Archive for April 21st, 2012

1945: The women of the Endphaseverbrechen at Neuengamme

1 comment April 21st, 2012 Headsman

On the night of April 21, 1945 (possibly verging into April 22), 12 women political prisoners were hanged at Hamburg’s Neuengamme concentration camp.

This forced labor camp had its own nasty history during the war, including medical experiments on children that would get the camp doctor hanged after the war. Those unfortunates had just been disposed of the day before.

It was in the spirit of disposing that Neuengamme on April 21 received 71 political prisoners from the Fühlsbüttel prison/satellite camp. This site, one of the very first concentration camps in Germany, was being emptied out (as Neuengamme also soon would be) with the approach of Allied forces from the west: many Fühlsbüttel prisoners were released outright, while several hundred were sent on a death march to another camp.

These special 71, who weren’t especially major antifascists and hadn’t been convicted of anything, thought their transfer to Neuengamme was just a halfway house to their own release — whether directly by the Germans, or via the imminent arrival of Germany’s foes.

All were elated. They showed each other pictures of their husbands and children (Erika Etter did not know that her husband had been executed), made their clothes as nice as possible. Erika, the youngest, wore white knee socks and borrowed lipstick, with her pretty hair down. (From the German Wikipedia page about these killings)

They were in for an unpleasant surprise: although Nazi Germany was going down, there were elements within it still looking to cripple the Left of whatever would emerge postwar. These 71 people — 58 men and 13 women — were communists, or White Rose activists, or other ideological foes whom the camp bureaucracy had tagged as “non-transferrable” elements.

Annemarie Ladewig, a young artist who’d been booted from the academy due to a partial Jewish ancestry, painted this watercolor of a dancer. (More.) Ladewig’s brother and father were among the 58 male political prisoners killed at Neuengamme over the next few days.

They were eliminated over the period from April 21 through April 24.

The women were the first to be put to death on this night, hanged naked in two groups of six. Either the aforementioned Erika Etter or else the actress Hanne Mertens (German link) was killed separately; the other was hanged, along with these eleven (all links below are to German Wikipedia pages):

From the Themed Set: The Death Rattle of the Third Reich.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Germany,Hanged,History,Mass Executions,No Formal Charge,Summary Executions,Wartime Executions,Women

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Themed Set: The Death Rattle of the Third Reich

7 comments April 21st, 2012 Headsman

On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide, leaving his associates to face the music for World War II.

From the rich mine of Soviet wartime propaganda posters at Davno.ru (also see its Victory Day cards).

The days preceding Hitler’s demise had seen a fascist state that once stretched from the Atlantic to Moscow (almost to Moscow) hemmed into vanishing pockets, spiraling towards certain capitulation.

Resistance really was futile.

Nevertheless, resistance was as ferocious as Nazi Germany’s remaining resources could permit, and as cruel in its way as anything in those cruel years. Each dwindling day brought among its privations fresh executions, deaths without meaning or grandeur, vindictive and cynically apportioned deaths mopping up old enemies and settling old scores, most every one without the slightest effect upon the the war’s resolution.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Daily Doubles,Themed Sets


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