1978: 12 coup plotters in Yemen

Add comment November 5th, 2011 Headsman

With president Ali Abdullah Saleh perhaps on the verge of being forced from power in the Arabian peninsula’s unmanned drone bombing range, Yemen, we thought a quick glance back at the infancy of his reign was in order.

It was this date in 1978 that Saleh, here just months on the job after a predecessor was assassinated, finished taking his demonstrative vengeance against a bushel of soldiers alleged to have been planning to overhrow him. New York Times, Nov. 6, 1978:

Vengeance is swift in the lands at the southern tip of the Red Sea. On Oct. 26, 17 persons convicted of attempting a coup against Somali President Mohammed Siad Barre last April were publicly executed by firing squad in Mogadishu. The 17 were said to have sought to overthrow President Barre because of his handling of the so-called Ogaden war with Ethiopia which led to a rupture in Somalia’s alliance with the Soviet Union and ended with Somalia forces retreating ignominiously from the Ethiopian province they had tried to annex. In a similar vein, after an abortive coup in North Yemen against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s pro-Egyptian and pro-Western regime last month, the firing squads were busy. Soon after the attempted coup was crushed, nine army officers were executed. Yesterday, 12 more men were shot. Four of the accused were reported to have confessed at their trials that they had received money and arms from radical Libya.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Mass Executions,Notable for their Victims,Power,Shot,Soldiers,Yemen

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1978: Seventeen officers in Somalia

1 comment October 26th, 2010 Headsman

Seventeen army officers were shot this day on the outskirts of Mogadishu for attempting to overthrow Somali dictator Siad Barre.

“The executions were carried out by by a firing squad formed of soldiers of the armed forces and were witnessed by thousands of people from all areas of Mogadishu,” said Mogadishu radio.

The abortive April 9 coup attempt seems to have been precipitated by Somalia’s ill-fated intervention in neighboring Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, a bloody little Cold War sideshow that saw both the U.S. (from Ethiopia, to Somalia) and Soviet Union (from Somalia, to Ethiopia) switch sides. Some of the officers concerned feared that Siad would come a-purgin’ after the last Somali forces slunk home on March 15, 1978.

The condemned (per this source) were:

  • Col Mohamed Sheikh Osman “Cirro”
  • Maj Siad Mohamed Jama
  • Maj Ibrahim Mohamed Hersi
  • Maj Siad Jama Nur
  • Capt Mohamed Ahmed Yusuf Aganeh
  • Capt Abdisalan Elmi Warsame
  • Capt Bashir Abshir Isa
  • Capt Abdillahi Hasan Nur
  • Lt Abdi Osman Ugas
  • Lt Abdirahman Maalin Bashir
  • Lt Adan Warsame Abdillahi
  • Lt Abdillahi Mahamud Guled
  • Lt Mohamed Abdullahi Husein (Gorod)
  • Lt Abdulwahab Ahmed Hashim
  • Lt Abdulqadir Gelle Omar
  • Sgt Farah Mohamed Halwo
  • Director Abdulqafar Warsame Abdilleh

But they’re perhaps most memorable for a coup participant not among their number, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who fled to Kenya and founded from exile the Somali Salvation Democratic Front, eventually one of the principal entities resisting the Barre regime. Ahmed served as President of Somalia from 2004 to 2008, but his government was unable to gain control of the notoriously fractious state or to end Somalia’s ongoing civil war.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Mass Executions,Not Executed,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions,Shot,Soldiers,Somalia,Treason

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1978: Antonina Makarova, Nazi executioner

22 comments August 11th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1978, a young Soviet girl’s desperate collaboration with the Wehrmacht caught up with a 55-year-old mother.

A village girl and the first in her family to go to school, young Antonina Parfenova was dubbed “Makarova” (after her father, Makar) by a teacher when the girl forgot or was too shy to say her surname. This childhood switcheroo would follow her into adulthood and ultimately buy her half a lifetime and a family to mourn her.

At 19, she had moved to Moscow when the German onslaught against the Soviet Union erupted, and like many young people in similar straits, she volunteered to help fight the Nazis. But as the front swept past her, she found herself in enemy territory, and was nabbed by the SS and persuaded to become the Germans’ executioner of Russians at Lokot, a village near the Ukrainian and Belarussian borders for which a short-lived Nazi-controlled “republic” was named.

A 2005 Pravda article (with a somewhat prurient concern over the young woman’s sexual incontinence) delves into her activities:

Usually Antonina Makarova was ordered to execute a group of 27 people, the number of partisans which a local prison could house. Death sentences were carried out on the edge of a pit half a kilometer from the prison. She never knew people whom she executed and they had no notion who the executioner was either. Antonina executed the first group of partisans being absolutely drunk and the girl could hardly realize what she was doing. She often kept clothes of those whom she killed if the things were good; she carefully washed them and heaped them in her room.

In the evenings after work Antonina loved to dress up and enjoy her time dancing with German officers together with other girls who came there as prostitutes. Antonina boasted she used to live in Moscow that is why other girls kept aloof from her.

At dawn, Antonina often came to the prison and peered into the faces of people whom she was to execute in the morning. The woman just did her job when executing people and believed that the war would write her crimes off.*

“Antonina Makarova” was implicated in some 1,500 executions, and formally charged in around 200 cases with identifiable victims. The KGB turned up scores of women of the right age with the right name, but none of them fit the bill: the real Makarova’s passport said “Parfenova.”

Not until 1976 did the case break, when a relative applying for a travel visa named her in a routine list of relatives. Now named Antonina Ginsburg — she had married a veteran and taken his name — she was living quietly in Belarus, but hardly in hiding: the pair attended parades and town functions in the honor accorded World War II survivors.

Viktor Ginsburg would be in for a bit of a shock.

Even 35 years after her spell with the Germans ended, the wounds of the Great Patriotic War were raw enough to spell her death in very quick order in Briansk, the capital of Lokot’s district. She was the last World War II traitor of any note executed in the Soviet Union, and according to this page, the only Soviet woman ever judicially executed by shooting. (I’d take that claim cautiously without more corroboration.)

The Pravda article cited above is about the only original English source readily available online; Russian speakers (or people prepared to grapple with an online translator’s inelegance) can read much more at her Russian Wikipedia page as well as here, here and here.

Update: Courtesy of Executed Today’s own Sonechka, a translation from this Russian story of Makarova’s daughter’s heartbreaking remembrance of a woman she only knew as a mother:

Pain, pain, pain … She spoiled the life of four generations … You would like to know whether I would take her back if she returned? I would. She is my mother after all… I really don’t know how to remember her — as if she’s alive or dead. According to the tacit law, women were not shot. Maybe she’s alive somewhere? And if not, tell me — I’ll finally light a candle for her soul.

(Candles in Orthodox churches are lit for “zdravie” — literally “good health, well being” — or “upokoi” — “peace of a soul.” The former is intended for living beings, the latter for dead ones.)

* This, at least, is what she told her interrogators.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Belarus,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,Executioners,Germany,History,Milestones,Notable for their Victims,Notable Sleuthing,Occupation and Colonialism,Russia,Shot,Soldiers,USSR,War Crimes,Women

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