Oradour-sur-Glane

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23261
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by David Thompson » 11 Aug 2009 04:12

A post from Michael Mills, containing personal remarks about another poster, was deleted by this moderator pursuant to prior warnings -- DT.

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Qvist » 12 Aug 2009 20:08

HaEn wrote:Looks to me that this is the ruins of the infamous church, where the people fled, but were trapped, and died, because the resistance had stored explosives, and other weoponry as well as fuel there.
What exactly happened is still a close guarded mystery, and wholly laid at the feet of the Waffen SS.
Not too long ago, a dutch reporter alledgedly was told to get his "ars" out of there and stop asking questions.
Perhaps the next generation will find out what exactly happened there.
HN
So.

Scenario A. The women and children fled to the most unsafe building in tyhe village which had been stacked full of fuel and explosives by the naughty resistance, somehow accidentally got trapped after these were somehow accidentally ignited and the fleeing escapees were somehow accidentally shot by the SS in all the confusion.

Scenario B. The unit followed the normal pattern of village reprisal that had been executed hundreds of times in Russia, by gunning down the men and hoarding the women and children into the village church and burning them.

Odds?

User avatar
bf109 emil
Member
Posts: 3627
Joined: 25 Mar 2008 21:20
Location: Youngstown Alberta Canada

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by bf109 emil » 12 Aug 2009 21:52

plan B sounds IMHO to seem more probable

michael mills
Member
Posts: 8820
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 15 Aug 2009 02:04

the fleeing escapees were somehow accidentally shot by the SS in all the confusion.
The fleeing escapees were not shot accidentally. Presumably Diekmann had given orders to his men to shoot any of persons imprisoned in the church who tried to escape to the outside through the doors or windows of the building.

The statement by Otto Kahn, given in 1962, suggests that Diekman's plan may have been to set off a small explosive device in the church for the purpose of panicking the women and children imprisoned there into trying to escape from the building, and thereby giving the German soldiers guarding them a quasi-legitimate reason for shooting the escapees.

The question remains whether Diekmann had revealed such a plan to the men of his unit, in which case those men would be complicit in a criminal conspiracy to kill innocent civilians and give it a quasi-legal cover. It is possible that he did not reveal that plan to his men, or not all of them, but just told them to keep the women and children imprisoned in the church and shoot them if they tried to escape.

Given that many of the participants in the masscre were killed in action shortly thereafter, including Diekmann, and only about 10% of those participants were ever brought to trial where they could be questioned, it remains unknown whether the men of the Waffen-SS unit entered Oradour in the full knowledge that their task was to kill everyone found in the village, or whether they thought that they would be carrying out a reprisal action involving the execution of the adult men, with the women and children being imprisoned and then released, or perhaps taken to a prison or internment camp.

Kahn's testimony suggests that the explosion in the church was much larger than intended by Diekmann, which lends support to the thesis that combustible materials were stored in the church and ignited by the smaller charge set off under Diekmann's presumed plan.

It seems to me that the most reasonable interpetation of the events at Oradour is that they were the result of a number of unrelated elements; the original German orders to take hostages, Diekmann's own personal plan (contrary to his orders), to instigate a huge massacre for reasons unknown, possible involvement of some of the village's residents in insurgent activity, including the hiding of ammunition or other supplies. From these unrelated elements, the opposing sides have taken those elements that best support their respective cases, thereby distorting an objective interpretation.

The unit followed the normal pattern of village reprisal that had been executed hundreds of times in Russia
It was not normal practice in France. Furthermore, no orders had been issued for a reprisal against Oradour, only an order to take hostages.

A large number of the participants in the massacre were recauits from Alsace. How many of them had served in occupied Soviet territory? How many of them had taken part in anti-partisan warfare on the Eastern Front?

I do not think it is a case of a unit that had become experienced in this sort of massacre, and were simply doing what they had done many times before.

User avatar
bf109 emil
Member
Posts: 3627
Joined: 25 Mar 2008 21:20
Location: Youngstown Alberta Canada

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by bf109 emil » 15 Aug 2009 02:16

I do not think it is a case of a unit that had become experienced in this sort of massacre, and were simply doing what they had done many times before
true as it seems the guy whom set the explosives and had himself killed was not to experienced

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Qvist » 15 Aug 2009 22:51

michael mills wrote:
the fleeing escapees were somehow accidentally shot by the SS in all the confusion.
The fleeing escapees were not shot accidentally. Presumably Diekmann had given orders to his men to shoot any of persons imprisoned in the church who tried to escape to the outside through the doors or windows of the building.

The statement by Otto Kahn, given in 1962, suggests that Diekman's plan may have been to set off a small explosive device in the church for the purpose of panicking the women and children imprisoned there into trying to escape from the building, and thereby giving the German soldiers guarding them a quasi-legitimate reason for shooting the escapees.

The question remains whether Diekmann had revealed such a plan to the men of his unit, in which case those men would be complicit in a criminal conspiracy to kill innocent civilians and give it a quasi-legal cover. It is possible that he did not reveal that plan to his men, or not all of them, but just told them to keep the women and children imprisoned in the church and shoot them if they tried to escape.

Given that many of the participants in the masscre were killed in action shortly thereafter, including Diekmann, and only about 10% of those participants were ever brought to trial where they could be questioned, it remains unknown whether the men of the Waffen-SS unit entered Oradour in the full knowledge that their task was to kill everyone found in the village, or whether they thought that they would be carrying out a reprisal action involving the execution of the adult men, with the women and children being imprisoned and then released, or perhaps taken to a prison or internment camp.

Kahn's testimony suggests that the explosion in the church was much larger than intended by Diekmann, which lends support to the thesis that combustible materials were stored in the church and ignited by the smaller charge set off under Diekmann's presumed plan.

It seems to me that the most reasonable interpetation of the events at Oradour is that they were the result of a number of unrelated elements; the original German orders to take hostages, Diekmann's own personal plan (contrary to his orders), to instigate a huge massacre for reasons unknown, possible involvement of some of the village's residents in insurgent activity, including the hiding of ammunition or other supplies. From these unrelated elements, the opposing sides have taken those elements that best support their respective cases, thereby distorting an objective interpretation.

The unit followed the normal pattern of village reprisal that had been executed hundreds of times in Russia
My point concerned basic plausibility, which is always good to keep in mind if you want to avoid "taking those elements that best support the case you want to make, thereby distorting an objective interpretation". You have on the one hand an interpretation relying on a convoluted chain of uncheckable assumptions and claims based largely on inherently unreliable testimonies, and on the other one that would amount to normal and endlessly repeated practice from the East being simply repeated in the case of Oradour.

And speaking of plausibility, Kahn's testimony is downright laughable, in my opinion. He admits nothing that wasn't already proven, implicates no one who wasn't already dead (as well as already irreversibly saddled with responsibility in the case of Dickmann and unnamed in the case of the soldier who planted the explosives), exonerates himself completely by claiming to have refused to follow the order and then to have gone away and sat in a cottage while all the nasty business happened and justifies as far as possible the conduct of his unit by implying that the women and children burned because the resistance had stored explosives in the church. Also of course that his fellow soldiers would not have followed orders to shoot them without being tricked into doing so by stampeding the civilians through the explosves ruse. But they were perfectly willing to shoot women and children trying to escape from a burning building?
It was not normal practice in France. Furthermore, no orders had been issued for a reprisal against Oradour, only an order to take hostages.
http://www.faz.net/s/RubCB85F279145C457 ... ntent.html

Peter Lieb apparently documents that a general effort was made, prior to the Normandy landings, on the part of the regime to imbue the fight in the West with the same ideological intensity as had been common in the East already from the beginning - and also that the W-SS and SD responded to this through a radicalisation of the methods employed in security operations, while the Wehrmacht generally did not. If there is something to this argument, it would make good sense of why Paris didn't burn despite clear orders to that effect, while the women and children of Oradour did, despite the absence of such an order.
A large number of the participants in the massacre were recauits from Alsace. How many of them had served in occupied Soviet territory? How many of them had taken part in anti-partisan warfare on the Eastern Front?
All the ones who were in command. Which is to say, every one of those who mattered. All of whom, incidentally, served under a divisional commander with very extensive experience in this sort of thing from the East.

cheers

michael mills
Member
Posts: 8820
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 16 Aug 2009 00:14

But they were perfectly willing to shoot women and children trying to escape from a burning building?
I consider that quite plausible. The situation might be compared with that of prison guards given the order to shoot at any prisoner trying to escape. Those guards might willingly carry out that order, seeing it as justified and reasonable, but be less willing to obey an order to open fire on prisoners just standing around in the prison yard, which would seem to them to have no justification.
All the ones who were in command. Which is to say, every one of those who mattered. All of whom, incidentally, served under a divisional commander with very extensive experience in this sort of thing from the East.
I do not think that sufficent. The men of the unit that carried out the massacre did not have squads of blocking detachments behind them, ready to shoot anyone who did not obey orders. Diekmann himself may have been gung ho to massacre a lot of civilians, apparently for personal reasons that remain unknown, but the question remains as to why the men under his command followed him, particularly as there had been no order top that effect from a higher authority.

Questions remain over the participation of the Alsatian recruits. These were all men who were born in the mid-1920s, ie, they were born and grew up as Frenchmen, educated in a French political environment. Obviously they had not been exposed to National Socialist propaganda during their school years. By the time Alsace came under German rule, they were in their early teens, and would have been fully socialised into their French environment.

So it is unlikely that the young Alsatians were filled with zeal to fight and die for Germany and/or National Socialism. The answer is more probably to be sought in internal French politics. In 1944 there was an ideological war being fought in the south of France, but it was an internal one, between the French Right and the French Left, between the Rightist Government and a largely Communist insurgency. The war against the insurgency was fought mainly by French forces, particularly the Milice, led by a man, Darnand, who was certainly not a Germanophile, but rather a French patriot who saw the insurgents as agents of Moscow threatening the integrity of France, as mainly foreign interlopers, which a large proportion of the insurgents were, Spanish Republicans and Jewish immigrants. This internecine conflict within France was fought with great bitterness and without mercy on either side. The Oradour massacre should be seen within the context of that internal conflict, rather than in the context of anti-partisan warfare in Belorussia.

The post-war trial in Bordeaux is also probably to be seen within the context of the conflict between Left and Right in France. The Centre-Right government ruling France appears to have been rather reluctant to pursue the Alsatians who participated in the Oradour massacre, particularly as after the war they had re-integrated into French society, with some of them serving the French state as policment or as soldiers fighting the Communist insurgency in Indo-China. (Interestingly, the Bordeaux trila was held not long before the final battle at Dien Bien Phu).

User avatar
Loïc
Member
Posts: 748
Joined: 14 Jun 2003 03:38
Location: Riom Auvergne & Bourbonnais France

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Loïc » 16 Aug 2009 02:49

on the one hand "insurgents" were of course mainly French, not mainly "Spanish reds, Jews or communists" as usually depicted by the Nazis or those who wanted to denigrate the Maquis during the war and after, and the ORA and others FFI groups never fought for the communism or had this political tendency, only the FTPF
on the other hand the SS Officer Darnand's collaborationnist Milice who had a ridiculous strenght and a complete mediocrity as military force to do alone anti-partisans operations without the Germans most of the time, not armed before the end of 1943, was unable to serve other than an auxiliary indigenous paramilitary force of the German Army, as it is often forgotten even before the D-Day the Germans engaged Divisions againt the Maquis in the former free Southern Zone like the 157 in Jura-Alps mountains and the 325 in Périgord during the "bloody week" which consisted mainly in reprisals against civilians and especially all the jews they found.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23261
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by David Thompson » 16 Aug 2009 06:08

Loic -- Please provide sources for our readers who are interested in learning more about the subject.

Dolf van Stijgeren
Member
Posts: 53
Joined: 21 May 2005 22:31
Location: Netherlands

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Dolf van Stijgeren » 16 Aug 2009 08:58

The statement by Otto Kahn, given in 1962, suggests that Diekman's plan may have been to set off a small explosive device in the church for the purpose of panicking the women and children imprisoned there into trying to escape from the building, and thereby giving the German soldiers guarding them a quasi-legitimate reason for shooting the escapees.
This is very plausible. Diekmann must have thought of the consequences of shooting at woman and children which perhaps was not a part of the original plan.
Kahn's testimony suggests that the explosion in the church was much larger than intended by Diekmann, which lends support to the thesis that combustible materials were stored in the church and ignited by the smaller charge set off under Diekmann's presumed plan.
After reading Madame Rouffanche's and Kahn's quotes, I am not convinced the explosion was lager than anticipated.
Kahn: "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. "
It probably tells us more about the skills of the Unterscharführer as "Equipment manager for arms and ammunition". He was - I assume - still in the church when the explosion took place. In other words: he (initially) survived the explosion, so the explosion cannot have been that large. I also refer to the allegedly hidden explosives and fuel by the resistance.
Madame Rouffanche said "The women and children, half choked and screaming with fright rushed towards the parts of the church where the air was still breathable", so quite some people survived the "large" explosion.

I still find it hard to believe the resistance did store explosives and fuel in the church - a place were many people gather together every Sunday. A place under the ground miles away from civilization, would have been more likely. There are, in the neighbourhood of Oradour, plenty of places like that.
Last edited by Dolf van Stijgeren on 16 Aug 2009 11:08, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
bf109 emil
Member
Posts: 3627
Joined: 25 Mar 2008 21:20
Location: Youngstown Alberta Canada

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by bf109 emil » 16 Aug 2009 09:07

The situation might be compared with that of prison guards given the order to shoot at any prisoner trying to escape.
i agree prisoners but women and children and using as justification for prisoners is nonsense...if a guard is that poor of a soldier to legate the difference between an escaping prisoner and women and children then IMHO he must be a soldier of extremely poor quality or lacking any training in the minimalist or none what so ever...was the German soldiers this poor and shoddy to not tell the difference? Where they at this time so used to being beaten back by a superior army that they assumed women and children to represent escaping prisoners...maybe but IMHO it says a sorry plight to the once might German soldier if this is the case....sure glad allied troops could tell the difference and never took this massacre type defense or a lot more German civilians might have been needlessly slaughtered by poorly trained allied troops as was the obvious case here if indeed they thought or came to the silly conclusion they where escaping prisoners...thank GOD...maybe the Third Reich should have spent a few extra marks training the difference between women and children as opposed to male prisoners and this could have been avoided...

michael mills
Member
Posts: 8820
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 16 Aug 2009 13:44

The FTP (Francs-Tireurs et Partisans), the main insurgent group, was most certainly a Communist organisation. Unlike the non-Communist underground groups, such as the Gaullist FFI, which were mainly involved in intelligence work, the FTP actually did engage in true insurgency, ie armed attacks on German and French Government forces, thereby provoking reprisals against the civilian population.

The FTP did draw a lot of its strength from foreigners living in France, particularly from Spanish Republican refugees and Jewish immigrants. The French Communist Party had organised a lot of foreign workers living in France into the "Main d'Oeuvre Etrangere" (Foreign Workforce), which provided a major source of recruits for the FTP.

The insurgents in the Limousin region definitely belonged to the Communist FTP. The insurgents who attacked Tulle, thereby provoking the reprisal executions there, were members of the FTP. The commander of the FTP insurgents in the Limoge area, Guingouin, was most certainly a Communist, and became the mayor of Limoge after the war.

Information on Communist insurgents in the area around Oradour can be found at this site, which I found very helpful:

http://www.oradour.info/index.htm

George Guingouin, FTP commander in the LImoge area, the man who presumably executed the captured Waffen-SS officer Helmut Kämpfe, which seems to have been the reason for the reprisal raid on Oradour:

http://www.oradour.info/images/guing01.htm

Rob - wssob2
Member
Posts: 2387
Joined: 15 Apr 2002 20:29
Location: MA, USA

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 16 Aug 2009 15:35

Hi bf109emil,
.if a guard is that poor of a soldier to legate the difference between an escaping prisoner and women and children then IMHO he must be a soldier of extremely poor quality or lacking any training in the minimalist or none what so ever...was the German soldiers this poor and shoddy to not tell the difference?
It was something far more sinister than incompetence - if you get a chance, read up on "Bandenkämpf" as a WWII German counterinsurgency theory and you'll quickly see how killing innocent civilians was a premeditated and quite deliberate tactic.

michael mills
Member
Posts: 8820
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 17 Aug 2009 04:13

I still find it hard to believe the resistance did store explosives and fuel in the church - a place were many people gather together every Sunday. A place under the ground miles away from civilization, would have been more likely. There are, in the neighbourhood of Oradour, plenty of places like that.
That is quite a reasonable supposition. After reading through the website I referred to, I also think the balance of probabilities is against ammunition having been stored in the church.

However, it seems to me that there are problems with the explosive device described in accounts of the massacre, which is stated to have been placed on the altar in the church. According to the account of events gicen in the website mentioned, Diekmann decided to launch a raid on Oradour between 10:00 Am and midday on 10 June, after receiving information from French civilians that a German officer was being held captive there. Given the suddenness of the decision, and the short time between that decision and the launching of the raid, there does not seem to have been much time to cobble such a device together.

Kahn's statement about an on-the-spot decision by Diekmann to set off an explosion in the church, and his asking Kahn whether any explosives had been brought along, seems more plausible than an incendiary device prepared in advance. But whatever the case, there are still questions to be answered about the course of the massacre.

michael mills
Member
Posts: 8820
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Oradour-sur-Glane

Post by michael mills » 17 Aug 2009 04:31

Here is some brief information about Jewish insurgents in France:

http://www.jewishpartisans.org/t_switch ... try=France

Note that there was an all-Jewish insurgent force called the "Armee Juive".

Here is some more information about the "Armee Juive". See page 274:

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=M97 ... ve&f=false


Also:

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?la ... d=10005441

http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibit ... ust/12.asp

Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”