Franz Strasser, born in 1899 was an Austrian-German former NSDAP Kreisleiter and convicted murderer. In December 1944, in Kaplitz in Czechoslovakia, Franz Strasser killed two American airmen of the USAAF by shooting them with a Thompson submachine gun. They were members of a group of five who stayed with pilot Warren Woodruff when he landed their plane in a field. They had voluntarily surrendered and were taken away in a truck. A Captain Lindemeyer, who later committed suicide, reportedly killed the other three, and the court verdict suggests that the killings were originally Lindemeyer’s idea. Strasser was tried at Dachau in August 1945 for the murder of U.S. air crews the previous December in northern Czechoslovakia. Hanged as a war criminal. One of the people he shot was 2nd Lieutenant. George Damon Mayott. now buried at Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial Saint-Avold, Departement de la Moselle, Lorraine, France. Section A, Row 24, Grave 48.
Radar-bombardier on the 2nd Bomb Group 20th Bomb Squadron B-17G s/n 42-97739 piloted by 1st Lieutenant.Woodruff J. Warren, which sustained the loss of an engine and fuel leakage after a bombing mission over southern Germany. Lieutenant Warren contacted Sidney P. Upsher, a pilot of a neighboring aircraft, and told him that his machine was badly damaged, that he had turned off an engine and had a damaged oil system. The last message was the fear that the plane would not go through the Alps. At that time, Lieutenant Upsher wished “Good luck – a happy journey” and eventually broke off contact with B-17. 739.The plane crashed near the Czech/Austrian border after attempting to traverse the Alps.
After a previous failed attempt to find a refinery at Most, the 2nd Bombardment Group appeared above Regensburg in Bavaria. Only 17 aircraft from the group managed to identify the target and lower the bomb load. The other aircraft were unable to identify the target and flew over another replacement target, namely weapon factories and train stations in Pilsen. American sources say that Pilsen was found and bombed, but today we know that this was not the case and that a very different purpose was bombed, probably still in Bavaria or Austria. It was the airplane’s 42nd war mission. Warren and Mayott and other crew members 1st Lieutenant. Donald L. Hart, T/Sergeant. Frank Pinto and S/Sergeant. Joseph A. Cox , Shortly thereafter, the district headquarters in Kaplice received a report about a four-engine plane in Dolní Dvůr. Two cars drove from Kaplice to Dolní Dvořiště. In one was the district commander Franz Strasser and in the second the commander of the Gestapo Walter Wolf (German from Bad Schandau,) and Captain Karl Lindemeyer, Chief of Police. When the column arrived on the plane, the members took a tour of the airmen and the plane and took the weapons. Then Lindemeyer ordered truck driver Joseph Pusch to make way on the truck platform to transport the Americans. Pusch heard a conversation between Strasser and Lindemeyer with words (literally): “The pilots sent us heaven and we will give them back!” Pusch later in the process would give his testimony.
The colone with vehicles started in the direction of Kaplice. When they reached the village of Nažidla, turn off the main road. About 100 m east of the inn of Mrs. Neuwirt and the court of Lausecker the road was slightly uphill. Here Pusch had to step on the gas pedal and at the end of the climb he got a stop sign. Immediately after stopping, Lindemayer called “Everyone get off!” This assignment belonged to the five Americans. Pusch heard them jump from the car. A few seconds have passed since the column stopped, and now the five Americans – Woodruff J. Warren from Maryland, Donald L. Hart from Massachusetts, Frank Pinto Jr. from Texas, George D. Mayett from New York, Josepf Cox from Alabama had to die. The machine guns crackled, blood flowed from their mouths and ears, and the snow turned red all around. Karl Lindemeyer shot three and Franz Strasser two Americans. Then the two assassins took off their clothes, shoes and all the valuable things from the Americans. The corpses were left in their underwear. Pusch, who was all witnesses and pale and afraid, was ordered to cover the bodies by the snow. Then they ordered Pusch to leave if he didn’t want to end up so badly too. Before the killers left their sacrifices, parts of their bodies, faces appeared.
Their bodies at first were buried in shallow graves in a ditch along the highway near which they were murdered. In May 1945, the remains of five unknown U.S. airmen were recovered from such graves by the 26th Infantry Division QM Corps and taken on 28-05-1945 to U.S. Military Cemetery No. 1 in Nurnberg, Germany, for burial. Over the next few weeks, investigation by authorities and comparison with the dental charts of crew members after initial identification of Lieutenant. Warren by a card found in his cap by a witness of the shootings. After identification, Lieutenant. Woodruff’s and Lieutenant. Mayott’s families were contacted and granted permission for the remains to be reinterred in the St. Avold cemetery. Lieutenant. Mayott was reburied with full military honors, per a letter to John Ray and Grace Mayott from Major General. Herman Feldman,
dated 24-03-1949. Major General Feldman died on 27-09-1969 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 2 Site E-539. Four other crewmen, detained separately, were POW through the end of the war.
Franz Strasser was arrested by the Americans in Frymburk in June 1945 and transferred to Dachau as a war criminal, where he was sentenced to death. Josef Pusch was the most important witness in the process
. Franz Strasser was executed on 10-12-1945. Strasser was hanged by the U.S hangman John Chris Woods, and died instantly, while the German Catholic priest and longtime hospital clergyman Karl Morgenschweis prayed for him
.. Karl Lindemeyer, born 15-08-1896 in Baden-Württemberg, age 48, committed suicide on 08-05-1945 in Czechoslovakia and was buried on 10-05-1945 in the grave Nr. č. VIII/14 in Kaplice.. War criminal Strasser, age 46 is buried at the Spöttinger prison cemetery in Landsberg, between a lot of other hanged war criminals