Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Pete26
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Guillotine executions in Weimar

Postby Pete26 » 06 Dec 2015 05:16

A good article on Weimar executions. The city of Weimar in Thuringia was one of central executions sites of the Third Reich. The guillotine was an old wooden one from mid 1800's and it stood in the courtyard of the District Court building. It is not clear if this old guillotine was replaced with a Tegel type towards the end of the war. There were requests to do so as number of executions steadily increased, due to many problems with the old guillotine. A total of 197 people were guillotined in Weimar between 1937 and 1945.

Image

http://media101.zgt.de.cdn.tlz.de/conte ... 379576.JPG
District Court building in whose courtyard stood a tall wooden guillotine.


http://www.tlz.de/web/zgt/leben/detail/ ... -333307613

https://translate.googleusercontent.com ... _uPp0RAyYA

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Jozefat Sikorski

Postby Pete26 » 21 Dec 2015 04:01

Jozefat Sikorski was guillotined in Berlin Plotzensee prison on 20 March 1942.

Image

http://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=OIP.M5e9 ... 9&rs=0&p=0

http://www.sikorski-family.com/JOZEFAT4.html

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Poznan fallbeil photos

Postby Pete26 » 21 Dec 2015 23:25


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fredric
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby fredric » 22 Dec 2015 04:41

Good discoveries... seven images I have not seen before. Thanks!
I guess we all know the block and portions of the fallbeil are displayed today in the Fort IV museum. Much of the fallbeil must have fallen into the
hands of "collectors" or been discarded.
Could the spots on the floor be bloodstains?
The hammer must have some significance because it is featured in three photos. Why are rubber gloves used when holding the hammer and why is
it shown along with the fallbeil?
Excellent find. Thanks again.

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wm
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby wm » 23 Dec 2015 20:57

The pictures were made by a local photographer Zbigniew Zielonacki, shortly after the Germans fled the city. They show a crime scene/site visitation. Here are all the pictures he made a that time.
The description says the hammer was one of the tools used by the executioner.

The man here in the middle is, if I'm not mistaken Emil Rapport - a Polish Jew, judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland (before and after the war).
Image

Below a year later, the same city, Rapport sentencing Arthur Greiser to death.
Rappaport.jpg
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Last edited by wm on 24 Dec 2015 02:09, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby Pete26 » 23 Dec 2015 23:48

It is hard to imagine what would an executioner do with a sledge hammer. This hammer looks way too large to be used for fallbeil maintenance. Hopefully he or his assistants did not use it to hit struggling victims on the head to knock them out prior to beheading. Using rubber gloves while wielding such a hammer would suggest this type of purpose. Maybe they used the sledge hammer to hit the top of the fallbeil sliding frame to force the blade down if it got stuck above the victim's neck? There is no recorded evidence of doing something like this at any Third Reich fallbeil execution sites. Perhaps they used the hammer to force the gallows pit trap door open if they got stuck? In the photo showing the gallows pits you can see a single lever with which all trap doors were apparently controlled.

The fallbeil floor drain is the largest of any execution room I have seen so far. In the photo showing a man holding the head basket, you can clearly see the drain cover with a handle on top. No doubt this cover was necessary when maintaining the fallbeil to prevent tools from accidentally falling into the drain through the grate.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby grootend » 26 Dec 2015 19:19

The answer is quit simpel, dr. Watson: the sledgehammer should be used by the guards to dismantle the fallbeil. Why is the blade removed? Cause they want to make disapearing the whole fallbeil. They removed the easy parts like the blade and use the sledgehammer to torn the fallbeil in pieces. So they can thorn the parts in the river or burned the wooden parts. It will cost me three minutes with this sledgehammer to complete ruine the fallbeil!
But I think they were interupted by dismanteling this executionroom, the Red Army was to close by and especially the guards were affraid to be excecuted on the spot. They were not members of the Salvation Army, so a lot of inmates want to take revenge.

Greetings,

Holmes

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby Pete26 » 27 Dec 2015 00:37

grootend wrote:The answer is quit simpel, dr. Watson: the sledgehammer should be used by the guards to dismantle the fallbeil. Why is the blade removed? Cause they want to make disapearing the whole fallbeil. They removed the easy parts like the blade and use the sledgehammer to torn the fallbeil in pieces. So they can thorn the parts in the river or burned the wooden parts. It will cost me three minutes with this sledgehammer to complete ruine the fallbeil!
But I think they were interupted by dismanteling this executionroom, the Red Army was to close by and especially the guards were affraid to be excecuted on the spot. They were not members of the Salvation Army, so a lot of inmates want to take revenge.

Greetings,

Holmes


The discussion was about the wording on the bottom of the photograph depicting the sledge hammer and the rubber gloves as "the executioner's tools" (katowskie narzedzia in Polish). It is most likely an erroneous conclusion on part of the photographer because there does not appear to be any purpose for such a large hammer to perform fallbeil executions.

As for dismantling the fallbeil, the tool of choice would be a proper fitting wrench, or at least an adjustable wrench. I seriously doubt one could easily remove the blade with a sledge hammer. The bolts holding it to the sliding frame are large in diameter and strong, and the blade itself is about 18 mm thick. Maybe the wooden parts could be broken up with a sledge hammer and maybe that's what they intended to do, but for some reason didn't.

If you look closely at the photographs, you will notice that in addition to the sledge hammer there is a wrench lying on the fallbeil bench. So they definitely used that to remove the blade. The frame uprights are bolted to the base with several bolts and nuts, those too need to be removed with a wrench and perhaps a hammer can be used to knock out the bolts once the nuts are removed.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby wm » 27 Dec 2015 01:11

The mystery is what the boy was doing when he was holding the hammer in front of the fallbeil. As if the hammer was so important for something. And wearing the gloves although they weren't needed for anything.
And why his upper body is bent forward so awkwardly.

Thinking about it - bolts could be knocked out with the wrench too, no need for a hammer here, especially so heavy.

As to the disrupting it should be mentioned the siege of the city lasted almost two months, they had lots of time to dismantle the fallbeil.

But here they say it was a constantly getting stuck guillotine (wiecznie zacinającą się).

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby Pete26 » 27 Dec 2015 04:14

wm wrote:But here they say it was a constantly getting stuck guillotine (wiecznie zacinającą się).


This is significant. If the guillotine sledge/blade was frequently getting stuck, this would explain the use for a large hammer. If the blade got stuck above neck of the prisoner being guillotined, then the executioner and assistants had to act quickly. Most likely they would bring down the winch hook and connect it to the sledge lifting eye, and then they would either hit the sledge frame on top on one side slightly to unstuck it and then winch it up to the top and let it fall again. Or hit each of the sledge legs slightly from below in the upward direction. Not much room was available for a full swing, so a heavy hammer would come in handy for this purpose. And this would even explain the rubber gloves - those were probably worn by the assistants whose job it was to clean up after each execution, and maybe that job also involved freeing a stuck blade.

Let's suppose that the blade got stuck while partially slicing through the prisoner's neck. What would be the most likely course of action on part of the executioner or his assistants? To grab the heavy hammer and hit the top of the sledge to force the blade all the way down? Perhaps the execution protocol would not permit such action and they would have to reconnect the hook and try to free the sledge, winch it up and let it fall again.

And another idea for the use of a hammer, which is not probable. From various guillotine execution accounts we know that the decapitated body will sometimes contort and bend upwards, so in some cases a stiff metal rod was supposedly placed on the victim's back to prevent this (Plotzensee executions). Could they have used a heavy hammer with a long handle for this purpose in Poznan? Possibly, but I think that such a use is highly unlikely.

So in conclusion, if the hammer was indeed used during guillotine executions, I believe that the most probable use for the hammer (and rubber gloves) was to free the stuck blade on the fallbeil. Some early Tegel fallbeils, such as Vienna fallbeil, were notorious for sticking sledge/blade.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby grootend » 28 Dec 2015 16:01

The blade was already removed, it,s clearly visable on one of the photo,s.
If the blade stuck, they could use the block and the axe. The block was also photographed.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby svenga » 28 Dec 2015 23:47

I believe the hammer was probably used as mentioned above as a general purpose tool, for tapping out blade bolts upon being sharpened, possibly for a jammed sledge or mechanism too. It was most likely sat to one side if ever needed, as an engineer and hands on person I understand and appreciate the simple nature of something like a Hammer and how handy it could be, even in that environment!.

As for the boy wearing the gloves holding the hammer rather awkwardly?..

"Stand there my boy, hold the hammer and look up to it in shock" I can here the photographer saying.. being heavy to a boy could be the awkward stance and slight rest against the bench he is posing.. Holding the hammer as to say it is something significant? Everybody knows photographers/media, wether it was a grim and morbid scenario and topic they were covering in the first place, there is always more room for exaggeration and further horror! Perhaps they were suggesting the hammer was being used brutally within that room...

Afterall remember the Germans were accused of eating babies during the 1st world war.

On a final note.. Look closely at the hinged splash/lever guard... It looks like this particular machine had a pebble or dimple effect on these two plates? It could be a trick of the camera, if not I have never seen another Tegal with this touch.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby wm » 29 Dec 2015 00:56

As to the photographer - he wasn't working for the media, he was working for the city administration, and because he was a photo enthusiast - for himself. The photos are from his family archive, and haven't been published till now.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby Pete26 » 29 Dec 2015 02:40

svenga wrote: Look closely at the hinged splash/lever guard... It looks like this particular machine had a pebble or dimple effect on these two plates? It could be a trick of the camera, if not I have never seen another Tegal with this touch.


The splash shield is made of crinkle texture material, most likely sheet metal. Possibly a homemade replacement for the original splash shield which apparently had smooth texture surface. Perhaps they replaced the original because it was not providing adequate protection from splashed blood and the new shield was made somewhat larger? Compare this to the smooth texture shield on the Moabit Tegel fallbeil:

https://ghb67.files.wordpress.com/2011/ ... ine-24.jpg

As for the morbid environment - it must have been awful to die this way it that tiled 'bathroom' of horror. I have previously posted how some Pankrac fallbeil victims waiting for their execution expressed total revulsion at the thought of being beheaded in an enclosed room.

Remember that Poznan was one of the most active central execution sites of the Third Reich, right after Plotzensee and Brandenburg Gorden. At least 1680 people were executed in this room. This Tegel fallbeil indeed saw heavy use during its active years and the industrial slaughterhouse size floor drain in front of the fallbeil was evidently designed to be that large for a good reason. The openings in the floor drain grate are so large that they had to fabricate a drain cover, evidently to prevent tools from falling into the drain during fallbeil maintenance.
if you look closely at the photograph of the man holding the head bucket, the floor drain cover appears to be splashed with blood. Note how deep the head bucket is and how the leather strap is routed through the cutouts almost in the middle of the bucket sides.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Postby svenga » 29 Dec 2015 10:04

Replacement splashgaurd is a possibility, why? To me it does not look any larger than the original ones fitted.. Possibly damaged at some point, they may be well built but after so many operations things can deteriorate.

Did poznan have curtains between the drop chambers and guillotine? Was there a Curtain before the fallbeil? Something I have pondered for a while.

There is reference to curtains in earlier years if I remember rightly, but as time went on was this passed.


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