Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Feb 2009 19:48

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Feb 2009 19:51

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Feb 2009 19:54

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Feb 2009 20:17

The man on the left is obviously a news reel reporter.Did not notice it before publishing these photos here.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 24 Feb 2009 02:47


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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 24 Feb 2009 03:23

Paul53 wrote:Sorry, I had computer trouble for several days.

This Werner Gladow was ,from the article, an admirer of Al Capone and imitated him as much as he could. He formed a gang around him,and worked his way up from petty thefts to bank robbery and a raid on a police station to collect firearms.
The first death victims fell at a botched bank robbery.Gladow commited the crimes in west Berlin ,and every time, fled to east Berlin were the west police had no jurisdiction.
Finally,Gladow was betrayed by one of his gang members to the east German police,in the house where he lived with his mother.After a firefight of a full hour,in which his mother assisted him by reloading his two pistols and pointing out targets, Gladow(18) received a well-placed slug in a leg,and was apprehended.

He was sentenced to death in Frankfurt an der Oder(the second Frankfurt,a short distance from the Polish border,so in East Germany,in 1950 together with two gang members.They had to give three blows with the Fallbail,Gladow screaming madly all the while.The job was finished the third time. The state prosecuter,who was present, fainted.

A few films were made of the Gladow gang. In one of the films, the constant drone of the allied planes( the Rosinenbomber,the raisins bombers)supplying west Berlin during the Russian blockade, is constantly audible in the backround.A plane is said to land every three minutes.
It seems to me that the blade actually got stuck in his neck, hence the screaming. It had to be particularly gruesome if the state prosecutor actually fainted. What I envision is that when the blade was first dropped, the sledge got stuck in the frame, but the blade evidently descended upon the neck and partially cut through it. Then, the second try probably cut some more through the neck but still did not finish the job. In the meantime, blood is spurting from the partially severed neck and the condemned is screaming from both pain and terror at the top of his lungs, while the executioner frantically reattaches the cable hook to the sledge, raises it and let's it fall. Twice more. Who knows, maybe he needed to push on it with his hands on the third try to sever the neck completely. But this is just speculation on my part. But it had to be badly botched for a grown man to faint.

I also found in one of the published articles on the Gladow gang, that the prosecutor himself (the one that fainted during the execution) was sentenced to two years in prison in 1951 for improper conduct. Supposedly he was drunk when he witnessed the execution of Gladow, and also revealed some gory details about the execution itself to others, which was against the official policy. There was apparently also a perception that the Gladow gang trial was conducted improperly from the prosecution standpoint.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 24 Feb 2009 11:50

Interesting info Pete.The text says that the blade stuck, but it is unclear on which part of the downward travel.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 25 Feb 2009 00:38

Paul53 wrote:Interesting info Pete.The text says that the blade stuck, but it is unclear on which part of the downward travel.
There may have been a good reason why the fallbeil malfunctioned. By the time this execution took place, the old experienced guillotiners were either retired or disappeared. Gladow's executioner was probably someone not familiar with the fallbeil maintenance or its quirks. The fallbeil could have been set up improperly, or insufficiently lubricated, or wrong lubricant was used. It the machine was a Tegel, it is more probable that it would malfunction, given improper set up and maintenance. There is a reason for that. The old 1854 model was a much more massive, and more reliable machine. The release mechanism is a good example. It uses a solid rod rigidly connected to a large diameter horizontal shaft, which is in turn rigidly connected to the massive forged steel blade release claw. A very simple, yet very rugged mechanism, which is essentially bulletproof. Even if it is neglected. Not so on a Tegel. A much cheaper, flimsier, and more malfunction prone blade release mechanism is used on that one. If not lubed regularly, this spring loaded release mechanism could easily stick and malfunction. It is obvious that Tegel machines were built with cost savings in mind and were not built to last. They were undoubtedly more troublesome than the old 1854 models.

If you recall the Pankratz fallbeil video in which the guard presses the blade release lever on the Tegel fallbeil and the blade does not release. He tries several times with no success. Gustav Volpell, who is a controversial self-professed executioner, mentions that the fallbeil he used "had to be kept well oiled" to keep the sledge from getting stuck.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 25 Feb 2009 08:27

Yes,that makes sense.Although the Tegels arent that flimsy,and seem to me to be quite solidly constructed.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 26 Feb 2009 01:20

Paul53 wrote:Yes,that makes sense.Although the Tegels arent that flimsy,and seem to me to be quite solidly constructed.
When I used the word flimsy, I was referring to the release mechanism in the above post. Even if the fallbeil frame is very robust, it is the precision and adherence to tolerances on both the frame and the sledge that will determine how reliable the machine will be. I suspect that the workmanship on Tegels was inferior to the old 1854 type fallbeils, because they were built inside prisons by prisoners and quality control was most likely not emphasized.

But sometimes lack of quality control when making execution equipment can save a life (or maybe it was divine intervention)?

http://www.executedtoday.com/tag/the-ma ... -not-hang/

Werner Gladow was not so lucky.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 26 Feb 2009 20:44

Reichart continued.



Convinced as he was of the validity of his system,Reichart turned on august 20th 1940,with a letter to the RJM in Berlin:"" After the procedure has been carried through in different ways in the Reich,for example strapping of the convict,putting on the blindfold,having the convict to sit down at informing him of the sentence,and so on,I Respectfully request the Herrn Reichsminister,to grant my wishes as followes:
The strapping of the convict hinders the execution,because some are not capable of standing or wal;king anymore,others have to be carried and have to actually be placed on the machine;as is known to the RJM, the new machines do not have a strap bench anymore,which is undoubtedly an asset;
I regard the blindfold as unnessesary,and request the Herrn Reichsminister for instructions on this for the whole empire.""

Both procedures, the blindfold and the strapping, were believe it or not, not in accordance with the orders for the procedure ,given by the RJM, and after some trouble convincing several of the people in command, were abolished in the former outer Prussia areas.When executions could also be carried out by hanging,after 1943, Reichart constructed in the Stadelheim prison,a hanging system with a long drop, of which he passed the design to the RJM. Who turned it down in favor of the already known and tried ,simpler short drop system.

While the other Scharfrichter were not in the public eye anymore after the war,Reicharts name was heared in relation to his war activity, and the post war activity he deployed serving the US occupational forces.This was all the more noticable because Reichart took part in the discussion between supporters and opponents of the capital punishment,publishing his war activities.On orders of the US military Gouvernment, Reichart executed over 100 death sentences in the framework of the Post War trials, in Landsberg am Lech prison.From character, Reichart was more emotional than the other Scharfrichter.After the war, he was described by the author of the book ""Vollstreckt"",Will Berthold: ""Reichart arrived on the minute punctually, a slim man with thinning hair,middle height,.An every days face, but a face of a man who went through a lot in his life,wrinkled and lived out.He introduced himself halfloud, had a firm handshake,and a shy,if also suspiciuos smile,that gave way to a trustworthy face the moment he became to know one better.He spoke quickly, slightly stammering, in a northern Bavaria dialect.His type was that of a land labourer,who had found work in a neighbouring town.He reached at 65,13 years after the war, the age for retirement.He wore a dark suit, much too cheerful for this day and this hour....clearly a good piece,like the farmers put on when they had to visit relatives on sunday in some neighbouring town...The sunday suit was elegant, but worn. I had the nagging thought that he could have worn this suit while performing executions...Reichart pointed at himself:I have only this one..""

Another person (Dachs) who met him in 1944,described him as ""elegantly dressed, a very friendly man""

I will continue with Muenchen/Stadelheim.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 26 Feb 2009 23:46

Does it really matter to the condemned whether the executioner is friendly or not? The only thing that matters is how competent the executioner is.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Feb 2009 00:39

Yes of course,I only give an impression.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Feb 2009 18:38

Muenchen/Stadelheim.
Part 1.

The central execution site for the Bavaria and Franken area was housed in Munchen/Stadelheim prison,and was from 1937 onwards, one of 11 central execution sites in Germany.Average inmate population 782 male, 151 female.A description from 1940,gives a view of the execution building:""The little extension serving as execution room in Stadelheim, consists of two rooms, separated by a large black curtain.In the front room, the verdict is once again read out for the condemned. In the back,behind the curtain, the execution apparatus is located.At the reading of the verdict, the condemned sits with the back to the curtain.After the reading,the condemned is binded with a blindfold with rubber edges.At the same time, the curtain is raised.With the eyes blindfolded, the condemned is brought quickly to the Fallbeil,strapped on and beheaded.Applying the blindfold is not carried out when the convict requests so.""

As the prison Muenchen/Stadelheim already had a usable Fallbeil,the deliverance of a new Berlin/Tegel made one, was not needed.Already in November 1941, the institution was not able anymore to supply enough cellroom for the the newly arrived death candidates.The personell,involved in the execution procedure, could not cope with the increased amount of executions,and proposed a change in the execution time.
"" In Muenchen/Stadelheim,there are now 26 people waiting for execution.Although in the last few days,9 persons were executed and two were pardoned, the total number of convicts does not decrease by the constantly newly arriving condemned.As usual, the execution warrants are given to the convicts at 6 o clock in the evening, and are executed at 6 am the following morning.The large amount of executions does raise the question,whether the considerable difficulties,that are formed every time by this procedure at the time of execution, could be solved by execution at another time of day.The persons ,taking part in the executions,are living in remote parts of the town.As there are mostly several executions on one day,where several State Prosecuters from several districts are to be present,the executioners have to be picked up by the small prison car,which can house only three persons, as the tram is not available at this early hour.The executioners have to be ready to be picked up already at four o clock am.It is already difficult for the driver of the car, to find, in the dark of night, the various adresses of the people involved in the execution,living as they do in the most varied parts of Muenchen,the car trips are themselves dangerous because of the frozen and snow-covered streets.Delays cannot be avoided.The prison officials lack sleep most of the week,yet are bound to their duty in daytime.Members of their family are also disturbed in their nights rest by the early rising of those involved.Regarding this last point, especially the prison docter, dr Klage,is concerned.In the night before execution, usually 8 to 10 guards are involved for guard duty, which means that ,lacking the necessary personell,the guards on duty are in the long run seriously overworked.
All of these problems may be solved,by changing the hitherto established time of execution.Those involved, could use the tram, petrol would be spared,the personell could be called on for duty when already in the prison on their dayly job,the extra expenses for night duty could fall away.I therefore request to consider the possibility to hand over the convict the decision for execution at 9 in the morning,and to establish execution time at 5 or 6 pm.""

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by gordon anderson » 27 Feb 2009 19:56

.................."I therefore request to consider the possibility to hand over the convict the decision for execution at 9 in the morning,and to establish execution time at 5 or 6 pm.""

Paul, can you inform of us who is speaking during the long quoted section? Is the the Prison Director, Reichhart ?? Who

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