1944: Boy Ecury, Aruban Dutch Resistance hero

Add comment November 6th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 1944, Dutch Resistance hero Boy Ecury was shot by the occupying Germans.

Ecury (English Wikipedia entry | Dutch) grew up in Oranjestad, capital of the Dutch-controlled Caribbean island of Aruba, but had packed off to the Netherlands to finish school by the time World War II broke out. He spent the early Forties with a Resistance group sabotaging German assets and the like.

This insurgent clique eventually got rolled up, and Boy Ecury was arrested on November 5, 1944. He had only that one night to enjoy the legendary hospitality of the occupiers before he and several others of his group were shot the next day.

The young martyr’s body was repatriated to Aruba after the war and buried with honors; a public memorial still stands to him in Oranjestad.

Boy’s sister, the venerable poet Nydia Ecury, just passed away earlier this year.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Famous,History,Martyrs,Netherlands,Netherlands Antilles,No Formal Charge,Occupation and Colonialism,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Shot,Terrorists,Torture,Wartime Executions

Tags: , , , , ,

1944: Johanna Kirchner, Frankfurt antifascist

June 9th, 2012 Headsman

“Keep Goethe‘s words in mind. ‘Die and become’. Don’t cry for me. I believe in a better future for you.”

-Johanna Kirchner’s last letter to her children

On this date in 1944, former social worker Johanna (“Hanna”) Kirchner was beheaded in Plotzensee Prison for treason.

(cc) image from Fran Behnsen of a Kirchner commemoration plaque in Frankfurt’s St. Paul’s Church.

Kirchner English Wikipedia entry | German) co-founded with Marie Juchacz after World War I the still-extant Workers’ Welfare organization: Arbeiterwohlfahrt, or “the self-help of the workers.”

These self-helping workers — both members of the socialist Social Democratic Party; Juchacz was a Reichstag member — had to flee to League of Nations-administered Saarland with the rise of the Nazi dictatorship … and from there, soon enough, on to France.

There the Vichy government arrested her in 1942 (Juchacz got out to the United States), and deported Kirchner to Germany to answer as a traitor.

She had a sentence of “only” ten years at hard labor, but the case was unexpectedly reopened in 1944 so that the cartoon villain of fascist jurisprudence, Roland Freisler, could give her a spittle-flecked death sentence for having “treasonably rooted herself in the evilest Marxist high-treason propaganda.”

Kirchner’s native Frankfurt has a Johanna-Kirchner-Straße, and in the 1990s awarded a Johanna-Kirchner-Medaille to anti-fascists.


View Larger Map

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Germany,Guillotine,History,Treason,Wartime Executions,Women

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1945: Nikolaus Gross, Catholic anti-Nazi labor activist

1 comment January 23rd, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1945, labor activist Nikolaus Gross entered the ranks of Catholic martyrs of Nazi Germany.

A miner turned newsman of the Catholic labor movement, Gross was a peripheral associate of the July 20 Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He had been known and watched as a dissident and was detained shortly after the plot’s failure, but was only put to death after months of torture, along with a batch of other smaller fish in the conspiracy.

A prelate recalled a conversation he had before the dangerous venture was attempted:

I said to Nikolaus Gross on the day before the assassination attempt on Hitler of 20 July 1944: “Mr Gross, remember that you have seven children. I have no family for which I am responsible. It’s a matter of your life.” To which Gross made a really great statement to me: “If we do not risk our life today, how do we then want one day to justify ourselves before God and our people?”

Gross is notable as the first Catholic lay victim of Naziism subsequently beatified by the Church. The timing (he was beatified in 2001) is interesting to note.*

The long-running controversy over the complicated role of Catholicism writ large — if indeed such a thing could be assessed at all — during the Holocaust had surged into popular conversation with the 1999 publication of Hitler’s Pope.**

Was the Vatican’s silence during the war years complicity or powerlessness? How does one measure and weigh the behavior of the hierarchy as against individuals who risked death in resistance large and small — and they against others who collaborated for advantage, and against the vast multitude who simply went along? Can we speak of a responsibility of “the Church” for its own history of anti-Semitism, and if so, what did that mean for the live people facing real choices in the 1930s and 40s?

Bound up as they are in their respondents’ own present-day agendas, these questions seem certain to remain a point of conflict. Propagandists will always keep their own store of exemplars in either perfidy or saintliness, but let us give Nikolaus Gross no less than his due: he answered his duty unswervingly, and on this day, answered with his life.

Online accounts differ as to whether Gross was hanged or beheaded. Both methods were in use.

German-language pages on Gross are here and here. His farewell letter to his family, also in German, is here.

* Lest too grand a claim of causal relationship be inferred, note that beatification is a meandering procedure of bureaucracy rarely answering the day’s headlines; that the late Pope John Paul II elevated such legions to the choirs of heaven as to provoke complaints of debased coinage; and that in an Italian church headed by a Polish pontiff honoring a German martyr, the relationship between fascism and Catholicism was not something that, as in the English-speaking world, might have waned into forgetfulness before a timely work of popular history.

** The controversy surrounding this book, and the author’s subsequent moderation of some conclusions, is covered in a Wikipedia article. Naturally, it spawned more books — both in support of its thesis of Catholic collaboration and against.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Assassins,Beheaded,Disfavored Minorities,Germany,Hanged,Mass Executions,Notable for their Victims,Religious Figures,Torture,Treason,Wartime Executions

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Next Posts


Calendar

July 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Archives

Categories

Execution Playing Cards

Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck.

Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia!