The guillotine (/ˈɡɪlətiːn/ or /ˈɡiː.ətiːn/; ) is a device designed for carrying out executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame in which a weighted and angled blade is raised to the top and suspended. The condemned person is secured at the bottom of the frame, with his or her neck held directly below the blade. The blade is then released, to fall swiftly and sever the head from the body. The device is best known for its use in France, in particular during the French Revolution, when it "became a part of popular culture, celebrated as the people's avenger by supporters of the Revolution and vilified as the pre-eminent symbol of the Reign of Terror by opponents." However, it continued to be used long after the Revolution and remained France's standard method of judicial execution until the abolition of capital punishment by President François Mitterrand in 1981. The last person guillotined in France was Hamida Djandoubi, on 10 September 1977.
The guillotine has also been employed in other countries. In Germany, it saw rapid and prolific use during the Third Reich and was used in the German Democratic Republic as late as 1966.
Read more about Guillotine: French Revolution, Elsewhere, Living Heads
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