap:I found it a bit dfficult too,to believe it was only introduced 1940,as Waltenbacher says.In the 80 or so years that the Mannhardt was in operation, the problem would certainly have occured more.BTW,Waltenbacher gives a reason why Reindel quitted the job:he was prosecuted,so to say, by the tax department.His income as executioner,and the income he had from his knackers business,were added and taxed for the previous 5 years.Reindel suddely found out, that he earned less than his assistants.They (RJM) tried to persuade him to stay,but Reindel had had enough.
If Waltenbacher asserts that the headstrap was introduced in 1940, he has not done much fact checking and research. The headstrap dates back to 1854. This raises the possibility that other information presented as fact may be wrong. I am still very interested in what he has to say. Reindel (Ernst) had a history of complaining about his salary to the RMJ and they were glad to see him leave. See Evans. I believe you said Waltenbacher does not cite his sources?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 12:01

Some reactions, first Fredrick.

Waltenbacher gives a very long list of his sources (306) documents ,among them 5 books.He based his research on study of the original documents of the German Bundesarchiv,and that seems to me sound thinking.In some places however,he may be wrong(remember Evans,who did not mention Tegel once in his superlative work) but this does not mean that the entire study is of no value, far from it.I only think that it is better to have as many sources as possible at one ''s disposal,as in fact,we do....
In a recent post, I gave the source of Waltenbachers documents:
Bundesarchiv/alt R 22/Informationsdienst des Reichsministers der Justiz.
Handbuch der Justizverwaltung, Stand 1.1.1942/Bearb.in Buro d.RJM
Landeshauptarchiv Brandenburg/Rep 214/nr 32 und nr 3
plus 5 books that I shall publish the titels from shortly(have to leave now)
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 17:47

Books that Waltenbacher mentiones:
Werner Maser/Harald Poelchau Der Mann der tausend Tode starb.
K.Rosa:Todesstrafen-was gilt als human?
W Bertold- Vollstreckt.
T.Karel Zaluji- Pancracka kalvarie
Otto Schweling- Die Deutsche Militaerjustiz in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus.

further the study of 295 original documents of th RJM.

The author did publicize his sources,Waltenbachers study is to me one of the most interesting and thoroughly foundated studies published sofar on the topic and a solid contribution to this field of investigation.No historian in his right mind, would risk his reputation by publishing unfounded and vague stories,and expect to get away with it.You are an historian yourself..The book has to me all the marks of a well carried out research.A slight misunderstanding,but Frederick, your remarks are very well to the point.
Here is what I think happened with the Lacking Head Strap Story of Hehr:for some reason, the head strap was removed from the Wolffenbuettel Fallbeil, perhaps it was broken or frayed or otherwise damaged. Human nature being what it is,the already overworked Scharfrichter probably felt they could live with it(no pun intended) as long as the head was held.After all, Wolffenbuettel was only one of the execution sites that they had to serve , and to keep the machine in top shape,was the responsability of the prison.Things worked out well,but only so long, until the assistant was hurt.Then, the matter was looked into more profoundly.
Waltenbacher did not mean to write a history of the German Guillotine, he was only digging out its Nazi use.Nothing in the text suggests that he had knowledge of the previous demands that the execution equipment had to answer to.
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 18:17

Pete26 wrote:Thanks for the interesting photos, Paul. I would like to discuss several issues. The first one is about the autopsy room and scharfrichter's quarters in the execution shed built in Wolfenbuttel. Were all these contained within the same building? Did they actually conduct autopsies on the dead bodies? What exactly was the purpose? They knew why they died so they were definitely not trying to determine the cause of death. Odd as it seems, autopsies are not all that uncommon following judicial executions. For example, they were conducted by law in the US Sing Sing prison after the inmate was electrocuted. Some said that the real purpose of these autopsies was to make sure that nobody cheated the electric chair. Whereas there is a small probability a person could survive a no drop hanging, surviving electrocution is very remote, so one could see why autopsies done following such executions would make sure nobody left alive. But a beheading? Chances of surviving that are exactly zero. So why an autopsy? Maybe it was done for purpose of performing some medical experiments?

Second subject is providing sleeping quarters for the scharfrichters in the prison where executions are taking place. This was a common practice in 20th century England. The executions were typically conducted early in the morning and by law the executioner had to arrive at the prison the night before, so he had to sleep on the prison grounds and the quarters were provided, as well as food. Was there a similar law/rule in the third Reich? Is seems that most executions were done in the afternoon hours, so the scharfrichter could arrive at the prison an hour before, or so. This was the case of Johann Reichart arriving at Stadelheim prison about an hour before the scheduled execution of the White Rose conspirators at 5 PM.

About the pictures:

In the photo of the Poznan fallbeil room, what is the purpose of the short lever on the left upright? The blade release lever is a long vertical rod visible in the picture.

In the photo of the Tegel fallbeil without any background, no blade release rod is visible, but again there is the short pull chain attached to a short pivot. Is this some kind of modified blade release mechanism?

The photo of the Mannhart fallbeil shows the tipping board in the near horizontal position, but there is a slight incline to it. Would this board become completely horizontal with a person on it? The massive blade release mechanism is clearly visible. This is by far the most reliable, and foolproof design. Solid massive rod with with rigid linkage directly connected to the blade release claw. As reliable as it could be. It is safe to say that the Tegel design was a giant step backward as far as quality and reliability of the machine.

Pete.

The autopsy quarters were somewhere in the vincinity of the execution shed, but it is not clear from the text,where they were exactly.Same goes for the quarters of the Scharfrichter.As far as is clear from the text( but will come tothat later) from the side of the German Anatomical Institutions, there was a great interest on obtainig material from executed persons, because this tissue material was"" freshly cut out, from mainly young persons,who would never have ended up on a dissecting table normally""(Stieve)
So the medical influence in organizing these dissecting rooms was strong, and apparently,was not lost on the RJM.Safe to say that they were cutting out interesting material for their research,organs and the like.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 18:26

sleeping quarters for the Scharfrichter.

Do not know of a law covering this, but it is known that every ting possible was done to keep executions secret.Direction regarding this: :""It is not desirable for any Scharfrichter to spend the night in a public Hotel,or to have a common meal together with his assistants, in a way that could cause attraction""(Waltenbacher,page 43)From an early stage on, the executioners were requested to overnight within the prison, so as to keep the whole procedure shielded from view.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 18:28

Poznan execution room photo: the lever may be the safety pin, but the photo is too blurred for me to see it clearly.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 18:46

    On this block, and with this Beil, Renate von Natzer and Benita vo Falkenhayn,wre beheaded on february 18th 1935, in Berlin-Plotzensee prison,by Karl Gropler.

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    Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

    Post by Paul53 » 27 Jan 2009 18:49

    On this block and with this Beil, Benita von Falkenhayn and Renate von Natzer were beheaded on febr. 18th 1935 by Karl Gropler.

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    Wolfenbuttel prison and fallbeil

    Post by Piotr1 » 27 Jan 2009 21:28


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    Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

    Post by Pete26 » 28 Jan 2009 00:15

    Paul53 wrote:
      On this block, and with this Beil, Renate von Natzer and Benita vo Falkenhayn,wre beheaded on february 18th 1935, in Berlin-Plotzensee prison,by Karl Gropler.
      I did not realize they were beheaded on an invisible block with an invisible axe. :wink:

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      Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

      Post by Paul53 » 28 Jan 2009 01:04

      The posting went wrong as you might have guessed :lol:

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