Archive for World War II

23 October 1945 – Vidkum Quisling

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , , , , on October 23 by Last Writes

Vidkum Quisling

Vidkum Quisling

Our next perpetrator sparked a new addition to the English language. Quisling is now synonymous with traitor and the term was coined based on the surname of today’s date with death.

Vidkum (or Vidkun) Abraham Lauritz Jonsson Quisling (phew) was a Norwegian head of state who’d been installed by the Third Reich. He was executed for his activities on this day in 1945 after he was found guilty of treason, chiefly due to his collaboration with the Nazis during World War II.

A politician in the run-up to the war, he led the Fascist Party in Norway and encouraged the country to embrace Hitler when the Germans descended on Norway. Talk about backing the wrong horse.

The country put up a fight but they were soon occupied, but resistance was high and when the Nazis fell from power post-war, Norway wasted no time in putting their experiences and suffering to good use by becoming a founding member of NATO.

Quisling, on the other hand, did not have such a rosy future. He was found guilty of war crimes and of treason and was executed by firing squad on this day in 1945, aged 58.

Super trooper

But get this. During our research for this piece we happened upon a gem of information dredged up by George Duncan in his ‘lesser known facts about World War II’. During the war, many children were born to Norwegian mums who’d fallen for Nazi storm troopers as part of a programme known as ‘Lebensborn’.

While most were ostracised by society after the war, one child of particular note managed to turn her life around after she was taken in by neighbouring Swedes. Her name was Anni-Frid Lyngstad, but you may know her better as Frida (the brunette) from ABBA.

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7 October 1943 – 91 US Prisoners of War

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , on October 7 by Last Writes

As many as 91 US soldiers copped bullets today in what could have been a revenge attack during World War II.

The Japanese had the men executed on a war-torn island in the Pacific that was the subject of much wrangling between the two superpowers.

Wake Island comprised three islands, which offered a strong foothold to the Far East. And the battle for control was to prove bloody.

It became an unwitting pawn during the Second World War and started off in American hands as it offered them a defensive position from which to launch attacks. This was to prove handy when the Japs joined forces with the Nazis.

Bomb the base

In 1941–2 the Japanese launched an all-out attack on the island in order to break the stronghold, which worked and the US soldiers stationed there were forced to surrender. That said, the Japanese losses had also been heavy, so they were harsh with the resultant prisoners – soldiers who’d been based on the islands.

But the Americans weren’t about to walk away and the turning point came in July 1943 when US B-24 bombers attacked the island in a reprisal.

Naturally not ones just to sit back, the Japs marked their retalliation by turning their machine guns on 91 prisoners and the beleaguered Yanks were riddled with bullets on this day in 1943.

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1 October 1943 – Janka Boissevain, Gideon Boissevain and Louis Boissevain

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , , , , on October 1 by Old Sparky

Janka Boissevain

Janka Boissevain

At a time when Europe was gripped by the irresistible rise of the Nazi machine, three young lads forfeited their lives on this day in 1943.

Janka Boissevain, Gideon Boissevain and cousin Louis Boissevain were three family members who were literally wiped out in one fell swoop for daring to resist Nazi control during World War II.

Far from right

Bizarrely some sources state that their parents had initially been seduced by the right-wing messages and had gone as far as to join the Dutch Fascist Party, which had been led by the likes of Anton Mussert, and that the couple had promptly quit the party after the full terrors of what that party’s politics entailed began to unfold…

But in actual fact, Janka and Gideon’s mum was the fabled Adrienne Minette Boissevain-van Lennep (aka Mies), who was a key insurgent within the resistance movement. She had always held strong opinions and had been an active member of the feminist movement earlier in life, but it was her whole family’s anti-Nazi work during the war that was to land them in hot water.

Dutch courage

After all, what was the family meant to do; sit back and watch while friends were swiped and annihilated just for being Jewish?

Naturally the family couldn’t stand idly by, and in a covert operation, the Boissevain brothers joined a group of Dutch resistance fighters, who’d do anything to subvert the Fascists’ activities during the Second World War.

Mies and her husband actually went on to harbour Jews in a bid to help them break for freedom from their oppressors.

Busted

But the Nazis were onto them and the brothers, cousin Louis and matriarch Mies herself were sharply apprehended for their resistance work in August 1942 in a Nazi haul that comprised 70 resistance members. Some were executed, others sent to concentration camps.

Indeed, her husband Jan was shipped off to various concentration camps and he ended his days in Buchenwald where he died. Mies, on the other hand, was carted off to other concentration camps where she was posted to work in hospitals. Luckily she lived through the dark years to see freedom.

However, her sons and her nephew met a more immediate and untimely end. Just two months after they’d been apprehended, the Nazis wiped the boys out: Janka aged 23, Gideon aged 22 and Louis aged 21, alongside 17 other members of the resistance were shot en masse.

Also on this day

1 October 1957 – Jacques Fesch
1 October 1912 – Sargent Philp

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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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30 June 1934 – Edmund Heines

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , on June 30 by Last Writes

Edmund HeinesDeputy to one of Hitler’s henchmen, Edmund Heines was to be picked out as one of 78 key targets in the now infamous ‘Night of the Long Knives’.

They were executed in Nazi Germany by their would-be peers, and this was seen as a purge within the party. It targeted key individuals, who were in conflict with the direction in which the Nazis were headed, namely the stormtroopers – aka the ‘Brownshirts’ or to give them their posh name, Sturmabteilung (SA for short).

Brand new heavies

Far from posh, the stormtroopers had literally been the brawn of the operation up to that point – they’d done all the dirty jobs. A paramilitary group, they were a bunch of thugs tasked with setting the pace of the rise of Nazism.

They paved the way for Hitler’s path to power, violently clashing with socialist groups and getting shot of the opposition. But they were uncouth and their tactics not subtle – Hitler was after a more underhand approach to see him into the next phase of his ascension. And so the sinister SS was born.

Fiends means Heines

Now, the Nazis had two groups, one of which had served its useful purpose. The problem was the SA was headed up by one of Hitler’s mates, Ernst Julius Röhm, of whom Heines was his fiendish deputy.

You know Hitler well enough to know that the Führer wouldn’t let a simple thing like friendship get in the way of world domination. This was compounded by a dodgy dossier, which was drawn up on the unsuspecting SA leader. It pretty much stitched Röhm up, ensuring that Hitler eventually bowed to peer pressure to oust him.

Hatchet job

The SA’s fate was sealed especially after advisors played on Hitler’s insecurities, bigging up the fact that he was vulnerable while these thugs were on the loose. After all, the group’s numbers were into the thousands, although, according to Röhm himself, that number may have been closer to three million.

Allegedly 61 key members were executed in a hush-hush operation, including 36-year-old Heines, while 13 were shot during the brutal round-up and three had committed suicide. However, some sources put the toll at 400.

Out of the can

Apparently Heines was having it away with unidentified 18-year-old man when he was caught in the sting, according to ‘Spartacus Educational’. Hitler himself was there and according to his chauffeur, the leader shouted ‘Heines, if you are not dressed in five minutes I’ll have you shot on the spot!’ He joined the ranks of the people executed by a single gunshot, likewise his boss, but more of Röhm next month…

Hitler only let the secret mission out of the can after the deed was done and the SA leaders had been obliterated.

As for the SA, Hitler took over as leader and the organisation stayed in existence until the close of the Second World War.

Also on this day

30 June 1936 – Frederick Herbert Field

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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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