bf109 emil -- You asked:
Was this not brought up in Meyer's trial in Canada??
I doubt it.
(1) The UN War Crimes Commission report of SS-Brigadefuehrer
Meyer's 1945 trial doesn't mention the supposed Canadian order. Even assuming such an order existed, it would have been irrelevant to Meyer's defense, since he didn't claim that he acted in retaliation or reprisal. Instead, Meyer denied that he gave any order to kill Canadian POWs, and the crimes may have been committed by some unit which was not under his command. See:
THE ABBAYE ARDENNE CASE - TRIAL OF S.S. BRIGADEFUHRER KURT MEYER, Law-Reports of Trials of War Criminals, The United Nations War Crimes Commission, Volume IV, London, HMSO, 1948http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/meyer.htm# ... %20DEFENCE
5. THE EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENCE
The accused, giving evidence on oath, denied ever saying that his unit took or would take no prisoners, and emphasised that during the entire Normandy Campaign he gave no orders to shoot prisoners. Describing the speech which he had delivered to the 15th Company at Le Sap, he said that Jesionek’s statement that he had instructed the soldiers to take reprisals against prisoners of war was untrue. He also denied knowing, on 7th June, that any Canadian prisoners were shot at the Abbaye, and claimed that on the morning of the 10th June, two officers had reported that a number of dead Canadians had been found lying in a garden inside the headquarters. They had the impression that the Canadians had been shot. He went to the garden and when he found that their report was true he had been incensed.
He gave instructions to his Adjutant to find out who had done the deed, and ordered that the Canadians should be buried.
In surveying the operations of 7th June, he mentioned that, in a village near the Abbaye Ardenne called Cussy, he had found the Commander of the Grenadier Regiment of the 21st Panzer Division, who had his headquarters there. The accused also stated that there had been Feldgendarmerie at his headquarters at the Abbaye Ardenne.
The second witness for the Defence, an officer of the 12th S.S. Panzer Division, said that during training and during the first days of the invasion an instruction had been circulated that all prisoners should be sent " back to Division " as quickly as possible, except those taken by Reconnaissance missions, who had permission to question them. He had heard no reports that the accused had said that his unit took no prisoners. The witness stated that during July 1944, the accused had ordered that 150 prisoners should be sheltered in the buildings of his own headquarters because of the bad weather. He had never heard of prisoners being shot at the Abbaye at any time.
When asked whether there were other troops north-west of Caen on the 7th of June, besides the 12th Panzer Division, he replied that Caen itself was in the billeting area of the 21st Panzer Division, that a battle group of the latter Division had been put into action north-west of Caen on the 6th, and that other units in the area had comprised Coastal Defence personnel, Air Force Units and a heavy anti-tank battalion.
In connection with the disposition of troops in the Caen area, the third witness for the Defence, the Regimental Commander of the 21st S.S. Panzer Regiment, said that the headquarters of that Division and of the 716th Coastal Division were situated in a quarry north-west of Caen on the 8th June. In the same area on the same day he could remember parts of the 202 Anti-tank Battalion of the 21st Panzer Division and some Air Force personnel.
A further Defence witness, an Adjutant of the l2th S.S. Panzer Division, said that he had received orders three or four days after the beginning of the invasion that prisoners of war should be evacuated " back to Division " as soon as possible.
As witnesses for the character of the accused, the Defence produced his wife, his Senior Commanding General, an ex-officer of Meyer’s battalion and a Canadian Captain who had gained a favourable impression of Meyer when a prisoner in his hands.
6. THE EVIDENCE FOR THE REBUTTAL .
The Prosecution called several witnesses for the rebuttal. One of these, a youth named Daniel Lachevre, said that in the evening of the 8th June, 1944, he had gone into the garden of the Abbaye with about four friends in order to play games. While he was there he noticed that the Germans had built a shelter, the position of which he indicated. He returned on the 9th and 10th in the evening and apart from the shelter he saw nothing unusual : in particular, he saw no dead bodies. Under cross-examination the witness said that he was very familiar with the garden and that he would have noticed if anyone had been digging there.
7. THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
Counsel for the Defence chose not to make any opening address before calling witnesses, but delivered a closing address.
He began by asking the Court to place little weight on the evidence of the first Prosecution witness, who had not been present for cross-examination by the Defence and questioning by the Court. He submitted that the witness’s story, according to which an N.C.O. had read secret orders in the street of a town, no doubt with civilians present, in the absence of any officer on parade, was contrary to common sense and from a military point of view ridiculous. He also doubted whether a witness could possibly have memorised accurately a document which he had once heard read.
Counsel pointed out that Jesionek had said that it had only been understood from Meyer’s speech (the exact words of which he could not remember) that reference was actually being made to prisoners. Meyer on the other hand, while his account of his speech was the same as that of Jesionek in so far as it had stressed the need for self-reliance, denied that retaliation against prisoners had been intended. Three Prosecution witnesses, as well as Meyer, had said that there were standing orders that prisoners should be taken ; and exercises on the interrogation of such prisoners had been mentioned.
Counsel’s submission was that Meyer never gave any order that prisoners should not be taken and that if any such statement had been made no weight was placed on it by the men in his command. The first charge therefore remained unproved.
Regarding the second charge, Counsel made three submissions for the consideration of the Court. The first was that there were not only 25th Panzer Regiment troops around Buron and Authie on 7th June, 1944, but troops of the 21st Panzer Division, too. Secondly, the Defence claimed that if Canadian prisoners were killed in the area of Authie and Buron on 7th June, 1944, there was no evidence as to the formation to which those responsible belonged. To rebut the presumption that there was a general plan, sponsored by Meyer, to shoot prisoners was the evidence of Major Learment and Sgt. Dudka, who both told of an N.C.O. or officer who had stopped any intended shooting by the guards of Canadians. Other witnesses had described how they had been accorded the normal treatment of prisoners of war. In the third place, there was evidence that Meyer had given shelter of 150 prisoners in his own headquarters. Furthermore, 200 Canadians had been captured on 7th June, 1944. They had survived, although they could not all be needed for interrogation. There could therefore be no general plan for shooting prisoners.
Counsel concluded his treatment of the second charge by submitting that once a Brigade Commander had sent his men to the attack he had no control over their individual actions.
Turning to the third and fourth charges, Counsel spent some time in attempting to discredit Jesionek’s evidence by contrasting his statements in court on a number of details not connected or only indirectly connected with the alleged offences with his words spoken during his interrogations
by a war crimes investigating team, and with the evidence of other witnesses on the same subjects. With more particular reference to the alleged shootings, Counsel claimed that Jesionek’s story conflicted with the evidence of Lachevre. Counsel asked how the garden at the Abbaye could be completely undisturbed and unmarked if graves had recently been dug and if there had been a large pool of blood where the bodies had been ? Finally, as there was no evidence as to who shot the seven Canadians, even as to their regiment, Counsel submitted that the Court could not rightly find anyone guilty of the act.
With regard to the fifth charge, Counsel pointed out that there was considerable evidence that the German military police had had charge of the prisoners in question, and submitted that any suspicion should be directed in their direction. He expressed the opinion that, had any person in authority ordered the shootings, it was unlikely in the first place that the pay books of the victims would have been openly produced later, instead of being destroyed, and in the second place that marks of identification would have been left on the bodies.
(2) The trial took place in Aurich, Austria, not in Canada.