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French dig fails to find executed German WWII soldiers

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
French dig fails to find executed German WWII soldiers
The wooded area where executed German WWII soldiers were believed to be located (Photo by PASCAL LACHENAUD / AFP)

A dig for the bodies of dozens of German occupation troops said to have been executed in central France by Resistance fighters in 1944 has failed to uncover any remains, authorities said on Thursday.

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"The area turned out to be empty following the excavation. Rocky veins 1.7 metres below ground could explain the radar echoes recorded at the spot," the prefecture in the Correze department said.

Local authorities had said in July that a potential "mass grave" had been identified near Meymac in Correze, after a 98-year-old former Resistance fighter went public with claims of the killings.

Although 11 bodies had been recovered in the 1960s, the group of prisoners is believed to have numbered 46 Germans, plus a Frenchwoman suspected of collaborating.

Former fighter Edmond Reveil told AFP that the small Resistance group, with only around 30 members, had to kill the Germans because it did not have the means to keep them prisoner.

"If we had let the Germans go, they would have destroyed Meymac," he said.

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The most recent search of the wooded area turned up some World War II relics, including 20 bullets and cartridge casings from pre-1944 French, German, American and Swiss weapons, as well as five pre-1943 coins.

"These elements confirm the presence of a group of Resistance fighters at this spot in 1944," the prefecture said.

Nevertheless, "searches around where these objects were found did not allow identification of any human remains," it added.

The joint French-German dig has been called off, but the prefecture said there would be further analysis of ground-penetrating radar and topographical data as well as historical documents.

Any new information could prompt further digs, it added.

France's National Office for Former Fighters and War Victims (ONACVG) led this month's search, in cooperation with Germany's VDK war graves authority.

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