1945: Ewald Ehlers lynched

1 comment April 25th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 1945, the commandant of Waffen-Grenadier Regiment 73 was lynched by his own men.

These were remnants of a regiment within the notorious Dirlewanger brigade comprised largely of ex-prisoners set at liberty to do the dirtiest of SS work.

So there was a certain poetic justice to Ehlers’ fate. An SS man since 1938, Ehlers had fought all over in the bloody preceding years (he’d been in the army and the Luftwaffe during the interwar period), and served in several different SS formations.

The Dirlewanger forces at this point had been beaten to a pulp by the Red Army, and were bleeding deserters every day. The remnants of Ehlers’ regiment mustered on this day in an attempt to reorganize. Instead, Ehlers was lynched by his men for reasons unknown: his previous turn commanding Dachau, where many of his men might have once been imprisoned, is one possible factor.


April 25, 1945 is more illustriously marked in the annals of World War II as Elbe Day, when American troops coming from the west and Soviet troops from the east met at Torgau on the Elbe River, splitting the Reich in two.


The canned publicity shot of U.S. and Soviet officers meeting in Torgau.

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

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Borderline "Executions",Execution,Germany,Hanged,History,Lynching,Occupation and Colonialism,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Wartime Executions

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1942: Partisans by the Sonderbataillon Dirlewanger

6 comments November 21st, 2008 Headsman

On an uncertain date in November 1942, this photograph of an SS unit executing anti-Nazi partisans in Belarus was taken.

Behind this striking but all too typical image of brutal field executions on the eastern front lies the sordid story of one of the strangest military formations in the Nazi service.

The Dirlewanger brigade was formed under a man whose fortuitous early enrollment in the NSDAP had enabled him to pull strings to get himself out of Dachau, where he had been sent after his second molestation conviction, and where unfolding events could have easily seen him on the other end of the firing squad.

Instead, Oskar Dirlewanger formed a unit of criminals and reprobates: poachers at first, and eventually, as it grew into the SS-Sonderbatallion Dirlewanger, men culled from the camps or soldiers condemned by the army, some literally trading the likelihood of execution themselves for service under one of the most disreputable commanders in the field.

Oh, and, just incidentally — it stuck them into a lawless environment where they could probably practice and refine their pathologies unchecked. Some “rehabilitation.”

As of this relatively early date, the convict floodgates weren’t yet entirely open, and the existing German volunteers were supplemented by a goodly portion of Soviet citizens recruited in the occupied territories. From 1942 to 1944, they hung around Belarus hunting guerrillas and doing to them — well, you know. (The original notion of using poachers was to exploit their ranger-like woodsman talents for anti-partisan warfare.)

Oh, and civilians. Tens of thousands of civilians. That almost goes without saying.

Sadly for Dr. Dirlewanger, events further south were undoing all his bloody work, for it was also in the November 1942 that the Red Army decisively turned the tide of the war with its counterattack at Stalingrad — in fact, it was this very date in 1942 that it completed its encirclement, stranding a quarter-million freezing Wehrmacht regulars on the banks of the Volga, only a handful ever to see Germany again.

The Dirlewanger brigade would have its own turn being minced by the Soviet war machine, though not before it had a notorious hand in drowning the Warsaw Uprising in blood.

Dirlewanger himself was tortured to death by Polish guards a few weeks after the war ended.

Part of the Themed Set: The “Ex” Stands For “Extrajudicial”.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Belarus,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Germany,Guerrillas,History,Known But To God,Mature Content,No Formal Charge,Occupation and Colonialism,Power,Public Executions,Russia,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,USSR,Wartime Executions

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