An ET entry by me commemorating the horrific massacre of an entire French village less than a week after D-Day in World War II. A Nazi SS unit commanded by one Adolf Diekmann killed 642 people in reprisal for something the French Resistance did. The Germans hadn’t even meant to attack Oradour-Sur-Glane; their intended target was a nearby settlement with a similar name. Oradour-Sur-Vayres. In a way I suppose it’s a good thing because the other town was larger and there would have been even more deaths. Sucks for Oradour-Sur-Glane though.

Diekmann’s CO professed to be horrified and requested a court-martial, saying, “I cannot allow the regiment to be charged with something like this.” But the slaughter Oradour-Sur-Glane was not really any worse than other atrocities that SS unit and others had committed in the war. (Lidice, anyone?) In my opinion, the commanding officer had seen the writing the on the wall and realized the Nazis were going to be be held to account for their actions, and he was trying to protect his own self. It would have been interesting to see how that court-martial turned out; as it was, Diekmann got killed on the front a few days later, before the Wehrmacht could do anything to him.

Jason uses the word “hecatomb” to describe the tragedy, in place of my much more mundane term “event.” I had to look up “hecatomb” and the definition is “A great sacrifice; an ancient Greek or Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen.” In this case I guess it just means a mass slaughter. I enjoy it when I increase my vocabulary.

Anyway, check it out. That article took a long time for me to write, and these people should be remembered.

A Jehovah’s Witness this time

Today I commemorate Wilhelm Kusserow, a who was executed on this day in 1940 for refusing to serve in the army in Nazi Germany. He was a Jehovah’s Witness and his faith prohibited military service. His brother would later meet with the same fate, for the same reason.

This will be my last Executed Today entry for this month. I had quite a few, five I think, for April. And four upcoming for May: an embittered father, a doctor who was as kind to his patients as he was a terror to his wife, a freed slave with extensive knowledge of the Bible, and a rapist who went back and murdered his victim after he got out of prison. All of them murderers, with seven victims between them.

Four more executions…

…in a single post of mine on Executed Today. It’s another Holocaust one; you know that’s my specialty. All of them were Polish Jews, and hanged in pairs: two from the Sosnowiec Ghetto and two from the Bedzin Ghetto.

The father and son who died in Sosnowiec 71 years ago today have a cameo in Maus, Art Spiegelman’s famous graphic novel about the his father’s journey through the Holocaust. I read Maus for school over ten years ago, but I’ve just about forgotten it. I ought to pick it up again.

I wrote to the woman whose book was the principal source for the info in today’s entry. I told her about the entry, and also told her about an upcoming one that will cite her book as a source and quote from it. Speaking as the administrator as the Charley Project, thank-you notes mean a lot to me. I get them from family members, police officers, and sometimes even just random people who stumble across my site. I get two or three a week on average, I guess. (These communications far outnumber the critical emails I get or the emails from crazy people, but I don’t write about the thank-yous much because it sounds like I’m bragging or just out for my own glory or something, and I don’t think the thank yous are nearly as interesting to write about.) It boosts my spirits to know that my efforts are appreciated and I’m making a positive difference in the world. This isn’t the first time I’ve contacted a scholar to thank them for helping my Executed Today research; I figure they deserve to know they’re appreciated, too.

Also on executed on this day in 1942: Sergeant Anton Schmid, a German soldier who helped save Jews in Lithuania and was later honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. He saved hundreds of lives at the cost of his own. My Executed Today entry for him was posted two years ago.

It’s April Fool’s Day

And I’ll repeat last year’s tale of my favorite historical “prank”: Hersh Smolar, Jewish-Communist resistance leader in the Minsk Ghetto, faked his own death on this day 71 years ago to escape the Nazis. This plan would not have worked had the Nazis not been complete morons. This “a bloodstained identity card is good enough for us, we don’t need to see the body” business would not pass muster in a movie or a novel, but it worked flawlessly in real life.

WTG, Master Aryan Race. Snort.

Henry William Hagert

And another ET entry: Henry Hagert, executed in 1945 for the cold-blooded killings of two thirteen-year-old boys. He was only seventeen himself at the time. A panel of psychiatrists hired by the state declared Hagert was insane, but the state was so afraid of him that they impaneled a different, more compliant set of shrinks who said he was accountable for his actions.

Speaking of Executed Today, the Headsman (the guy who runs the site) sent me a cool $200 for my birthday! He also sent a funny card which had a picture of the Grim Reaper on it. It was actually a Halloween card but he crossed out “Halloween” and wrote “birthday.” I have spent some of his gift already on a lovely long blue tie-dyed skirt. His present only works out to be a little more than $2 for every entry I’ve written for his blog thus far, but I’m in it for the fun.

New ET entries by me

Yesterday: Phillip Coleman in 1943, the last man hanged in Montana. He was executed for a vicious robbery-and-murder spree that left three people dead. Someone who knew more about the case than I said in the comments section that Coleman confessed 23 additional murders, but the confession has been lost and it isn’t known whether what he said was accurate or not.

Today: Meir Berliner and ten others at the Treblinka Extermination Camp in 1942. Berliner, a Jewish prisoner at the camp whose entire family had been gassed, murdered an officer in an act of suicidal revenge. He was killed for it, along with ten other inmates (and 150 more the next day) in the spirit of collective responsibility. But in an indirect a result of Berliner’s actions, a year later the inmates were able to launch a revolt and mass escape from the camp.