The Murder of August Dickmann
On September 15, 1939, the Nazi regime executed a conscientious objector for the first time. The SS shot 29-year-old August Dickmann, a Jehovah’s Witness who was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen. Dickmann had refused to sign his military service record on religious grounds. As the result, the Nazis held the first public execution on the roll-call square of the camp. All prisoners had to assemble there. The camp staff forced the around 360 Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned in Sachsenhausen to stand in the front rows – where Dickmann’s brother Heinrich was also made to witness the shooting.
The execution was not preceded by a trial. “Legal basis for the executions without trial: The Führer is said to have ordered or authorized these executions […]” according to an announcement by Nazi Minister of Justice Franz Gürtner from September 28, 1939.