Reflections on your fate having baled out



Reflections on your fate having baled out


The reflection was inspired by the account of the murder of an airman on initial capture having baled out over Germany in 1944-45.


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[symbol] It was very much a matter of luck where you landed and who caught you. The best that could befall was that you would be captured by the Army or Air Force, in which case you would be taken into proper custody and passed on through the appropriate channels. If apprehended by civilians, they might or might not be hostile; at best, they would hand you over to the nearest authority. This might be the armed forces, but more probably the local police, and this is where things might become dodgy. The police worked in close co-operation with the Gestapo, and once in their hands there was not much chance of living to a ripe old age. Or you might have extreme bad fortune with regard to the area you landed in. Consider this case, taken from “The Secret Hunters”, by Anthony Kemp (publ Michael O’Mara Books Ltd, 20 Queen Anne St, London W1N 9FB):-

“One of the trials concerned the murder of [deleted] of [/deleted] Sergeant Habgood, an RAF bomb-aimer whose aircraft was shot down near Niederhaslach in Alsace at the end of July 1944. Habgood was captured and lodged in the cells at Schirmeck, from where he was collected in a truck by Peter Straub from Natzweiler. (This was a nearby concentration camp.) No trace of his body was discovered.

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In the dock were Straub, Hartjenstein, the commandant Natzweiler, Giegling who drove the truck, and a certain Berg, a prisoner who acted as Straub’s assistant in [missing word] Natzweiler crematorium.

What emerged and was proved to the satisfaction [missing word] the court was that Habgood was taken to the crematorium and hanged by Straub and Berg while Giegling looked on and smoked a cigarette. A short [missing word] of only a few inches was used and the victim, according to medical evidence, would have taken ten minutes to die by strangulation.

Straub and Berg were hanged on 11 October 1946.



Henry Wagner, “Reflections on your fate having baled out,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 17, 2024,

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