Eugen Weidmann (February 5, 1908–June 17, 1939) was the last person to be publicly executed in France.
Weidmann was born in Frankfurt am Main to the family of an export businessman, and went to school there. He was sent to live with his grandparents at the outbreak of World War I; during this time he started stealing. Later in his twenties he served five years in jail for robbery.
During his time in jail Weidmann met three men who would later become his partners in crime: Roger Million, Blanc and Fritz Frommer. After their release from jail, they decided to work together to kidnap rich tourists visiting France and steal their money. They rented a villa in Saint Cloud, near Paris, for this purpose.
Their first kidnap attempt ended in failure because their victim struggled too hard, forcing them to let him go. Their second attempt of a New York dancer visiting France, Jean de Koven, was more successful, and Weidmann killed and buried her in the villa’s garden in July 1937. The group then sent Million’s mistress, Collette Tricot, to cash in Koven’s traveller’s cheques.
On September 1 the same year, Weidmann hired a chauffeur named Joseph Couffy to drive him to the French Riviera where he shot him in the back of the head and stole his car. On October 17, 1937, Million and Weidmann arranged a meeting with a young theatrical producer named Roger LeBlond, promising to invest money in one of his shows. Instead, Weidmann shot him in the back of his head and took his wallet.
Weidmann next shot Raymond Lesobre in the back of the head, a real estate agent who was showing him around a house, and stole his car and wallet. Then on September 3, 1937 with Million he lured Janine Keller, a private nurse who would be his fifth and final victim, into a cave with a job offer. There he killed her and stole her belongings.
The police eventually tracked Weidmann to the villa from a business card left at Lesobre’s office and, after a shootout, arrested him. He then confessed to all his murders. Weidmann, Million, Blanc and Tricot were tried in March 1939, with Weidmann and Million receiving the death sentence while Blanc received a jail sentence of 20 months and Tricot was acquitted. Million’s sentence was later changed to life imprisonment.
On June 17, 1939, Weidmann was beheaded by the guillotine in Versailles, outside the prison Saint-Pierre. The “hysterical behaviour” by spectators was so scandalous that French President Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions.
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