Death on the gallows

4th July1946
Biskupia Gorka ( Stolzenberg )
near Gdansk (Danzig)

Between  25th April and 31th May before  the Special Law Court at Danzig a trial was held against guards of the Stutthof Concentration Camp

The accused were :

  1. Camp’s Commandant Johann Pauls – death by hanging
  2. SS-Aufseherin Jenny Wanda Barkmann – death by hanging
  3. SS-Aufseherin Elisabeth Becker – death by hanging
  4. SS-Aufseherin Wanda Klaff – death by hanging
  5. SS-Aufseherin Ewa Paradies – death by hanging
  6. SS-Aufseherin Gerda Steinhoff  – death by hanging
  7. SS-Aufseherin a Beilhardt -  5 years in prison
  8. Kapo Joseph Reiter – death by hanging
  8. Kapo Waclaw Kozlowski – death by hanging
  9. Kapo Franciszek Szopiñski – death by hanging
10. Kapo Jan Brajt – death by hanging
11. Sztubowy Tadeusz Kopczyñski –  death by hanging
12. Kapo Kazimierz Kowalski – 3 years in prison
13. Kapo Aleksy Duzdal – not guilty
14. Kapo Jan Preiss – not guilty
15. Kapo Marian Zielkowski – died of a heart  attack 25th August 1945 in prison

The bench of the accused
First row from left to right : Elisabeth Becker Gerda Steinhoff,  Wanda Klaff
Second row : Erna Beilhardt , Jenny Wanda Barkmann

At the  trial  the SS-women behaved  insolently.
During the interruptions they giggled  and joked.
Jenny Barkmann changed her  hair-do  every day and flirted with the guards.
When public prosecutor asked for capital punishment
Klaff, Steinhoff, Becker and Paradies cried and pleaded for her life
 Only Jenny Barkmann remained calm .

The accused with Polish guards at the location of  the KZ Stutthof
first row from left to right : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff
second row : Gerda Steinhoff, Jenny Barkmann
 (Click the picture to see detail of the women)

The gallows are waiting for the 6 men and 5 women sentenced to hang

SS-Guard Jenny Barkmann und her executioner
( in striped  KZ uniform)

From right to left : SS-Guard  Elisabeth Becker (sitting) , then Wanda Klaff (standing ) , Gerda Steinhoff (not visible)  and 6 men (Kommandant Johann Pauls and 5 Kapos)

The priest speaks to  Ewa Paradies,
at the left (sitting) :  Elisabeth Becker

The hands of the prisoners were tied behind their back and the feet were tied together

Right : Elisabeth Becker
( the executioner just passed the noose around her neck ) ,
left (standing) : Wanda Klaff

The SS-women  sat on  chairs and had their hands tied in the back  . For the execution they were lifted up on the chairs , this was very difficult as they had their  legs  already tied at the ankles

A few moments before the execution :
from right to left : Ewa Paradies,  Elisabeth Becker , Wanda Klaff, Gerda Steinhoff

Wanda Klaff


                                                                 Gerda Steinhoff

The disposition of the gallows

The execution started at 5.00 pm

The prisoners were noosed and then pushed from the ramp of the trucks
Jenny Barkmann has just been hanged and struggles at the end of the rope
while Ewa Paradies is being noosed by her executioner.
In the background (white dress): Wanda Klaff .
Already hanging with the back to the camera ( dark blouse , white skirt)  :
Gerda Steinhoff

After the hanging of the Nazi war criminals

From left to right : Jenny Barkmann , Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker ,
Wanda Klaff , Gerda Steinhoff

Left  : Gerda Steinhoff

Jenny Barkmann
Ewa Paradies
Elisabeth Becker
Wanda Klaff und
Gerda Steinhoff
It seems that one picture of the execution appeared in an edition  of  TIME Magazine of  July or August 1946 under the title :"Ladies first !"

The  Polish press informed :
- about 50 000 people (Dziennik Polski 5th July 1946) - this seems a little bit exagerated
- several dozen thousands (Ilustrowany Kurier Polski no 186 12th July 1946)
- great crowd (another paper)
The information about the coming execution were given the day before, on 3th July 1946 (Wednesday),  in the newspaper “Dziennik Baltycki”: “Stutthof’s war criminals will be publicly hanged in Gdañsk”.

It is believed  that the execution was filmed. During the visit of Stutthof’s
Museum  a film “Stutthof’s gallows” is being shown. In this film (newreel) there are scenes of the  SS-women in  the accused bench , for instance Jenny Barkmann, when she is standing up for the death verdict.
Maybe the complete film showing the executions  is in  the Museum's
archives  or  perhaps in a Russian archive.

(more pictures of Jenny Barkmann)

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