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German execution axe

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Moonw, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Moonw


    Nov 19, 2014
  2. Kevin Houtzager

    Kevin Houtzager

    Jun 25, 2017
    It's actuallly scharfrichter, not scharfrechter. That would most likely be a mix of Dutch and German:
    Scherprechter (Dutch)
    Scharfrichter (German)

    But what he has in his hands is likely some reproduction, as it is more fantasy looking then anything else? So what I did was reference some lists of know scharfrichters in germany. (Grossmann = Big man BTW). They where state professionals in the big city's after all.

    Heres the list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_executioners

    When searching for the name Grossmann, you won't find anything. The same goes for Berlin. The list isn't complete though, but I couldn't find the name grossmann or großmann anywhere related to a executioner.

    The only name thats similar is Grosholtz. And there is of course this man: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Großmann a serial killer.

    Most executioners are actually in a family comprised of them. They had to, because most people wouldn't want to talk to them.

    But actually the most obvious fact why this would be fake: They did not use axes that much during execution. They used a sword instead. That was the most common tool of execution in al of Germany. You can actually recognise the swords because they don't have a sharp tip, but a rounded or flat one.


    So I'm actually a bit skeptical
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  3. I'mSoSharp

    I'mSoSharp Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Did someone say execution axe? ;)


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  4. Moonw


    Nov 19, 2014
    Kevin, I can see why. You know, to address the shape of that axe: it looked odd to me as well but you can see what *seems* to be a part of such a funky axe in this video at 1:35:

    What say you?

    (I watched the whole video but nowhere does it show more of that picture, while it does appear one or two times again.)

    While axes were less used than the swords (yeah, the rounded ones), I still think they've had their fanciers :).
  5. Moonw


    Nov 19, 2014
    Is it yours? Do weird things happen around it? :)
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  6. jake pogg

    jake pogg

    Dec 20, 2015
    Nah,it's just a common French axe,gents:)...https://imgur.com/a/F1PYm8Q

    Most shown above are clearly identifiable as woodworking tools....

    Moonw,thank you for these interesting links(i can't watch them alas).Kevin was right in that the executioners belonged to a hereditary professional clans,things being socially awkward for them and their children et c.
    There's much written about the history of those,and though i've never studied it specifically,i've never heard that any special implement was developed for when they did use an axe.

    That one in the first video still is probably a hewing axe,or possibly a butcher's...(in Germany the developement of both happened in parallel,and some resemble one another).

    I butcher a lot of large game animals,and can't imagine that a human neck vertebrae is much of a challenge for any decent sharp axe,maybe a straight-ish/long-ish edge would help those challenged in their aim...So any hewing axe* would do(butcher axes are also quite thin-bladed).

    I remember vaguely some historic data how Peter the Great in the end of 17th c. on a sadistic whim made his aristocracy participate physically in the very many beheadings that they themselves decreed...These pampered wealthy,having never handled any tools,were awful about getting it done in one,or even two or more blows...The axes provided were of the most inappropriate kind,to make it all more fun...As a result a custom developed where the condemned could bribe the authorities,and for a large sum a real peasant was appointed,who could get their head off in one clean whack...(if ever one wonders how come RF is such a twisted place today:)
    But nowhere that i,personally,came across were there any mention of a specialised human-neck axe...too easy of a cut to justify tool modification,i'd guess.:)

    *part of the punishment was the Thrill,of course,the Theatrics...and broadaxes in general Do look impressive...thus this custom of today ascribing them that alleged duty,so maybe same went for those times,and the crowds loved them for that spectacular looks....
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  7. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
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  8. I'mSoSharp

    I'mSoSharp Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    I have a couple more, just big'ol French axes.... As soon as folks see one you can guess what they say! ;)



    I made the handles, the curved one just for fun.....

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  9. Kevin Houtzager

    Kevin Houtzager

    Jun 25, 2017
    But thats the thing: How acurate are drawings or paintings actually. Sure, they can be, but the main problem comes from creativity. They needed to invoke fear in a way. But for an executioner its just a tool. They did embellish it in the form of engravings, but thats about it.

    There actually was one, invented in france, that almost everybody should know:

    The guillotine. Although if you can call it an axe is the question?

    But I must say I agree with the fact that there never was executioners axe.

    That doens't apply to swords though, as there seemingly are swords specially designed for that application:
    Having a sword was actually a privilege for nobility and the military. So it was a way to destingues the carried didn't have a bad intent.

    Translation German:
    Executioners sword
    The executioners of Frankfurt, who from 1484- 1537, also did his bloody handywork at the Berger warte
    Berger Warte is a tower in Germany close to Frankfurt:
    "When I lift up the sword, I wish eternal life to the sinner"
    "If you do not want to condemn yourself, you will not flee justice"
    You can find the engravings in the fuller.

    Oh, en for refference: Human neck isn't that strong: about the same as a "Vlaamse Reus" . I don't know if the breed is known outside Belgium and the Netherlands, but its this one:


    The weight 5KG and up. I had one that weighed 12KG, an was the size of a Big male Maine Coon. In imperial that would be 26-27 Pounds.

    A normale wilde hare is rougly 1,5 KG max as a refference.

    Big game would have a way stronger neck. A medium size dog actually has a stronger neck then we do.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  10. Kevin Houtzager

    Kevin Houtzager

    Jun 25, 2017
    And on another note:

    This is purely fiction, but it does work (at least for splitting)


    Its a book series where the protagonist uses this sword. I tested it using a mattle pipe as handle with a small maul head on it. I Filled the pipe with lead balls about 1 quarter of the way. Lifting it is fairly straight forward, but the downstroke is another matter: The maul wanted to fly out. It does have some destructive force though, because of the weight transfer.
  11. Moonw


    Nov 19, 2014
    Good stuff, gents. Very interesting.

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