Quote: "You will show my head to the crowd: It is worth seeing."
During the rise of the French Revolution, Georges Danton was a prominent mouthpiece for popular sovereignty and was among those who voted for the beheading of King Louis XVI. The ensuing emergence of conflicting political factions led to more beheadings, counter-beheadings and casual Friday beheadings, and even produced a small contingent of revolutionary hipsters who mostly whined about being into beheading way before everyone else.
As an evolutionary survival tactic, French royalty started to produce tiny tiny heads.
Danton's rise to power alternately placed him in harmony and disrepute with those manning the guillotine. It was simply a matter of time before he finally fell afoul of Robespierre (easily the guillotiniest guy during the Reign of Terror). Danton's final demand that the executioner consider his head a treasured keepsake in an era when the severed head market was absolutely saturated was as courageous as it was arrogant. It's the sort of bragging that we wouldn't hear again until the age of modern hip-hop ... if modern hip-hop started from the assumption that every rapper was about to have his head chopped off.
It was also an especially ballsy thing to say for a guy who looks like a cross between Miss Piggy and Jack Black.
Quote: "Ik schiet beter!" -- "I could shoot better!"
As callous as it sounds, it's not surprising that people doomed to be executed manage to summon some pretty choice last words. Knowing your fate is sealed and having ample time to stew over it really gets the creative juices going. It's why our writers always do their best pieces at gunpoint, which works out great, since we have no shortage of people eager to hold guns to their heads. And yet, Hannie Schaft still manages to up the ante with the cutting brevity of her last words.
"Help help I'm tied to a chair and forced to write captions 24 hours a day." -- Schaft, weirdly.
Schaft, a Dutch communist resistance fighter during World War II, was involved in the distribution of illegal resistance newsletters and the theft of ID cards, which she'd turn over to her Jewish friends to help them avoid detection. She was arrested at a military checkpoint on April 17, 1945 and interrogated for days before being sentenced to death. Two German soldiers brought her out to a field strewn with the bodies of fellow freedom fighters to be shot. Now, accounts vary as to whether the first volley wounded her or missed her entirely, but in either case, Shaft awesomely used her final breath to hurt the feelings of some inept Nazis.
Before turning to stone and screaming defiance to the sky.
And hurt they must have, since the soldiers who were botching the execution were using a fucking machine pistol.