Christoph Probst-Executed February 22.1943.

Not every German supported the Nazis or signed up to their ideology. There were quite a few who were appalled by what their nation had become under the leadership of Hitler and his regime.

However there were only a handful of people who had the courage to stand up against the Nazis, at risk of their own lives. Some of these were an organisation that called themselves “White Rose”

It was a resistance group in Munich . The group, founded in June 1942, consisted of students from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich who distributed leaflets against the Nazis policies.

Sophie and Hans Scholl were the prominent members , and so much has already been written about the Scholl siblings. I want to focus a bit more on another member, Christoph Probst.

Probst had a lot more to lose the the Scholl siblings, although he was young, he was married with 3 children.

Born in Murnau/Upper Bavaria on November 6, 1919, Probst studied medicines in Munich after his labor and military service in 1939.

In 1941 Christoph he married Herta Dohrn, with whom he later had three children. Alexander Schmorell, a friend of his, introduced Probst to Hans Scholl and his group of friends in the summer of 1942.

Christoph Probst joined the White Rose rather late, as he did not belong to the same student group as Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf, and stayed for the most part in the background. He had to consider the safety of his family. He belonged, together with the Scholl siblings, Graf and Schmorell to the tightest circle, into which university professor Kurt Huber also came.

The White Rose produced, printed and distributed, at the risk of their lives, six leaflets in all.

Although Probst had been transferred to Innsbruck in December 1942, he was still actively involved in the discussion of the fifth White Rose leaflet on his visits to Munich and was also prepared to write his own flyer. After Sophie and Hans Scholl were arrested, on February 18 1943, the Gestapo found a draft leaflet written by Probst in Hans Scholl’s jacket pocket, stating: “Hitler and his regime must fall so that Germany may live on.” Christoph Probst was arrested in Innsbruck on February 20, 1943. To his mother he wrote whilst in prison.

“By an unlikely mishap I have now found myself in an awkward position. I don’t sugarcoat anything when I tell you that I’m fine and that I’m very calm. The treatment is good and life in the cell seems so tolerable to me that I’m not afraid of a longer period of imprisonment… I’m only concerned for you, for the wife and the small children”

On 22 February 1943, Christoph Probst and the Scholls were tried and sentenced together at the Volksgerichtshof by judge Roland Freisler, who had already determined the sentences even before the trial had started.

All three were sentenced to death by guillotine. Their sentences were carried out on the very same day at Stadelheim Prison, Munich. Probst had asked for clemency during interrogation. He also requested a trial for the sake of his wife and three children, who were aged three years, two years and four weeks old. His wife, Herta Probst, was sick with childbed fever at the time.

Shortly before Christoph was executed, he was allowed a visit from a Catholic Priest. Christoph requested baptism into the Catholic faith.

The only consolation to this is that his wife Herta survived the war and died 21 September 2016 aged 102

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/white-rose

https://www.britannica.com/topic/White-Rose#ref1111344

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-white-rose-a-lesson-in-dissent

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Christoph_Probst

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/171854367/herta-siebler-probst

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/biographies/index_of_persons/biographie/view-bio/christoph-probst/?no_cache=1

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The last public execution by Guillotine.

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Eugen Weidmann (February 5, 1908 – June 17, 1939) was a German criminal who was executed by guillotine in France, the last public execution in that country

On June 17, 1939, Weidmann was beheaded outside the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles. The “hysterical behaviour” by spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions. Unknown to authorities, film of the execution was shot from a private apartment adjacent to the prison. British actor Christopher Lee – who was 17 at the time – witnessed the event.

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He would later go on to play headsman Charles-Henri Sanson in a French TV drama about the French Revolution, in which his character made prolific use of the device.

Beginning with the botched kidnapping of an American tourist, the inspiring dancer Jean de Koven, Eugène Weidmann murdered two women and four men in the Paris area in 1937. His other victims included a woman lured by the false offer of a position as a governess; a chauffeur; a publicity agent; a real estate broker; and a man Weidmann had met as an inmate in a German prison. On the surface, his crimes seemed in most cases to have had a profit motive, but they generally brought him very small winnings. Born in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1908, Weidmann early showed himself to be an incorrigible criminal. He had been sent to a juvenile detention facility and then served prison terms for theft and burglary in Canada and Germany prior to his arrival in Paris in 1937.

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Last public execution by guillotine, France, 1939 2

After a sensational and much-covered trial, Weidmann was sentenced to death. On the morning of June 17, 1939, Weidmann was taken out in front of the Prison Saint-Pierre, where a guillotine and a clamoring, whistling crowd awaited him. Among the attendees was future acting legend Christopher Lee, then 17 years old. Weidmann was placed into the guillotine, and France’s chief executioner Jules-Henri Desfourneaux let the blade fall without delay.

Last public execution by guillotine, France, 1939 3

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Rather then react with solemn observance, the crowd behaved rowdily, using handkerchiefs to dab up Weidmann’s blood as souvenirs. Paris-Soir denounced the crowd as “disgusting”, “unruly”, “jostling, clamoring, whistling”. The unruly crowd delayed the execution beyond the usual twilight hour of dawn, enabling clear photographs and one short film to be taken.

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After the event the authorities finally came to believe that “far from serving as a deterrent and having salutary effects on the crowds” the public execution “promoted baser instincts of human nature and encouraged general rowdiness and bad behavior”. The “hysterical behavior” by spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions.

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Last public execution by guillotine, France, 1939 4

Guillotine was the only mean of execution that the French republic had ever known, the device was in service from 1792 to 1977. For almost 200 years the guillotine executed tens of thousands of culprits (or not) without ever failing to deliver a quick and painless death.

Last public execution by guillotine, France, 1939 1

While it is easy to see the guillotine as barbaric, it is actually a lot less gruesome than it looks. Capital punishment was very common in pre-revolutionary France. For nobles, the typical method of execution was beheading; for commoners, it was usually hanging, but less common and crueler sentences were also practiced. When Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin proposed the new method of execution to the National Assembly, it was meant to be more humane than previous capital punishments and also to be an equal method of death for all criminals regardless of rank.

Compared to many forms of capital punishment practiced to this day, the guillotine remains one of the best if we are judging based on pain and “cleanness”. In fact, the guillotine was developed with the idea of creating the most humane way to execute people. The condemned don’t feel pain, death is almost instantaneous and there are very few ways for things to be botched. The head of the victim remains alive for about 10-13 seconds, depending on the glucose and blood levels in his brain at the time. However, the head is believed to be more than likely knocked unconscious by the force of the blow and blood loss.