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2:57 a.m. Woods and his assistants seemed to be getting impatient as they moved from one scaffold to the other, using a new rope for each man. At 2:26 it was Fritz Sauckel's turn. When summoned for his last walk, he had refused to dress, so he went to the gallows coatless. He cried: "I am dying innocent. . . . I pay my respects to U.S. soldiers and officers, but not to U.S. justice." (Conflicting versions claimed that he did not mention "U.S. justice but "U.S. Jews.") Then Colonel General Alfred Jodl. Then, finally, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who limped as he mounted the steps. He said, "I hope this execution is the last act in the tragedy of World War II. . . ." It was 2:57 when he was pronounced dead. Said Woods: "Ten men in 103 minutes. That's fast work." He added that he was ready for a "stiff drink afterwards."
The sagging body of Hermann Göring was carried into the gymnasium on a stretcher. His skin showed a poisoned, greenish tinge. His toes were curled. After the official witnesses had taken a good look, he was carried behind a black curtain where the other ten corpses were waiting. Photographers took pictures of the bodies both dressed and naked. The photographs, labeled top secret, were taken to the Allied Control Council in Berlin. A few hours later, the corpses were removed in two vans, cremated and the ashes "secretly dispersed" at an undisclosed place.
Thus Death, as it must to all men, came to the eleven by whose instrumentality so many thousands had died (more horribly and without a chance for historic histrionics).*
The wind had blown through the night and swept away the clouds. The morning which the eleven did not see dawned clear and brilliant over Nürnberg, but it held neither cheer nor reassurance for the victors. They had permitted new doubts of Nürnberg's justice to arise even out of this last, relatively simple business of hanging ten men by the neck. And they had given Germany a sense of victory when they permitted Hermann Goring to die not as they willed but as he willed.
*A Jewish early spring festival commemorating the story of Haman, a sth Century B.C. Jew-baiter and Prime Minister of Persia's King Xerxes (Ahasuerus). The King finally had him hanged for his virulent anti-Semitism upon the intervention of Queen Esther, a beautiful Jewess. *In Ipswich, England, Tommy Hailstone, 12, was found by his sister last week, hanging by a cord in a storeroom. Said his father: "I believe Tommy had been reading in the papers about the Xiirnberg hangings and was staging a hanging himself."