executed

Photo of the Day

June 17, 1939: Weidmann is placed in the guillotine seconds before the blade falls. The crowd that witnessed the execution became quite unruly. Weidmann was beheaded outside of the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles, during which spectators engaged in “hysterical behaviour.” 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 behaviour”. IMAGE: POPPERFOTO/GETTY IMAGES

June 17, 1939: Weidmann is placed in the guillotine seconds before the blade falls. The crowd that witnessed the execution became quite unruly. Weidmann was beheaded outside of the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles, during which spectators engaged in “hysterical behaviour.” 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 behaviour”. Photo Getty Images

Madame Guillotine

France’s last Public Execution

 The guillotine’s final day in the sun

The guillotine is the ultimate expression of Law… He who sees it shudders with an inexplicable dismay. All social questions achieve their finality around that blade.
—Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

 This is the last public execution by guillotine, not the last execution by guillotine.

The above photograph was taken moments before the execution of Eugene Weidmann early on the morning of June 17th, 1939 outside the Saint Pierre prison at rue Georges Clémenceau in Versailles, just outside of Paris. Weidmann had been convicted – after finally confessing to the crimes – of kidnapping and murdering six people, including a female American dancer. His taking responsibility for the murders spared the lives of his three accomplices but set Weidmann up for a date with Madame Guillotine.

If you look carefully you can see Weidmann already strapped to the bascule and that he’s been tilted into position with the lunette closed around his neck. This was possibly less than 5 seconds before Jules-Henri Desfourneaux (just four months into the job of nation’s chief executioner) released the déclic that sent a 90-pound steel razor blade slamming into Weidmann’s neck with a half-ton of force before coming to rest after falling for 1/70th of a second.

Debate still rages as to whether the victim is immediately rendered unconscious or if he/she has what might be up to 60 seconds of awareness after the head has been severed from the body before the brain finally runs out of whatever oxygen was in the head’s blood at the moment it was removed.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Getty Images. Scottish cannibal Alexander 'Sawney' Bean, circa 1400.

Photo: Getty Images.
Scottish cannibal Alexander ‘Sawney’ Bean, circa 1400.

The Legend of Sawney Bean

Scottish historic folklore is full of grizzly tales of death and murder. The story of Sawney Bean is one of the most gruesome Scottish legends. Evidence suggests the tale dates to the early 18th century.

Alexander Sawney Bean was, legend tells, the head of an incestuous cannibalistic family, who oversaw a 25-year reign of murder and robbery from a hidden sea cave on the Ayrshire/Galloway coast in the 15th century. The cave most readily associated with Sawney and his nefarious clan is close to Ballantrae on Bennane head in Ayrshire, although other sea caves along the Ayrshire and Galloway coast have also been associated with the story.

Alexander “Sawney” Bean was born in the later part of the fourteenth century in East Lothian, Scotland. Bean was raised in an agricultural community and came from a rather poor family of laborers. The home life of Bean was said to be, at best, a horrible upbringing. Often being beat by his father for never quite being a good enough son.

As Alexander got older he attempted to become the son his father had always wanted, by taking on the duties of adulthood and joining the workforce. Due to his reckless attitude, a natural born urge to disobey the rules, and a deep hatred for actual work, Alexander completely failed in his attempts at earning an honest living, once again disappointing his father.

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