PRODUCTION LINE HANGINGS BY BRITAIN’S WARTIME HANGMEN
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Having overwhelmed Hitler’s Germany the Allied armies immediately set up show trials and military tribunals that experts, jurists and top military commanders compared to Stalin’s notorious show trials. Squads of American and British hangmen were drafted into Europe to kill multiple prisoners convicted at these deeply flawed trials ‘trials’ in which a prisoner’s right to defend himself was inadmissible.
The most notorious of Britain’s executioners was Albert Pierrepoint; he showed no qualms about the judicial slaughter of prisoners after his being posted to defeated Germany.
A well-known drunkard, Pierrepoint later retired to a life as a publican. His near Blackpool bar displayed a plaque carrying the words, ‘No Hanging About’. Pierrepoint’s victims included teenagers, some of whom were later found to be innocent.
In documents held at Records Office in Kew, London, tests revealed that it was taking up to 25 minutes for prisoners of war to die following the trapdoors opening on grim rows of gallows. Hangings did not inflict instantaneous death; the hearts of surrendered servicemen and women continued to beat following each execution. With so many prisoners being condemned to death doctors present at each execution injected chloroform and other substances into the twitching victims’ bodies to hasten their end.
England’s Hangman, Albert Pierrepoint is claimed to have hanged over 600 people but the official figure is 435 victims. Of these hanged, over 200 were German surrendered captives. For each murder Albert Pierrepoint was paid £15.
These included John Amery, Joseph Kramer, William Joyce, and Timothy Evans. Albert Pierrepoint described the botched hanging of German spy Karel Richter as “a terrible mess”.
Pierrepoint later said, “It is said to be a deterrent. If death were a deterrent, I might be expected to know. It is I who has faced them last, young men and girls, working men, grandmothers. I have been amazed to see the courage with which they take that walk into the unknown.
“It did not deter them then, and it had not deterred them when they committed what they were convicted for. All the men and women whom I have faced at that final moment convince me that in what I have done I have not prevented a single murder.”
Pierrepoint’s assistant, Syd Derney says, “He proudly told me that he had done more jobs than any other executioner in English history.”
Experiments in hanging techniques at Hamelin in Germany during the winter months of 1945 / 1946 involved putting to the gallows 64 German prisoners found guilty on charges that would never have been considered offences in any properly conducted court of law.
The hanging of German prisoners, including civilians and prisoners of war, was carried out by Americans, Soviets and the British using production line methods. In the British Occupied Zone as many as thirteen prisoners awaited execution at any one time. It was felt that there would be an ‘inordinate delay’ if bodies were left suspended for more than an hour or more, which was necessary to ensure someone hanged could not regain consciousness.
Doctor F. E. Buckland, Assistant Director of Pathology, British Army of the Rhine, was asked by the Director of Medical Services whether he thought there was any objection to injecting the body immediately after the execution with lethal dose of ‘some chemical solution’. This was then done to ensure that the body could be removed ‘without delay.’
The first series of prisoner killings took place on December 13, 1945.Scheduled to be hanged that day were three women and ten men. The women were to be hanged one by one, the men in pairs. According to the file, after the trap was sprung, the medical officer descended the stairs to the room below where, standing on a step ladder, he listened to the beat of the heart for half a minute. He would then inject 10cc of chloroform.
Some of the victims the medico injected directly into the heart, which he noticed caused instant heart stoppage. Others were injected intravenously in the arm, which caused the heart to stop within a few seconds. This latter method, of course, proves beyond all doubt that the hanged victims were at that point alive.
In the third series of executions carried out on May 15, 1946, the doctor used an electrocardiograph, which instrument records electrical heart activity. This revealed that inaudible impulses were produced for a further ten minutes in the martyrs’ bodies. Twenty-minutes would elapse between hanging and merciful release through death.
Dr. Buckland concluded that in future executions bodies should be left hanging for fifteen minutes until a heartbeat was no longer audible rather than the customary hour interval. This the doctor surmised, would make it ‘possible to affect dual executions at half hourly intervals.’
The hanging procedures were now putting to death a constant stream of victims, including women and children as young as thirteen years of age for the slightest misdemeanor of the vicious regime imposed by the British, American and Soviet armies of occupation.
NOTE: This story is condensed from chapter 27 HEROES OF THE REICH Michael Walsh.
MICHAEL WALSH is an internationally acclaimed journalist, author, poet and broadcaster shunned by liberal-left corporate media.
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