Archive for February 1

1 February 1968 – Nguyen Van Lem

Posted in Shot with tags , , on February 1 by Old Sparky

Nguyen Van Lem The dying moments of Nguyen Van Lem’s execution are set as pieces of indelible visual history.

The Pulitzer-prize winning seconds leading up to Lem’s execution were captured by photographer Eddie Adams and became iconic and emotive images charting the Vietnam War.

The gut-wrenchingly graphic picture shows Nguyen Van Lem’s getting a bullet in the brain, right there in the streets of Saigon. Believed to be a suspected guerrilla, his activities as a member of the Viet Cong earned him a swift and unflinching execution.


Poignant though the photos were, American photojournalist Eddie Adams was to regret the lasting damage that picture did to the career of Lem’s executioner. Why? For all the things the picture didn’t say. Said Adams, ‘What would you do if you were the General at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?’

Innocents ditched

Brigadier General Nguyen Ngoc Loan was the executioner that day and, Nguyen Van Lem, (AKA Captain Bay Lop), was the commander of a unit tasked with assassinating people. According to Inopedia, Lem’s unit had just ‘finished executing the wives, children and relatives of South Vietnamese police officers. Thirty-four bound and murdered civilians were found’ dumped in a ditch.

Lem was therefore summarily executed following a fierce gun battle during what was known as the Tet Offensive and the General, a policeman himself, used his very own firearm to do the job.

But the picture doesn’t tell you that, and Adams later felt compelled to apologise to General Nguyen for the debilitating effect it had on his career and reputation.

Also on this day

1 February 1944 – Franz Kutschera

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1 February 1944 – Franz Kutschera

Posted in Firing squad with tags , , , , on February 1 by Old Sparky

Franz KutscheraAustrian-born SS officer Franz Kutschera was executed today for committing Nazi war crimes against the Polish nation. He stood accused of the mass murder of innocent people in Warsaw.

From humble beginnings, he worked his way up – his fanaticism for the Nazi cause helping to underpin his advancement.

It was in these positions of power that the murders were said to have taken place, while Kutschera was an SS general in during the Second World War and Gauleiter (or party leader) for Carinthia.

Publicly executed

He was found guilty of war crimes and genocide by the Polish Home Army and the then exiled government. The 39-year-old was shot in front of his former employer’s SS headquarters, right in the centre of Warsaw, by the members of the army.

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