This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations, as well as the First and Second World Wars in general hosted by Marcus Wendel's Axis History Factbook in cooperation with Michael Miller's Axis Biographical Research and Christoph Awender's WW2 day by day.
THE NORMANDY MASSACRES (June, 1944) by HJ
A sensation was caused in Allied Headquarters when reports came through that a considerable number of Canadian soldiers were shot after being taken prisoner by the 12th. SS Panzer Division ‘Hitler Jugend’. On the morning of June 8th. thirty seven Canadians were taken prisoner by the 2nd. Battalion of the 26th. Panzer Grenadier Regiment. The prisoners were marched across country to the H/Q of the 2nd. Battalion. In the village of Le Mesnil-Patty they were then ordered to sit down in a field with their wounded in the center. In a short while a half track arrived with eight or nine SS soldiers brandishing their machine pistols. Advancing in line towards the prisoners they opened fire killing thirty five men. Two of the Canadians ran for their lives and escaped the slaughter but were rounded up by a different German unit to spend the rest of the war in a POW camp. First to make contact with the Canadians was a combat group led by Obersturmbannfuhrer Karl-Heinz Milius and supported by the Prinz Battalion. Near the villages of Authie and Buron , a number of Canadians of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, were taken prisoner. Numbering around forty, they were individually killed on the march back to the rear. Eight were ordered to remove their helmets and then shot with automatic rifles. Their bodies were dragged out on to the road and left to be run over by trucks and tanks. French civilians pulled the bodies back on to the pavement but were ordered to stop and to drag the bodies back onto the road again.
On the 7th and 8th of June, in the grounds of the Abbaye Ardenne, the headquarters of SS Brigadefuhrer Kurt Meyer’s 25th Panzer Grenadiers, twenty of the Canadians were shot. After being taken prisoner they were locked up in a stable and being called out by name they emerged from the doorway only to be shot in the back of the head. During the afternoon of 8th June, twenty six Canadians were shot at the Chateau d’Audrieu after being taken prisoner by a Reconnaissance Battalion of the SS Hitler Jugend. Other units of the German forces in France called the Hitler Jugend Division the ‘Murder Division’. After the war, investigations established that separate atrocities were committed in 31 different incidents involving 134 Canadians, 3 British and 1 American. Brought to trial before a Canadian military court at Aurich in Germany on 28 December, 1945, Kurt Meyer was sentenced to death but later reprieved and spent six years in Canadian jails before being transferred to Germany where he was released on September 7, 1954. He died of a heart attack on December 23, 1961, at age 51.
LE PARADIS (Pas-de-Calais, May 26,1940) By Totenkopf
A company of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, trapped in a cowshed, surrendered to the 2nd Infantry Regiment, SS 'Totenkopf' (Death's Head) Division under the command of 28 year old SS Obersturmfuhrer Fritz Knoechlein. Marched to a group of farm buildings, they were lined up in the meadow along side the barn wall. When the 99 prisoners were in position, two machine guns opened fire killing 97 of them. The bodies were then buried in a mass grave on the farm property. Two managed to escape, Privates Albert Pooley and William O'Callaghan of the Royal Norfolk Regiment emerged from the slaughter wounded but alive. When the SS troops moved on, the two wounded soldiers were discovered, after having hid in a pig-sty for three days and nights, by Madame Castel of Le Paradis who then cared for them till captured again by another Wehrmacht unit to spend the rest of the war as POWs. In 1942, the bodies of those executed were exhumed by the French authorities and reburied in the local churchyard now part of the Le Paradis War Cemetery. After the war, the massacre was investigated and Knoechlein was traced and arrested. During the war he had been awarded three Knight's Crosses. Tried before a War Crimes Court in Hamburg, he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, and on January 28, 1949, the sentence was carried out. Married with four children, his wife attended the trial every day.
WORMHOUDT (Pas-de-Calais, 27/28 May, 1940) By LSSAH
The day after the Le Paradis massacre, some 80 men of the 2nd Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the Cheshire Regiment and the Royal Artillery, were taken prisoner by the No7 Company, 2nd Battalion of the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. At Esquelbecq, near the town of Wormhoudt, the prisoners were marched into a large barn, and there the massacre began. Stick grenades were lobbed in amongst the defenceless prisoners who died in agony as shrapnel tore into their flesh. When the last grenade had been thrown, the survivors were then ordered outside, there to be mown down under a hail of bullets from automatic weapons. The SS then entered the barn again to finish off the wounded. Fifteen men survived the atrocity, only to give themselves up to other German units to serve out the war as POWs. Unlike the Le Paradis massacre, the victims of Wormhoudt were never avenged, as after the war no survivor could positively identify any of the SS soldiers involved.
ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE (Central France, June 10, 1944) By Das Reich
On their 450 mile drive from the south of France to the Normandy invasion area, the 2nd SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich' (15,000 men aboard 1,400 vehicles, including 209 tanks) under the command of SS General Lammerding, arrived at Limoges, a town famous for its porcelain. In the small town of St. Junien (30 kilometres from Limoges) the 'Der Führer Regiment' was regrouping. Following many encounters with the local maquis in which two German soldiers were killed, a unit of the regiment arrived at ORADOUR (believed to be a hotbed of maquis activity) in a convoy of trucks and half-tracks. At about 2 PM on this Saturday afternoon the 120 man SS unit surrounded the village ordering all inhabitants to parade in the market square for an identity check. Women and children were separated from the menfolk and herded into the local church. The men were herded in groups into six carefully chosen local garages and barns and shot. Their bodies were then covered with straw and set on fire. The 452 women and children in the church were then suffocated by smoke grenades lobbed in through the windows and sharpnel grenades that were thrown down the nave while machine-guns raked the interior. The church was then set on fire.
Incredibly, one woman, Mme Marguerite Rouffanche, escaped by jumping through a window, she was the only witness to the carnage in the church. (Mme Rouffanche died, aged 91, in March, 1988). Unspeakable atrocities were committed throughout the village, but some men managed to escape. The commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of the SS Regiment at ORADOUR was thirty-two year old SS Sturmbannführer Adolf Diekmann, a survivor of the Russian Front. He was later killed in the Normandy battle area on 30th of June when hit in the head by shrapnel. Many members of the "Das Reich" reacted with surprising venom against the officer who ordered the massacre and a court martial was established but Diekmann died before the trial took place. The world heard of this massacre eight years later when some of those responsible were brought to trial. In 1953, a French Military Court at Bordeaux, established that 642 people (245 women, 207 children and 190 men) had perished. Twenty-one other members of his company (including fourteen Frenchmen from Alsace-Lorraine who had been conscripted into the SS) were sentenced to death but later their sentences were commuted to terms of imprisonment. All were released by 1959. SS General Lammerding died peacefully at his home at Bad Toltz in Germany on the 13th of January 1971, of cancer. A close friend of Diekmann was Major Helmut Kampfe, commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion of the Der Führer Regiment. He was kidnapped and executed by the FTP (Communists) the day before the massacre. His kidnapping was not the only reason for the events at Oradour. Gold, looted by the Nazis, and then stolen by the Maquis, was rumoured to be hidden in the village, why else the indiscriminate destruction?.
Today, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane stands in ruins, just as the SS left it.
THE TULLE MURDERS (Near Limoges, Central France, June 9, 1944)
By Das Reich
The day before the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane , the SS murdered 99 men in the town of Tulle in central France. This was in response to activities by the local FTP resistance groups who had attacked and taken over the town. When the 2nd SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich' took over the town they found 40 dead bodies of the German 3rd Battalion/95th Security Regiment garrison troops near the school, their bodies badly mutilated. Other bodies were found around the town, bringing the total German dead in Tulle to sixty-four. Next day, the reprisals began. All males in the town were gathered together and 130 suspects were selected for execution. A number were released because of their youth and the remaining 99 were executed by the Pioneer platoon of SS-Panzer Aufklarungs Abteilung 2. Their bodies were hung up on lamp-posts and from balconies along the main streets of the town in the hope that the hanging bodies would deter future attacks by the Maquis and the FTP. More would have been hanged had not the SS ran out of rope. Instead, they rounded up 149 civilians and deported them to Germany for slave labour. Of these, 101 did not return.
ASCQ (Near Lille, April 2, 1944) BY HJ
At the end of March, 1944, the 12th SS Panzer Division 'Hitler Jugend' set out on 24 rail trucks for Normandy to cover the coast in anticipation of an Allied landing. The convoy, under the command of SS Obersturmführer Walter Hauck, was approaching the small railway station of Ascq when a violent explosion blew the line apart. Stopping the train, it was found that two flat trucks had been derailed, holding up the whole convoy. Hauck, in a foul mood, ordered his men to search and arrest all male members of the houses on both sides of the track. They were assembled together and marched down the track about 300 yards where each man was shot in the back of the head. Altogether 70 men were shot beside the railway line and another 16 killed in the village itself. After an investigation by the Gestapo, six more men were arrested and charged with planting the bomb. They were all executed by firing squad. When the war ended, a search for the perpetrators was set in motion. Most of the SS men were found in Allied POW camps in Europe and in England. In all, nine SS men stood trial in a French Military Court at Lille. All were sentenced to death, including Hauck. The sentences were later commuted to a period of imprisonment and Walter Hauck was released in July, 1957.
SANT' ANNA MASSACRE (August 12, 1944) BY RFSS
Just north of Pisa, between the towns of Lucca and Currara, lay the small village of S.Anna di Stazzema. On August 4, British troops had freed the city of Florence (Firenze) and the German armies were now retreating northwards through the mountainous region of Tuscany, ideal terrain for partisan activity. Many of the German troops were killed in ambushes and skirmishes with the Italian underground movement. On August 12, the 6th Panzergrenadieren 'Reichsführer-SS' Division reached the outskirts of Sant' Anna, their orders to shoot on sight all partisans found in the area. Believing that the inhabitants of the Sant'Anna were all partisans or partisan sympathizers, the SS started knocking on doors and shouting 'Heraus! Heraus!' ('out of here!'). Gathered together on the village square, the men, women and children, were then shot in cold blood. In all, 560 people were massacred including 110 children. The houses in the village were then burned to the ground, the church organ was riddled with machine-gun bullets and the christening font completely destroyed by a grenade. Many of the corpses were doused with petrol and then set alight before the SS unit departed.
ATROCITY AT BARDINE SAN TERENZO (August 20, 1944) By RFSS
In the area around the village of Bardine San Terenzo, the SS 16 Reichsführer Division was deployed to counteract partisan activity against German troops. Seventeen German soldiers had been ambushed and their truck set on fire. All seventeen were killed. A search of various villages was undertaken where the SS looted and burned a number of houses. Fifty-three villagers were taken to the burned out truck and tied to the chassis of the vehicle and to field posts nearby. Next day a local priest, Padre Lino Piane, discovered the fifty-three bodies. All had been shot. Most of the victims were from the village of Mezzana Castello, those from Bardine were taken to Valla and there, shot. There were 107 persons in all. Only five were men, the rest, women and children. In the four days that the search continued, a total of 369 hostages were brutally massacred and 454 houses destroyed by fire. In overall charge of the SS troops in this incident was Major Walter Reder, the one-armed SS officer responsible for the massacres on the Monte Sole.
THE BOVES ATROCITY (September 17th, 1944) BY LSSAH
A few kilometres north of Cuneo in Italy, lies the town of Boves. After September 8th, 1943, it became an active center of the Italian underground because of the stationing of many stragglers from the now disbanded Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army). These partisans were led by Bartolomeo Giuliano, Ezio Aceto and Ignazio Vian. After repeated requests to surrender, the partisans refused in spite of leaflets being dropped by the SS. On the 17th of September the German commander, SS Major Joachim Peiper, ordered two gun crews to shell the town. The partisans again refused to surrender. Two German soldiers were then sent forward (as decoys) to be captured by the partisans. Hoping they would be killed, it would give Peiper the pretext for a slaughter. The parish priest, Father Giuseppe Bernardi and the industrialist, Alessandro Vassallo, were ordered to meet with the partisans and to persuade them to release the two soldiers. The priest asked Peiper 'Will you spare the town?'. Peiper gave his word and the two prisoners were released. But the blood-thirsty SS then proceeded to burn all the houses in the town after which Father Bernardi and Vassallo were put into a car to do an inspection of the devastated town. 'They must admire the spectacle' said Peiper. After the inspection, Father Bernardi and his companion, Vassallo, were sprinkled with petrol and set alight. Both were burned to death. Forty-three other inhabitants of Boves were killed that day and 350 houses destroyed. Next day, a column of armoured vehicles went up the road that led to the partisan base. A lucky shot from their only 75 mm gun destroyed the leading armoured car. After an intense fire-fight the SS retreated with heavy losses. One of the partisan leaders, Ignazio Vian, was later captured by the SS and hanged in Turin. On the wall of his cell he had written in his own blood the words "Better Die Rather Than Betray".
THE MALMEDY MASSACRE (December 17, 1944) By LSSAH
During the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) the Combat Group of the 1st SS Panzer Division, led by SS Major Joachim Peiper, was approaching the crossroads at Baugnes near the town of Malmedy . There they encountered a company of US troops (Battery B of the 285th. Field Artillery Observation Battalion) from the US 7th Armoured Division. Realizing that the odds were hopeless, the company's commander, Lt.Virgil Lary, decided to surrender. After being searched by the SS, the prisoners were marched into a field by the crossroads. The SS troops moved on except for two Mark IV tanks Nos.731 and 732, left behind to guard the GIs. An order was given to fire and SS Private Georg Fleps of tank 731 drew his pistol and fired at Lary's driver who fell dead in the snow. The machine guns of both tanks then opened fire on the prisoners. Many of the GIs took to their heels and fled to the nearest woods. Incredibly, 43 GIs survived, but 86 of their comrades lay dead in the field, being slowly covered with a blanket of snow. The US troops in the area were issued with an order that for the next week no SS prisoners were to be taken.
At the end of the war, Peiper, and 73 other suspects (arrested for other atrocities committed during the offensive) were brought to trial. When the trial ended on July 16, 1946, forty three of the defendants were sentenced to death, twenty two to life imprisonment, two to twenty years, one for fifteen years and five to ten years. Peiper and Fleps were among those sentenced to death, but after a series of reviews the sentences were reduced to terms in prison. On December 22, 1956, SS Sturmbannführer Peiper was released. He settled in the small village of Traves in northern France in 1972 and four years later, on the eve of Bastille Day, he was murdered and his house burned down by a French communist group. His charred body was recovered from the ruins and transferred to the family grave in Schondorf , near Landsberg in Bavaria. Most of the remains of the murdered GIs were eventually shipped back to the US for private burial but twenty one still lie buried in the American Military Cemetery at Henri-Chappelle, about forty kilometers north of Malmedy.
Today, the American flag flies over the Memorial built at the Baugnes crossroads, about 50 metres from where the actual killings took place.
MASSACRE AT DISTOMO (June 10, 1944) By Polizei
Four days after the Allied invasion of Normandy a most despicable atrocity took place in the village of Distomo, in the province of Boeotia in Central Greece. A unit of the SS Police Panzergrenadier Regiment No 7, on an antipartisan sweep, massacred 218 Greek civilians in the village. Packed into seven trucks, the unit drove through the village without incident but a short distance beyond the village the convoy was ambushed by a guerrilla band that resulted in the killing of seven SS soldiers. The SS unit doubled back into the village and in a last ditch effort to crush partisan activities, the reprisals, including looting, burning and rape, began. When a Red Cross delegation visited the village some days later they found bodies hanging from trees along the main street. One survivor, Yannes Basdekis, recalled, "I walked into a house and saw a woman, stripped naked and covered in blood. Her breasts had been sliced off. Her baby lay dead nearby, the cut off nipple still in its mouth". The unit commander, SS Hauptstrumführer Lautenbach was later charged with falsifying a military report on the massacre but the charges were dropped as the massacre was judged a 'military necessity'. Today, the skulls and bones of the victims are displayed in the Mausoleum of Distomo. In 1960, Germany paid the Greek government 115 million marks as compensation for the suffering of its citizens during the German occupation but as yet no payment is forthcoming for the victims of Distomo. It was not until 1990 that members of the German embassy first took part in the wreath laying ceremony on the annual anniversary of the massacre. (It is somewhat ironic that other massacres took place on a same date, the 10th of June, Lidice in 1943, Oradour-zur-Glane and Distomo, in 1944.
VILLAGE MASSACRES By Prinz Eugen
On March 27, 1944, troops of the 7th SS Prinz Eugen Division massacred 834 Serbian civilians and set fire to around 500 houses in the villages of Ruda, Cornji, Dorfer Otok and Dalnji in Dalmatia. The troops were engaged in fighting the Yugoslavian communist guerrilla forces and the massacre was a collective punishment for those supporting the partisans. Earlier, in May 1943, the Prinz Eugen Division marched into Monternegro and occupied the Niksic district. In one village, 121 persons, mostly women, were brutally murdered. They included 29 children under 14 and 30 persons between the ages of 60 and 92. In 1943, the Prinz Eugen Division was made up mostly of ethnic Germans from Serbia and Croatia. On July 28, 1944, the Division, supported by the Albanian 21st SS Skanderberg Division, made up mostly of Muslims from Kosovo and engaged in a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing against the Kosovo Serbian and Jewish populations, surrounded the village of Velika and in an orgy of looting and killing massacred 428 Serbs, looted and burned down 300 houses. On October 9, 1941, some 2,000 communists and Jews were shot on the basis of Hitler's 100 to 1 order. This happened in a village near Topola after the killing of 22 men of the 2nd Battalion of the 421st Army Signal Communication Regiment. The shooting was carried out on the orders of General Franz Boehme, Commanding General in Serbia. (Boehme committed suicide while awaiting trial)
THE KORSUN SLAUGHTER (USSR, February 16/17, 1944) By Wiking
During a violent blizzard on the night of February 16, five divisions of General Hube's 8th Army, (54,000 men) including the 5th SS Division Viking and the Belgian Volunteer Brigade Wallonie, made a last desperate bid to break out of the Russian encirclement around the towns of Korsun and Shandrerovka in the lower Dnieper south-west of Kiev. At 4am, elements of the 8th Army formed up into two marching columns of around 14,000 men each and flocked into two parallel ravines in the surrounding countryside, and where the two ravines met, the troops, now in complete disorder, then emerged into open country and headed out towards the town of Lysyanka. There, disaster struck as troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, under General Konev, were waiting. Soon after 6am, the slaughter began. For the next three hours Soviet tanks drove into the German columns crushing hundreds under their tracks. Fleeing in panic, the troops were then confronted by units of Cossack cavalry who started hacking them to pieces with their sabres, hands were lopped off of those who approached with their arms raised in surrender. There was no time to take prisoners and the carnage continued till it was all over. To reach Lysyanka the troops had first to cross the freezing Gniloy-Tikich river. Reaching the opposite side they were transformed into blocks of ice their uniforms frozen to their bodies. In the short space of three hours, thousands of German soldiers lay dead (some reports say 20,000) A few thousand others, who had fled the scene and were hiding in the woods, were rounded up during the next few days and taken prisoner. For this great victory, General Konev was awarded the title 'Marshal of the Soviet Union'.
ATROCITY AT THE MARIE CURIE INSTITUTE By Kaminski and Dirlewanger men
At 10.30am on August 5, 1944, one hundred armed troops in German uniform barged into the Maria Curie-Sklodowska Radium Institute on Wawelska Street in Warsaw. Shouting in loud voices they began searching and looting the entire building. The majority of the soldiers were drunk and were shooting at anyone who barred their way. In the Institute were 80 staff members and about 90 patients. All were robbed of their jewellery, money and personal items. The staff members were taken to a camp at Zieleniak a few kilometres away and for four days and nights were kept in the open without food or water. During this time many of the nurses were dragged out and raped by the drunken mob. At the end of the four days they were transported to Germany for slave labour. Back at the Institute the hospital patients remained in bed while the plundering and destruction of the hospital buildings proceeded. Stores and cupboards were broken open and everything thrown about while some of the female patients were dragged from their beds, assaulted and raped. Around 15 of the seriously sick patients were shot in their beds and their mattresses set on fire. Petrol was poured over the floors of the wards and set alight. Patients still alive (about 70) were then shot, their bodies piled in a heap and doused with petrol and ignited. This atrocity at the Radium Institute took the lives of all patients being treated there. The perpetrators of this horrible crime were mostly Russian soldiers, members of the Vlassov Army. General Vlassov was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1942 and later commanded an army of Russian prisoners of war who volunteered to fight on the German side rather than starve to death in German prison camps.
the Waffen SS had to provide men for the Einsatzgruppen squads from the outset. Einsatzgruppen A’s personnel consisted of 9% Gestapo, 3.5% SD, 8.8% auxiliary police and 34 % from the Waffen SS, with the rest consisting of technical personnel.  The Totenkopf in particular had close links with the Einsaztkommando. In October 1941, when the division’s losses became grave, the company from the battalion then serving with Einsatzgruppen A were transferred back to the division. A secret SD document of September 1941 documented the reliance of the Einsatzgruppen upon the Waffen SS men to do the actual shooting of Jews. 
As the invasion of the Soviet Union continued, the first wave of Einsatzgruppen were followed by the SS and Police Leaders (HSSPF) who were engaged in ‘anti-partisan’ actions, a euphemism for killing anyone that the Einsatzgruppen had missed. Here too the Waffen SS helped out. SS Sturmbannführer Magill reported that the 2nd SS Cavalry Regiment had assisted the HSSPF in killing 6526 ‘Jewish looters, Communists and secret members of the Red Army’, during an action in the Pripet Marshes from 27 July to 11 August 1941. This officer complained however, that ‘the driving of women and children into the marshes did not have the expected success, because the marshes were not so deep that one could sink’.  Another example of Waffen SS participation in extermination is the report by SS Brigadeführer and Major General of the Police, Jürgen Stroop, of the destruction of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw during April and May 1943. Among the units involved were two Waffen SS battalions that came in for high praise from Stroop: ‘Considering that…..the men of the Waffen SS had been trained for only three or four weeks before being assigned to this action, high credit should be given for the pluck, courage and devotion to duty’.  The selection methods and ideological education of Waffen SS men furnished such good grounding that a few weeks of practice was all that was required to turn them into excellent exterminators. This was not the only occasion on which the armed SS was engaged in a savage act of reprisal in Warsaw. On 1 August 1944 the Polish resistance rose up in revolt in an attempt to liberate their capital before the Russians arrived. The revolt was put down by Waffen SS Obergruppenführer and General of the Police Erich von dem Bach-Zalewski, a former Einsatzgruppen commander, who was ordered by Himmler to raise the capital and exterminate its population. Over 200,000 civilians died in what was the largest single atrocity of the war. 
Hausser and Steiner had to accept in their ranks men like Bach-Zalewski, Stroop and Haupstürmführer Bothman, an equally unsavoury character who had served at the Chelmno death camp where he helped operate the gas vans.  They had to serve alongside Oskar Dirlwanger, a convicted child molester. His brigade was eventually designated as the 36th Waffen SS Grenadier Division and consisted of convicted criminals. When Dirlwanger’s unit was involved in the reduction of the Russian ‘Partisan Republic of Pelik’ some 15,000 ‘partisans’ were wiped out. The unit reported, however, that only 1100 weapons were found. A horrified civilian propaganda officer complained that some of the partisans had been burnt alive and their half roasted bodies eaten by pigs.  The Eastern Waffen SS was equally brutal. In the Balkans, the racial Germans behaved with such barbarity that Sturmbannführer Reinholz of Einsatzkommando 2 protested against their inhuman methods which had begun ‘to have an injurious effect upon German interests’.  On 28 March 1943, for example, a battalion from the Prinz Eugen Division murdered 834 civilians at the villages of Dorfu Otok, Cornj and Dola Delriji in Dalmatia. During their retreat from an area near Poporaca in Bosnia, the division’s 1st Mountain Brigade shot every civilian they came across, maintaining that it was impossible to distinguish the local people from partisans. 
The SS military commanders may have believed that they were separate from murderers like Dirlwanger and the Eastern SS, but the elite units themselves were often responsible for atrocities. In 1941 a detachment from the Viking Division shot 600 Jews in Galicia as a reprisal for ‘Soviet crimes’.  In October 1941 the Waffen SS were engaged during a civilian state of emergency in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. They took part in shootings and supervised the hanging of 191 individuals in Prague and Bruenn. In July 1944 Das Reich, searching for an SS officer captured by the Maquis, destroyed the village of Oradour-sur-Glane near Limoges in France and murdered 642 civilians. 
Waffen SS personnel were even involved in medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. Oberführer Joachim Mrugowsky, Chief of the Hygienic Institute of the Waffen SS, took part in high-altitude experiments at Dachau for the benefit of the Luftwaffe. The experiments were carried out in a low-pressure chamber in which atmospheric conditions prevailing at high altitude could be duplicated. He also took part in tests to investigate ways of treating persons who had been severely chilled. In one series of experiments the subjects were forced to remain in a tank of ice water for three hours. Sturmbannführer Viktor Brack of the Waffen SS was engaged in sterilization experiments conducted by means of drugs, X-ray and surgery at Auschwitz and Ravensbrück. 
It is not surprising that units of the Waffen SS, which had thus been employed for medical experiments, extermination actions and the execution of civilians, also violated the laws of warfare. Political fanaticism, combined with the fury of battle led to repeated breaches of the established codes of warfare. There occurred in Normandy, for example, between 7 and 17 June 1944, seven cases involving the shooting of 64 prisoners. The 25th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment of the 12th SS Panzer Division were given orders stating that prisoners were to be executed after having been interrogated. Similar orders were given to the 3rd Battalion of the 26th SS Panzer Grenadiers and to the 12th SS Engineering and Reconnaissance Battalions. 
However, it must be said that there were numerous cases of Allied soldiers shooting SS prisoners during the Normandy fighting. In the heat of battle, in the wake of seeing friends die, many men found it intolerable to send prisoners to the rear knowing that they would thus survive the war, while they themselves seemed to have little prospect of doing so.  The difference however, was that the cases of Allied troops shooting prisoners were random and spontaneous, while the Waffen SS often held to a definite policy of liquidating prisoners. During the Ardennes offensive elements of the Leibstandarte murdered American prisoners at Malmédy after they had surrendered. Even earlier in 1940, the man responsible for this atrocity, Wilhelm Mohnke, had led the massacre of British prisoners at Wormhoudt in France. The killing of allied prisoners in the West destroyed the myth that the Waffen SS only reserved its excesses for the Eastern front, where the murder of Soviet POWs was a regular feature of the fighting.
The Chief of the Security Police and Security Service
September 23, 1941
48 copies (36th copy)
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 92
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A large-scale anti-Jewish action was carried out in the village of Lahoysk. In the course of this action, 920 Jews were executed with the support of a unit of the SS Division "Reich." The village may now be described as "free of Jews."
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