Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Feb 2009 20:46

The State Prosecuter:'' I even planned to let the future executions happen in the late afternoon hours,so the decision to execute by the Reichsminister der Justiz to be given to the convict, and subsequent execution on 1800 or 1900 hours.This would be the most practical solution regarding the local conditions, and regarding the war situation (bombings)
The unfortunate position of the Stadelheim prison, about two hours drive from the city centre, and the traffic problems caused by the war situation,have forced me to this option.Also, for the way things are going on in the prison, this would mean a relieve as the prisoner did not need to be guarded all the time for the whole night,from prison guards and religious ministers.
This weighted heavily with the authoreties in regard to the amount of the to be executed and to the lack of prison personell.In the evening hours ,the prison docter as well as the prison minister, are on duty.After all, it is more humane to shorten the time between the reading of the verdict to the condemned, and the execution of the verdict to 2 hours, instead of having the condemned waiting for the execution for a whole night.Concluding,I can say that there are a lot of considerations speaking for my proposal.

I know, that after old German use, executions should be carried out in the early hours of day,the thought of allowing the convict to see the light of day once more;What is more ,the earlier executions were thus designed that they took olace in the open;Nowadays, the executions take place in a closed-off space-that can be reached through a tiny courtyard.The few passes that the convict is able to make through these backyards,are not enough to let the convict be aware of the consideration,that a free sky is expanding over him,apart from the fact that most executions take place in the early morning hours in most months,when the sky is overcast.
If the time of two hours between the reading out of the sentence to the convict, and the execution of the verdict to the convict is considered too short,the reading out of the verdict and its subsequent execution, could be from 4 pm till 7 or 8 pm,The advantage is that for those involved, the tram would be available,the guards would not have to defend themselves in relation to their wages,and the waiting time for the condemned,would have been shortened""
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 Feb 2009 21:07

gordon anderson wrote:.................."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
As far as I know, this is written from the point of view of some prison official,or an official of the RJM.In any case, someone closely connected to the day-to-day routine of the prison.Text does not give a clue.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by lokman » 27 Feb 2009 23:38

Pete26 wrote: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.
I don't think the poster is implying that in any way whatsoever - what makes you think this is the case?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 28 Feb 2009 00:26

Paul53 wrote: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.""
Comments:
Now it is clear that the Munchen Stadelheim fallbeil was the old massive 1854 model. This was the only model with a hinged board with built-in leather straps. The reason for the blindfold with rubber edges was to make sure it did not slip off if the prisoner struggled while being led to the guillotine. Rubber lining makes the blindfold adhere much better to the skin of the face. From the description of the execution room, if the condemned were blindfolded, they would not see the fallbeil at all. But they could also refuse to be blindfolded, which is an interesting revelation. I wonder if the Scholls ever saw the fallbeil that beheaded them.
Now for the execution times: When the Pankratz fallbeil was installed, the executions were conducted at 1600 hrs and the condemned were informed of their executions at about 0900 hrs on the same day. So it seems that the Stadelheim suggestion was adopted throughout the Reich. We know that the Schols and Probst were beheaded starting at 1700 hrs, the same day they were sentenced to death by Roland Freisler. However, this was a special case, where the outcome of their kangaroo trial was determined by Himmler himself prior to trial.
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 28 Feb 2009 00:26

lokman wrote:
Pete26 wrote: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.
I don't think the poster is implying that in any way whatsoever - what makes you think this is the case?
The comment is purely philosophical and not directed at the poster.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 28 Feb 2009 00:39

It is hard to tell if this practice was adopted throughout the German empire. There seems to be a lot of difference in the way the various counties executed.Waltenbacher states that the rubber-banded blind fold was only used in three counties.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 28 Feb 2009 00:50

Paul53 wrote:It is hard to tell if this practice was adopted throughout the German empire. There seems to be a lot of difference in the way the various counties executed.Waltenbacher states that the rubber-banded blind fold was only used in three counties.
I meant the execution hours, not use of a blindfold. We know that no blindfolds were used at Pankratz prison for example.
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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 28 Feb 2009 01:26

lokman wrote:
Pete26 wrote: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.
I don't think the poster is implying that in any way whatsoever - what makes you think this is the case?
I do not understand what you mean.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by JTG » 28 Feb 2009 01:42

Pete26 wrote: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.

Albert Pierrepoint thought that compassion was an integral part of his job, together with his expertise...

John

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 28 Feb 2009 02:23

JTG wrote:
Pete26 wrote: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.

Albert Pierrepoint thought that compassion was an integral part of his job, together with his expertise...

John
My take on this is that being an executioner requires a really thick skin. Compassion and killing somehow do not go hand in hand. Especially when most condemned are sentenced to die for purely political reasons, as was the case in the Third Reich.
And many of the Third Reich executioners were fighting amongst themselves to get the most districts to maximize their income. So the motivator was clearly income, not compassion. "Compassion" as I see it was only the facade to make a good impression on their employers.

In the Evans book "Rituals of Retribution" it is mentioned that Karl Gropler served the new Nazi regime so enthusiastically that he habitually raised his arm in the "Heil Hitler" salute whenever he arrived at the execution site and met the state representative, director of the prison, and the prison doctor, chaplain, and other personnel who typically attended executions. This proved to be so embarrassing and out of place given the solemn occasion and gruesome task ahead, that Karl Gropler was directed by the Reich's Ministry of Justice to do away with this overenthusiastic and misplaced display of loyalty to the Fuhrer.
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 28 Feb 2009 02:30

Yes,it was purely a job.The same arm raising goes for Hehr by the way. Hehr was asked to abandon it .

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 28 Feb 2009 14:24

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 28 Feb 2009 14:27

Apparently,there were condemned from Konigsberg prison also among the soap candidates.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 01 Mar 2009 07:45

Paul53 wrote:Yes,it was purely a job.The same arm raising goes for Hehr by the way. Hehr was asked to abandon it .
The "heil Hitler" was attributed to Hehr. He also was known to shout "achtung" to the condemned as he released the blade. Why? Possibly to prove his allegiance to the NSDAP and Hitler and to impart a military precision to the execution. Executioners went to great lengths to demonstrate their loyalty and skill because they were under scrutiny. It was a competitive business and keeping the boss happy was vital to their income. Evans refers to the "intermural" beheadings...and by this I think we can assume he means the constant drive to perform the greatest number of executions in the shortest time to the satisfaction of the officials.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 03 Mar 2009 05:30

It would be interesting to know if the Stadelheim fallbeil was modified at some point by removing the hinged board with the straps, replacing the bench top, substituting a metal basin for the cloth bucket, and perhaps adding a blade shield. Which was done to the Plotzensee machine at some point. It has been mentioned by Fredric that in the interest of speeding up the executions, the bascule with the leather straps was removed and discarded. Were similar modifications done on all type 1854 fallbeils in the Third Reich?

Perhaps there are some photos of the Stadelheim machine in existence that will eventually surface. Until then it will be just a guess.

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