On Tuesday, January 2, 1900, on a cold and foggy dawn, Juliane Hummel was hanged in Vienna’s city
prison. She was 29 years old.
Juliane Hummel was a poor girl from Vienna’s working-class outer districts. She took in washing. Her
husband Joseph was a servant. They had a little girl Anna, who was born before Juliane and Joseph
were married, and Joseph probably was not Anna’s father. Neither Juliane nor Joseph had any affection
for little Anna: Neighbors complained that the parents either neglected the child utterly, or beat her
unmercifully. Finally, on March 9, 1899 Anna died at the age of five. The doctor ruled that she had been
starved and beaten to death.
The police said that Juliane had struck the fatal blow, and Juliane was charged with homocide and
sentenced to death.
The executioner in Vienna, Karl Sellinger died in 1899 and no replacement had yet been found so the
executioner in Prague, Leopold Wohlschläger stepped in to help out.
It was still twilight and grey fog still cloaked the city, as the final preparations for the execution was
completed in the prison’s triangular courtyard. Juliane has spent a quiet last night in a gas-lit cell,
clutching a rosary, surrounded by burning candles and images of the virgin. Doctors told the press that
her pulse was normal. She repeated again and again that Joseph was guilty and she was not. At 8.00 a.
m. She attended a mass celebrated by the prison chaplain.
The press noted that she was a small fragile looking woman, her black hair unkempt in a loose braid, her
head hanged over to the side. She wore a dark dress over which was placed a green Loden coat. She
wore dark stockings and brown clogs. Her dress was open at the neck.
The chaplain and the warden had to hold her up and virtually carry her to the scaffold; she was crying
and weeping the entire time.
Wohlschläger was dressed in black and seemed very excited at the execution and is reportedly even to
have trembled, apparently because Juliane was his first woman to execute.
Some thirty to forty people had obtained tickets to the
hanging and as Juliane was readied for execution an almost
fever-like tension gripped the observers. A kind of leather
vest was placed over her shoulders; her arms and ancles
were tied. All the while a kind of whimpering could be
heard; Juliane calling “Oh my God, oh my God.” Her
counternance was pale. She lay her head on the shoulder
of her warder to the left; “my God, I’m not guilty of
starving Anna, I’m not guilty of killing her!” she
screamed. But her final words couldn’t be heard.
Wohlschläger had placed the noose around her neck and
pulled it tight. He stepped backward and shouted: “Up!”
and the warders raised the platform on which Juliane
stood. “Now!” called Wohlschläger and the warders pulled
away the platform. Wohlschläger covered Juliane’s head
and pushed it backward. It took several painful minutes for
Juliane to die, because Wohlschläger carried out the
execution very clumsily. He was sent back to Prague