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Fodor, N. (1961). Hang it All. Am. Imago, 18(3):311-314.

(1961). American Imago, 18(3):311-314

Hang it All

Nandor Fodor

The phrase has no gruesome significance. Yet a primitive, murderous repression is hidden behind it. A charitable interpretation: keep matters in suspense, is contradicted by the annoyance or rage with which the phrase is uttered. It is doubtful whether the word “hang” will ever be free of horrible associations. Even the watered down substitute: suspend, has a disquieting ring. As an eloquent example I recall the description of a demonstrator of public clairvoyance to a woman in the audience, saying “Suspended above you …” The woman interrupted: “That's him, he had hanged himself.”

The recent capture of highly placed Nazi criminals who had been in hiding ever since Hitler's defeat, may justify some reflections on the psychological make-up of the executioners.

No profession (or occupation) throughout the ages has inspired more awe and fear than that of the executioner. In the sentimental novelistic age he was always described as a man accursed, who lived in a forlorn, wild section of in-habited places and was shunned by all the living. He was believed to be a monster, a kind of Frankenstein who had nothing in common with the rest of humanity. The thought that the hangman could be human and might be just performing a job, however queer and horrible, was unthinkable - and it still is. Like a fatal disease, the profession was usually handed down in the family. The son inherited it from the father and his assistants just had to be misfits, gnome-like, repulsive creatures whom society had rejected.

The last war had destroyed this novelistic concept Whole groups of executioners grew up in Germany and else-where. They volunteered or were trained for the job.

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