• Germany's news in English

Elderly raided for WWII massacre in France

The Local · 5 Dec 2011, 13:47

Published: 05 Dec 2011 13:47 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The raids, carried out in recent weeks in cities across Germany, were part of a murder probe into the men, believed to have been part of a Waffen-SS unit called "Der Führer."

The men, aged 18 and 19 at the time, have "either denied their participation in the massacre or were not fit for questioning, according to the investigators' first impressions," prosecutors said.

Authorities had hoped the raids would unearth documents, for example diaries, linking the men to the massacre that took place in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944. However, prosecutors in the western city of Düsseldorf acknowledged that "until now, no substantial evidence had been uncovered during the raids."

Four days after the Normandy landings that marked the start of the liberation of France and Europe from Nazi occupation, Oradour was destroyed by a detachment of SS troops for reasons that have never been made clear.

They ordered the town's 642 inhabitants, including some 200 children, to assemble in the village square.

Women and children were then herded into the church which was pumped full of toxic gas and set on fire. The men were machine-gunned and burned alive in a barn. The entire village was then torched, never to be rebuilt.

In France, the slaughter has come to symbolise the worst of Nazi barbarity and the village has been left as it was as a memorial.

Around 60 soldiers were brought to trial in France over the massacre in the 1950s, and 20 of them convicted, but all were released within a few years.

Story continues below…

Since the Nuremberg trials after the war, where several top Nazi henchmen were sentenced to death, German authorities have examined more than 25,000 cases but the vast majority never came to court.

But now, with many of the suspected war criminals in or approaching their 90s, there has been a minor flurry of arrests and court cases in Germany dealing with war-time atrocities.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

21:32 December 5, 2011 by The Man
Oradour-sur-Glane is the most compelling example of what man can do to man in wartime that I have seen. And it should remain as a reminder to us all, but it was a part of Euorpean history, a lesson to all future generations, but it was so long ago and those who carried out the deed are now surely beyond both redemption and our limited abilities to punish them.

We cannot, must not excuse, forget or forgive them, but is there any point in putting them in jail to die, as most soon will in any case through sheer old age?
22:20 December 5, 2011 by wood artist
Slight correction to the history quoted here.

The disaster at Oradour-sur-Glane was conducted by the 2nd SS Panzer division, known as Das Reich...not Der Führer.

Also, while the whole situation is full of confusion, the idea that no one knows why the events took place is wrong. The division was moved from the south of France to respond to the Normandy landings, and all along their route of march they were harassed by partisan and Resistance attacks. It is true that Oradour had very little direct involvement, and certainly no "official" involvement, but it was the point where tempers reached the breaking point in the German column. To suggest the reasons remain unknown is similarly inaccurate.

09:26 December 6, 2011 by catjones
german prosecution at work. A true tribute to the innocent lives lost. Murdered in life; murdered in death.
09:57 December 6, 2011 by danceswithgoats
wood artist - "Der Fuhrer" was the name of the regiment within the division "Das Reich" if memory serves.
04:28 December 7, 2011 by heyheyhey
@wood artist

"it was the point where tempers reached the breaking point"........are you joking?

This type of barbarism has little, if anything, to do with tempers reaching a breaking point. This type of heinous crime has everything to do with seeing those you hate as objects who have no rights, no feelings, and no humanity. It has everything to do with denigrating living beings to "things" .


Good God man, you just don' have a clue, do you?
14:12 December 7, 2011 by Dom Tower
Just look at the origin of the information : the French press agency AFP... the problem with the Oradour affair is that an important part of the murders of the SS-Division were Alsacian people - clearly said : French born soldiers having joined the Waffen-SS. In 1946 or so, all were arrested, but the French Government interrupted and canceled the trial because of the high pressure of Alsace region, who pretended they were "malgré nous" (the common name for French german speaking men forced to join the German army). But if those "malgré nous" were forced to join the Wehrmacht none of them was obliged to join the elite units of Waffen SS. It means that those are first of all assassins, but French traitors too... Well I'm deeply schocked that a French press agency mention this embarrassing question without mentioning the "detail" about the Alsacian troops (it is clearly "forgotten" in the Oradour Museum, where the name of German officers like Lammerding are mentioned, but not those of the French...). One more point : we perfectly know why SS-troops destroyed Oradour : it was a revenge against an ambush lead by the French Resistance against German units retreating before American troops coming from Provence. SS-troops were ordered by the SS-Headquarters to have such kind of mercyless response against civilians - like they did in Tulle, also what they used to do some months before, against Soviet partisans... None of the Resistance members of the ambush were from Oradour, but the deeds occured unfortunately not far away from the village.
20:23 December 9, 2011 by DOZ
My Mother is German, and after that experience I make it a point to never let a German anyway near me. Italy is the place I want to be, so I loaded up the Truck and moved to Naples. Hills that is, swimming pools, movie stars.....
22:53 December 9, 2011 by James Good
The German SS unit in question was the 1st battalion of the Der Fuhrer regiment commanded by Major Otto Dickmann.It was a member of the 2nd Panzer Division known as Das Reich.

I suggest that if you are interested in reading what I consider to be a fairly well balanced account of the affair, you may wish to read Chapters 9 and 10 of Max Hastings' "Das Reich".

Best regards,

Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd