Guillotine from Spain

Guillotine from Spain

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Credit: DAVID PARKER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: The guillotine is an apparatus designed for carrying out executions by beheading. It comprises a tall upright frame in which a weighted and angled blade is raised to the top and suspended. The condemned person is secured at the bottom of the frame, with his or her neck held directly below the blade. The blade is then released, to fall swiftly and sever the head from the body. The device is best known for its use in France during the French Revolution, and became the pre-eminent symbol of the Reign of Terror by opponents. This instrument was probably used during the period of the Spanish Inquisition but is of uncertain date. The last person guillotined in France was Hamida Djandoubi, on 10 September 1977. The guillotine has also been employed in other countries. In Nazi Germany, it saw 16, 500 victims. It was used as well by the Stasi in East Germany for secret executions.

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Keywords: behead, beheading, blade, blood, body, death, decapitation, execution, france, french revolution, guillotine, head, inquisition, medieval, metal, nazi, neck, reign of terror, sever, slice, stasi, white background, wood

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