Beheadings in the Third Reich

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gordon anderson
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by gordon anderson » 03 Jun 2009 08:59

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
Hello Pete,It isn't available anymore--- what was it ? Describe it please. Thanks

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 03 Jun 2009 23:54

gordon anderson wrote:
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
Hello Pete,It isn't available anymore--- what was it ? Describe it please. Thanks
Sorry, I fixed the link in my original post. It is Mary Stuart's execution scene from an Italian movie. Actually, unlike the clip shows, it took three strokes of the axe to behead her, and the job had to be finished with a knife, for a small amount of tissue was not severed. She was wearing a wig to her execution and when the executioner picked up the head by the hair he thought was real, the head slipped out, fell and rolled along the ground. This is also shown in the clip. Immediately after beheading it was discovered that her small lap dog was hidden in her robe and began whimpering right after the execution and could not be calmed down, refused to eat and later died. This was not shown in the clip. Mary Stuart was executed on 8 February 1587 in the great hall of the Fotheringay castle in England. The castle was destroyed early in the 17th century and there is nothing left of it now except for the moat.

The relevance of this clip to Nazi axe beheadings is that the technique was just as crude and very dependent on the skill of the executioner. And there were some botched axe beheadings in Nazi Germany too. Even though the axe executions of Benita von Falkenhayn and Renate von Natzmer were performed as expected, Hitler was apparently unnerved by this and ordered that all future beheadings be done with a guillotine. It is chilling to realize that such medieval methods were used in the 20th century Germany.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by gordon anderson » 04 Jun 2009 03:29

Thanks Pete, The younger man in the clip (Essex ) is also beheaded later in the film ---happily at one stroke. I had wondered if the clip could be ElizabethI (in English on DVD)
Also Paul, aren't there hopefully more descriptions and more information on the fallbeils in the book---their manufacture their history --annecdotes etc? I would hope so as the book is so rigorously detailed.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by JTG » 04 Jun 2009 03:34

Aren't we at risk of sliding into "Off Topic" territory?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by David Thompson » 04 Jun 2009 04:31

JTG -- If the off-topic discussion goes much further, I'll end it. After all, the subject is not beheadings generally, but beheadings in the 3rd Reich.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by gordon anderson » 04 Jun 2009 04:38

Also Paul, aren't there hopefully more descriptions and more information on the GERMAN THIRD REICH fallbeils in the book---their manufacture their history --annecdotes etc? I would hope so as the book is so rigorously detailed.gordon anderson
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Pete26
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 04 Jun 2009 05:04

I would like to know if there was some kind of an ID plate riveted to the fallbeil frame after it was manufactured, or at least some code numbers stamped into the metal for ID purposes. There appears to be nothing at first glance, but I am sure that upon very close examination, something like this would be found if it existed. Gordon, you had a chance to examine some of these machines closely, is there anything like that anywhere? Do individual blades have any stamped ID markings? Maybe other parts, such as the winch?

If such a machine was made today, there would probably be at least 10 warning stickers all over the machine (of course meant for the operator(s), not the condemned).

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Executions with the Axe in Germany

Post by fredric » 04 Jun 2009 06:31

The German richtbeil and richtblock as well as the techniques and protocol followed by sharfrichters were more sophisticated than in Tudor England. The sharfrichter's axe was a massive tool, heavier and wider than the English axe. Roland Friesler himself defended its use as manly and the RMJ actually issued a response to criticism in the foreign press that axe beheading was crude (see Evans). Sharfrichters such as Carl Gropler and Reindel, leading executioners in the 1930's, supported the use of the axe, saying it was fast, easily concealed and in the hands of an expert, a device that cleanly did its work with a single blow. The richtblock was more elaborate than the Tudor era block. The richtblock had metal rings through which cords from the victim's hands were passed and then pulled tight to force the victim forward and into the block. From three to as many as five assistants were employed to secure the victim to a horizontal table. (This was not done in England;the victim simply knelt or was dragged to the block and forced into a kneeling position.) One of the Sharfrichter's assistants actually acted much like the French "photographer" and pulled the head forward, stretching the neck across the block. The execution rarely took more than a single fall of the axe and a "draw" of the razor-sharp blade across the block. Individual instances where the execution was botched (see Evans "Rituals" for examples) met with sharp repromands from the Reich Ministry of Justice and even dismissals. The head fell or was placed into a prepared sand "well".

There is no documentation that Hitler was appalled by the beheading of the two women spies (Natzinger and Falkenhayn). His unoffical "p.r. man" Putzi Hanfstangle (an American) however did speak out about the damaging image a top-hatted axe-swinging headsman cutting off womens' heads (the same women) gave to the emerging Nazi state. I have not seen evidence Hitler personally ordered the axe replaced by the fallbeil.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 04 Jun 2009 10:36

Fredric: yes,there is much evidence that the execution of von Natzer and Falkenhayn caused some commotion abroad,which would have been the only reason for the Fuehrers decision to swich over to the Fallbeil;

Gordon: At the very first beginnning of the Waltenbacher book,I gave some info on its design by the Technical Institute in Berlin,with Reindel as advisor.Did not do word by word at that time yet though.So will come back to that.(You may reread this post but in time I will do the WBW translation of the whole part)

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by gordon anderson » 04 Jun 2009 12:13

Can you give me the date of that post or quote it now ? thanks

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 04 Jun 2009 19:21

Gordon,the post in question is on page 133.(last post)

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 05 Jun 2009 19:16

Prisoners as Scharfrichter.


Wih the exception of the Scharfrichter in Poznan and Prag, all the executioners in the Third Reich fullfilled their duties in various Justice Execution sites.Abroad, that is, those sites not in their residences,were served via railroad or by car.To prevent a limitating factor from building up in relation to the contracting of new Scharfrichter,the RJM was depending on an absolute reliability of these means of transport.But the bombing offensive was increasingly devastating to the transport infrastructure,especially to the key traffic areas in the large cities.In the final war years also, delays of trains could not be avoided.Also, delays in the execution times were unavoidable.
Following an order of the Reichs Minister of Justiz, it was considered necessary to assess in November 1944 the possibility of using prisoners-that were at hand anyway in the institutions-as executioners to take the place of the contracted Scharftrichter from ""outside"" for carrying out the death sentence.

Considered were especially those ,who were sentenced to death but were pardoned.The assistant Scharfrichter squad too should consist of inmates.The responsible Chief Officials in the Ministry were divided in their opinion.How would the inmates be chosen?Were the inmates to be employed out of their free will or not?

""It is very conceivable,that inmates simply are given the order to comply without their approval;.with volonteers however, it is to be reckoned with that one has to deal with inmates that are driven by more or less sadistic impulses;the large amount of applications for function as Scharfrichter,that has reached me as time went by,supplied me with a lot of cases of sadism or inclination to atrocities being the driving motivation behind the application""

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 05 Jun 2009 19:32

To solve these questions,the opinion of two General attourneys was asked:"" I would respectfully ask you,to offer your opinion regarding these questions, from the point of view of the Punishment execution authority.Will it pose problems to deploy inmates for these tasks?Would the rigid regime, the security or the order in the prison be at risk at any time?Perhaps it would be advisable to take up these questions with the Leader of the Institution A}Brandenburg/Gorden, and B}Halle.""

At this time, both Brandenburg/Gorden and Halle were in considerable use, but were both well functioning sites with their own execution department.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 06 Jun 2009 14:26

The General Attourney of the General Judicial Area Naumburg,Hahn,expressed in regard to the execution site in Halle correctional facility)after discussing the matter with the warden and the prison docter)

""The execution of the Death Sentence as a State Main Act has an inherent worthiness and festive character(yes,a literal translation of the text),that impressed me,every time that I had to witness an execution.The same effect does this way of execution has on the public opinion,as ,thanks to the severe rules of secrecy,the details of the procedure are veiled with a certain mysterious darkness.Without doubt, this is the reason of the repelling effect of the execution,although on a rather small scale.
The effect would however be diminished somewhat,if it were known to the public--unavoidable and to which I shall come back later__that the sentence was not carried out anymore by the secrative and elusive personalities of the Scharfrichter and his assistants,but by inmates of the prison in question.
Regarding finding the willing inmates,it will not be easy.In my opinion, only inmates reporting for this task out of free will, are to be considered.Because the process of execution needs__this is my impression everytime__a great amount of energy and determination and a will to act,without which I could not imagine an unhindered execution procedure.""

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The film "Klic"

Post by Pete26 » 07 Jun 2009 05:30

Has anybody seen the Czech film "Klic" (pronounced "Klitsch", meaning a "key"). The film was made in 1971 and is about resistance fighters in Prague during the Nazi occupation, after the assassination of R. Heydrich. If you click on the second picture of the photos shown, you will see a young woman in the Pankratz prison execution room with the guillotine and executioner in the background.

http://www.fdb.cz/filmy/10279.klic.html

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