Beheadings in the Third Reich

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red devil
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Post by red devil » 01 Jan 2005 17:10

PolAntek wrote:mty:

I recently finished reading “ I am First a Human Being” – a compilation of the prison letters of Krystyna Wituska – a young Polish resistance member who was captured by the Germans and executed by guillotine. A recommended book.


I knew a polish resistance fighter name of Tadaus Monkovitz (Tadius?), he showed me his collection of medals including The Legion of Honour, Polish equivalent OBE etc.

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Post by knieptang » 01 Jan 2005 18:03

A few years ago I found this book on a german flea market:

Henker
Subtitle:Dokumente menschlicher Grausamkeit - Selbstzeugnisse - Tagebücher und zeitgenössiche Berichte.
Author: John F. Mortimer
Genf, Ariston Verlag, 1976
324 Seiten.

The book can be found at some second-hand bookshops in german language, and the book should be a translation of an earlier print in english language...
Ploetzensee and beheadings in Germany before 1945 are mentioned in the book, I have read this book one time, and one time was enough.

Just as an advice...

Regards Michael

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red devil
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Post by red devil » 01 Jan 2005 18:09

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/Searc ... field.y=14

Its here but cannot find english version which must exist, maybe wrong keywords.

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Post by knieptang » 01 Jan 2005 18:52

@ red devil

Please try ZVAB for another search, prices range from 15-25 €-Euro:

ZVAB: http://www.zvab.com/SESSz40914015011104 ... index.html

Regards Michael

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fredric
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Post by fredric » 02 Jan 2005 03:51

To my present knowledge, Mortimer's book is only in German. It has excellent information and photographs. If anyone locates an English translation, I would like to know.

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Post by knieptang » 02 Jan 2005 20:14

fredric, I have searched through several dozen links, but found the book, published in Geneve 1976, only in german language, sorry.

Regarding the author John F. Mortimer I am looking for more information, anybody has a link or some info about Mortimer...?

Regards Michael

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red devil
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Post by red devil » 03 Jan 2005 00:38

JOHN MORTIMER is a novelist, playwright and former practising barrister. Among his many publications are several volumes of Rumpole stories and a trilogy of political novels (PARADISE POSTPONED, TITMUSS REGAINED and THE SOUND OF TRUMPETS) featuring Leslie Titmuss - a character as brilliant as Rumpole. John Mortimer received a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998. Rumpole was a highly successful tv series about a barrister in court.

http://www.myunicorn.com/bibl5/bibl0553.html


Sir John Mortimer
born April 21, 1923, Hampstead, London, Eng.

in full Sir John Clifford Mortimer English barrister and writer who wrote plays for the stage, television, radio, and motion pictures, as well as novels and autobiographical works.

Educated at Harrow and at Brasenose College, Oxford, Mortimer began writing before he was called to the bar in 1948. The following year he married Penelope Ruth Fletcher (the novelist Penelope Mortimer; …

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Post by Agadanik » 03 Jan 2005 01:22

red devil wrote:JOHN MORTIMER is a novelist, playwright and former practising barrister. Among his many publications are several volumes of Rumpole stories and a trilogy of political novels (PARADISE POSTPONED, TITMUSS REGAINED and THE SOUND OF TRUMPETS) featuring Leslie Titmuss - a character as brilliant as Rumpole. John Mortimer received a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998. Rumpole was a highly successful tv series about a barrister in court.

http://www.myunicorn.com/bibl5/bibl0553.html


Somehow it seems to me that's a different Mortimer...

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fredric
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Post by fredric » 03 Jan 2005 04:05

You are right! The famous British author John Clifford Mortimer, who gave us Rumpole, is not the author of "Henker" , John F. Mortimer.

John F. Mortimer's "Henker" contains a chapter on capital punishment in Germany and anecdotal information about Johann Baptiste Reichhart and other German executioners. It also contains photographs of the guillotine (Prague) and a photo Mortimer claims is of the Richtblock and Henkersbeil used by Karl Gropler. I believe "John F. Mortimer" is a pseudonymn and I may have the author's real name in my archives. Anyway, "Henker" is a good book which covers the role of the executioner worldwide. I concur that it is only available in German, so my "reading" of it was partial...and difficult.

For some more recent information on the fallbeil, those interested might care to check out http://www.berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung/archiv for the 25.5.02 article "Berlins letzte Guillotine".[/u]

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red devil
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Post by red devil » 03 Jan 2005 15:20

Strangely enough he is the only john mortimer who came up in searches using web ferret, which searches search engines!!!

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fredric
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Post by fredric » 03 Jan 2005 22:43

Right! John F Mortimer however can be found if you search the book "Henker"... I am sure he is not the same person as John Clifford Mortimer of Rumpole fame. I wish I knew more about John F.

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Post by knieptang » 03 Jan 2005 23:47

I believe "John F. Mortimer" is a pseudonymn...


I believe that as well, I suppose a native german speaking/writing author behind the pseudonym "John F. Mortimer".

Regards Michael

P.S. I will look into the book tomorrow, maybe the blurb(?) (Klappentext) gives more information about the author...

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fredric
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plotzensee

Post by fredric » 04 Mar 2005 03:21

Has anyone every been in contact with person(s) who worked at Plotzensee during the War or were there subsequent to its seizure by the Soviets?

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Post by F-M-N » 22 Mar 2005 22:07

fredric wrote:John, thanks for the reference.

Note that the fallbeil has no "bascule"...the hinged tip-board...in Nazi beheadings the victim was often just lifted or flung on the board, either face up or down.


Fredric, the Fallbeil in the Prison museum at Ludwigsburg has a hinged board. In a previous picture of the Plötzensee machine there appers to be a board off to the left that Richard Clarck states to be a board. With the speed of multiple beheadings I have often wondered how appaling it must have beeen for the subsequent victims - surely there must have been lots of blood, and I wonder what happened to the cadavers and heads? If blindfolds were not used, maybe the victims were 'backed in' to avoid seeing the machine, but this would have meant facing the downrushing blade!
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fredric
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Post by fredric » 22 Mar 2005 22:37

A bascule or "wagen" certainly was used but as the volume of executions increased, I believe it and many other procedures were eliminated in the interest of speeding up executions. The intermural executions actually became contests among State executioners who would boast of their ability to perform their function literally in seconds...and at two minute intervals. Victims were simply "manhandled" onto the board. The victims were blindfolded (see Reichart biography--Dachs) when tied to the board but as you suggest, this practice could be eliminated and the victim sometimes backed in through the curtain, and placed face up beneath the blade. It is also reported (Polchau) that victims were dazzled by the sudden blaze of light illuminating the fallbeil, lights turned on just as the curtain was opened...thus blinding them. I also believe the blade also was not raised to its full height but just high enough to accomplish its task.

This last information came from the television program, Guillotine, which is available on tape. The information was provided by the curator of the Ludwigsberg museum.

The photo you refer to in Richard Clark's excellent site was one I recommended to Mr. Clark, and sections of his site on the fallbeil were provided by me. The description of the board on the floor is intriguing...it comes not from Mr. Clark or me, but from the caption in Richard Evan's superb book, Rituals of Retribution. I have wondered about the accuracy of the caption and the background of that photograph...its date, etc.

Last, the cadaves were transported from Plotzensee to the anotomical institute (Humbolt Univ.) for dissection under supervision of Dr./Prof. Stieve.

A question: Have you been to the Ludwigsberg prison museum? I need to contact them. It is high on my list if I ever return to Germany. I have been to Plotzensee and had the rare opportunity to view the execution chamber close up.

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