Rob - WSSOB wrote:
it was universally agreed that the bolshevik FTP partisans was indirectly responsible for the atrocity at Oradour sur Glane
It is not universally agreed. It is complete neo-nazi hogwash, used to whitewash the deliberate mass murder of hundreded of innocent French civilians killed "in reprisal" to stop the French resistance in June 1944.
It is also a perfect example of how reprisals are a complete and total failure as a security policy. The 2nd SS Panzer division could have arrived in Normandy within 3 days of D-Day. Instead it wasted 17 days driving up the back roads, killing over 700+ civilians in cold blood. So in effect:
The "Das Reich" division would have had a chance to throw back the Allies at Normandy within days of the invasion, but blew it.
Oradour, Tulle and the other massacres perpetuated by the 2nd SS division did not destroy, pacify, or deminish the activities of the French Resistance. In fact, it had the completely opposite effect, galvanizing and increasing resistance against the German occupation forces.
It seems to me that this may not be a fair analysis of the events, at least as reported by Max Hastings. It is certainly true that on June 7 (the day after D-Day) Army Group G ordered Das Reich to deploy in the Tulle-Limoges area to deal with the increased activity of the French résistants
. But this area was in any event directly on the route to Normandy, and its movement to that area did not constitute a detour.
Apparently the Division got underway at dawn on June 8, but found it impossible to move north or north-west from Montauban at any great speed. Adequate wheeled transport was lacking, and worse, rail space for the tracked tanks and assault guns was unavailable, in part because of Allied bombings as well as numerous cuttings of the rail tracks by résistants
. So the tracked vehicles were forced to slowly set off by road, and almost immediately faced serious maintenance problems that delayed them further.
Nonetheless, by the evening of June 8 the Division's advance reconnaisance battalion had reached Tulle, which had been virtually taken over by the communist led FTP (Franc-tireurs et Partisans
after heavy fighting on June 7 and 8. On the 9th, the Division rounded up some 3,000 male residents of Tulle, of which 99 were hung in reprisal. And on the same day, orders were received for the Division to cease its present operations by noon on June 11 and to send its wheeled elements direct to Normandy. Tracked vehicles, however, were ordered to be entrained immediately
The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane took place in the afternoon of June 10 - Das Reich's last battle against the maquis
took place on the early morning of June 12 at Bellac, on the road to Poitiers - about 36 hours after, and presumably before knowledge of the atrocity at Oradour was known by the local maquis
. There were none thereafter.
According to Max Hastings, Das Reich
(Holt, Rinehart& Winston, 1981) at 185-6, the reprisals of the Das Reich Division made a profound impression on the local populace; there was a strong body of opinion among the local Resistance commanders that now held that no gesture in arms was worth such a terrible price, and that senior officers of the Armée Secrète
(the Gaullist or at least non-communist Résistance organization) opposed any attempt to sieze and free towns , lest the horror of Oradour be repeated. Although the communist FTP may have been less troubled by the risk, they nonetheless failed to carry through with the full scale attack on Limoges which they had been planning for months.
Painful though it may be for humanitarians to accept, a policy of unlimited repression can be formidably effective.
Hastings, op cit supra
So if Hastings can be believed, Das Reich got underway from Montauban on June 8 and met its last encounter with the résistants
on the morning of June 12 - only 4 days later. That does not sound to me like it "wasted 17 days driving up the back roads, killing over 700+ civilians in cold blood""as Rob would have it. James Lucas also seems to dispute this view in his "Das Reich: The Military Role of the 2nd SS Division"
(Arms and Armour Press, 1991) at 128.
It seems to me tolerably clear that the delays in Das Reich's going into battle in Normandy were primarily due to lack of adequate transport and fuel, the wear and tear on its tracked vehicles requiring high maintenance and replenishment of spare parts, Allied air superiority, and the demolition of railways and bridges by teams of résistants
encouraged and supplied by the British.
As to whether or not the FTP partisans were indirectly responsible for the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane, at least Michael Williams, who IMHO is the leading authority on the incident, does not share Rob's view that the notion is "complete neo-nazi hogwash."
What seems certain is that the Resistance knew full well that it was as a result of their killing of Kämpfe that Oradour was destroyed and yet they have kept up a wall of self-protective silence ever since. They never even sent any explanation to the trial of the SS-men in 1953. Canou (who was the only Resistance man to give evidence) simply said that he handed Kämpfe over to his "chief". No real attempt was made to summon this, "chief" to Bordeaux to give evidence. It is obvious that the leaders of the local Resistance, especially Georges Guingouin, must either have ordered Kämpfe killed, or known of his fate. At the very least they must have been able to say how, where and when he died, for Guingouin was indeed Canou's chief as can be read on the modern monument to the kidnap of Kämpfe on the N141.
This may sound harsh, but to my mind, the silence of the Resistance leaders proves their bad consciences. The heroes of the armed struggle do not want to be held responsible for the destruction of Oradour, yet I am afraid that is indeed the case. It was their injudicious action concerning the fate of Kämpfe that sent Diekmann off on his rampage.
I certainly do not wish to imply that I have any sympathy whatsoever for the atrocious horrors committed by elements of the Das Reich Division at Oradour-sur-Glane or elsewhere. I'm only concerned with getting the facts and their logical implications straight. And I do believe that Rob-WSSOB's views, although completely understandable, may have been unduly clouded by emotion.