CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oradour-Sur-Glane: SS officer, will NOT be charged with mass murder of 25 people

 

 

 

Oradour-sur-Glane

 
 

The Champ de Foire and the doctor's car at Oradour-sur-Glane looking southOn the right is the main road through Oradour, the Rue Emile Desourteaux, which led to the church and eventually on to Limoges. Compare this view with the one taken on the main road itself: seevillage plan for location details. For a view of the Champ de Foire and the doctor's car looking north click here.

The Champ de Foire and the doctor's car at Oradour-sur-Glane looking north.On the left is the main road through Oradour, the Rue Emile Desourteaux, which led to the church (down the road to the rear of view) and eventually on to Limoges. In the distance and largely behind the pylon in the foreground is the road to St. Junien. Compare this view with the one taken on the main road itself: see village plan for location details.

Compare this view with the one looking down the Rue Emile Desourteaux in Oradour and the other looking north from the junction with the road to St Junien: see the village plan for location details. The apparent bend in the Rue Emile Desourteaux is due to the panoramic effect of taking the picture and in fact, it is quite straight at this point. The road to St. Junien
is the middle road in this 360 degree panorama and the Rue Emile Desourteaux are on the left and right of the view.

Panorama looking up and down the Rue Emile Desourteaux from the junction with the St Junien road

 

 

 

 

 

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

On 10th June 1944 the Nazis entered this town, herded the women and children into the church and then set fire to it. They then assembled and executed the menfolk, then razed the town to the ground. It now stands as a memorial to wartime atrocities.

*Oradour-sur-Glane: fenêtre (5)

 

*Oradour-sur-Glane: fenêtre

 

This view, taken looking north from the Champ de Foire in Oradour, shows the devastation of the stone-built buildings. Note especially the car on the right of view which has been buried by the collapse of the wall. See village plan for location details

Panorama looking north from the Champ de Foire

The road to the half-left is the old road to St Junien (the D101) from Oradour and the road with the tram lines is the Rue Emile Desourteaux. The building on the right of view is the Avril Hotel where the Pinède children hid until the fire drove them out into the back. The water pump which housed the nesting Great Tits can be seen on the left, leaning against the wall. See the village plan for location details and for a higher definition picture (744Kb) click here.

 

Ruines du village

Ruines du village

 

Panorama looking north up the Rue Emile Desourteaux from the road to St Junien

Prosecutors charge 88-year-old man over 1944 Nazi massacre at Oradour-Sur-Glane – where 642 villagers were shot and burnt

  • Cologne man, 88, charged over murders in French village during WWII
  • 642 men, women and children killed in Oradour-sur-Glane massacre
  • Hitler's SS Panzer Division committed the atrocity on June 10, 1944
  • It was to avenge death of German officer at hands of French Resistance
  • Village left untouched since fateful day to serve as reminder of Nazi evil

An 88-year-old former member of an SS armored division has been charged with murder and accessory to murder for allegedly taking part in the massacre of 642 French villagers by Nazi soldiers during World War Two.

The man, named only as Werner C, from Cologne, has been charged with 25 counts of murder  and hundreds of counts of accessory to murder in connection with the slaughter in Oradour-sur-Glane.

The investigation into the massacre where almost the entire population of the village, including more than 400 women and children, was gunned down or burned alive on June 10, 1944, was re-opened by German prosecutors last year

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Oradour-sur-Glane

Germany's investigators walk in front of the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane, central France, last year as the investigation into the 1944 massacre was reopened

Oradour-sur-Glane

The team of investigators from Berlin (pictured) spoke to the only two living survivors of the bloodbath, carried out in revenge for the capture of a German officer by French resistance fighters in a nearby village

Oradour-sur-Glane

The village has purposely been left untouched since the massacre, to serve both as a shrine to those who died and as a constant reminder of the unremitting evil of the Nazis

On Wednesday, the regional court in Cologne said: 'The prosecutor's office in Dortmund has charged an 88-year-old from Cologne over the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people.'

The man was named in documents as Werner C, his last name withheld in accordance with German privacy laws. His lawyer, Rainer Pohlen, said his client was at the village but had nothing to do with the massacre.

More than 68 years later, a German prosecutor and senior police officers visited the abandoned village in central France, which Hitlers troops burned to the ground before they fled. Last year, German authorities said they believe there may still be six men still at large, all now in their late 80s, who were members of SS Panzer Division that committed the atrocity. 88-year-old charged over Nazi massacre of 642

Oradour

Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel told French reporters in Oradour: 'We hope the survivors may be able to help us identify any culprits who are still alive'

Oradour-sur-Glane

Remains of a burnt out vehicle. A new village of Oradour-sur-Glane was built nearby which is now home to more than 2,000 people, while the abandoned village is popular with tourists curious about the war

 

Oradour

Rows of burnt out cars reveal the extent to which the Nazis obliterated the town in 1944

The remains of the church in Oradour

The remains of the church in which 247 women and 205 children were trapped and killed by the Nazis. The middle window behind the altar is the one through which the only survivor Marguerite Rouffanche escaped

The village has been left untouched since the massacre to serve both as a shrine to those who died and as a constant reminder of the unremitting evil of the Nazis.

On June 10, in 1944, SS Panzer Division member entered the village to avenge a German soldier kidnapped by the French Resistance,

More than 400 women and children were herded into the village church where SS troops soaked the church pews with petrol and barred all exits before setting it on fire.

Only one woman managed to escape the flames.

More than 200 men were herded into a barn where machine gunners opened fire, shooting at their legs so they could not move then dousing them with petrol and setting them alight.

A new village of Oradour-sur-Glane was built nearby which is now home to more than 2,000 people.

Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel told French reporters in Oradour last year: 'We hope the survivors may be able to help us identify any culprits who are still alive.'

Oradour-sur-Glane

Oradour-sur-Glane in a picture taken not long after the troops left and survivors were left to pick up the pieces

Oradour-sur-Glane

Robert Hebras, 87 - was one of only six villagers who escaped the carnage - said: 'It is a very strange moment to see German officials here 68 years later'

Oradour-sur-Glane's church

French historian Guy Perlier told Le Figaro newspaper, 'This illustrates German thinking which insists on shedding light on all acts committed by the German army during this period'

THE HORROR OF JUNE 10 1944: HOW MARGUERITE ROUFFANCHE ESCAPED NAZIS MURDERERS AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE

Oradour-sur-Glane

Bodies of the victims lined up following the village massacre in 1944

Early on the morning of 10 June 1944, the 2nd SS Panzer Division entered the village of Oradour-sur-Glane to avenge the death of a German officer who had been kidnapped by the French Resistance.

They marched into the town and separated the men from the women and children.

The men were taken to six barns and shed while the women and children were locked in the church while the village was looted.

The men were said to be shot in the legs before being doused in petrol and set alight.

Six men escaped although one was later found nearby and shot dead. In total 190 men perished.

The soldiers proceeded to the church and tried to set it alight. Women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows of the church, but were met with machine-gun fire.

A total of 247 women and 205 children died. Two women and one child survived; one was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She hauled herself out of a window behind the altar, followed by a young woman and child. German soldiers shot all three of them, killing the woman and child by wounding Rouffanche who escaped into nearby foliage where she stayed until she was rescued the following day.

The following is part of her testimony read out to the 1953 Bordeaux military tribunal:

'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 neighbouring 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.'

Although several probes have previously been opened into the massacre, they had to be shut down due to a lack of evidence, and many of the Germans involved in the atrocity, including senior officers, were soon killed in the Battle of Normandy.

But when a historian in 2010 discovered documents implicating all six suspects, still alive and now aged between 85 and 86, the case had enough evidence to be re-opened.

Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel said that the aim of last year's visit, the first by German investigators since World War Two was to identify the exact locations where the SS unit was deployed and interview witnesses to the massacre.

Camille Senon, one of the survivors who witnessed the aftermath of the massacre in which her family members died, said: ‘It is considered  a positive gesture by the Germans to send investigators for the first time, 68 years after, even though I would have liked to have seen it happen sooner’.

In September, Joachim Gauck became the first German leader to visit the French 'ghost' village.
The highly symbolic visit was as much a part of France's willingness to face up to its wartime past as Germany's.

Thousands of French including police and railwaymen participated in the Nazi Holocaust, while collaboration with military units like the SS was also rife.

French President Francois Hollande and Mr Gauck were accompanied by two of only three living survivors of the Oradour massacre, including Robert Hebras, 88.

Mr Hebras, who was 19 at the time, hid under the corpses of others who were machine-gunned.

'I was consumed by hatred and vengeance for a long time,' said Mr Hebras, adding: 'We must reconcile with the Germans.'

Oradour-sur-Glane

Camille Senon, one of the survivors who witnessed the aftermath of the massacre in which her family members died, said: ‘It is considered a positive gesture by the Germans to send investigators'

Oradour-sur-Glane

The remains of the village bakery destroyed by SS troops

Oradour-sur-Glane

Wide shot of the village showing the complete destruction of every single building

Oradour-sur-Glane

Survivors sift through the remains in the immediate aftermath of the 1944 raid by Hitler's troops

Oradour-sur-Glane located on a map of France

Oradour-sur-Glane located on a map of France

 

 

Panorama of the Champ de Foire from the cemetery road

This view, taken in the evening of 10th June 2009 (the 65th anniversary of the massacre at Oradour) shows the Rue Emile Desourteaux looking towards the church, which is out of sight round the bend at the end of the road: see the village plan for details. Visible are the village petrol pump and the doctor's car on the Champ de Foire (fairground). About 200 yards up the road to the left of view is the road to St Junien. Compare this view with that of the one of the Champ de Foire. For a higher definition picture (883Kb), click here.

Panorama of the Rue Emile Desourteaux and the doctor's car

This photograph, taken of a garage area behind the church in Oradour-sur-Glane shows a group of ruined and burned cars which were laid-up in the village due to a lack of petrol for civilian use during the war. As can be seen, they were subsequently robbed of many parts in an attempt to keep other vehicles going in the post-war years. One of the surprises in Oradour is to see the quite large number of cars dotted about the village in different locations and to realise that just because this was a relatively poor farming area, it did not prevent quite widespread car ownership in the late 1930's.

Panorama of ruined cars behind church in Oradour

This photograph, is looking across the Rue Emile Desourteaux and down the D101 road to Peyrilhac. As can be clearly seen, some reconstruction work is in the process of being carried out and at the time the photograph was taken (September 2009) it was not possible to walk down the Peyrilhac road. This process of reconstruction / repair is more or less a constant occurrence these days and it is quite common to find parts of the village inaccessible. It takes much effort to keep an old ruin looking like a new ruin. The white building, just visible behind the blue scaffolding is the Masset Farm House, which served as the SS Field Post during the attack on 10th June 1944. The church is to the right-rear of the photographer. See also the close-up view of the road to Peyrilhac taken at the same time and the one taken in May 2010 without the scaffolding in place..

Panorama of the entrance to the road to Peyrilhac showing reconstruction work

This photograph taken looking into Oradour from the road to Peyrilhac, shows the church, the Rue Emile Desourteaux and the Lorraine refugee school on the right with the plaque on the wall. It was from the school that the 7¾ year old Roger Godfrin escaped by running out of the back and across the fields. The road on the left continues to the Masset farm house, which was the SS command post for much of the 10th June. It is not possible to walk on down the road to Peyrilhac past the wooden fence shown in this view.

Panorama of the church and the Lorraine refugees school from the road to Peyrilhac

Former SS officer, will NOT be charged with mass murder of 25 people during notorious WW2 massacre of French village

  • Unnamed 89-year-old had been accused of murder in Oradour-sur-Glane
  • Admits being member of SS but denies taking part in massacre of locals
  • 642 innocent people were killed in the French village on June 10, 1944
  • Victims include 254 women and 207 children killed as they hid in a church

A German court has sensationally thrown out a case against a former Nazi SS member accused of taking part in the massacre of hundreds of French villagers during the Second World War.

The unnamed 89-year-old had been accused of being a member of an armoured SS division that attacked Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944 - savagely murdering nearly all of the its inhabitants.

But the case against the elderly suspect - who had been charged in January with the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred others - was dramatically dismissed this morning. The reason the court threw the case out is not yet clear.

Horror: Today Oradour exists as a massive memorial - a chilling time capsule where the burned out homes remain exactly as they were on the day they were torched

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Horror: Today Oradour exists as a massive memorial - a chilling time capsule where the burned out homes remain exactly as they were on the day they were torched

 

 

Abandoned: The village has been a ghost town since the massacre, with rusting cars (left) nestled beside the rubble of Oradour-sur-Glane's burned-out church (right)

The suspected former Nazi's case was being heard in the western German city of Cologne, but a statement released by the court this morning revealed it no longer intended to pursue the case.

Charges against the man, who would have been 19 at the time of the atrocity, were initially filed by the prosecutor's office in Dortmund.

Had the individual been convicted, it is almost certain he would have spent the rest of his life in jail.

The massacre the man had been accused of taking part in took place in the tiny village of Oradour-sur-Glane in western France on June 10, 1944. It is understood to have been a brutal act of retribution following the purported kidnapping of a Nazi commander.

SS members stormed a barn where 181 men had gathered, using pistols and automatic weapons to murder them all before setting fire to the structure. They are believe to have then moved on to a church where a further 254 women and 207 children were killed using explosives and machine guns.

The unnamed 89-year-old is believed to have been a member of an armoured SS division that attacked Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944 - savagely murdering nearly all of the its inhabitants

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The unnamed 89-year-old is believed to have been a member of an armoured SS division that attacked Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944 - savagely murdering nearly all of the its inhabitants

 Remains of homes in Oradour -sur-Glane, where inhabitants were massacred and all homes and businesses destroyed by Nazis 70 years ago

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Remains of homes in Oradour -sur-Glane, where inhabitants were massacred and all homes and businesses destroyed by Nazis 70 years ago

Last September German president Joachim Gauck (left) became the first German leader to visit the site when he joined François Hollande (right) and two of the three living survivors on a tour of Oradour-sur-Glane.

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Last September German president Joachim Gauck (left) became the first German leader to visit the site when he joined François Hollande (right) and two of the three living survivors on a tour of Oradour-sur-Glane.

Memories: Hollande and Gauck were accompanied by two of only three living survivors of the Oradour massacre - Robert Hebras, 88, and Jean-Marcel Darthout.

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Memories: Hollande and Gauck were accompanied by two of only three living survivors of the Oradour massacre - Robert Hebras, 88, and Jean-Marcel Darthout.

Prosecutors had accused the suspected Nazi of helping the massacre take place by either blocking off or acting as a lookout along the road leading to the church, or by carrying flammable material to help burn the building down once the murders had been carried out.

The suspect, who admitted being in Oradour-sur-Glane at the time and confirmed his involvement with the local SS branch, has always denied having anything to do with the massacre of 642 people.

The village has been a ghost town since the massacre, with rusting cars nestled long-abandoned beside the rubble of the burned-out church.

Today Oradour exists as a massive memorial - a chilling time capsule where the burned out homes remain exactly as they were on the day they were torched, and even the car of the mayor still lies rusting in the main street.

 

German soldiers killed all 642 inhabitants, including children. The men were rounded up and shot in barns, the women were herded into the local church which was set ablaze with hand grenades

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German soldiers killed all 642 inhabitants, including children. The men were rounded up and shot in barns, the women were herded into the local church which was set ablaze with hand grenades

Homes and business were all torched by rampaging S.S officers, leaving just empty shells remaining

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Homes and business were all torched by rampaging S.S officers, leaving just empty shells remaining

The atrocity is an understandably sensitive subjective for France, and last September German president Joachim Gauck became the first German leader to visit the site when he joined François Hollande and two of the three living survivors on a tour of Oradour-sur-Glane.

In a sign of post-war unity, Gauck said he felt a ‘mixture of gratitude and humility’ as he visited the site with his French counterpart Hollande.

The statesman added: ‘The Germany that I have the honour of representing is a different Germany from the one that haunts memories.’

In return, Mr Hollande said: ‘You have made the choice to visit - this is a tribute to you, and at the same time it forces us, once the past has been acknowledged, to go boldly into the future.’

Hollande and Gauck were accompanied by two of only three living survivors of the Oradour massacre - Robert Hebras, 88, and Jean-Marcel Darthout.

Rubble: Survivors look for the bodies of victims within the remains of the village shortly after the massacre

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Rubble: Survivors look for the bodies of victims within the remains of the village shortly after the massacre

Destroyed: A burned out building is seen in Oradour-sur-Glane just days after the atrocity took place 

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Destroyed: A burned out building is seen in Oradour-sur-Glane just days after the atrocity took place

The exterior of the Church in Oradour-sur-Glane. Only six villagers survived the attack

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The exterior of the Church in Oradour-sur-Glane. Only six villagers survived the attack

A military tribunal opened in Bordeaux in 1953 to try the surviving 65 of the approximately 200 soldiers involved in the massacre.

However, many could not be extradited from the new East Germany, and 14 of them were Alsatians - French nationals of German extraction.

20 men were found guilty, but were all released from prison within five years.

In 2010, Germany re-opened the war crimes file into the massacre after a historian uncovered evidence implicating several still-living suspects.

Using secret files on individuals created by communist East Germany's Stasi secret police force, prosecutors identified seven previously unknown members of the SS unit that carried the attack.

Investigations are now underway into six of the men. The other suspect is the man against whom charges were dropped today.

THE HORROR OF JUNE 10 1944: HOW MARGUERITE ROUFFANCHE ESCAPED NAZIS MURDERERS AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE

Early on the morning of 10 June 1944, the 2nd SS Panzer Division entered the village of Oradour-sur-Glane to avenge the death of a German officer who had been kidnapped by the French Resistance.

They marched into the town and separated the men from the women and children.

The men were taken to six barns and shed while the women and children were locked in the church while the village was looted.

Devastated: Oradour-sur-Glane is seen just days after the massacre on June 10, 1944

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Devastated: Oradour-sur-Glane is seen just days after the massacre on June 10, 1944

The men were said to be shot in the legs before being doused in petrol and set alight.

Six men escaped although one was later found nearby and shot dead. In total 190 men perished.

The soldiers proceeded to the church and tried to set it alight. Women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows of the church, but were met with machine-gun fire.

A total of 247 women and 205 children died. Two women and one child survived; one was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She hauled herself out of a window behind the altar, followed by a young woman and child. German soldiers shot all three of them, killing the woman and child by wounding Rouffanche who escaped into nearby foliage where she stayed until she was rescued the following day.

The following is part of her testimony read out to the 1953 Bordeaux military tribunal:

'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 neighbouring 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.'

 

 

*Oradour-sur-Glane: garage Poutaraud

*Oradour-sur-Glane: garage Poutaraud

Ruines de l'église martyr d'Oradour, aujourd'hui

 

Ruines de l'église martyr d'Oradour, aujourd'hui

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Champ de Foire

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Champ de Foire

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Ecole des filles

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Ecole des filles

*Oradour-sur-Glane: l'église et l'emplacement de la halle

*Oradour-sur-Glane: l'église et l'emplacement de la halle

*Oradour-sur-Glane: pompe à essence

*Oradour-sur-Glane: pompe à essence

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Place de l'Église

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Place de l'Église

Oradour sur Glane

 

 

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Champ de Foire

*Oradour-sur-Glane: Champ de Foire

 

*Oradour-sur-Glane: la nef de l'église

*Oradour-sur-Glane: la nef de l'église

*Oradour-sur-Glane: interieur de l'église

*Oradour-sur-Glane: interieur de l'église

This 360 degree photograph was taken inside the church of Oradour-sur-Glane, starting with the altar on the left of view and then panning clockwise for a full revolution.
Starting on the extreme left is the altar, damaged in the fire on the 10th June 1944, it has been rebuilt (the cracks are very obvious close-up). The window through which Mme Rouffanche escaped is the lower middle one. Next is the small doorway which led to the presbytery, followed by the St. Anne's chapel and then by the St. Joseph's chapel containing the WWI memorial tablet which has
bullet holesin it. The partially melted bells can be seen lying on the floor under the window and to their right is the main church entrance. The wooden confessional box which was found to contain the remains of two small boys is next, followed by the Lady Chapel, the door to the sacristy and then back to the altar.

For a higher definition image of the panorama of the inside of the church (large file size at 3640Kb)

Panorama of the inside of the church (360 degree view)

Church and the rue Emile Desourteaux. It was taken on the evening of 10th June 2009 after the day's visitors had left. For more information and a lower definition picture (105Kb) click here.

The Church and the rue Emile Desourteaux

small boys is next, followed by the Lady Chapel, the door to the sacristy and then back to the altar.

360 degree panorama of the inside of the church

Panorama of Cemetery of Oradour-sur-Glane (360 degree view)

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