Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Pete26
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 21 Jan 2009 03:56

I never asked this question before, but here goes:

If a person was placed face down on a fallbeil bench, with his head clamped in the lunette and the blade was lowered onto his neck while suspended by the winch cable, and then without any drop just let go, would the mass of the sledge/blade be sufficient to sever the head from the body, given the very small contact area of the sharpened blade against the neck? (Assume the mass of the sledge/blade to be 60 kg and cable winch pawl not engaged). This would be similar to placing a sharp machette on a person's neck while lying face down on the floor, and then a 60 kg person standing on top of the machette to force it into the neck. It is highly likely that at least the spinal column would be severed, thus killing the person.

I am only bringing this up to illustrate the devastating force when a 60 kg sledge/blade is dropped from a height of about 1 meter on one's neck. In this case it is substantial inertia of the moving mass that will force the blade through the neck with ease.

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 21 Jan 2009 10:08

Pete26 wrote:I cannot see any wicker basket in that picture.

I couln t either,but when you look closely,something with a handle can be seen between the lifted Halsbrett and the head bucket in the backround ,which may be the mysterious basket.Not the picture that I meant though.The one that I mean,is taken from the back of the machine,like those well known pictures seen before.Well,it does not mean very much perhaps,but its a little known picture,at least to me.On the left of the machine,some large wicker basket can be seen,perhaps only there to gather the rubble from the floor in.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 21 Jan 2009 10:15

Pete26 wrote:I never asked this question before, but here goes:

If a person was placed face down on a fallbeil bench, with his head clamped in the lunette and the blade was lowered onto his neck while suspended by the winch cable, and then without any drop just let go, would the mass of the sledge/blade be sufficient to sever the head from the body, given the very small contact area of the sharpened blade against the neck? (Assume the mass of the sledge/blade to be 60 kg and cable winch pawl not engaged). This would be similar to placing a sharp machette on a person's neck while lying face down on the floor, and then a 60 kg person standing on top of the machette to force it into the neck. It is highly likely that at least the spinal column would be severed, thus killing the person.

I am only bringing this up to illustrate the devastating force when a 60 kg sledge/blade is dropped from a height of about 1 meter on one's neck. In this case it is substantial inertia of the moving mass that will force the blade through the neck with ease.

Guess the blade will slice through due to its slanting shape,perhaps only a few centimeters,but possibly enough to sever the spinal chord.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Piotr1 » 21 Jan 2009 17:14

Pete26 wrote:I cannot see any wicker basket in that picture.
"something" like basket? big bowl with handle ? behind the guillotine from the right side

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 21 Jan 2009 17:21

Brandenburg/Gorden.



60 km from Berlin,Brandenburg/Gorden was build from 1928/35 and was ,with 1800 male inmates(no females) the second largest prison in Germany.(The largest was Waldheim,2330 inmates).Situated 6 km from the town of Brandenburg, in the middle of pinewood forests.From the looks of it, it could pass as a sanatorium, rather than a prison.It was an enomous complex for a prison, 225x245 meters.Own hospital(80 beds).To secure the prison, with its glass roofs, the roofs were in wartime painted green,the night lumination red.These colors cancelled eachother out, so that, from above, the prison could hardly be seen at night.In daytime ,everything inside was of a sickening green color, at night an equally sickening red.

Execution room.

In april 1940, the execution room was ready and was inspected by civil servants of the RJM. Quote: "" The two available rooms, used untill now as garages,are transformed into an execution site during the past four weeks.On june 16th 1940, the newly ordered Fallbeil from Tegel arrived and was installed the same day.The building of the execution rooms did not attract unwanted attention, as an extended rebuilding of the prison itself was going on at this time."" In spring 1943, the execution room was added a provision for hanging,but only two movable hooks were installed instead of the eight of Plotzensee.The prisons First Engeneer made the beam from a railroad track.
Immediately beside the execution room, cells were built,housing from 120 till 180 convicts,waiting for execution.
First execution august 22th 1940.
The execution day was usually Monday.As a rule,from 13.00 hours on, during an hour, it was execution time.In the course of the war however, the rest of the week could also be used for executions.
Sometimes,there were no executions for a two or three week period,only to recommence with frenzied activity after that period.The highest execution rate on one day was 42,on august 14th ,1944.During executions, it was for the inmates forbidden to walk the corridors and gangways of the prison.After each execution hour, the blade of the Fallbeil was removed by the Chief Engeneer,for resharpening.

Whenever more than 16 convicts had to be beheaded, the group was divided in two.The first group was processed at 1300 hours, the second at 1500 hours.The condemned had to stand in line, everybody waiting for his turn to be beheadedThe sentence had only two minutes to be carried out.
The verdict was given to the condemned only 2 hours before his execution.In those two hours, he(no females seem to have been executed in Brandenburg/Gorden) had it was felt,ample time to write to his loved ones,and to come to peace with his fate.
When it was time, the condemned had to undress,after the cuffs had been taken off.He was only allowed to put on his trousers(no underwear) and had to hung the jacket loosely over the shoulders.Socks, undergear and shirt, had to be placed ,neatly folded, on a stool in his cell( commom practice in all prisons in Third Reich)He then had to wait in his cell,untill he was called out, and had to line up, or in individual cases, went to the extermination site right away.The cuffs were manufactured in the prisons own Schlosserei,or metal working shop.It often happened that the guards were so nervous,they lost the key of the cuffs ,so that the condemned went into the coffin with his bracelets on.This reduced the amount of cuffs needed,and lead eventually to a shortage. Another type of cuff was developed, not needing a key anymore.


September 1942, the Brandenburg/Gorden complex was called, by officers of the nearby Brandenburg/Briest airfield.
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 21 Jan 2009 17:52

These gentlemen/officers felt that it would be interesing to witness a Fallbeil execution.Their request was denied by the RJM however,as usually,on the grounds that thay had no ""specified task"" during execution activity. Everything possible was done to hide the process. Nevertheless,the local population of the Brandenburg/Gorden area was very quickly informed about the ongoing executions.Things seep through

The last executions in Brandenburg/Gorden took place on april 20th 1945.At noon,some lorrys drove in,spewing out the Rottger extermination team.They were requested to go by train, but at that time, allied bombing made that impossible..
Some 30 condemned had to be executed.One was shot, as an act of mercy, the remaining 29 were beheaded,using one Wachtmeister, who had volunteered,as a replacement for one assistant Scharfrichter,who could not be traced.

14.30, the Russian advance Army, occupied the prison.The Fallbeil was ,in the meantime,loaded onto a truck, and was tossed in nearby Plauer See,were it was recovered after the war, and was send,in full working order,to the Luckau prison, 100 km from Berlin.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 21 Jan 2009 19:59

Paul53 wrote: Whenever more than 16 convicts had to be beheaded, the group was divided in two.The first group was processed at 1300 hours, the second at 1500 hours.The condemned had to stand in line, everybody waiting for his turn to be beheadedThe sentence had only two minutes to be carried out.
The verdict was given to the condemned only 2 hours before his execution.In those two hours, he(no females seem to have been executed in Brandenburg/Gorden) had it was felt,ample time to write to his loved ones,and to come to peace with his fate.
When it was time, the condemned had to undress,after the cuffs had been taken off.He was only allowed to put on his trousers(no underwear) and had to hung the jacket loosely over the shoulders.Socks, undergear and shirt, had to be placed ,neatly folded, on a stool in his cell( commom practice in all prisons in Third Reich)He then had to wait in his cell,untill he was called out, and had to line up, or in individual cases, went to the extermination site right away.The cuffs were manufactured in the prisons own Schlosserei,or metal working shop.It often happened that the guards were so nervous,they lost the key of the cuffs ,so that the condemned went into the coffin with his bracelets on.This reduced the amount of cuffs needed,and lead eventually to a shortage. Another type of cuff was developed, not needing a key anymore.
This process differs from the Pankraz execution process in the following aspects:

1. The condemned at Pankraz were informed of their fate usually about 7 hours prior to execution. Around 9 AM the verdict was read to them. Executions started around 4 PM in the afternoon, and were conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There were some exceptions to this rule, as noon time executions are also recorded in the execution book, and also on different days of the week.

2. After the verdict was read, the condemned were placed into preparation cells with their hands handcuffed in the front so they could write last letters to their loved ones. (Sad to say these letters were never delivered to the intended recipient)

3. When the time came, the prisoners were handcuffed behind their back and the handcuffs were removed after the execution. They were taken to the execution room one at a time, dragged along at a jogging pace by two guards.

4. Other prisoners remained in the preparation cells. There was no standing line of condemned waiting to be beheaded.

5. Once inside the execution room, the condemned had to confirm their identity. The black curtain opened and two executioner's assistants seized the victim. The third one placed his hand over the eyes of the victim, who was quickly placed on the fallbeil bench and the neck clamped in the lunette. The forehead of the victim rested on the leather strap inside the basin. One assistant held the handcuffed hands of the victim, the other held the feet. Then the executioner released the 60 kg sledge/blade. Afterwards the body was removed from the bench and placed in a wooden box with carrying handles. The head was removed from the basin and placed between the legs of the beheaded body. The body was taken to the adjoining room, where it was placed on the floor, with the neck close to the central floor drain so it could bleed. In multiple executions, several bodies were arranged in a star pattern around the drain and left there to bleed. To this day there are visible lines in the concrete where the flowing blood chemically reacted with the floor concrete.

6. The average time for each execution was only 1 to 3 minutes, including the cleanup time. The average number of executed per session was five. The largest number executed in a single session was 29 ( in August 1944).

7. The dead bodies were boxed up in wooden crates, the crates removed around 9 PM and loaded onto a truck waiting in the prison courtyard. The truck delivered the bodies to the Strasnice crematorium where they were cremated at night in secrecy under the watchful eye of the Gestapo. The ashes were buried the next day in a common pit in the crematorium yard.

8. Despite the threat of death, the manager of the crematorium, who was a Czech patriot, managed to save the ashes of most of the victims and after the war these ashes were placed in the Strasnice crematorium columbarium.
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 21 Jan 2009 22:00

Any which way you look on it,its a gruesome business.Over 162 inmates, condemned to death.were spared execution due to the Russian troops overrunning the prison. Among them a group of the so called Blue Division of the Wehrmacht(Spaniards)who formed a gang,looting and stealing things from bombed out ruines,and who were active again when they were set free under Russian rule.
14 inmates were hanged,17 shot in Brandenburg/Gorden.7 inmates commited suicide,6 inmates died a natural death in the institution.
So much for Brandenburg/Gorden prison.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 22 Jan 2009 03:43

The letters were never delivered?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 22 Jan 2009 04:41

Paul53 wrote:The letters were never delivered?
That is what the author of the Zaluji books says. The letters written by the condemned several hours before their execution were censored, and almost always were thrown in the trash. The author smuggled thousands of letters and small packages between the condemned and their relatives, and many of these letters are published in these two books. However, most letters written just before the execution in the preparation cells were not among them. However several such letters were intercepted by the author and delivered to the relatives. Here are two examples. First one is written by Jarmila Zivcova, beheaded with her husband and another female Ruzena Kodadova on 9 September 1943:

"9 September 1943:

Dear Mrs Taskova:

We are here with Ruzena in the preparation cell and at 4:30 we will be executed - us two, and my husband. We believed till the last moment that this would not happen, but unfortunately this morning we had to hear the awful truth that we must die. You were deceived if they promised you that we will be saved. Ruzena is very devastated, her hands shake, so she cannot even...... "

The other one is a few lines on the back of a photograph of their son, written by his parents, who were both beheaded the same day as the people mentioned in the letter above. The note was apparently delivered to their son.

"9/9/43, from your mom and dad:

My dear Jiri, keep this picture, kissed thousand times, in memory of your mother who found solace in it even in the saddest moments. "

Note: Vaclav Zivec and his wife Jarmila Zivcova, who were beheaded on 9/9/1943 in Pancraz prison, were arrested and convicted by the German courts on suspicion of abetting and hiding the parachutists who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.
Their names are listed on the upper tablet of this memorial in Prague(last two names in the right hand column):

http://www.vets.estranky.cz/fotoalbum/V ... iginal/230
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 23 Jan 2009 06:56

Piotr1 wrote:
Pete26 wrote:I cannot see any wicker basket in that picture.
"something" like basket? big bowl with handle ? behind the guillotine from the right side
This photograph shows it quite clearly. It could also be a tub.

http://www.leuninger-herbert.de/frans/ploetzin.jpg

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Jan 2009 12:01

Yes,that s the one.Photo in the book is a lot clearer.See that the blade is still on?Photo is said to have been taken in april 45.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Jan 2009 16:21

Bezirk 5 Hamburg-Stadt,Dreibergen/Buetzow,Wolffenbuettel.


Friedrich Hehr was the original executioner here.
Hehr came 1937 from Stuttgart to Hannover,where he worked as a labourer(not specified)At the same time, he was an assistant of the old executioner Karl Burkardt,who on account of age,would quit his job shortly.(In Stuttgart)First,Hehr took over,until in 1934/35 a re organisation of the judicial system made Reichardt the executioner for that area.Hehr was asked if he was willing to move to another city,and if he was able to behead with an hand ax,for the time being,untill the new guillotine was ready.Hehrs answer was affirmative.Spring 1937,Hehr moved with his family to Hannover and was in the summer, sworn in as the new Scharfrichter for the nordwest and west of Germany.At that time, he was 57 years old,but strongly built and physically sound.Hehr had a lot of travelling to do.He was responsable,until 1943, for Hamburg,Wolfenbuttel,Koln, Koningsberg, Breslau and Kattowitz until new executioners were appointed there.Until 1940, Hehr replaced in Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main/Preungesheim and Berlin/Plotzensee also,and from january till March 1944,Dresden/Halle,because Reindel gave his job up.
After the war, Hehr was hired by the British,for who he had to execute 150 persons.Hehr was praised by the Britisch prosecuter as being ''swift and sure, professional work''
Hehr fell seriously ill several times,during which time he was represented by his First assistant, a certain S.


Hehr had from 1937 till 1945,no fewer that 12 men as assitants,whereby the junger ones were taken into the Wehrmacht.Some assistants were not up to their duties, so that they were assigned(until 1940) with the easy task of holding the condemneds head in order to let it be sliced off straight.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 23 Jan 2009 17:35

Paul,

do you know who beheaded Fritz Haarmann in Hanover on 15 April 1925? Was it Karl Burkardt? Haarmann was beheaded with a guillotine. As you know Harmann's head has been preserved in a jar and is presently kept at the Gottingen medical school. I believe that Piotr posted a photo of it in one of the earlier threads.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 23 Jan 2009 18:01

Pete26 wrote:Paul,

do you know who beheaded Fritz Haarmann in Hanover on 15 April 1925? Was it Karl Burkardt? Haarmann was beheaded with a guillotine. As you know Harmann's head has been preserved in a jar and is presently kept at the Gottingen medical school. I believe that Piotr posted a photo of it in one of the earlier threads.

I have no clear idea but I guess it was Karl Buckart.But I guess.

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