In 1939, the French held the last public guillotine execution in Versailles in the courtyard of the prison Saint-Pierre.1. The last head to hit the public bucket was Eugen Weidmann. He started out as a petty thief, but after a short stint in prison (a training school for the criminal professional), graduated to much bigger crimes including robbery, kidnapping and murder. Thanks in part to his new bar buddies, Weidmann and Co. would lure people to kill them and steal their belongings. The police eventually tracked them down. Weidmann and another received the death sentence, while two others received a 20 month sentence and one was acquitted. Eventually, the only death sentence that stood was Weidmann's. The other sentence was converted to life in prison.
On June 17th, 1939, Weidmann lost his head. It was even video taped by a resident of an adjacent apartment building.2. Turns out the spectators didn't enjoy the show. The outrage was so bad that the President banned all future public beheadings and moved them inside.3. It was 1977 before France retired the guillotine forever. I would have thought that the guillotine would have gone out of fashion with the Cloche hat.
Today is also World Jugglers Day. In today's world of multi-tasking, prioritizing, and managing many different roles, there are times when one might lose their head for trying to keep all those balls in the air. Yet, for some, myself included, we are more productive when we are juggling many balls. It seems the busier I am, I am more organized. When I have free time, I can fill all of it, with spill over into my scheduled time, with a healthy dose of nothing. It may just be a function of today that free time has become so rare that we don't know what to do with it. Is it more fashionable to be losing your head?
1. Wikipedia's entry for Eugen Weidmann
2. Video of Eugen losing his head is available here on YouTube. Ugh.
3. Wikipedia's entry for Eugen Weidmann