The Execution of Nazi War Criminals
by Kingsbury Smith
Nuremberg Gaol, Germany
16 October 1946
International News Service
Hermann Wilhelm 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.
Joachim von Ribbentrop, foreign minister in the ill-starred regime of Adolf Hitler, took Goering's place as first to the scaffold.
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, 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.
Three black-painted wooden scaffolds stood inside the gymnasium, a room approximately 33 feet wide by 80 feet long with plaster walls in which cracks showed. The gymnasium had been used only three days before by the American security guards for a basketball game. Two gallows were used alternately. The third was a spare for use if needed. The men were hanged one at a time, but to get the executions over with quickly, the military police would bring in the man while the prisoner who proceeded him still was dangling at the end of the rope.
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.
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Primary Source Annotation
This is a news paper article written about the Nuremberg Trails that took place in Germany after the war had ended. It was released in October. People who would read this article would be informed as to what was going on with the leaders of the Nazi party. This primary source was written by the American correspondents from the International News Service to cover the trials.