Daily Double: Hameln after the war 1723: Christopher Layer, for the Atterbury Plot

1946: Bruno Tesch and Karl Weinbacher, Zyklon-B manufacturers

May 16th, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1946, British hangman Albert Pierrepoint hanged seven German war criminals at Hameln Prison.

These seven comprised two distinct groups charged in two very different misdeeds:

Karl Eberhard Schöngarth and four others hanged for executing a downed Allied pilot in 1944.

Bruno Tesch and Karl Weinbacher were executed for a critical support role in the Holocust: they were principles of the chemical manufacturer Testa, which sold Zyklon-B to the Reich for use in the gas chambers.


Zyklon was just a brand hame (“Cyclone”)

Hydrogen cyanide had been employed as a legitimate pesticide and de-lousing agent for many years before World War II. Because of its danger, the odorless deadly gas was sold spiced with an odorant to alert humans accidentally exposed to it.

Tesch and Weinbacher had their necks stretched because they were shown to have knowingly sold this product sans odor, reflecting Testa’s complicity in its intended use upon humans. (A third Testa employee was acquitted, having inadequate knowledge of the firm’s operations.)

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Businessmen,Capital Punishment,Crimes Against Humanity,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Germany,Hanged,History,Mass Executions,Murder,Occupation and Colonialism,Soldiers,War Crimes

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3 thoughts on “1946: Bruno Tesch and Karl Weinbacher, Zyklon-B manufacturers”

  1. Curt Kastens says:

    Yes I saw that they removed the odor which would have made it dectible. If a country wants to deploy a chemical weapon on the battlefield that country would of course want an oderless weapon. If the two men had gone to the gvoernment with a proposal to prouduce an oderless gas for the porpose of killing woman and children then they clearly are guilty of mass murder.
    But my understanding of government work is that a government puts outs bids for fullfilling a contract. Then various companies give bids for completeing that work. Producing an oderless nerve agent is in and of itself no more of a crime than producing napalm or an M16. It is a weapon. What these men did is certainly troubleing. But holding the manufacture of a weapon responsible because someone else misused it is also troubling.
    If a conquoring nation is going to hold the population of a defeated nation responsible for its behavior, those who should suffer most are not only those that were in charge but those who helped to mold the thinking of the population so that the insane policies of the rulers seemed perfectly normal under the circumstances of the time.
    This should have been posted as a reply sorry I forgot to format it properly

  2. Curt Kastens says:

    The verdicts against the manufactures of Zyklon B seem to me to be some what hypocritical. These men manufactured a chemical weapon that was designed to be used against humans. After world war two ended lots of people in lots of countries also manufactured Chemical weapons to be used against humans.
    So once the manufacturer of chemical weapons hands his product over to a governmental agency, which then makes then makes a decision about how it will be used, it would seem to me that guilt would stay with the government officials and not flow back to the private individuals responding to government projects.
    If we use this case as a precednet then then all those engaged in making weapons for the US miltary are just as guilt as these two people since the US wars of the 21st century have clearly been wars of aggression. Now those Americans working in their nations defense industries might not see it that way. But that is only because they are even dumber than the German population of the 1930s and 40s were. I say dumber becasue the Americans have had a chance to learn from history and have for the most part failed to take that chance.
    So what we have here in this case is a not very well thought out case of victors justice. War crimes tribunals should be limited to government and military officials, including naturually former governmental or military officials One exception that I might consider is mercinaries operating under governmental control.
    If a nation is defeated in a war and they seek to prosecute all those who were part of the defeated nations military infrastructure they could prosecute the entire population of the defeated nation because every one in a deteated country country is to at least some extent guilty of supporting that nations war effort unless they were actively engaged in trying to sabotage it.
    Now Americans might say that there is a difference between having a drone fireing a missle which blows up a car which is carring a leading member of America’s enemy of the month while that mans 12 year old son and 10 year old nephew are sitting beside him and killing a 100 jewish woman and children. The Americans will say that the man that they killed was an immenent threat to Americans. The official fears of the American MIC are just as real to Americans as the Germans fears of Jews 80 years earlier. Both sociteies have acted insanely because they are both societies which have been infected by insanity.
    On one hand it is true that the total number of people killed by US insantiy has been less. On the other hand the position that the USA is in make the fears and pride of the Americans which motivate their insane behavior seem even far more absurd than that which motivated the Nazis.

    1. Kate Oliver says:

      As this post says, these two manufacturers were complicit in the war crimes of the state because they knowingly removed the odorant that had always been added to the gas when it was used as a pesticide: they intended to aid the Nazis in using Zyklon upon humans in gas chambers.

      Since you bring up the US, you should no that there’s no hypocrisy in finding these manufacturers culpable of war crimes- there are many, many US industries which are complicit in the atrocities committed with the materials they make. The only difference is no one has held them accountable (yet).

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