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Nazi guillotine used to kill resistance heroes discovered

MUNICH — German officials have discovered a guillotine the Nazis used to execute three resistance heroes in 1943, posing a dilemma Friday about whether it would be in good taste to put it on public display.

The contraption was gathering dust in a storeroom of the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.

Embarrassed officials said they recalled its use in a previous museum exhibition where it was shown chopping off the heads of toys.

At that time it was not realized the machine had been used to execute members of the White Rose, a secret circle of nonviolent university students who spread leaflets in Munich criticizing the Nazis.

Evidence showed the machine put to death Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst on Feb. 22, 1943 in Munich's Stadelheim Jail, museum expert Sybe Wartena said. In all, the Nazis killed seven White Rose members.

Consultations will begin on how to exhibit the guillotine, Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria's minister of the arts, told the German news agency dpa.

"It's not an item to exhibit disrespectfully," he said.

The White Rose has sacred status in Germany, where the vast majority of people fell in line behind Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. The only other serious resistance group, army officers behind a vain plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944, also was brutally crushed.

The White Rose members' writings came out of copyright a week ago, 70 years after their deaths, and became public-domain documents.
 

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