Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Pete26
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Re: Plotzensee(rare photo)

Post by Pete26 » 27 May 2009 06:18

A few comments:

According to the article, 677 Czech patriots were executed in Plotzensee. Czechs were the second most frequently executed nationality here, second only to Germans.

The process of execution is described as follows (loosely translated):

The condemned were brought in from the death cells on the first floor of the cell block, adjacent to the execution shed. They were brought into the front part of the execution room strongly illuminated with electric lights. The executioner and his helpers were already waiting there. On the table covered with black cloth there was a crucifix and two burning candles.
The guillotine was hidden behind a black curtain in the back part of the execution room. The entire execution lasted only 9 to 11 seconds (from the time the victim was turned over to the executioner). The intervals between individual executions did not exceed 3 minutes.

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 May 2009 09:11

It is sobering to realize that we are discussing the fate of only a dwindeling small minority of people executed by the nazis in WW2.I just finished reading the book ""Masters of Death""by Richard Rhodes,about the Einsatzgruppen activities.They executed some 1,5 million people by shooting and later,with gassing vans.Combined with the starving of Russian pow s,the Jews and other groups, the nazis were directly responsible for about 21 million deaths,apart from casualties of war.Even the 6 million murdered Jews are a minority,compared to the amount of Russian , Polish and Slav people killed.

Fine info, especially the picture of the Plotzensee Fallbeil, that I never saw before.The iron door on the left is still there presently.
Shooting seems to be the most used method of execution in ww2,followed by hanging.Beheading seems to have been comparatively rare.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 27 May 2009 14:17

Considerations.


Execution by electrical current.

As a result of the war situation and of the economy resulting from that,there was a constant shortage of industrial raw material , of nourishing and especially of available labourers in the Third Reich. Because of this,In the Reichsjustizministerium,people were increasingly sensitive of this fact as the war dragged on,and were looking for a more cost effective means of executing the Death Sentence.In november 1943, the Reichsjustizministerium ran tests on the possibility to execute death sentences using electrical current,as in several states of the USA.

Assessing the possibility of using this sort of power in the existing execution sites,a delegation of the RJM viewed a water power works on the Elbe river where prisoners of the ""Elberegulierungscamp"" were employed.

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Coswig prison

Post by Pete26 » 28 May 2009 04:51

This photo shows the entrance to the Coswig prison execution chamber. The guillotine was supposedly in operation until 1956. Anybody has more info?

Image

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 28 May 2009 17:12

"" An engeneer,the constructor of this water power station,took the lead with this view of the premises and showed us,among other things, the electric power unit.He held the opinion,that the electric power used was thus, that it would be lethal for every human,and that it would be easy to convert this power with very minor adaptations to execute convicts in some execution facility with,and that this way of execution would lead to the death of the convict within fragments of seconds. He pointed out the required adaptations in a discussion.I consider the thought of using electrical current for executing the death sentence to be worthy of closer inspection and I would ask you, Herrn General Staatsanwalt(supreme State Attourney)to ask the engeneer, if he is willing to make a proposition-which will be paid for.

In case that he is willing to do this,and the fee that he is presenting is within the boundries that we agreed upon earlier,I would request to order him in writing, to propose the technicalities for such an execution site and to specify,what kind of technical constructions were neccesary for execution, and to manufacture the drawings needed to prove his proposal.
I would be grateful when he would comply with this and would clarify his comments in this case.""
Last edited by Paul53 on 28 May 2009 22:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Coswig prison

Post by Piotr1 » 28 May 2009 20:55

[quote="Pete26"]This photo shows the entrance to the Coswig prison execution chamber. The guillotine was supposedly in operation until 1956. Anybody has more info?
here you are , but in German :-
http://edoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/ser ... xky?hosts=

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 28 May 2009 22:10

Fine material Piotr.Where did you find it?The execution protocol seems to follow exactly the pattern that we know of the nazi era.

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Unique photo-Butzbach fallbeil

Post by Piotr1 » 29 May 2009 04:46


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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Piotr1 » 29 May 2009 04:50

Paul53 wrote:Fine material Piotr.Where did you find it?The execution protocol seems to follow exactly the pattern that we know of the nazi era.
google :-) You're right.Practically the protocol was the same as in Third Reich

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Pankratz fallbeil bench mystery

Post by Pete26 » 30 May 2009 01:05

Some time ago we discussed the discrepancy between the flat wide bench shown in the Zaluji Books photographs and the present concave bench on the Pankratz Vienna style Tegel fallbeil.
I found this article in Czech that hopefully clears up the mystery:

http://www.atlasceska.cz/praha/pankracka-veznice

According to the article, the fallbeil was taken apart shortly before arrival of the Russian Army in Prague. The wooden parts were burned and the metal parts were thrown into the Vltava River from the Karl Bridge from three different locations. The metal pieces were all recovered and the fallbeil reconstructed. This means that the reconstructed fallbeil as it exists today, does not have the original wooden parts such as the bench, the legs, or the heavy wooden base under the legs.

However, it is certain that the Zaluji book photos were taken shortly after the liberation of Prague, so after the fallbeil was recovered and reconstructed. The fallbeil in the photos is shown with a crude flat bench that seems too wide for the vertical frame. I believe that this incorrect bench was made in order to rebuild the fallbeil quickly and at some later date the correct concave bench was built from fallbeil drawings or pictures of similar fallbeils.

The question remains however why and when was the original Pankratz Tegel style fallbeil with a vertical pull rod release replaced with a Vienna style Tegel with a horizontal release lever.

We have seen photos of the original Pankratz Tegel (first one posted by Gordon) taken at some point before or while the fallbeil was operational. Nobody seems to know what happened to this fallbeil and where it is today. No photographs have surfaced of the second Vienna style Tegel taken during its operational life, only after its reconstruction.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 02 Jun 2009 18:15

Based on the info sofar,it can be concluded that the slim legged Tegels were only a minority of the additional Fallbeil constructions during the war.As Andre once pointed out I believe.
Considering this, one would expect a economy which is saving as much as it could on war critical material,,to construct execution equipment this way. But there is a problem with this, as steel was considered to be of much greater importance than wood was.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 02 Jun 2009 21:50

""a. To the question whether electrical current would need special conversion stations,high voltage leads or similar contraptions for the execution sites,to which I may add, that the Jusice execution sites do not have in general a direct lead to high voltage, but are connected to the regular currence net consisting in the city of question;
b. Whether his proposals do have any chance at all to be realized in the current situation of shortage of raw material,and consruction-and deliverance constrictions.""

W. a constructional civil engeneer,specialized in the construction of water power works,was bound to follow the lead of the Reichsminister for Armament, Albert Speer.""On his order, the water power works serving a plant of the German explosions Chemical factories was built.W does not have special knowledge in the field of electrics, does have however a strong interest in the project presented to him,and would declare himself willing to work out an according proposal at a fee.He himself remarks the following about this:""

Reichsminister Speer has forbidden all the German engeneers to be employed in solving any other problems than were crucial for the war effort;this goes also for side issues.He, W, was since the beginning of the war,in gouvernamental service.A condition for beginning work on the assigned job would be the allowance of the superior command-Speer-which would depend on the question whether this project had war important qualities;

In case that he was to be had the allowance,he would have to contact special firms in order to be able to make up the
plans,in which case he would also take into account the deliverance possibilities,the required time span,material conditions , prices and the like.He can state already now, that even when the project would be classified as an SS. urgent project,some 12 months of deliverance time would have to be counted with.""

The amount of costs for the proposal would have been between 12 000 and 15 000 RM .That killing a human by means of electrical current could be a lengthy process was proved by experiences from the USA.Not a few General State Attourneys took a defiand stand to this procedure.The thought, to let execution take part with the use of electrical current,was finally abandoned by the RJM.After all, Fallbeil machines did the job also without current available.

Another thought occured to the RJM in the case of using prisoners in order to rationalize personell employment in the execution activity business.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 03 Jun 2009 03:11

Quite interesting that Nazis contemplated using electric current to execute prisoners. In a way they did kill quite a few in this way: some concentration camps had electrified fences and sometimes prisoners would commit suicide in despair by throwing themselves on the fence.

As bloody and ghastly as a fallbeil beheading is, execution by electric current is hardly any less revolting. The skin turns brick red, the body temperature rises to about 140 degrees F, and often stench of burning flesh accompanies the execution. This happens even when the execution proceeds smoothly.

Typically, a self contained generator is used to generate the required current, so the old myth about electric lights in the building dimming while somebody is being electrocuted is just that - a myth. About 2000 Volt potential is necessary to induce the current flow of about 10 amps through the body - this corresponds to skin resistance being as low as 200 ohms. Skin resistance varies from several hundred ohms to many thousands of ohms, so it is imperative to use brine soaked sponges where the electrodes make contact with skin, to lower the skin resistance to as low value as possible.

As little as 0.050 amperes (50mA) of current is enough to cause heart fibrillation and death. 10 amperes is 200 times the treshold lethal current.

In the US, most electrocutions were followed by a mandatory autopsy, which included sawing through the top of the skull and removal of the brain (e.g. Sing Sing prison electrocutions). So one could say that the condemned were partially beheaded after the electrocution. This was done no doubt to ensure that nobody would survive the electrocution. They were obviously not trying to determine the cause of death. :roll:

In a beheading execution there is no need to worry about anybody surviving the execution if the head is removed. . People have survived hangings, shootings, even an electrocution when the chair partially malfunctioned, but nobody has ever survived a complete beheading. Which makes it a fool proof execution method.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 03 Jun 2009 05:02

Do you find the beheading scene realistic? It is only a movie, but still the scene is graphic, as it shows a botched axe execution. Axe executions, as we know were common in Germany in the early part o the 20th century, and even in the early years of the Hitler's reign.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LE3Y3w3gQ4
Last edited by Pete26 on 03 Jun 2009 23:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 03 Jun 2009 08:06

Pete26 wrote:Do you find the beheading scene realistic? It is only a movie, but still the scene is graphic, as it shows a botched axe execution. Axe executions, as we know were common in Germany in the early part o the 20th century, and even in the early years of the Hitler's reign.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LE3Y3u3gQ4
For some reason I cannot get access to this video.But the Germans were very aware of the difficulties met in the USA with electrocution.Through their foreign office,they asked ,and received, material about electrocution already in the late 30s.It was well known to them that autopsies showed the brain of the executed to have ""a consistency of baked bread""
Of course,this did not prevent the proposal.But beheading remained the surest way of all.

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