Iconic moments in history litter this week, for the executees coming up are interspersed with men caught up in some of the most damaging wars throughout the world.
Old Ollie Cromwell was dug up and re-executed in an act of gratuitous retribution for his central role in the overthrow of the monarchy during the English Civil War. He predates a World War I soldier, formerly branded a deserter, who’s since been posthumously absolved.
And finally rage against the machine – a German who dared to speak out against the Nazis during World War II, plus an award-winning photograph that seemingly captured the full horror of the Vietnam War, and yet hid so much…
29 January 1913 – George Mackay
The 13th year of the 20th century was definitely an unlucky one for George Mackay. He was sent to the gallows on this day for murder. Mackay was hanged in Lewes prison for killing Arthur Walls. He was 29 when he was executed.
30 January 1661 – Oliver Cromwell (posthumously)
In the ultimate act of vengeance, the dead corpse of Oliver Cromwell was dug up from Westminster Abbey, then hanged, drawn and quartered in 1661. Cromwell’s body was exhumed so he could be posthumously executed for treason.
31 January 1945 – Eddie Slovik
US World War II Private Eddie Slovik became the only deserter out of 21,000 soldiers to be executed. General Eisenhower is said to have given the go-ahead so his death could be used as an example to others. Previously while training, Slovik had asked to be transferred to a non-combat post. But he had been refused, because they needed men on the frontline.
1 February 1968 – 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.
2 February 1945 – Carl Goerdeler
Being brave enough to speak out against the Nazis lost Carl Friedrich Goerdeler his head. Still, it managed to make it onto a stamp, so all was not lost. The German politician was beheaded for daring to put up a feisty counter argument against the fascist regime in the lead up to the Second World War.
3 February 1998 – Karla Faye Tucker
Even finding God suddenly on death row couldn’t save Karla Faye Tucker as she waited her turn to be executed in 1998. Karla Faye Tucker was sentenced to death for hacking two people to death in a drug-induced robbery. Miraculously while awaiting her fate, Tucker became a born-again Christian.
4 February 2004 – Johnny Leartrice Robinson
‘How do you tell someone I accidently shot a white woman?’ asked Johnny Leartrice Robinson in his defence as he faced his murder charge. He was on trial for killing 31-year-old Beverly St. George, who’d broken down on a highway en route from Florida to Virginia.