Horrors of Mankind - gripping and horrifying stories of some of
Adolf Hitler's most ruthless
- men often seen as the very personifications of evil. A violent group of outsiders who rose to power in a democracy and established political and economic institutions of legitimized terror.
After the defeat of the Nazi Empire, Hitlerís apprehended henchmen and collaborators were brought to trial in Nuremberg. The purpose: to punish these criminals in the name of the six million Jews exterminated by Adolf Hitler and his henchmen.
The trial opened in Nov., 1945. Voluminous evidence was presented to prove the plotting of aggressive warfare, the extermination of civilian populations, especially the Jews, the widespread use of slave labor, the looting of occupied countries, and the maltreatment and murder of prisoners of war.
The trial lasted 11 months. Of the 21 defendants in custody (one indicted Nazi, Martin Bormann, was indicted in absentia and was never found), a total of 11 were sentenced to death, three were acquitted and the rest received prison terms.
Ten men were hanged in November 1946; one of those sentenced to death, Hermann Goering, cheated the gallows of Allied justice by committing suicide in his prison cell shortly before the ten other condemned Nazi leaders were hanged in Nuremberg gaol.
He swallowed cyanide he had concealed in a copper cartridge shell, while lying on a cot in his cell.
The one-time Number Two man in the Nazi hierarchy was dead two hours before he was scheduled to have been dropped through the trap door of a gallows erected in a small, brightly lighted gymnasium in the gaol yard, 35 yards from the cell block where he spent his last days of ignominy.
The ten once great men in Hitler's Reich that was to have lasted for a thousand years walked up thirteen wooden steps to a platform eight feet high which also was eight square feet. Ropes were suspended from a crossbeam supported on two posts. A new one was used for each man.
When the trap was sprung, the victim dropped from sight in the interior of the scaffolding. The bottom of it was boarded up with wood on three sides and shielded by a dark canvas curtain on the fourth, so that no one saw the death struggles of the men dangling with broken necks.
Joachim von Ribbentrop, foreign minister in the ill-starred regime of Adolf Hitler, then took Goering's place as first to the scaffold. Von Ribbentrop entered the execution chamber at 1.11 a.m. Nuremberg time. Last to depart this life in a total span of just about two hours was Arthur Seyss-Inquart, former Gauleiter of Holland and Austria.
In between these two once-powerful leaders, the gallows claimed Adolf Hitler`s Henchmen, in the order named, Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel; Ernst Kaltenbrunner, once head of the Nazis' security police; Alfred Rosenberg, arch-priest of Nazi culture in foreign lands; Hans Frank; Gauleiter of Poland; Wilhem Frank, Nazi minister of the interior; Fritz Sauckel, boss of slave labor; Colonel General Alfred Jodl; and Julius Streicher, who bossed the anti-Semitism drive of the Hitler Reich.
As they went to the gallows, most of the ten endeavored to show bravery. Some were defiant and some were resigned and some begged the Almighty for mercy.
All except for Rosenberg made brief, last-minute statements on the scaffold. But the only one to make any reference to Hitler or the Nazi ideology in his final moments was Julius Streicher. As the guards stopped him at the bottom of the steps for identification formality he uttered his piercing scream: 'Heil Hitler!'
These masterminds of the horrors of Holocaust were found to be psychologically normal. They were men of fine standing, cultured, husbands who morning and night kissed their wives, fathers who tucked their children into bed ...
The Columbia Encyclopedia
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggresion, Washington, 1946
"The Execution of Nazi War Criminals" by Kingsbury Smith