Atrocities of 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend"

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Penn44
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Post by Penn44 » 14 Oct 2006 04:20

Roger Griffiths wrote:Then an order came from ISS Panzerkorps 'You're taking too many prisoners'. This is the sort of order that could be issued in any army.


What is your source please?

Roger Griffiths wrote:The Canadians were loath to take prisoners.


What is your source please?

Roger Griffiths wrote:It is said that German prisoners captured by American Forces only had a 50/50 chance of surving capture.


What is your source please?

Roger Griffiths wrote:My mothers brother, a tank commander in N. Africa told me that if a big battle was going on, it was customary to shoot prisoners rather than detach soldiers to guard prisoners.


This may well be true for your uncle's unit, but you cannot generalize to all British units.

Too many unsourced comments. I feel David Thompson's pain.

Penn44


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alf
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Post by alf » 14 Oct 2006 05:15

One in seven Canadian deaths in Normandy were as POW's executed, thats 14% of all deaths
http://grad.usask.ca/gateway/archive9.html is a good Canadian overview of the Meyer trial

Of the total 1017 fatal casualties suffered by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade in Normandy, one in seven died not in combat but in the hands of their captors.
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On D-Day+1, SS Lieutenant Colonel Karl-Heinz Milius threw his 3rd battalion at the Canadians during the battle for Authie. The North Nova Scotia Regiment and Cameron Highlanders thwarted this German counterattack, stopping the grenadiers in their tracks and bloodying the 12th SS Panzer division for the first time. The twenty-three Canadians captured by the Germans in Authie suffered a horrific fate that foreshadowed future atrocities at the hands of the SS troops. At the main intersection (at the southern end of the village) Canadian soldiers were disarmed, told to remove their helmets, and shot at close range. The young German troops further insulted the Canadian lives they had taken. In one incident, some German soldiers propped up the corpse of a murdered Canadian, placed an old hat on his head, and stuffed a cigarette box into his mouth. In another situation, eight of the lifeless Canadian bodies were unceremoniously dragged onto the street where they were repeatly mutilated by passing tanks, trucks and armoured vehicles. Appalled French onlookers later testified that SS troops whooped like drunken pirates at their handiwork.



Other Canadians were captured and taken to the Abbaye d'Ardenne, the headquarters of the German division where Meyer had watched the battle unfold. In the abbey garden eleven Canadians were interrogated and then killed on 7 June, each Canadian prisoner shaking hands with his comrades before being executed. At noon the next day seven more Canadians were shot at the Abbaye; their murders coincided with the execution of Canadian POWs on the Caen-Fountenay Road. The following evening Canadian prisoners were taken to the 12th SS's 2nd Battalion headquarters to meet their death. On the now tranquil grounds of the Chateau d'Audrieu, Canadian POWs were interrogated and duly executed, first in threes and later in more efficient larger numbers. These large-scale incidents represent 120 of 156 murders committed by the Hitlerjugend during the first ten days of the Normandy Campaign


So, the 12 SS committed atrocities from their very first contact with the Canadians, if they in turn were then hunted down as vermin and exterminated later, they brought it on themselves.

The source Penn44 gave is the best available Margolian's, Conduct Unbecoming, but it is for serious researchers. For a discussion on killing of prisoners throughtout history. John Keegan's "The Face of Battle" has a good chapter on it.

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Post by gunslinger » 14 Oct 2006 07:26

Can we please keep it with the official trial of Kurt Meyer, and some less
quote's from unreliable sources, often to dramatized and not proved in court.

In the abbey garden eleven Canadians were interrogated and then killed on 7 June, each Canadian prisoner shaking hands with his comrades before being executed

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Post by Tratt » 14 Oct 2006 09:02

Much has been made of the shooting of prisoners - most notoriously, German prisoners - by 12th SS Panzer and other German units in Normandy. Yet it must be said that propaganda has distorted the balance of guilt. Among scores of Allied witnesses interviewed for this narrative, almost every one had direct knowledge or even experience of the shooting of German prisoners during the campaign. In the heat of battle, in the wake of seeing comrades die, many men found it intolerable to send prisoners to the rear knowing they would thus survive the war, while they themselves seemed to have little prospect of doing so. Many British and American units shot SS prisoners routinely, which explained, as much as the fanatical resistance that the SS so often offered, why so few appeared in the POW cages. The 6th KOSB never forgave or forgot the action of a wounded SS soldier to whom Major John Olgivie leaned down to give water. The German drank, then shot the British officer.
....
But although there were well-documented instances of SS units murdering their captives, overall it seems doubtful whether this was done on a greater scale by one side than the other. Lieutenant Philip Reisler of the US 2nd Armored watched infantrymen of the 4th Division carelessly shoot three wounded Germans. One of his fellow officers echoed a common sentiment in the unit: "Anything you do to the krauts is okay because they should have given up in Africa. All of this is just wasted motion." Patton describes how a German soldier blew up a bridge, killing several GI's after their leading elements had passed: "He then put up his hands...The Americans took him prisoner, which I considered the height of folly." Lindley Higgens of the US 4th saw a lieutenant shout impatiently to a soldier moving off with a prisoner: "You going to take that man to the rear?", and simply pull out his pistol to shoot the German in the head. Once a definable atrocity had been discovered - as with the bodies of the Canadians killed by 12th SS Panzer - and the conscious decision taken to respond in kind, it is difficult with hindsight to draw a meaningful moral distinction between the behaviour of one side and the other on the battlefield."


Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, by Max Hastings, pp 211-212

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Post by Penn44 » 14 Oct 2006 09:42

Tratt wrote:
Much has been made of the shooting of prisoners - most notoriously, German prisoners - by 12th SS Panzer and other German units in Normandy.

What German units other than 12.SS-PD had a reputation for killing prisoners in Normandy?

In the heat of battle, in the wake of seeing comrades die, many men found it intolerable to send prisoners to the rear knowing they would thus survive the war, while they themselves seemed to have little prospect of doing so.

Heat of battle killings are rather different from killings based on command-directed unit policies not to take prisoners.

Many British and American units shot SS prisoners routinely, which explained, as much as the fanatical resistance that the SS so often offered, why so few appeared in the POW cages. ....

Unfortunately, Hasting does not provide any evidence to support his claim. From what I have gathered the American killing of SS men because they were SS men did not become prominent until after Malmedy.

But although there were well-documented instances of SS units murdering their captives, overall it seems doubtful whether this was done on a greater scale by one side than the other.


Hastings is making an sweeping assumption without providing any evidence without producing some evidence.

The most notable German atrocities committed against British or American troops were committed by SS troops. The Heer was not implicated in any comparable atrocities.

Lieutenant Philip Reisler of the US 2nd Armored watched infantrymen of the 4th Division carelessly shoot three wounded Germans. … Lindley Higgens of the US 4th saw a lieutenant shout impatiently to a soldier moving off with a prisoner: "You going to take that man to the rear?", and simply pull out his pistol to shoot the German in the head."


How can Hastings equate the four Germans murdered above with the 134 Canadian soldiers murdered by the 12.SS-PD? 4 does not equal 134.

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Post by Tratt » 14 Oct 2006 10:10

Aside from the specific instances he describes (and bear in mind that he is writing a general book on the Normandy campaign, not a description of every war crime committed) his evidence is:

Among scores of Allied witnesses interviewed for this narrative, almost every one had direct knowledge or even experience of the shooting of German prisoners during the campaign.


Heat of battle killings are rather different from killings based on command-directed unit policies not to take prisoners.


But what's the evidence that there was such a command-directed policy? I know Kurt Meyer was charged with giving such an order but the case against him seems quite dubious.

If you read other books describing this campaign descriptions of specific incidents do come up, for example in Meyer's history of the 12th SS there is a description of the shooting of eight German soldiers of the staff of the Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 130 on 8 June 1944 by the Inns of Court Regiment. The sole survivor of the killings, Hauptmann Graf Clary-Aldringen gave evidence of this incident at the post war war-crimes trial of two officers of the 12th SS who ordered three Canadian POWs shot as a reprisal.

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Post by Penn44 » 14 Oct 2006 11:28

Tratt wrote:Aside from the specific instances he describes (and bear in mind that he is writing a general book on the Normandy campaign, not a description of every war crime committed) his evidence is:..


Among scores of Allied witnesses interviewed for this narrative, almost every one had direct knowledge or even experience of the shooting of German prisoners during the campaign.


The Hastings comment was made in the context of heat of battle killings, not command-directed killings or those in which command responsibility was a factor. There is a difference between these types of killing.

Tratt wrote:I know Kurt Meyer was charged with giving such an order but the case against him seems quite dubious..


How was the case "dubious"?

The problem that defenders of the 12.SS-PD face is that they cannot account for or they chose to avoid the issue of the 134 murdered Canadian soldiers. This is especially important in the light of the fact that no other German formation was officially accused of committing attrocities on the scale that the 12.SS-PD was accused.

It is very difficult for the defenders of the 12.SS-PD to goosestep around these facts.

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Post by gunslinger » 14 Oct 2006 12:45

It is very difficult for the defenders of the 12.SS-PD to goosestep around these facts.


Is this something personal ?? i dont get it....
please stay on topic

maybe this can helphttp://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/meyer.htm

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Post by tonyh » 14 Oct 2006 17:48

It is very difficult for the defenders of the 12.SS-PD to goosestep around these facts.


Penn44, why do you insist on posting gibberish like this?

Tony

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Post by David Thompson » 14 Oct 2006 19:17

Penn44 and tonyh -- I'm getting annoyed at having to make repeated warnings to the two of you about making personal comments in posts. A breach of the rules by one poster does not authorize another to break the rules in response.

Our readers are interested in sourced information, not one poster's opinion of another. Both of you have been warned before, and several of those warnings have been recent. Further noncomplying posts from either of you will be deleted in their entirety.

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Post by Michael Kenny » 14 Oct 2006 21:24

Tratt wrote:If you read other books describing this campaign descriptions of specific incidents do come up, for example in Meyer's history of the 12th SS there is a description of the shooting of eight German soldiers of the staff of the Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 130 on 8 June 1944 by the Inns of Court Regiment. The sole survivor of the killings, Hauptmann Graf Clary-Aldringen gave evidence of this incident at the post war war-crimes trial of two officers of the 12th SS who ordered three Canadian POWs shot as a reprisal.


'Inns Of Court' were a Recce Regiment (i.e a couple of Armoured Cars) The incident with the prisoners is said to have occured when 2 or 3 scout cars, whilst behind German lines, captured the staff group. They came under fire and had to retreat. They say that some of the casualties were caused by German fire.

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Post by J-M.Liesegang » 15 Oct 2006 10:08

Michael Kenny wrote:
Tratt wrote:If you read other books describing this campaign descriptions of specific incidents do come up, for example in Meyer's history of the 12th SS there is a description of the shooting of eight German soldiers of the staff of the Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 130 on 8 June 1944 by the Inns of Court Regiment. The sole survivor of the killings, Hauptmann Graf Clary-Aldringen gave evidence of this incident at the post war war-crimes trial of two officers of the 12th SS who ordered three Canadian POWs shot as a reprisal.


'Inns Of Court' were a Recce Regiment (i.e a couple of Armoured Cars) The incident with the prisoners is said to have occured when 2 or 3 scout cars, whilst behind German lines, captured the staff group. They came under fire and had to retreat. They say that some of the casualties were caused by German fire.

Hubert Meyer wrote following in his book the 12th SS
According to the report by Graf Clary, these German soldiers were completely surprised by the English scouting parties and taken prisoner. After the German officers refused to voluntarily ride on the English armored recoinnaissance vehicles as shieelds against bullets, the badly disabled Oberst Luxenburger (he had lost an arm in the First World War) was bound by two English officers, beaten unconscious and tied to an English ARV, covered with blood. After respective orders had been recieved by radio, Major Zeissler, Graf Clary and the NCOs and men of the group were shot to pieces by the retreating British armored recoinnaissance vehicles. Except for Graf Clary who was saved from further bullets, after having recieved a number of wounds, by a dead comrade who had fallen on him, all German soldiers were killed. When British reconnaissance vehicles crossed the German lines from the rear they were knocked out by a German anti-tank gun. Oberst Luxenburger, tied to one of the vehicles, was wounded. He was taken to a German hospital where he died soon after. Graf Clary regained consciouness after some time and crawled, badly wounded, in the direction of the village le Mesnil-Patry. Members of the II./26 found him and took him to command post where he was given first aid by the battle reporter, Sturmann Klöden.

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 16 Oct 2006 05:29

From http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/bioprofiles.htm#Meyer

Meyer, Kurt

Born in 1910. A 'strident nationalist' he joined the Hitler Youth and was involved heavily in extensive street battles with Communists and socialists during the early to mid-twenties. Later he joined the police and the SS. He joined the 1st SS Division, participated in the invasion of Poland where he was wounded and decorated. On the western front he took part in the invasion of the Netherlands.

"In battle, Meyer was always a man on the go, seeing for himself what was going on at the front and directing the battler from there. During the invasion of Greece in 1941, Meyer's battalion became bogged down in a mountain pass. Personally taking over an assault group, Meyer pulled out a hand grenade and threw it just behind the last of his troops. The men got the message... In the Soviet Union he displayed the same aggressiveness, taking units far behind enemy lines and then fighting his way out again. At the age of thirty-two, his face had appeared on the front of newspapers as one of the Reich's most revered heroes." (Brode, p.19)

In early 1943 Meyer was transferred to the 12th SS Division, which was recruiting seventeen and eighteen-year-olds directly from the Hitler Youth in response to the Reich's military manpower crisis. Meyer took over command of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment.

Deployed against Canadian and British troops in the Caen region following the invasion of Normandy, Meyer was appointed commander of the 12th SS Division following the death of its commander on June 16th, and became the youngest division commander in the German army. He was captured by American troops in September 1944.

A SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied European Forces) Court of Inquiry established that soldiers of the 12th SS Division had been responsible for carrying out numerous atrocities, including 12 verified incidents at Authie-Buron in which 27 Canadian prisoners had been executed. At the Chateau d'Adrieu 19 prisoners had been executed. In total, the supplementary report issued by the inquiry recorded 31 confirmed incidents in which 107 Allied soldiers had died, most of whom were Canadians. The court concluded that "the conduct of the 12th SS Panzer Division (Hitler Jugend) presented a consistent pattern of brutality and ruthlessness. ...the conclusion is irresistible that it was understood throughout the Division, if not actually ordered, that a policy of denying quarter or executing prisoners after interrogation was impliedly if not openly approved by the Regimental and Divisional Commanders." (ibid, p.24)

Kurt Meyer was charged with war crimes relating to the above mentioned incidents before a Canadian military tribunal, which convened between December 10th and 28th, 1945. The Abbaye Ardene Case was the first in Europe to confront directly the issue of command responsibility of a senior commander, although in the Far East the matter had been raised in the context of the trial of Masaharu Homma for war crimes committed during the Bataan Death March, and the Yamashita case had, coincidentally, been decided three days before the beginning of Meyer's trial. .

He was convicted of three of the five charges in the charges sheet, and sentenced by the tribunal to death. This was commuted to life imprisonment.

The commutation was a somewhat bizarre affair, as was much else in the conduct of war crimes trials and investigations by the Canadians. First, an appeal for clemency had been lodged by Meyer, which was rejected by Major-General Chris Vokes, the convening officer of the court, and the commanding officer of Canadian forces in Germany. In that context he noted: “I have considered this appeal and cannot see my way clear to mitigate the punishment awarded by the Court.” (Brode, p.102) The prosecutor, Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Macdonald, who had been the prime mover in drawing up the regulations under which the military tribunals operated, had included a clause to the effect that those convicted should have the right of a final appeal to someone not connected to the trial itself, namely, the senior commanding officer in the theatre, who, in terms of section 14, “shall have the power to mitigate or remit the punishment thereby awarded, or to commute such punishment for any lesser punishment.”

Macdonald inquired a few days after the clemency had been rejected whether this procedure had been carried out. Not only had it not, but no one seemed aware of the fact that a review was necessary. As a result of his inquiry, it was reviewed. The senior commanding officer, however, was Major-General ChrisVokes, the same officer who had already rejected the appeal for clemency. This time around, however, he decided to commute the sentence to life imprisonment.

Meyer was released from prison in 1954, and died in 1961, having taken a leading role in HIAG, the Waffen SS veterans association.

Source: Brode, Patrick. Casual Slaughters and Accidental Judgments: Canadian War Crimes Prosecutions, 1944-48. Toronto: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 1997 [A very substantial part of this work is concerned with Meyer and the conduct of his trial, sentencing, and subsequent release.]

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 16 Oct 2006 05:40

Here's an interesting case log from the Nazi Crimes on Trial website (Justiz und NS-Verbrechen)

Verfahren Lfd.Nr.428
Tatkomplex: Verbrechen der Endphase, Andere NS-Verbrechen
Angeklagte:
B., Walter Emil Hermann 8 Jahre
Gerichtsentscheidungen:
LG Lübeck 560214
BGH 551115
Tatland: Deutschland
Tatort: Wieck (bei Greifswald), Nienburg (Weser), Bilsen
Tatzeit: 330702, 450409, 450430
Opfer: Zivilisten, Fremdarbeiter
Nationalität: Deutsche, Sowjetische
Dienststelle: SA SA Greifswald, Waffen-SS SS-Division 'Hitler-Jugend'
Verfahrensgegenstand: Tötung eines KPD-Funktionärs, der im Verlauf einer tätlichen Auseinandersetzung ins Wasser stürzte und ertrank (1933). Erschiessung eines Zivilisten, der SS-Leute als 'Kriegsverlängerer' beschimpft hatte sowie zweier russischer Fremdarbeiter, die ihre Arbeitgeberin bedroht haben sollen

Veröffentlicht in Justiz und NS-Verbrechen Band XIII


Here's my hurried translation:

Case: Lfd.Nr.428
Act complex: Final phase crimes, other NS-crimes
Accused:
B., Walter Emil Hermann 8 years
Judicial rulings: LG Luebeck Feb 14, 1956
BGH Nov 15, 1955
Country: Germany
Area: Wieck (with Greifswald), Nienburg (Weser), Bilsen
Time: July 2, 1933, April 9, 1945, April 30, 1945

Victims: Civilians, immigrant worker nationality: German, Soviet
Agency: SA SA Greifswald, W-SS division ' Hitler Youth '
procedure article: Killing of a KPD functionary, who fell in the process of a violent argument into the water and drowned (1933). As well as shooting civilians, the SS people as ' dead-enders ' had insulted two Russian immigrant worker, who is to have threatened their employer

Published in law and NS-crime volume XIII

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 16 Oct 2006 05:48

Back to the Abby Ardenne case, here's an article from

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2005 ... 32-cp.html

Murdered prisoners sparked Canada's first war-crimes trials 60 years ago
By JOHN WARD
Oct 16, 2005

OTTAWA (CP) - Three days after the D-Day invasion in June 1944, the British army occupied a Normandy mansion called Chateau d'Audrieu and found a row of 13 Canadian soldiers lying dead along a fence.

Beatrice Delafon, the young woman who had been left in charge of the mansion by its owner, her uncle, said the men had been prisoners murdered by their German captors.

So began Canada's first war-crimes investigations. They became a drawn-out and unsatisfying process, which would determine that more than 150 Canadians were massacred in Normandy by members of the 12th SS Panzer Division, but which would bring only one man to trial.

Since then, Canada has had a spotty six-decade record in bringing war criminals to justice, with as many failures as successes. This fall marks the 60th anniversary of Canada's tarnished legacy of prosecution - and even today, war criminals don't always pay for their crimes.

The roots go back to 1944, when the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade suffered just over 1,000 fatal casualties in Normandy. Of those, one in seven was murdered while a prisoner.

They weren't isolated incidents. Among the major massacres:

-23 men, mostly from the North Nova Scotia Regiment shot at Authie on June 7.

-18 men, again mostly North Novas, shot at l'Abbaye d'Ardenne, Meyer's headquarters on June 7-8.

-35 men, most from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, shot on the Caen-Foutenay road on June 7.

-24 men, mainly from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, shot at Chateau d'Audrieu, June 8.

Another 50 or so were murdered in small groups in another dozen incidents.

It's a grisly and little remembered tragedy. In the recent euphoria over the 60th anniversaries of D-Day and VE-Day, there was little if any mention of those victims.

The killings are blamed on the 12th SS Panzer Division. Its rank and file soldiers were teenage members of the Hitler Youth.

"They were young, they had been completely drowned in this propaganda, instilled with all of these Nazi virtues and they were fanatical," says Whitney Lackenbauer, a history professor at St. Jerome's University, an Ontario college affiliated with Waterloo University.

Their leaders, the officers and NCOs, were hard-bitten Nazis, many of whom learned their craft in the pitiless crucible of the Russian Front.

"These are seasoned veterans," Lackenbauer added. "They've been hardened in that particular theatre, where there was no love lost on either side and 'No prisoners' was a common order that was just accepted.

"They were obviously inculcating that same spirit in 17-and 18-year-olds."

The young fanatics and the bitter veterans made a volatile mix.

They fought to the death, in many cases, and likely did more to slow up Allied advances in Normandy than any other German unit.

In the end, though, the 12th SS was broken and retreated from Normandy without a single tank, self-propelled gun or artillery piece.

Brigadefuehrer Kurt Meyer, who was a regimental commander in the division before succeeding to command of the unit in June 1944, was captured by Belgian partisans in September 1944, during the great retreat.

He was marched into a Canadian court in Germany in October 1945, charged with the murder of 41 prisoners of war. He was the only man Canada ever tried for the killings.

His was Canada's first war crimes trial and although it riveted the country's attention and focused anger on the 34-year-old major general, it was also to prove that justice can be a tantalizingly elusive goal.

Bruce Macdonald, a Windsor, Ont., lawyer and wartime lieutenant-colonel who investigated the Normandy murders and prosecuted Meyer, said the case captivated Canadians.

"Probably no single event of World War II aroused more widespread and continued interest in Canada than the trial and subsequent treatment of SS Maj.-Gen. Kurt Meyer," he wrote in his 1954 book on the trial.

Meyer was eventually found guilty on two counts and sentenced to death, but that was commuted to life in prison and he was freed after 10 years.

In the end, one German officer was found responsible for killing Canadian prisoners and was executed. But he was tried and sentenced by a British court.

Wilhelm Mohnke, another SS officer who is widely believed to have ordered the murder of 35 Canadians in Normandy, spent 10 years in Soviet captivity, returned home and became a car salesman. He died in 2001, a 90-year-old pensioner.

Macdonald's Canadian War Crimes Investigation Unit was formed in June 1945 to gather evidence against the 12th SS. His investigators tracked down witnesses, conducted autopsies and scoured records to build their case, particularly against Meyer.

The SS general was a highly decorated soldier who had fought in Poland, France, Greece and Russia. He was noted for his drive and ruthlessness - he was said to have tossed a grenade at his own men to get them moving in one skirmish.

The man who had been the youngest division commander in the German army went on trial in December 1945 before a court martial made up of five Canadian generals, all combat veterans.

Macdonald had Lt.-Col. Clarence Campbell, later head of the NHL, as his assistant in the prosecution.

Meyer was defended by Lt.-Col. Maurice Andrew, a lawyer from Stratford, Ont., who had risen through the militia ranks to wartime command of the Perth Regiment.

The key evidence for the prosecution was delivered by Jan Jesionek, an ethnic German from Poland who had been pressed into the 12th SS. The young private testified he heard Meyer deliver a fateful line at l'Abbaye d'Ardenne: "In future, no more prisoners are to be taken."

Later that afternoon, Jesionek said, he watched as seven Canadians were marched, one by one, down a passageway into the chateau's garden, where each was shot in the head.

He said the young Canadians seemed to know what was coming. They shook hands with each other and said their goodbyes before walking, heads high, into the garden.

Andrew, though no fan of his Nazi client, conducted a spirited defence. He tried hard to cast doubt on Jesionek's testimony.

Among other things, Meyer offered a "you, too" defence, claiming that Canadians had killed German prisoners and if the SS killed any prisoners, it was in retaliation. He also claimed that written orders to take no prisoners had been found on the body of a dead Canadian officer.

Chris Madsen, a historian who teaches at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, discounts both these defences.

"That shouldn't enter into it, what Meyer did," he said. "It's not an excuse if Canadians committed war crimes."

As for the mythical order to take no prisoners: "There's no proof there was ever an order like that."

Lackenbauer is even more unequivocal on that count: "There is absolutely not one, single shred of evidence that such an order ever existed."

The historian concedes that there likely were instances, in the heat of battle, when Canadians might have killed Germans trying to surrender or who had just surrendered. But there's a difference between that and the acts of the 12th SS.

"If Canadian soldiers committed individual acts of indiscretion, which they likely did, these were in no way comparable to the widespread and systematic atrocities of the 12 SS Panzer."

The trial ran Dec. 10-28 with a two-day Christmas break.

After 25 minutes of deliberation, Meyer was convicted of three of the five charges against him: that he counselled his troops not to take prisoners; that he was responsible for the deaths of seven soldiers at l'Abbaye; that he was responsible for the deaths of another 11 men at l'Abbaye.

He was acquitted on a charge connected with the murders at Authie and of giving a direct order for the murder of the Canadians at l'Abbaye.

The key was that Meyer was found responsible for the murders, by virtue of being the division commander.

But Lackenbauer said it is clearer than that. The l'Abbaye d'Ardenne was Meyer's headquarters. It's hard to believe he missed the repeated gunshots and the bodies. He gave at least tacit consent.

"Clearly, he had to be aware what was going on," Lackenbauer said. "Even if he didn't give explicit orders, was he giving de facto consent?"


The court sentenced Meyer to death by firing squad, but the sentence still had to be confirmed by the military chain of command and Maj.-Gen. Chris Vokes, the senior Canadian officer in Europe, wasn't happy with it.

In his memoirs, he says he studied the trial transcript and found much of the case against Meyer was circumstantial. He also says he was aware, as a divisional commander "that certain things probably did go on that were not always according to the rules."

"There was hearsay evidence," he wrote. "There was nothing direct. There was nothing that appeared to indicate Meyer said: "Shoot the bastards!" or words to that effect.

"So I ordered the execution stayed."


Meyer's sentence was commuted to life in prison and with that, much of the steam seemed to go out of Canada's war-crimes process.

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OTTAWA (CP) - Quotes connected with the Canada's history of war-crimes prosecutions:

"A natural and brilliant soldier, Meyer was destined to become Nazi Germany's youngest general at the age of 34 and to be branded as a war criminal in 1945." Michael Reynolds, retired British general, describes Meyer in his book, Steel Inferno, 1st SS Panzer Corps in Normandy.

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"It is the duty of all nations to bring to justice those who abuse or kill unarmed and surrendered soldiers who have made no attempt to escape or to interfere with the legitimate actions of their captors." Reynolds.

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"It was inconceivable how he, sitting in his headquarters, could have heard a succession of regularly spaced pistol shots less than 150 feet away and not sent someone off to investigate. I would have." Canadian Maj.-Gen. Harry Foster, president of the Meyer court martial, commenting years later about Meyer's defence that he was unaware of the murders of Canadian PoWs at his headquarters.

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"It is one of the sad realities of the postwar era, however, that the vast majority of suspected Nazi war criminals will die peacefully in their beds." Howard Margolian, former Canadian war-crimes investigator, in his book, Conduct Unbecoming.

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"It may be that Meyer did give the order, but it was not proved, not to my satisfaction. I was not going to go to bed forever with his unwarranted death on my conscience." Maj.-Gen, Chris Vokes, the senior officer who commuted Meyer's death sentence to life in prison, in his memoirs three decades later.

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"They didn't care what happened to these guys." Windsor lawyer Pat Brode, author of a definitive book on Canada's war crimes prosecutions, commenting on Canadian government indifference to the deaths of Canadian PoWs in Normandy.

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"As a last resort, Canada might look to denaturalization and deportation. The commission gives to this process its lowest ranking because it does not really deal with the substantive issue of war crimes: it merely transfers the suspect to another country, provided there be one willing to accept the outcast." Report of Justice Jules Deschenes, 1987.

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"War crimes and crimes against humanity were viewed as so heinous as to require a procedure so unmanageable as to make successful prosecution unlikely." Supreme Court Justice Gerard La Forest commenting on the case of Imre Finta, which effectively ended war crimes prosecutions in Canada.

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