Why Did You Kill Me? by Richard Hauptmann

Editor’s Note: (Spring, 1977)

— These last words of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, convicted and electrocuted for the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby have been excerpted from an article in the May 2, 1936 issue of Liberty Magazine. To the end Hauptmann maintained he was innocent. In a recently published book, the author analyzes the evidence for and against him and concludes that Hauptmann was not the kidnapper. —

I AM writing this literally within the shadow of the electric chair. For upward to fourteen months I have been continued in the cell nearest to the execution chamber in the New Jersey penitentiary. The courts of New Jersey have now said that I shall die on the night of April 3, and that I shall die in the chair that is just beyond the door that faces me and has faced me every waking hour of my life these past fourteen months. The courts have said that on the night of April 3 I shall be prepared to leave the cell which has been facing me these weary months; tread the few steps that lead from that door to the electric chair; that on that night I shall be led out on a walk from which I shall never return.

And I ask, WHY? Why must this thing be? Why should this thing happen? Why should the State of New Jersey take from me that which is most precious to all men-life? Why should they widow my loyal wife and orphan my lovely baby?

Every hour, every day, since the Fleming-ton jury rendered their verdict, I have asked myself that question. I am as innocent of the crime of killing the Lindbergh baby or even the slightest participation in that or any crime like it, as any one who reads this.
Is there any one that can’t see that I could not be guilty of this crime? Let us go over for a moment, if you please, the testimony which was used against…..

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