I have a curiosity for humanity's darker side and I love doing research so I've combined those two things to write in depth articles.
What is a guillotine? The guillotine people think of was invented in 1780 by Frenchman Dr. Joseph Egnace Guillotin. The guillotine is a tall contraption with a heavy angled blade that is suspended at the top. An executioner pulls a lever and the blade is released and the blade falls, beheading the person lying below.
Though it is said that beheading machines similar to the guillotine could have been used as far back as 400 B.C. The guillotine became the main source of execution in many countries though they all had different names.
Over time the guillotine became outdated and considered inhumane. It started to be retired all over the world. This list is of the last people to be executed by guillotine.
Francis Kol was executed for theft and murder in Antwerp on May 8, 1856. Kol broke into the home of his boss while he believed they were out at mass. Joanna Robberechts, the boss’s wife, was still at home when he broke in. Kol stole between 600 and 1,000 francs or about $607 to $1,012 in US dollars and a silver watch on a chain. While leaving he was caught by the housewife and he reportedly stabbed her in the head.
Johan Alfred Ander
Johan Alfred Ander was executed for murder in Sweden on November 23, 1910. Ander had robbed a currency exchange outfit and beat the clerk to death with a steelyard balance. He had been casing the building from the hotel across the street but the hotel staff became suspicious of his behavior. He was later captured by the police and had the dead clerk's wallet in his possessions among other stolen goods.
Hans Vollenweider was executed for robbery and murder in Switzerland on October 18, 1940. In 1936 Hans was arrested for a bank robbery where he spent two and a half years. He had escaped and was on the lose for nine days. In those nine days he managed to kill three people, a driver, a postman and a police officer. Hans was recaptured and convicted of one of the murders though he killed three people.
Richard Schuh was executed for robbery and murder in West Germany on February 18, 1949. Schuh had shot and killed the driver of a truck to steal the brand new tires and sell them on the black market. He figured he couldn't make a good living doing random odd jobs so he decided to try selling stolen goods. The police found and arrested him quickly after he killed the truck driver.
Hoang Le Kha
Hoang Le Kha was executed for being part of the Communist Party in South Vietnam on March 12, 1960. Kha was rising up the ranks in the Communist Party when he was captured by US-backed Southern Vietnamese military police.
Horst Fischer was executed for war crimes in East Germany on July 8, 1966. Fischer was a doctor and a member of the SS. He was the main doctor at Auschwitz during World War Two. He escaped after the war and was practicing medicine for 20 years before he was located and tried for war crimes.
Hamida Djandoubi was executed for murder in France on September 10, 1977. Hamida kidnapped his former lover, Elisabeth Bousquet, and two other girls. He had beaten Bousquet in front of the other girls then drove to a secluded part of town and strangled her. A young boy later found her body in a shed. He attempted to kidnap another girl but she escaped and alerted the police where h was arrested and later charged with murder and kidnapping. Hamida was a Tunisian native and was serving time at the Marseille’s Baumettes prison before his death.
The guillotine was an active method of execution until the late 70s. Something most people don't know is that the guillotine wasn't as quick and painless as it seemed. When it worked as intended, with one chop, the head would still be alive in a sense for several minutes. When the guillotine was first introduced however, it didn't always take just one chop. Often it would take several times for the blade to completely severe the head from the body thus prolonging the execution and making it far more painful then it should have been.
Some museums around the world have these old execution machines on display for the public to see.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.