This Cut Down On Crime

In Nazi Germany during World War Two:


If you robbed a person in the blackout, you got the guillotine




By the end of the World War Two, the Nazis had promulgated approximately 27 different laws which carried the death penalty if violated.

If, for example, you were foolish enough to rob someone during the blackout and got caught, then you received the death sentence. There was no appeal and the sentence was carried out within a few days.

The standard method of execution in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and through the Second World War was the guillotin, one of which is pictured below.



photo courtesy of the London Daily Mail

The guillotine is named for Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a French physician who was personally apposed to capital punishment. Ironically, Dr. Guillotin was a reformer who proposed to the French National Assembly in 1789 that the guillotine be substituted for all existing methods of execution in France.

Reason: the guillotin was more humane since the existing methods of capital punishment were primitive. 1) either beheading by the sword or ax, which often didn’t work the first time so the executioner had to take another whack or two.

2) hanging, which if one’s neck wasn’t broken in the initial drop, could take as long as 30 minutes to strangle the guilty party to death.

This most sensible and enlightened policy was subsequently adopted.


Sources: author’s research, the New York Times, and



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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: