Robert Paul Prager
Robert P. Prager Taken from Jail and Strung Up to Tree by 300 Men and Boys After Officers are Overpowered
Robert P. Prager, 45 years old, of Collinsville, Ill., a coalminer, charged with making disloyal utterances against the United States and President Wilson, was hanged to a tree on Mauer Heights, one mile west of Collinsville on the St. Louis road, by a mob of 300 men an boys after he had twice escaped mob violence, at 12:15 o'clock this morning. Collinsville is ten miles northeast of East St. Louis. Prager was taken from the Collinsville Jail by the mob, which battered down the doors. The prisoner was found hidden under a pile of rubbish in the basement of the Jail, where he had been placed by the police when they had learned that the mob was on the way to the Jail. The police were overpowered, there being only four on the night force, and the prisoner was carried down the street, the mob cheering and waving flags. The police were not allowed to follow the mob by a guard which had been placed over them. When led to the tree upon which he was hanged Prager was asked if he had anything to say. "Yes," he replied in broken English. "I would like to pray. He then fell to his knees, clasped his hands to his breast and prayed for three minutes in German. Without another word the noose was placed about his neck and the body pulled 10 feet into the air by a hundred or more hands which grasped the rope. Before praying, Prager wrote a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Henry Prager, Preston, Germany. It follows: "Dear Parents - I must this day, the 5th of April, 1918, die. "Please pray for me, my dear parents. This is my last letter. "Your dear son. "ROBERT PAUL PRAGER." Prager was an enemy alien and registered in East St. Louis.
Prager was marched just outside of town beyond the edge of the police jurisdiction, and in the early morning of April 5, 1918, the mob stripped him naked, wrapped him in an American flag, and hung him from a tree. Over two hundred people witnessed the murder and did nothing to help.