Executions at Nuremberg
Above clockwise: Streicher, Jodl, Sauckel, Frick, Ribbentrop; below, clockwise from topright, Keitel, Rosenberg, Seyss-Inquart, Frank, Kaltenbrunner, Goering.
Although the Nuremberg Trials had been a media circus, only a selected group of reporters were allowed into the execution chambers of the Nazi war criminals. The authorities feared that the Nazi leaders would get sympathy or they would become martyrs if the executions turned into a media spectacle. Eight journalists from Big Four countries were selected by lottery, but only one photographer (and he was from U.S. Army) was allowed behind the close doors to report the last moments inside the prison.
The French judges suggested the use of a firing squad for the military condemned, but the other judges deemed undignified execution by hanging more appropriate. The hangings were carried out on 16 October 1946 by the executioner John C. Woods. Of the 12 defendants sentenced to death by hanging, two were not hanged: Hermann Göring committed suicide the night before the execution and Martin Bormann was not present when convicted. The remaining 10 defendants sentenced to death were hanged. The bodies were brought to Dachau and burned (the final use of the crematories there) with the ashes then scattered into a river.
The pictures of the executed corpses made by Edward F. McLaughlin (the U.S army photographer) were released in November (to dispel the rumors that the hangings which were conducted secretly, were bungled or never carried out), and were received by much disapproval. Many feared the criminals becoming the martyrs through these pictures. The British government voted against releasing the pictures on moral grounds, and no British publications reproduced them, honoring their government’s desires. The pictures were forbidden in the German press. LIFE magazine, above, however , reproduced them.