Schadenfreude is a German word used to describe the feeling of glee or pleasure you get at the sight of someone else’s misfortune. It’s a word we’d like you to keep in mind as we tell you about how some heroic dumbass botched the execution of the Nazis sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials.
That dumbass was one Master Sergeant John C. Woods, a man who basically fell ass-backwards through life until he found himself being tasked with executing some of the singular most repugnant human beings to have ever lived.
Initially serving with the Navy, Woods was discharged for going AWOL and deemed unfit for service. Not one to be discouraged, Woods went right ahead and joined the Army who decided to ignore Woods’ record of disobedience and the fact the Navy had diagnosed him with “Constitutional Psychopathic Inferiority without Psychosis” and give him a job, because what harm could it do?
In 1944, Woods saw a job opening for the position of military executioner and decided to apply. The army brass, showing a profound lack of shits, gave Woods the job without even bothering to check his credentials, which was lucky for Woods since he’d never worked as an executioner before, though he claimed to have worked as a hangman in Texas to get the job. Almost immediately Woods proved his mettle by botching 25% of the hangings he performed by not making the rope long enough so instead of having their neck snapped, the person being hanged slowly and painfully suffocated to death.
The thing is, as Woods had technically done his job because hey, everyone he hanged died, he was never really reprimanded for his dozens of mistakes since it’s very hard for most people to muster sympathy for people who being hung for war crimes. As a result, they mostly went overlooked, which brings us to Nuremberg.
To recap what you’ve probably forgotten from history class, after WW2, the Allies captured what was left of the Nazi high command and slapped their asses on trial for crimes against humanity and for generally being assholes. The courts unsurprisingly ruled against the Nazis and sentenced 11 of them to death by hanging, noted dipshit Hermann Göring avoided this sentence by heroically committing suicide the morning of the execution. As for the other 10 members of the Noted Nazi Dickhead Club, they were promised something they’d never given any of their countless victims, a quick, noble death carried out with the utmost solemnity. Imagine the these 10 warts on the dick of humanity’s faces then when they got to the gallows and saw this guy in charge.
As he’d done dozens of times before, Woods misjudged the length of rope needed to snap a person’s neck so that instead of dying immediately, each Nazi hung that day died an excruciating, tortuous and more importantly undigified death spent desperately screaming for air for anywhere close to half an hour. As an added insult, Woods had also “accidentally” failed to make each trapdoor big enough to actually fit a man through so half the people hung that day also slapped their head against the side as they fell.
Reports about the botched hangings were published, but again, people found it kind of hard to give a shit about 10 men instrumental in arranging the holocaust being killed in a way which caused them to suffer so they were ignored.
When later quizzed about the hangings Woods answered simply, “I hanged those ten Nazis and I am proud of it”. The army similarly remained coy and refused to comment on reports that anyone executed that day died an unnecessarily painful death, merely referring to the whole thing as a “success” which we guess, technically, it was. Woods went on to lead a long full life, or he would have done if he hadn’t accidentally electrocuted himself to death a few years later.
We’re not saying this is a good thing, we’re just saying that if you ever want to experience some really hard schadenfreude, think about this story.