Oradour-sur-Glane

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
Rob - wssob2
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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 06 Aug 2009 06:30

Hi Dolf - thanks for posting your photos and research. Much appreciated.

Hi Haen,

Looks to me that this is the ruins of the infamous church,


Dolf has ascertained that it's the barn, not the church.


where the people fled, but were trapped, and died, because the resistance had stored explosives, and other weoponry as well as fuel there.


They didn't flee, they were corralled into the church by the SS.Two-hundred women and 207 children - from grandmothers to infants - were forced into the town church, where they killed with machine gun fire, grenades and incendiary devices. Then the SS troops heap straw and church pews on the victim's bodies and set the pryre alight.

The Resistance didn't store explosives there, either. In fact, the Resistance weren't in Oradour at all.

What exactly happened is still a close guarded mystery,


It is absolutely astounding that an event which is covered in minute detail by at least two mass-market books in English readily available in the US (not to mention the accounts published in France in the past 50 years), an event which resulted in a trial covered by all the major newspapers in France in the late 1940's - could be considered "a closely guarded mystery."

It is a mystery to the willfully ignorant who wish to peddle SS-whitewashing conspiracy theories at the expense of the facts.

If you have facts about a Dutch reporter supposedly being told to stop asking questions about Oradour - then post the facts instead of insinuations and heresay. The latter are little more than static.

As I have mentioned before, two excellent investigations into the massacre are Sarah Farmer's Martyred Village and Max Hasting's Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division Through France 1944

Michael, you wrote:

One interesting element is that the members of the Waffen-SS unit that carried out the (excessive) reprisal action in Oradour were largely Alsatians who had been drafted into the German forces, ie they had been French citizens prior to 1940.


That's correct. In 1947, the French government tried former members of the Waffen-SS, both German and French, for the massacre at Oradour. It also passed the "lex Oradour" - a law which stipulated that a person could be tried for war crimes even if he was only a member of a unit implicated in a war crime.

The trial became a political imbroglio, especially because most of the 14 French defendants presented themselves as "malgre-nous" - unwilling W-SS conscripts forced into perpetrating war crimes- which raised sensitive political issues at a time when France was attempting to reintegrate Alsace.

A handful of defendants werefound guilty and sentenced to death or imprisonment, but by 1958 all sentences were commuted, with the desire for justice superseded by the need to politically reintegrate Alsace into France. As is sometimes the case with war crimes trials - the "small fish" triggermen stood trial while the "big fish" senior officers - e.g. 3rd Company CO Otto Kahn, divisional CO Heinz Lammerding, etc. escaped justice.


It is entirely legitimate to refer to the explosives and fuel allegedly stored in the church, the explosion of which was the immediate cause of the deaths of the women and children who had either been imprisoned or had taken refuge there.


Actually it's not. The "explosives in the church" theory has been a staple of Revisionist writings for decades - in the memoirs of Nazi apologist (and LSSAH veteran) Hans Schmidt and on the web pages of the white-supremist site Stormfront. It's an allegation that doesn't collaborate with the testimony of the victims, or the accounts of Maquis partisans and SOE agents, forensic evidence or in short, any of the facts.

It is clear that a number of men of the village were rounded and executed by gunfire. One version of the event is that the SS unit involved intended to execute the men of the village as a reprisal for a Resistance attack, but not the women and children, and that the deaths of the latter in the burning church was an unintended accident, due to the explosion. I do not know whether that version is true, but so far as I know it has not been conclusively disproved.


It's been pretty conclusively disproved, unless one wants to believe Elvis walks a (flat) earth and Jews control all the banks and the media.

Some of the facts about Oradour that SS apologists consistently ignore are in the WWII German reaction to the event - General Gleininger's apology to the Bishop, the Gestapo's attempt to capture all the survivors, the censors preventing the funeral notices of the victims to be published by the newspapers, the condemnation of the Vichy government representative who visited the massacre site, the "court-martial proceedings" allegedly started against SS-Sturmbannführer Diekmann.

There was a cover-up with Oradour - and it was the WWII German occupation authorities who were responsible. These authorities realized what modern SS apologists do not - that Oradour wasn't just an "atonement action" gone awry due to an "excess of zeal" but perhaps one of the most counterproductive counterinsurgency actions in the entire 20th century. On-the-spot commanders such as Diekmann and Kahn not only violated the guidelines for reprisals set by their own divisional commander, their actions were so brutal and on so massive a scale that they destroyed whatever frayed bonds existed between Vichy and the occupation authorities, completely failed in their attempt to supress the Resistance through terror, and in essence handed a moral victory to the Allies.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by David Thompson » 06 Aug 2009 06:39

An exchange of posts between JTG and Michael Mills which contained personal remarks about other posters was deleted by this moderator - DT.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 06 Aug 2009 07:02

This article was originally posted in The Scotsman (see http://news.scotsman.com/holocaust/Teac ... 2536217.jp) but it's made the rounds on various Revisionist websites. It also prompted the author of the Oradour website to visit the memorial (see http://www.scrapbookpages.com/oradour-s ... Notes.html) :

Published Date: 10 June 2004
By SUSAN BELL IN PARIS
A TEACHER banned from working in France for peddling revisionist views on the Holocaust has been sentenced to two years in prison by a French court after he made a film contesting a brutal Second World War massacre by Nazi SS storm-troopers.
The conviction of Vincent Reynouard, 33, coincides with the 60th anniversary today of the slaughter of 642 villagers, including 245 women and 207 children, at Oradour-sur-Glane on 10 June, 1944, four days after the D-Day landings by Allied forces.

In his film entitled The Tragedy of Oradour-sur-Glane: 50 Years of Official Lies, Reynouard blamed the inhabitants of the tiny Limousin village for their fate.

Disputing evidence of eyewitness survivors, the former teacher denied that the SS deliberately killed more than 350 women and children after rounding them up and ordering them into the village church, arguing that the deaths were due to explosives concealed in the church by members of the French Resistance active in Oradour.

Reynouard had sent videos of his film, along with order forms for additional copies, to the last two living survivors of the massacre, the village memorial centre (now a national war memorial and museum) and to the mayor of Oradour and numerous villagers.

Reynouard was first convicted in 1991 of distributing revisionist literature when he was a student in Caen, in Normandy. Six years later he was sacked from his post as a maths teacher at a technical college in nearby Honfleur, after he set homework involving counting Dachau concentration-camp victims and was discovered to have stored revisionist documents denying the Holocaust on the school computer.

Reynouard was eventually banned from teaching anywhere in France. He also wrote a revisionist book questioning the Nazi slaughter entitled The Oradour Massacre: A Half-Century of Theatre.

In 1998, some 500 French and German copies of the book were seized by police in Brussels and the Flemish port city of Antwerp at the request of French judicial authorities.

Reynouard’s sentence was handed down by the Limoges appeals court, which said that his film had insulted the memory of those who had been massacred.

The court doubled his original prison sentence, but reduced his fine of 10,000 (£6,688), ordering him instead to pay 1,000 (£668) in damages to each of the three civil parties in the case, including Marcel Darthout, one of the last two survivors of the massacre still alive today.

Today, only the stone skeleton of the original Oradour-sur-Glane remains. The late president Charles de Gaulle ordered that the charred ruins of the village should be left as a memorial to the suffering of France under the Nazi occupation and a new village was constructed nearby.

A rusting bicycle, a blackened iron bedstead and the charred wreckage of a baby carriage are still standing as a chilling reminder of the horrific events of that spring afternoon when Hitler’s troops razed the village to the ground and murdered its inhabitants.

The massacre is believed to have been a reprisal for a French Resistance attack which killed 40 Germans following the D-Day invasion.

The SS Das Reich storm-troopers were heading for Normandy when they were ordered to attack the village, a sleepy backwater near Limoges with little Resistance activity. Many historians have argued that the Nazis attacked Oradour-sur-Glane in error after mistaking it for nearby Oradour-sur-Vayres, a suspected Resistance stronghold about 15 miles away.

On their arrival, the SS rounded up children and women, many carrying babies in their arms, and marched them to the village church, where they locked them inside before throwing in grenades filled with poison gas, and opening fire.

As those who survived screamed for mercy, the SS built a human bonfire by throwing wood on to their badly injured bodies and setting it alight. Only one woman escaped from the church, by throwing herself from a 12ft-high altar window.

Among the 60 troops who perpetrated the massacre were 14 French nationals from the eastern region of Alsace, of whom all but one had been conscripted by force.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 07 Aug 2009 04:30

Were the women and children innocently,temporarily, interned in that church?
To be released after all the men had been shot?

And then -whoopsydaisy- the stores that the Resistance had hidden blew up?


I do not know. That is one version of the events, namely that the women and children had been imprisoned in the church while the execution of the men as a reprisal action was being carried out, and that fire spread to the church from other buildings in the village that had caught fire. I see no problem with an assumption that the intention of the Germans was to let the women and children go after executing the men; there were many cases where German forces executed only some of the inhabitants of a locality in the course of a reprisal action, and left the remainder alive to spread the message.

Some of the posters on this thread have claimed that that version of events was a fabrication by the men of the Waffen-SS detachment that carried out the massacre, for the purpose of concealing the fact that they had deliberately killed the women and children of the village.

However, if the village was a centre of support for the mainly Communist insurgency, and petrol and explosives for the use of the insurgents had been stored in the church (and also in other buildings in the village), then the insurgents and their supporters would have just as much of an incentive to conceal that fact.

Rob-WSSOB wrote:

Some of the facts about Oradour that SS apologists consistently ignore are in the WWII German reaction to the event - General Gleininger's apology to the Bishop, the Gestapo's attempt to capture all the survivors, the censors preventing the funeral notices of the victims to be published by the newspapers, the condemnation of the Vichy government representative who visited the massacre site, the "court-martial proceedings" allegedly started against SS-Sturmbannführer Diekmann.



It seems to me that none of those things are incompatible with the version of events outlined above, namely that it was a reprisal action gone wrong, due to the deaths of the women and children in the church. The German occupation authorities might well have been prepared to publicise a reprisal action consisting only of the execution of the men; after all, such publicity is the very reason for a reprisal action, to act as a deterrent. But once it became known that women and children had died also, then the action became counter-productive, and the German authorities then wanted to put the lid on it. The reaction of the German authorities in no way disproves the thesis that the deaths of the women and children imprisoned in the church were accidental.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Michael Kenny » 07 Aug 2009 04:33

michael mills wrote: The reaction of the German authorities in no way disproves the thesis that the deaths of the women and children imprisoned in the church were accidental.


Was the shooting of the women and children who broke out of the church accidental?

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HaEn
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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by HaEn » 07 Aug 2009 04:55

Allright friends and foes.
As many others, I do not KNOW what exactly happened there, and as many others, I am thus dependant on views expressed by others, as well as "reports" by survivors. As well as some book writers, who's views may or may not be tainted by personal agendas.
WAS the Waffen SS involved ??? YES !!!! Was ALL of the carnage caused by this W.SS unit ??? Only God knows.
Are revisionist trying to whitewash this event ???? YES
Are people with an agenda keeping this alive and remake in small increments history ?? It looks to this ex-teacher as such.
ARE there still elements in that area who do not wish this calamaty to be looked at other than through THEIR eyes ?? I think so. (also based on internet sources)
WAS there a dutch journalist told to get out and stop asking questions ??? my report from Holland says so.
Am I a revisionist ? Defenitely not !!! To the contrary, I am deeply appalled by what some (NOT ALL) men wearing similar uniforms as mine have perpetrated.
Am I able to change history ??? certainly NOT. Is anybody ??? Only the iterpretation thereof.
Were there reports that the French resistance were involved ??? YES. (from books and internet sources)
So. . . .this is not an apology. i simply relay what I have learned from others on BOTH sides ot this calamity.
As I reminded my students when teaching accident investigation, etc., there are THREE sides to every report,
YOURS, - MINE,,- and the FACTS.
I think this as well as similar topics will continue to be rehashed for long times to come.
Keep in mind though that some day all of us have to stand before our maker to give an account of our deeds
Peace ! to all.
HN.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 07 Aug 2009 06:58

This is from the Wikipedia article "Oradour Massacre":

Diekmann's conduct
Upon entering Oradour-sur-Glane, Sturmbannführer Diekmann had received orders from his regimental commander, Standartenführer Sylvester Stadler, to only have the mayor of the town name 30 people who could serve as hostages in exchange for Sturmbannführer Kämpfe; however, Diekmann instead ordered the population exterminated and the village burned to the ground.

Protests followed from Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel; General Gleiniger, German commander in Limoges; and the Vichy government. Standartenführer Stadler felt Diekmann had far exceeded his orders and began a judicial investigation; however, Diekmann was killed in action shortly afterward during the Battle of Normandy, and a large number of the third company, which had committed the massacre, were themselves killed in action within a few days.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane

That suggests that the massacre was an excess of zeal by Diekmann rather than an atrocity ordered by the commander of the "Das Reich" division. However, the question remains open as to what Diekmann's intent actually was, in regard to exceeding his orders; whether it was to kill everyone in the village, or only the men, with the deaths of the women and children imprisoned in the church being unintended collateral damage.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Dolf van Stijgeren » 07 Aug 2009 12:00

It was not my intention to stir up de dust, but I find the discussion interesting.

In the wake of has been said about the French Resistance and the massacre in the church, I would like to mention Madame Rouffanche. Madame Rouffanche was the only person to escape alive from the tragedy that unfolded in the church. Perhaps her testimony casts fresh light on this discussion.

The following is the testimony of Madame Rouffanche in the 1953 military tribunal at Bordeaux, as quoted in the Official Publication (from http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Oradour-sur-Glane/Story/Rouffanche.html ):

"Shoved together in the holy place, we became more and more worried as we awaited the end of the preparations being made for us. At about 4 p.m. some soldiers, about 20 years old placed a sort of bulky box in the nave, near the choir, from which strings were lit and the flames passed to the apparatus which suddenly produced a strong explosion with dense, black, suffocating smoke billowing out. The women and children, half choked and screaming with fright rushed towards the parts of the church where the air was still breathable. The door of the sacristy was then broken in by the violent thrust of one horrified group. I followed in after but gave up and sat on a stair. My daughter came and sat down with me. When the Germans noticed that this room had been broken into they savagely shot down those who had tried to find shelter there. My daughter was killed near me by a bullet fired from outside. I owe my life to the idea I had to shut my eyes and pretend to be dead.

Firing burst out in the church then straw, faggots and chairs were thrown pele-mele onto bodies lying on the stone slabs. I had escaped from the killing and was without injury so I made use of a smoke cloud to slip behind the altar. In this part of the church there are three windows. I made for the widest one in the middle and with the help of a stool used to light the candles, I tried to reach it. I don't know how but my strength was multiplied. I heaved myself up to it as best I could and threw myself out of the opening that was offered to me through the already shattered window. I jumped about nine feet down.

When I looked up I saw I had been followed in my climb by a woman holding out her baby to me. She fell down next to me but the Germans, alerted by the cries of the baby, machine-gunned us. The woman and the mite were killed and I too was injured as I made it to a neighboring garden and hid among some rows of peas and waited anxiously for someone to come to help me. That wasn't until the following day at 5 p.m."


Is there a reason to believe Madame Rouffanche did give wrong information? I don't think so.

As for the rabbit hutches: a pity no one seems to know.
BTW: there is doubt if the car (a Peugeot 202) left on the square really belonged to doctor Désourteaux. According to Sarah Farmer in her book "Martyred Village", this is actually the car of the town wine merchant (follow http://www.oradour.info/images/doccar01.htm).

Dolf van Stijgeren

PS: thanks for showing your appreciation, Rob.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Michael Kenny » 07 Aug 2009 14:30

michael mills wrote:, with the deaths of the women and children imprisoned in the church being unintended collateral damage.


What were the Germans shooting at when the women and children fleeing the burning church 'accidently' wandered into the line of fire?

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by David Thompson » 07 Aug 2009 16:14

Two posts containing personal remarks about another poster, from division azul and Harro, were deleted by this moderator - DT.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Dolf van Stijgeren » 07 Aug 2009 16:33

HaEn wrote:Were there reports that the French resistance were involved ??? YES. (from books and internet sources)HN.


As for the books: can you please elaborate on your sources?

Dolf van Stijgeren

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 08 Aug 2009 03:40

Michael Kenney asked:

Was the shooting of the women and children who broke out of the church accidental?


and

What were the Germans shooting at when the women and children fleeing the burning church 'accidently' wandered into the line of fire?


My answer would be that I do not know. As a matter of fact, up to now I have not known much about the Oradour massacre, except that it appears to have been a reprisal action by Waffen-SS units that were trying to move north in the face of attacks by Communist insurgents, that many of the perpetrators of the massacre were Alsatian conscripts, and that the subsequent trial caused a lot of bitterness between mainly rightist Alsatians and mainly leftist inhabitants of the Limousin region.

My first post on this thread was not to present a particular thesis, but to protest about a particularly faecal post by another Forum member that was grossly defamatory of HaEn, and also to support HaEn's right to post a particular thesis about the massacre. Unfortunately, that initial post by me was deleted by the moderator, along with the defamatory post to which I was responding, so that readers of this thread can no longer see what I originally wrote.

However, since then I have browsed through this site, which I found particularly informative:

http://www.oradour.info/general/introd01.htm

My impression was that the author of this site is trying very hard to be objective and fair, and to avoid the extremes of the rival interpretations.

One interesting item in the above site was a statement made by an Otto Kahn, a participant in the massacre, made on 13 December 1962, in Dortmund:

After a while, I was called into the village again by a messenger to see the commander and found him approximately 30 m distant from the church. I first asked him the question what he wanted to do now. Enough had happened. The village was burning at this time. I remember that in the proximity to the church was standing the parsonage, it was also burning. However I said then to the commander that he should at least let the women run. I believe I said to him that he should chase the women into the forest. The only remark Dieckmann (sic) made was: That it was out of the question. Whereupon he asked the question: Do you have explosives with you? I answered: "No". Thereupon, an Unterscharführer behind me who was the equipment manager for arms and ammunition, answered: "Yes Sturmbannführer I still have something on the wagon". He said that he had a batch of 2 or 4 kilos of explosive with him. I turned around and only said to the Unterführer: "Idiot". Dieckmann (sic) however ordered him to get the explosives and asked me whether I had any idea of blasting. Although I had a pioneer-education as an old infantryman, I declared: "No". On this question of Dieckmann (sic), an Unterschaführer, who wanted to have an explosive-certificate, came forward. He got the command to install the explosives in the church and to ignite them. I did not see where this charge was installed since I did not go along. On the other hand Dieckmann (sic) accompanied the Unterführer. I assume that the charge was put within the building. When the explosion was carried out, the Unterführer was most severely injured. I saw him hurled outside through the church-door covered in blood. I am not familiar with the name of this Unterführer, however he died of his injury. After the explosion, the whole ground staggered and a deafening noise was to be heard from the church. The walls themselves remained standing. I noticed that Dieckmann (sic) meanwhile collected some teams with MG's (Machine Guns) and hurried to the church-door. This business was to me so jarring that I turned away and moved away a northerly direction. I was accompanied by a messenger of my company-troop. We both went into a house at the village-edge, not yet burned and sat down. I was there for approximately one hour. About then Dieckmann (sic) appeared and gave me the command to collect the company. During this hour, conflagration reigned in Oradour, during which we heard explosions from time to time that were interconnected with a rattle, like a firework. I assume that ammunition that had been stored in the houses went up.


From the above statement, it appears that Diekmann did indeed intend to set off an explosion in the church, but that the explosion was much greater than anticipated, and caused the death of the SS man who set it off. That seems to support the contention that some explosive material was stored in the church, and that it was set off by the smaller explosive charge that Diekmann had caused to be placed in the church.

It could be that Diekmann's original intention had been to create a panic within the church with a small explosion, thereby causing the persons imprisoned within to try to escape and thereby provide a quasi-legal justification for shooting them as they came out of the church building, ie the time-honoured justification of "shot while trying to escape".

If Kahn's description corresponds to the facts, the eventual explosion was much larger than intended, and perhaps killed most of the women and children being held in the church. So the truth could be mid-way between the self-serving explanations of the former perpetrators on the one side and former insurgents on the other, both combining elements of truth and elements of falsehood. That truth could be that Diekmann did indeed intend to kill all or some of the women and children held in the church, under the excuse that they were trying to escape from lawful custody (although he may not have told the men under his command that that is what he intended to do), and on the other side that explosives and/or combustible material had indeed been hidden in the church building, presumably by insurgents, and that the ignition of that material created a large explosion that killed a large proportion of the persons being held within.

Note also Kahn's statement about other explosions, which suggests that ammunition was stored in other buildings besides the church. As I previously wrote, if insurgents had stored material in the village, and some villagers were insurgent supporters and were aware of the insurgent activity, they would have a strong incentive to deny that fact in post-war investigations. Furthermore, survivors of the massacre who had no connection with the insurgency, and who may have knwon nothin about any insurgent activity, would have been psychologically unable to accept that such insurgent activity had contributed to the deaths of their friends and families. It seems to me that it was not only the Waffen-SS perpetrators who had a motive to engage in falsification.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by David Thompson » 08 Aug 2009 05:01

Michael -- You wrote:
My first post on this thread was not to present a particular thesis, but to protest about a particularly faecal post by another Forum member that was grossly defamatory of HaEn, and also to support HaEn's right to post a particular thesis about the massacre. Unfortunately, that initial post by me was deleted by the moderator, along with the defamatory post to which I was responding, so that readers of this thread can no longer see what I originally wrote.

We delete all "faecal posts" here which violate the forum or section rules -- even yours. If you take the care to compose posts which comply with the forum and section rules, you won't have a problem. If you don't, your non-complying posts will be promptly flushed, along with the other "faecal posts" we get here from time to time. I suggest you leave it to the forum moderators to enforce the rules, rather than try it youself. It may cut into your "faecal post" output, in which case we'll all be happy.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Dolf van Stijgeren » 10 Aug 2009 21:59

Everything was anticipated. Tracker vehicles were included in the convoy in order to cross over farm land so as to chase any inhabitants.

From the book "Oradour sur Glane a vision of Horror", Guy Pauchou and dr. Pierre Masfrand - curator of the ruins:
"A shot fired from the market square was the signal for the execution, a measure to prevent any groups aroused by the first shootings to panic and revolt".


This has been confirmed by Robert Hébras. He heard a signal "probably coming from the square"
Robert Hébras:
1) "The inquiry which took place afterwards established that all the men were murdered at the same moment."
2) "At the end of the first phase, the butchers turned to the second. Had the woman and children seen the brutal cruelty of the SS? Was their liquidation part of the original order, even? Possibly not."


If it was planned, I guess they would have done the church simultaneously with the barns, etc.
According to the book "Oradour sur Glane a vision of Horror", an "asphyxiating gas container for the liquidation of the unfortunate victim in the church, was specially brought in by lorry". This contradicts Kahn's statement and the theory the church was not a part of the plan - the massacre there started later.

EXPLOSIONS "CAUSED BY FRENCH RESISTANCE"
Explosions did take place indeed after 4 PM. (the start of the massacre).

Robert Hébras:
"Between 4.00 and 5.00 P.M., these poor wretches must gone through purgatory, for no doubt they would have heard the frightful noise of shots, *explosions* and flames."


From "Oradour sur Glane a vision of Horror":
1) "To start the inferno, the Germans used grenades [...] and fire bombs [...]. Houses farms, shops and barns went up in flames and disappeared one after another";
2) "All the equipment and material necessary to light the inferno was there: bombs [...], cartridges, incendiary bombs [...] "


So the Germans did use bombs.

OTTO KAHN
How come other sources claim Kahn disappeared?
According to Robert Hébras ("As for Captain Kahn, it said that he lost an arm during an air raid, and was posted missing some later. No one really knows what his fate was"), he disappeared.
"Oradour sur Glane a vision of Horror", says he disappeared in Sweden.
And now his role.
Of interest is, what Michael Williams says:
"There are several surviving witness statements from the trial at Bordeaux in 1953 that show Kahn to be fully involved with the killings and acting in a brutal manner".


Kahn did portray himself as 'a good guy' and I take his statement with a grain of salt.

FINALLY
Were the explosions caused by the explosives and fuel, allegedly stored in the church by the French resistance? Reading the above-mentioned quotes, I don't think so. Given the fact many churches in France are from (around) the 12th century and consist of very thick walls and floors, I don't think the "bulky box" could easily light explosives in neighboring rooms - let alone buildings. On top of this, Madame Rouffanche only mentions "one explosion" in the church. Explosions in the vIllage were caused by German bombs.
Was the church a part of the original plan? I don't know - probably not. Perhaps a further discussion will cast more light on this.

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Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Harro » 10 Aug 2009 22:38

From an old topic in this forum: an excellent post by Rob...
I'm a bit confused regarding the arguments that absolve the 2nd SS of any criminal activity at Oradour. As far as I can understand, there seem to be 2 theories that are used alone or in combination with regards to why the 2nd SS isn't at fault:

1) The "war is hell" theory

2) The "oops" theory

The "oops" theory specifically concerns the destruction of the Oradour church and the subsequent deaths of all but one of the women and children the W-SS troops herded inside. Hans Schmidt in his book "SS-Panzergrenadier" has a nice summary of this train of thought:

"...While the reprisals were being carried out, the women and children of the village had been ordered into the village church for their own safekeeping. Then the unthinkable happened. The church caught fire and 'somehow' an inferno developed that would cost most of the women and children their lives. Young SS soldiers tried desperately to help the people trapped in the church but not too many could be saved."

Schmidt goes on to mention that the maquis had hidden explosives in the church "underneath the roof," which exploded, killing everyone save one.

This theory seems to have been first postulated by Otto Weidinger's 1978 book "Comrades to the End," a history of the "Der Führer" regiment:

"The women and children had been locked in the church during this time. Then the town had been set on fire; in nearly all the houses hidden ammunition had exploded. The fire had suddenly spread to the church, which also had ammunition hidden in its steeple. The church burnt down very quickly, and the women and children died."

In essence, the "oops" theory describes the church incident as a tragedy due to an accident of spreading flames combined with the perfidy of the Resistance storing weapons in the church. The oops theory also places the W-SS soldiers as either unwitting bystanders to the tragedy or as shocked spectators willing but unable to help the civilians trapped inside.

The "war is hell" theory concerns the messy reality of guerrilla warfare and seems to branch into 2 tangents - the semi-legalistic justifications regarding the Hague/Geneva conventions (e.g. French partisans fought dirty, didn't wear uniforms, committed atrocities, Germans were within convention regulations to take hostages etc.). The second tangent is that because partisan war is hell - terrorism can only be stopped by counterterror on a greater scale and a much greater ferocity. In essence, Oradour was a hotbed of partisan activity, and to stop the terrorists the SS looted the town, it, and killed most of the inhabitants as a massive and fitting reprisal to squash further Resistance activity.

There are very, very few instances in military history where an occupying power successfully developed effective strategies to stop terrorist/partisan/franc-tireur/Resistance/guerrilla/insurgent activity. (Whatever you want to call it, since each term has different positive or pejorative connotations) This type of "asymmetrical warfare" has confounded armies of all nations at different periods. The methods for dealing with irregular forces have spanned the spectrum from persuasion to pogroms. (Neatly summed up by the Vietnam-era phrase "Let me win your hearts and minds or I’ll burn your damn huts down").

The Third Reich relied heavily on a strategy of massive counterterror, which, however morally odious, usually did have some sort of twisted logic to it – e.g. shooting X number of hostages for each German killed and wounded, for example. It’s also important to point out that a massive counterterror strategy was not limited to the Wehrmacht & SS 1939-45 but has deep roots in multiple conflicts going back centuries – the Franco-Prussian war, the Napoleonic wars, etc.

Back to the "oops" and "war is hell" theories. To me they seem to have a lot of flaws, which I’ll outline in a series of questions below. Combined, these flaws, seem to postulate the existence of a third theory – that Oradour was a war crime, and importantly, was considered a war crime by the Germans in 1944.

I disagree with the idea that "we won’t know the true story until the trial records are released." There are enough testimonials, trial documents, unit records, books, etc. available today to reconstruct the events in question.

Take for example Oradour being a hotbed of resistance activity – (the SD thought it might be, at least according to Weidinger). Sarah Farmer writes, "The precise reason this town was chosen is still unclear. There had been no resistance in Oradour itself. The nearest maquis was in the hills at Monts de Blond, approximately 12km away." Max Hastings writes, "The evidence is overwhelming that there was no maquis presence in or around Oradour-sur-Glane. The nearest maquis camp was some seven miles southwards." We now have FTP, FFI, and SOE documentation to help us determine where Resistance camps were. So where is the proof that Oradour contained, aided, abetted or promoted Resistance activity?

Otto Weidinger writes that "hidden ammunition" exploded in all the houses and the church at Oradour. How did the SS know it was ammunition, or even it was ammunition, if it was hidden?

Why did the SS men gather all the men into various barns, announce that there was arms and ammunition in the town before conducting a search, then killing the village menfolk and only then firing the town?

How much "hidden ammunition" would it take to explode to kill all but one of the 400-odd women and children forced into the church? 5 pounds? 50 pounds? 100 pounds? It would take a massive amount of ammunition to destroy a stone church, wouldn’t it?

Where is the documentation regarding how much, if any, ammunition was seized by the "Der Führer" regiment? Why do accounts of the ammunition not mention quantities – e.g. "50 kg explosive, 25 grenades,, 5,000 rounds 7.62mm, etc? This is standard procedure for counterinsurgency operations.

The SS accounts mention ammunition but no weapons. Why no weapons? Did the maquis at Monts de Blond have to walk 12km to Oradour each time they wanted to fit a clip into a rifle? Why would the maquis "at Oradour" have ammo but not a single rifle or Sten gun?

Why couldn’t the SS men, who presumably had just forced the civilians into the church, possibly save a single one? Why did only one survive?

If W-SS men attempted to help civilians out of the burning church, why don’t published accounts from Marguerite Rouffanche, the sole survivor of the church incident, mention it? Why does she mention jumping out of the church, followed by a Mme Joyeux and her baby, and then being shot at by the Germans? (woman and baby were killed, Rouffanche was wounded 5 times by bullets as she fled the church and hid herself in a garden) Why does not mention any hidden ammunition exploding, but does mention SS men placing some sort of incendiary device on the altar, and mentions them shooting and tossing grenades into the terrified crowd?

"Der Führer’s" war diary for June 10th mentions "the town of Oradour-sur-Glane was surrounded, and ammunition found stored in almost every house. Results: 548 enemy dead. Our casualties: 1 dead, 1 wounded." Even the most casual student of guerrilla warfare would notice the striking difference in casualties. So we have a 500:1 ratio of French/German casualties, and no documentation of specific amounts of seized ammunition or weapons. Sounds like something’s fishy with the body count – a la "If it’s dead and French it’s Maquis"

Say for example, that for the purposes of argument we will accept reprisal activities as practiced by the "Der Führer" regiment as legal under the Hague/Geneva conventions existing in 1944 and that these practices would most likely be considered acceptable "standard operating procedures" for counterinsurgency warfare by the armed forces of most nations.

On June 9th, 1944, the "Das Reich" commander wrote down specific directives regarding how the divisional units were to proceed with their anti-partisan activities en route to Normandy. Section (I) offers specific instructions as to reprisal policies:

"Executions are to be carried out on the order of regimental or other commanders by hanging, only in such places where guerilla units fight or hold up our troops or commit atrocities…As a rule, the proportion to be applied is as follows: for every wounded soldier: 3 guerillas. For every dead soldier: 10 guerillas.

Given the Hague/Geneva, common practices, and specific divisional order above:

Didn’t Diekmann exceed his quota for reprisal killings? "Das Reich" lost something like 17 men total KIA (Max Hastings estimate) by Resistance fighters by June 10th – thus it would be "acceptable" for Diekmann to kill 170 "partisans" – but he killed over 600. Isn’t this over his limit? And why didn’t he follow the written directive from his divisional commander to hang the civilians? (as the division did at Tulle) Please also note that the division continued on to kill 337 additional "terrorists" as it proceeded from Limoges to Rochechouart, not to mention the hundreds of others deported to KZs. So at what number does a reprisal ration tip from being acceptable to being an "excess of zeal?"

According to Weidinger’s account, Diekmann, the commander of the 1st Battalion of the DF regiment, had heard from 2 French civilians in St. Junien that a fellow battalion commander, (Kampfe of the 3rd Bat) was captured and being held by the maquis at Oradour-sur-Glane and that Kampfe "was to be executed and publicly burnt amid celebrations." Weidinger describes Diekmann and Kampfe as "close personal friends." Did that friendship affect Diekmann’s military professionalism and his decision as to how to "pacify" Oradour? Is it acceptable for a commander to exceed the bounds of his written orders because of the loss of a comrade?

Does the Hague/Geneva Conventions in effect in 1944 permit the hostage taking or the execution of children under 5?

Most accounts of the raid at Oradour include mention of the W-SS men looting goods and livestock from the town prior to destroying it and killing the inhabitants. Isn’t looting specifically prohibited under the SS code, as mentioned by Hans Schmidt? If so, is this looting the action of denying aid and comfort to the enemy or just the time-honored right to pillage as practiced by soldiers since time immemorial?

DF commander, Staf. Stadler specifically order Diekmann to search for Kampfe at Oradour, and if unable to find him, to bring back maquis prisoners for interrogation. Diekmann fails to bring back a single prisoner, disobeying Stadler’s direct order. Is this the action of a commander attempting to achieve his objectives or just was Diekmann’s action at Oradour just getting his revenge?

Stadler, given Diekmann’s report of the events at Oradour, is angry, and threatens Diekmann with a court-martial and even recommends to the divisional commander that a military hearing be held. If the events at Oradour were within the bounds of war conventions and common methods of warfare then why did Stadler recommend a court martial – one of the few, if not only, investigations ever instigated by the W-SS into the actions of a commander regarding his activities during a pacification program?

Why are the accounts of the court-martial proceeding scant and contradictory? Some say the trial happened and Diekmann was acquitted, some say he died before proceedings could get underway. Why wasn’t Diekmann relieved of command? (a standard operating procedure in all armies when a commander is under investigation) It seems like the Waffen-SS did not realize what other sectors of the German Wehrmacht and occupied forces did – that Oradour was no ordinary pacification campaign but a public relations disaster and a war crime:

Why did German troops enter Oradour on the 11th and hastily bury all the bodies they could find in shallow graves?

Why did the Gestapo make an (fortunately unsuccessful) attempt to "locate" all the survivors of the massacre? Why did they want to "locate" them?

Why did German authorities prohibit Marc-Paul Freund-Valade, the Vichy prefect for the Limousin region, access to Oradour until June 13th?

Why did Freund-Valade, (remember this is guy who works for the collaborationist Vichy government) write his superiors about Oradour "such measures of repression, which are against all laws of war and whose atrocity raises indignation and horror throughout the whole region"?

Why did the Wehrmacht commander of the Limousin region, General Gleininger, personally apologize to the Bishop of Limoges for the events at Oradour?

Why did the German occupation authorities prohibit the Limoges newspapers from writing about the event, and even prevented the advertising agency Agence Havas from publishing the funeral notices of the victims?

Why did Army Group B specifically inquire as to the status of Diekmann’s inquiry?

And postwar (specifically in 1957, at a HIAG (W-SS veteran’s association) convention in Karlberg, Bavaria) why did decorated W-SS senior commander Kurt Meyer say in front of 8,000 SS veterans "SS troops committed no crimes except for the massacre at Oradour?"

Why is Weidinger’s account considered more "truthful" in some quarters? Was he there at Oradour? Would he not be capable, as a senior commander in the 2nd SS division, of writing a biased account of the incident? Wouldn’t it be humanly understandable that he would want to clear the name of his unit and his men? Would you accept as unadulterated truth anything Lt. Calley wrote about Mai Lai? Or is Weidinger’s account gospel because he’s a "Waffen-SS Hero?"

BTW Meyer also wrote:

"In the interests of historical truth nothing must be glossed over. Things happened during the war that are unworthy of the German nation. The former soldiers of the Waffen-SS are men enough to recognize and deplore actual cases of inhuman behavior. It would be foolish to label all charges laid at our doorstep as the propaganda of our former enemies. Of course they made propaganda of it…but crimes were committed. It is useless to argue about the toll of victims – the facts are burdensome enough."

The Waffen-SS, was particularly good at being particularly brutal – both in front line combat and rear area security. The problem seems to be that the W-SS never recognized that for whatever gains they made in pacifying a region by terror they incurred a greater proportional loss in political, social and moral credibility. You can’t be honorable "soldiers like the others" and pull a stunt like shooting a man condemned as a reprisal victim as he hugs his fifteen year old son for the last time – as Hauptsturmfuhrer Kahn did at Fraysinnat-le-Gelat in a counterterror action long before his participation at Oradour. That’s not the method of a professional soldier – just the stunt of a sadist getting his kicks. But Oradour was just an example of the self-defeating nature of Third Reich security policies – as Caleb Carr say in his book "The Origins of Terror" – "Warfare against civilians, whether inspired by hatred, revenge, greed or political or psychological insecurity, has been one of the most ultimately self-defeating tactics in all of military history."

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