Chicago Crucifixion (3-9-1945)

Today Chicago was trying to make sense of a bizarre case—the city’s first crucifixion.

Early in the morning two men walking on the 1600 block of North Clybourn Avenue heard groans.  They followed the sound to the nearby ‘L’ line.  In the shadow of the structure they found Fred Walcher hanging on a cross.

An ambulance was called, and Walcher was taken to the hospital.  There he told police his story.

Fred Walker (center) being examined

Fred Walcher (center) being examined

Walcher was a 46-year-old native of Austria who worked as a lens grinder.  He believed in universal brotherhood and was worried about the state of civilization.  His concern had caused him to start a movement for world peace called American Industrial Democracy.

Late yesterday, three men had awakened him in his rented room.  They led him to the place under the ‘L’ where a cross of varnished 6-inch planks had been prepared.  He had not been alarmed, until the men took out some spikes and a hammer.

Walcher's cross

Walcher’s cross

Walcher said he had offered no resistance.  The men nailed him to the cross, carefully attaching rope to his limbs so the weight of his body would not tear his flesh.  They then put a crown of thorns on his head and left.

Now, at the hospital, one of Walcher’s friends had a possible explanation for the event.  The friend said Walcher considered most people stupid and ignorant, that they needed something to wake them up.  Something like a crucifixion.

“I believe that some men who heard him say these things got so worked up they decided to crucify him,” the friend claimed.  “I don’t mean they were angry with him—they probably didn’t understand that he didn’t intend to be the victim.”

From the first, police were suspicious about the case.  They began an investigation.  They discovered Walcher was sympathetic to the Bund, a U.S. Nazi group.  His American Industrial Democracy movement was nothing more than a vague plan to build a Fascist society.

Walcher eventually confessed.  He had staged the whole crucifixion to win publicity for his cause.  He was fined $100 for disorderly conduct.  Nothing more was heard of American Industrial Democracy.

—30—

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1 Response to “Chicago Crucifixion (3-9-1945)”


  1. 1 Kyle L March 9, 2016 at 9:14 am

    This could be a “Chicago Police/Fire/Med/Dog Catcher” episode.

    Incredible that someone could be such a Nazi sympathizer so late in the war.


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