Monthly Archives: December 2011

Ludwigsburg Prison Museum

This is the second of two posts about Ludwigsburg Prison Museum.  The first post dealt with capital punishment exhibits. This one deals with the museum’s corporal punishment exhibits.

Whipping Bench

A culprits head and wrists would be put in the pillory at the head of the bench. The bar at the bottom would be closed over their legs.

Hazel cane and birch rod

Prison Welcome

New prisoners were given a ‘Welcome’ of  12 to 40 strokes of the hazel rod or birch.  For example, den einfachen wilkomm of 15 strokes. If a welcome was given in public female culprits would wear ‘whipping drawers’ and be beaten with a hazel rod [see picture]. If the welcome was given in private it would be administered on the bare skin with a birch.

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Kokura – Japan’s lucky city

When the first atomic bomb was to be dropped on Japan Hiroshima was the primary target and the cities of Kokura and Nagasaki were the secondary targets. If Hiroshima had been obscured by clouds the B29 ‘Enola Gay’ would have gone to one of the secondary targets.

For the second attack,  Kokura was the primary target and Nagasaki the secondary. As the B29 ‘Bockscar’ approached Japan a weather reconnaissance plane reported that  Kokura was clear of clouds. Before making its attack Bockscar was supposed to rendezvous with two observation aircraft, The Great Artiste and The Big Stink, over Yakushima Island.

Bockscar found The Great Artiste at the rendezvous point, but not the other aircraft.  After circling for about 40 minutes Bockscar and The Great Artiste flew to Kokura. After exceeding the original departure time limit by a half hour Bockscar arrived late over Kokura.

The delay had resulted in clouds and  smoke from fires started by a major bombing raid on nearby Yahata the previous day obscuring the target. Additionally, the Yawata Steel Works intentionally burned coal tar, to produce black smoke. The clouds and smoke resulted in 70% of the area over Kokura being covered, obscuring the aiming point.

Bockscar made three bomb runs with open bomb bay doors  and then, with fuel running low, the planes headed for their secondary target, Nagasaki.  Bockscar had a problem with one of its fuel tanks and was low on fuel. Otherwise it might have waited longer over Kokura.

The Air Force Magazine has a fuller account of the events.

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WW1 casualties

The statistics below are from Adam Hochschild’s To End All Wars: How the First World War Divided Britain. They put the losses in modern wars in some perspective.

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War I the British Army had 21,000 men killed or fatally wounded,  and 36,000 others received non fatal wounds.

50% of French men aged 20-32 in 1914 were killed in WW1.

35% of German men aged 19-22 in 1914 were killed in WW1.

Compare those numbers with a U.S. serviceman’s chance of death in battle, per Nicholas Hobbes’ Essential Militaria (2003):
•    War of Independence: 2 percent (1 in 50)
•    War of 1812: 0.8 percent (1 in 127)
•    Indian Wars: 0.9 percent (1 in 106)
•    Mexican War: 2.2 percent (1 in 45)
•    Civil War: 6.7 percent (1 in 15)
•    Spanish-American War: 0.1 percent (1 in 798)
•    World War I: 1.1 percent (1 in 89)
•    World War II: 1.8 percent (1 in 56)
•    Korean War: 0.6 percent (1 in 171)
•    Vietnam War: 0.5 percent (1 in 185)
•    Persian Gulf War: 0.03 percent (1 in 3,162)


Britain was a very class ridden society in 1914.  Selecting army officers on the basis of class proved to be a bad idea but one cannot accuse the British aristocracy of ‘not doing their bit’.

In WW1 the casualty rate for ordinary  British soldiers was 12%. For those who were peers or the sons of peers it was 19%.  Throughout the war it was always more dangerous to be an officer than a private or NCO.

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