German guillotine picture

Somehow I came across this image of the German "fallbeil. I can’t figure out what that circular thing is on the far wall. Any ideas?

Looks purely decorative to me. Germans are big on wreaths.

Yeah. Looks funereal. Which wouldn’t be out of place in that context.

People would place bets on if the head would roll through the hoop.

A decorative wreath in an execution chamber just seems weird, but what else could it be?

Looks like a basketball hoop for … later.

Penalty for dribbling.

It looks very efficient. And effective.
Hmm. Doesn’t require any hard to obtain drugs. Doesn’t require a doctor to pronounce the person dead-why I think we have just solved the death penalty problem in the US!
Heck with lethal injection and all it’s complications and the potential for undue suffering. The release could be activated with a simple timer, so no executioner needed. Just have the condemned set the dial, assume the position and everyone waits a few minutes. Import a few of these things and no state will have any problem executing as many people as they wish. Emptying out the bucket at the end would not be a job for the squeamish though…

I kid. We should suppress this picture or some states might get ideas.

When and where was this in use? It looks like something made in the twentieth century.

Also, the curtain at the left appears to cover the wall. So is there a window on that wall?

That one likely is 20th century. Here is a youtube video with some explanation of its use in Hitler’s era. Also, a 1/6 size working model with all you could want to know about it.

Obviously, the guillotine is no longer in use in Germany, but it was in use up to (and including) the time of the Nazi administration. Immediately prior to the Nazi rise to power, there were maybe 2 or 3 judicial executions a year in Germany; this rose sharply after 1933. 20 new guillotines were ordered in the early months of the regime (from the photograph, this could be one of them) and many thousands were guillotined under the Nazis, many of them convicted of political offences.

All of which is by way of saying that the wreath could be by way of memorial to the victims of Nazi terror who died on this guillotine, or perhaps to some particular victim or victims.

I agree, that looks to me like one of the former Nazi era execution chambers that’s been turned into a museum/memorial.

Incidentally, in 1933 there was no standard German execution method :- in some cases the condemned were beheaded with a hand axe. In an early example of Pretty White Girl syndrome, two female aristocrats convicted of treason were executed using this approach, and it got …messy. There was an international outcry, and the Nazis decided to standardize on the guillotine.

It looks like the sort of curtain that is used to cover (then unveil) a commemorative plaque on the wall - which would be consistent with there being a wreath on the wall.

It (the whole wall/curtain/wreath setup) looks incomplete.

On thispage, there is an image of a group of people placing commemorative wreaths in an execution yard - I think the picture in the OP is a museum exhibit - the wreath may be an original or replica example of one of these events of commemoration, and the museum wall may have been intended to receive a plaque or commemorative roll of names.

This particular picture is one I have seen in articles about executions in East Germany, with no reference to the location.

It may be one used when East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) used the Fallschwertmaschine for executions.

East Germany executed by guillotine until 1968, then changed to unerwarteteter Nahschuss (‘unexpected close shot’). They executed the last civilian in 1973, the last would-be Stasi defector in 1981, and abolished the death penalty in 1987.

The wreath (if it is one) would not be out of place at any former actual place of execution, whether Third Reich or East German era. The majority consensus nowadays in Germany is that the death penalty is morally wrong and that it follows that former judicial executions were morally wrong.

The last time guillotining was used as a method of execution in France was 1977 (and the last public guillotining there was in 1939).

A spot of googling yields what seems to be a picture of the same guillotine taken from another angle. It confirms that the wreath is indeed a wreath, and that the whole think is part of a memorial at Brandenburg-Görden Prison to the victims of the Nazi judicial system who died at that prison.

For the record, the death penalty continued to be inflicted by the German Democratic Republic up until the 1980s, and the guillotine was used up until the mid-60s. Brandenburg Prison, where the memorial is located, is in the former East Germany and was one of the execution sites used by the GDR until the final abolition of the death penalty in 1987.

In the West, the death penalty was forbidden by the West German Constitution in 1949, but the occupation authorities continued to execute people up until the early 1950s.

That looks like a smaller room with a similar setup. I think your conclusion is correct regardless.

Actually looking at it again, I think I may have some insight into the curtain arrangement. It was customary in German executions to read the condemned the death warrant, and then draw a curtain to cover the actual execution apparatus and the executioner. I believe the curtain on the right would have been drawn to hide the guillotine.

It is possible that the bar we see high on the wall was actually in fact a form of gallows for short drop hangings, and that the curtain on the left would have been drawn to obscure those.

Plotzensee prison had this dual arrangement :-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plötzensee_Prison
and it’s execution shed looks not dissimilar, in particular it has a very similar wreath against the wall. (However it’s door layout precludes it being this picture, I believe).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plötzensee_Prison#/media/File:Gedenkstaette_Ploetzensee01.jpg