Monday, December 01, 2008

The Executioner

Reading the wikipedia entry of Johann Reichhart... Some highlights:
Johann Reichhart was born in Wichenbach near W├Ârth an der Donau into a family of executioners going back eight generations to the mid-eighteenth century which included his uncle Franz Xaver and his brother Michael.
How weird is that - what a family profession!
Despite the enormous workload he was asked to complete, Reichhart was very strict in his execution protocol, wearing the traditional German executioners attire of black coat, white shirt and gloves, black bow-tie and top-hat (or zylinder). His work took him to many parts of occupied Europe including Poland and Austria. His request to the German government for permission to exceed the national speed limit whilst on his way to executions was denied.
German efficiency! The trains and the executions must run on time (No, I don't want to discuss Il Duce!)
He claimed during questioning that, toward the end of the war, as the allied armies closed in, he disposed of his mobile fallbeil in a river.
A fallbeil is a guillotine - how do you chuck that in a river?

Following VE Day, Reichhart, who was a member of the Nazi Party, was arrested and imprisoned in Landsberg for the purposes of de-nazification but not tried for carrying out his duty of judicial executioner. He was subsequently employed by the Occupation Authorities until the end of May 1946, to help execute 156 Nazi war criminals at Landsberg am Lech by hanging.
Wow - the show must go on. Talk about just following orders!
Reichhart's office made him a lonely and disliked person, even after abolition of the death penalty in West Germany in 1949. His marriage failed, and his son Hans committed suicide in 1950 due to the association with his father's previous profession.
After eight generations, the chain is broken!
When, in 1963 there were public demands, during a series of taxi driver murders, for the re-introduction of the death penalty in West Germany, Reichhart was vocal in his support for this legislation.

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