Archive for Genocide

25 January 2010 – ‘Chemical’ Ali Hassan al-Majid

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on January 25 by Old Sparky

“Chemical” Ali Hassan al-MajidThe US army’s so-called King of Spades, ‘Chemical’ Ali Hassan al-Majid, was finally hanged this morning after a stay of execution and several death sentences.

Convicted in June 2007 for his role at the helm of the al-Anfal (or spoils of war) campaign during the late 1980s, al-Majid was originally sentenced to die in October 2007. However, legal complications meant it would take until the end of February 2008 before the death warrant was finally signed by the Iraqi government and there were still some convictions to come. Two weeks ago he was sentenced to death (again) for his role in the Halabja gas attacks in 1988 where over 5000 people are said to have died.

A family affair

He outlived his cousin, Saddam Hussein, by just over three years and the genocides for which he was found guilty resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and he earned his nickname for the chemical weapons he used against them.

Early Ba’ath

A leading figure of the Ba’ath Party as the Iran/Iraq war was drawing to an unstable end, al-Majid was responsible for the ruthless attacks on the Kurdish population in the north of Iraq.

As the rebellious resistance continued, he ordered that entire villages were to be destroyed and the residents were either killed or deported to southern Iraq, as their homes were torn down and their livestock slaughtered.

Hit and miss

Although he was originally thought to have been killed during a US air strike on the southern Iraqi port city of Basra in April 2003, al-Majid actually survived and wasn’t captured until August of the same year.

At his trial, although he was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, he refused to enter a plea, so the court entered one of ‘not guilty’ on his behalf. It seems like they made the right call too, as he went on to refuse to admit he’d done anything wrong throughout the proceedings.

In the end, al-Majid was given five death sentences for his crimes along with lengthy prison terms for a string of other atrocities…that he never got to serve.

He died today, aged 68.

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29 December 2006 – Saddam Hussein

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on December 29 by Old Sparky

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein, the infamous former President of Iraq, was hanged in 2006 for crimes against humanity, aged 69.

He stood accused of a wealth of charges, including genocide involving thousands of Kurds.

At 6.10am Iraqi time, according to the ‘New York Times’, as he swung suspended he ‘never bowed his head, until his neck snapped’.

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28 December 1937 – Finnish Expats

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , on December 28 by Last Writes

Today is a busy day on the execution front, thanks largely to Stalin.

In a KGB killing fest, skilled foreigners, who’d originally been drafted in to help Stalin strengthen Russia, met their deaths.

After Stalin had taken control of the country by fair means and foul, he’d embarked on his five-year plan – this comprised rigorous farming quotas and enlisting skilled labourers among other things. Where there was a skills shortage he looked elsewhere.

Canada and America happened to have a wealth of Finnish expats who’d settled across the Pond. But they were easily seduced by Communism and the lure of an egalitarian society where they could help make a difference.

And they did for a while until the very leader who had welcomed them into Russia turned on them.

For Stalin was getting paranoid. Party members were starting to vote against him and no wonder. His reforms for the greater good were relentless and they claimed the lives of many.

With waning popularity and the irresitible rise of right-wing Fascism rife throughout the rest of Europe, he began to hunker down.

Foreigners bore the brunt of his genocide. This included 141 Finnish expats.

In 1937, Samuel Ivanovich (Juho) Eskola, August Olavich (Olavi) Hakkarainen and Andrew Osvaldovich Hannula were three of many to face a firing squad. Exactly one year later Evert Stepanovich (Teppo) Helin and Karl (Kalle) Karlovich Huuki met exactly the same fate among others.

Of course, Stalin didn’t stop there. Millions were deemed to be expendable in the Russian purges – sentences ranged from hard labour, to deportation and death.

25 December 1989 – Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , on December 25 by Old Sparky

Nicolae Ceausescu

Nicolae Ceausescu

Who needs a televised ‘Queen’s Speech’, when you can watch the demise of a dodgy dictator on the box instead.

So the bullet-riddled bodies of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu graced Romanian TVs on this day in 1989. They were executed by firing squad for crimes against the state.

Good thing went at last

Ok so he promoted agriculture and trading ties with the likes of China and the West, but it didn’t take him long to realise he was on to a good thing. And the once Communist leader soon became corrupt and started siphoning off public funds in true dictator style.

Couple this with poor foreign policies and all too soon the people started to lose the faith.

The tide turned in December 1989 when the despairing masses rose up and overthrew their incumbent leader.

But that wasn’t enough. The public demanded more. Ceausescu was tried and found guilty. And the punishment was death.

Bodies of evidence

Ceausescu and his wife both faced their firing squad on Christmas morning, and to satiate the Romanians’ desire for proof, their corpses were emblazoned on tv as the ultimate Christmas present to a disgruntled nation.

And a merry Christmas to all our readers too.

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13 September 1946 – Amon Göth

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , , on September 13 by Old Sparky
Amon Göth

Amon Goth

At the risk of perpetuating a myth, the 13th did indeed prove unlucky for today’s unsavoury individual.

There was once an unwritten rule that if you cheated death during execution in earlier centuries, then you walked free. Not so in the 20th century and certainly not in the case of Amon Leopold Göth, who hit the gallows on this day in 1946, in one of the most protracted deaths on our site.

Göth-ic horror

Just the mere mention of his name is enough to spark dread in anyone with an ounce of compassion. Let’s not forget how he redefined depravity with his sadistic methods fuelled by his appointment as commandant of one of Poland’s most gruesome concentration camps – Płaszów, in Krakow.

Göth was a monster, plain and simple. With no sense of humanity, he wielded the power vested in him as leader of his labour camp, and used it to obliterate literally thousands of inmates.

Indeed, he was about as hands-on as they got, responsible for pulling the trigger on around 9,000 innocent Jews himself, shrouded in his genocidal blood-lust.

This is perfectly illustrated by Ralph Fiennes’s Oscar-nominated1 portrayal in Steve Spielberg’s Oscar-winning ‘Schindler’s List’, which famously brought Göth into present-day consciousness. Who can forget the scene where Fiennes takes a carefree pot-shot at one of the camp’s inmates from his balcony?

Koch up

Not only was Göth hell-bent on exterminating Jews, it was clear he was in it to get rich after he was found caught up in a web of black-market activity.

He was deeply entrenched in a complex embezzlement scam, along with fellow commandant Karl Otto Koch, who was 1st Commandant initially of a German camp in Buchenwald and later of Madjanek in Lublin, Poland.

Along with others, they were guilty of a varying mix of forgery, insubordination, mismanagement of camps, and, above all, siphoning off riches, especially those confiscated from Jews.

With twisted logic, the Third Reich branded the men thieves, because all goods commandeered through whatever means immediately became state-owned by the Nazis.

Koch on the block

Damning evidence emerged and Koch’s neck was first to go on the block after the syphilitic man was found guilty of double murder. He was dumped in front of a firing squad before the close of the war on 5 April 1945, according to ‘The Third Reich, a Revolution of Ideological Inhumanity, Volume II’, by Everette Lemons.

So Göth would have stood trial had he not dodged his first date with death. For the Allies were blowing the Germans out of the water in what has turned out to be the bloodiest war ever to have broken out in modern times.

In the midst of such a shattering defeat, the Nazis hurriedly dismissed all charges and Göth was released only to be caught again, this time by the Allies and forced to face trial for his more heinous war crimes.

Naturally he was found guilty and, fittingly, he was to be executed not far from the very site where he had killed and authorised the mass extermination of countless innocents.

Göth-ic revival

But his was not a quick exit. The executioner tasked with stringing him up miscalculated the length of rope needed to dispatch him…twice.

So, in a long and protracted process, Göth took centre stage three times as they attempted to hang him. On the last attempt the executioners were successful, and Göth expired, aged 37.

Other Nazis met a similar fate during the early days of the Nuremberg Trials, including Anton Mussert and Adolf Eichman.

However, many key Nazis followed and they too were sentenced to death. In terms of who was best equipped to carry out those consequent hangings, there was only one man for the job.

Albert Pierrepoint was chief executioner in a mass post-war dispatch. He made quick work of the likes of the Beast of Belsen and 22-year-old Irma Grese, all with consummate ease. Watch out for their stories later in the year.

It’s widely understood that Pierrepoint was of the opinion that anyone who had paid this ultimate price had atoned for their crimes and should be respected in death. Yet, in these particular cases, the Nazis we describe never exhibited any such humanity with regard to others’ lives or deaths.

1 Ralph didn’t win his particular Oscar though because the Hollywood glitterati thought Tommy Lee Jones was better in ‘The Fugitive’. Which could almost have featured in our Top 10 Movie Executions list if it wasn’t for the fact that Harrison Ford’s character (Dr Richard Kimble) solved his wife’s murder before the sentence of death (by lethal injection) was administered. But we listed ‘Schindler’s List’ so, hopefully, this makes Ralph feel better.

Also on this day

13 September 1806 – James Stockton
13 September 1823 – Edward Clarke
13 September 1924 – Howard Henson

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7 June 1951 – Oswald Pohl

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , , , on June 7 by Last Writes

Oswald Pohl Simply carrying out orders – that was Oswald Pohl’s weasely defence for his integral part in the Holocaust. A high-ranking official, he was tasked with distributing people between the various concentration camps.

Inhuman

But it can’t have just been duty that provoked Pohl to wield such heartless powers of authority with such relish. Nowhere is there evidence of his own inhumanity than in his own words. In a letter to Himmler, he acknowledged that Jews’ hard-earned wealth was now the Reich’s and that prisoners should be forced into hard labour.

In 1942, he wrote to Himmler:
‘The mobilisation of all prisoners who are fit for work, for purposes of the war now, and for the purposes of construction in the forthcoming peace, come to the foreground more and more.’
This is an example of how dispassionately he was able to employ prisoners in constructing a future in which they had no part to play.

Zealot

Maybe he was a ‘simple functionary’ but he, together with Himmler, saw to it that a gruesome master plan was carried out of their own creation. This plan was Himmler’s vision to annihilate Warsaw.

‘…the living space which accommodated 500,000 subhumans and was never suitable for German would disappear and that the city of Warsaw…will be reduced in size, having always been a dangerous centre of rebellion.’

‘Subhuman’? This is pure evidence of Himmler’s macabre and warped view of his fellow men – and Pohl never once stopped to question this evil over-zealousness. The irony is apparent, for it was their very actions that will always remain subhuman. They literally hoovered up anything of value, exterminated the Jewish population en mass – 56,000 in one fell swoop – then levelled most of it.

Not only that, but Pohl was happy to support the equally sinister medical experimentation – happily feeding prisoners to labs across the Third Reich. Indeed, he was heavily involved in exploring the possibility of cultivating a plant that would render the females within the Jewish population sterile – all in keeping with Hitler’s genocidal wish to eradicate them from Europe.

Terminated

So, while Pohl must have been able to rationalise his inhumanity in his own head, he had, by his own hand, unwittingly and incriminatingly left a trail of damning evidence that he was more than just a pawn under orders. Not only that, but, after the war, he went into hiding, which suggests he had unsavoury actions to conceal.

So on this day, after the Nuremberg trials, Oswald Pohl was found guilty of war crimes against humanity and hanged at Landsberg am Lech in 1951, just a few weeks shy of his 59th birthday.

Also on this day

7 June 1821 – Tudor Vladimirescu
7 June 1922 – Henry Julius Jacoby

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1 June 1962 – Karl Adolf Eichmann

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on June 1 by Old Sparky

Adolf EichmannExterminate was the order of the day for Karl Adolf Eichmann in 1962. Following a life dedicated to being a self-promoted ‘Jewish specialist’, he was executed for war crimes against humanity.

For Eichmann had been tasked with keeping ‘em coming – and he did, stocking up Jews on overloaded trains bound for concentration camps in line with the Nazi Germany’s heinous ‘Final Solution’. Indeed, during the Second World War, he was encouraged to find ways to dispense with Jews and literally clear them out of German-occupied lands.

Interestingly, early on in his career as a ‘Jewish specialist’ he is said to have gone to Palestine in 1937 for talks on mass immigration of European Jews back to the Arab states. But unconfirmed reports suggest he was forced out of the country by the Brits.

Genocide

The following year, he then set up shop in Austria where he established the Central Office of Jewish Emigration in Vienna – which allowed him to commandeer all Jews’ worldly goods in return for safe passage out of the country. It was a real money spinner and a huge success, so they rolled it out in Prague and Berlin.

By the onset of war in 1939, he was needed back at base camp, so Eichmann was drafted back to Berlin to sort out the Jewish population in his homeland. There his particularly macabre career really kicked off and the serious genocide began. As the head of a division of the gruesomely evil Gestapo, he began carrying out the orders to exterminate Jews in Germany using SS Einsatz troops.

Grave details

But as the war continued Jews and other influential people in other countries became vulnerable – they took over Poland and started killing off people in high places, as well as Jews. Similarly, they targeted people in Russia too. During this time over 300,000 Jews were bumped off – taken to quiet corners and just gunned down in summary executions, often near anti-tank ditches. The bodies were then interred en mass in these ditches.

Both Eichmann and Himmler are said to have witnessed such events and according to many sources, blood gushed out of huge graves ‘like a geyser’ prompting Himmler to order different tactics so his men wouldn’t have to endure such bloody scenes.

Gas men

So the gas chambers were born…first of the wheeled variety, vans with deadly chambers into which exhaust fumes were piped. They had already started carting victims off to concentration camps and labour camps, but they now started picking the infirm or the ones unable to work off to be executed in bulk.

Indeed, such was the inhumanity that they disguised Auschwitz-Birkenau’s chamber as a shower room, which could apparently dispose of 2,000 people in one pop. Six million are said to have been killed by both methods by the end of 1944.

By 1945, despite Himmler’s orders to stop, Eichmann appeared to be so obsessed that he continued to kill in Hungary.

Escape

Thankfully, the end of war, in the same year, hailed the end of Eichmann’s murderous marathon. Stopped dead in his tracks he was incarcerated in a US prisoner of war camp, but, because no-one really knew about him, he was able to escape.

He wound up in Argentina under the assumed name Ricardo Klement, where he remained for 10 years with his wife and children in Buenos Aires, before Mossad finally caught up with him.

It was largely down to Eichmann’s son that they apprehended him. He’d been boasting to his girlfriend who ironically was of Jewish descent. Her father shopped Eichmann once he was sure of his ties with Nazi Germany.

Satisfaction

It was fitting therefore that Eichmann was shipped off to Jerusalem – the heartland of the Jews – to be tried for his crimes. It is said that such was his satisfaction at having killed so many innocent people, that he is once alleged to have said ‘he would leap laughing into the grave’ because he’d killed so many Jewish people.

During the trial, US naval officer Michael A. Musmanno testified that Hermann Göring had exposed Eichmann during the Nuremberg Trials as being the one responsible for the who, where and how in terms of the Holocaust.

But when it came to it Eichmann couldn’t understand why he was being had up for murder, saying ‘Why me? Why not the local policemen…? Why me? Everybody killed the Jews.’ Needless to say Eichmann was found resoundingly guilty of his crimes, nevertheless that didn’t stop him appealing the decision.

At rest?

It was hardly surprising that his appeal was refused and he was hanged in Ramleh on this day in 1962, in what has become Israel’s only civil execution to date. Apparently he refused to wear the execution hood, and in his final words, he spoke of his love of Germany, Austria and Argentina.

So it must have been with profound enmity that they cremated him and his ashes put out over international water so his body would never rest in on country, nor have a grave.

Poignantly, one of his sons was scathing of his dad’s war crimes and even went as far as to say he bore no hate towards Israel for having him killed.

Also on this day

1 June 1660 – Mary Dyer

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