Murder at Camp 17: Lodge Moor Sheffield - 24th March 1945.
I have just finished reading Pierrepoint - A Family of Executioners by Steve Fielding - it's been that type of New Year
At the beginning of Chapter 7 the aptly named "Hangman's Holiday" he refers to Albert (Pierrepoint) being back in North London (Pentonville) to carry out the double hanging of two German POW's ARNIM KUELNE & EMIL SCHMITTENDORF. It appears that a month or so before the war ended inmates at a German POW camp on the outskirts of Sheffield were enraged when a tunnel which was near to completion was discovered. They had spent many months tunneling. Suspecting an informer they rounded on a GERHARDT RETTIG who had been seen talking to guards near the tunnel entrance. Furthermore in a camp that had a large National Socialist contingent, he was not a Nazi. Once threats were made, it was decided by the Camp command to move him to another camp. But before the transfer was made, Gerhardt Rettig, was chased around the camp by a howling mob before he was severely beaten. He was taken to hospital but died from internal bleeding.
From the evidence it appears that the Camp command knew of the tunnel more or less from its inception. But they decided that as the tunnel was leading nowhere, it would keep the German prisoners occupied and alleviate the boredom associated with captivity. Steve Fielding asserts that GERHARDT RETTIG was not an informer by the way.
The four ringleaders were charged with the murder
Unteroffizier Heinz Ditzler
Soldat Juergen Kersting
Feldwebel Emil Schmittendorf
Two days after Gerhardt Rettig died, both Schmittendorf and Ditzler managed to crawl under the wire at the camp but after a short spell of liberty, they were recaptured
The trial of 4 POWs took place at the London cage in Kensington Palace Gardens: This report appeared in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Mercury dated Wednesday 8th August 1945
The Manchester Guardian dated 8th August 1945 also carried a report
The following day's edition of The Manchester Guardian continued with this report
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Mercury dated 10th August 1945 posted a further report on the trial. I should add that similar reports appeared in many other regional newspapers
On Monday 13th August 1945 the court reconvened and Heinz Ditzler and Juergen Kersting were acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence. This is the report in The Manchester Guardian dated 14th August 1945.
18 year old ARNIM KUELNE & EMIL SCHMITTENDORF were found guilty and were later sentenced to death. They were executed on the 16th November 1945 at Pentonville Prison in London. A brief report of their hanging appeared in a number of regional newspapers - this one is from the Lancashire Daily Post dated 16th November 1945
This report is from The Manchester Guardian dated 16th November 1945
For those who want more information on German Prisoner of War Camps in World War Two follow the link to Island Farm
Pierrepoint - A Family of Executioners by Steve Fielding
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Mercury dated Wednesday 8th and 10thAugust 1945
Lancashire Daily Post dated 16th November 1945
The Manchester Guardian dated 8th - 9th - 14th August 1945 16th November 1945
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