Thanks for your prompt reply.fredric wrote: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.
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.
Fredric, apologies I meant Richard Evans - it is from memory that I recalled the caption. It looks more like a coffin lid to me, but I think in 'RoR' Evans perhaps comments about the cut-out(?) shape being for the victims chin, although I cannot see how this would operate with the lunette aparatus. I haven't been to Ludwigsburg I'm afraid, but the contact telephone number can be found on the net from a museum link on the city website.
This subject is ghoulish, but I am astounded at how little information there is, and resources there are, on Germany's primary method of execution in the 19/20th century. Of course I have very little command of German which does not help! In the UK there is still a peculiar popular pride in the professionalism of long-drop hanging, and the office of executioner. However the office and practice is not associated with totalitarian oppression. I now specialise in postgraduate study of historical perceptions of culture and identity, and as a Scottish child I was fascinated and repelled by the guillotine in the National Museum of Scotland - it was in use from c.1564 to 1710 in Edinburgh, and was and is, affectionately known as 'the Maiden'. It was flat packed in the High Kirk of St Giles in the centre of the city, and usually operated at the Mercat Cross from which royal proclamations were read. There is an element of national egalatarian pride that all ranks of society were executed by this method!
There is a clear photograph here: http://www.scotlandforvisitors.com/maiden.php
When I read about the "White Rose" movement a few years ago, I was astonished that members were executed by beheading, and absolutely gobsmacked to learn that in 1930s Germany beheading with an axe and block occured. Anyway, I hope you don't mind me asking questions about this subject. If I can be of any assistance to you in your research I would be pleased to try and help.
Is the Dachs biography illustrated, and is there much information about the Scholl/Probst executions? I have often wondered if the machine/death chamber at Munich Stadelheim are still in existence.