The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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We now come to the statement of the events of Tulle in which
120 Frenchmen were killed, Page 169, paragraph 2. I am now
quoting:

   "On 7 June an important group of franc-tireurs attacked
   the French Forces for the maintenance of order and
   succeeded in seizing the greater part of the town of
   Tulle after a straggle which lasted until dawn."

On Page 170, first paragraph:

   "The same day at about 2000 hours, important German
   armoured forces came to the assistance of the garrison
   and penetrated into the city from which the terrorists
   withdrew in haste."

Next to the last paragraph:

   "These troops decided to exercise reprisals. The French
   Forces of the Interior that had taken the town had
   withdrawn. The Germans had
   
                                                  [Page 331]
   
   taken no prisoners. The reprisals were exercised upon
   civilians. Without discrimination they were arrested."
   And I am now reading the next to last paragraph of Page
   170.

   "The victims were selected without any inquiry, without
   even any questioning, haphazardly; workmen, students,
   professors, industrialists. There were even among them
   some militia sympathisers and candidates for the Waffen
   SS. The 120 corpses which were hanged from the balconies
   and lamp-posts of the avenue of the station, along a
   distance of 500 metres, were a horrible spectacle and
   will remain in the memory of the unfortunate population
   of Tulle for a long time."

And the crowning event in these German atrocities - we now
come to it will be the destruction of Orandour sur Glane, in
the month of June 1944. The Tribunal will accept, we hope,
the presentation of Document F-236, which now becomes
Exhibit RF 438. This is a book, an official book, edited by
the French Government, which gives a full description of the
events. I shall give you a brief analysis of the report of
the "de facto " government of the time, sent to the German
general who was Commander-in-Chief for the Regions of the
West.
   
   "On Saturday, 10 June, beginning in the afternoon, a
   detachment of SS, belonging very likely to the "Das
   Reich " Division which was present in the area, burst
   into the village after having surrounded it entirely,
   and ordered the population to gather in the central
   square. It was then announced that a denunciation had
   indicated that explosives had been hidden in the village
   and that searches and verifications of identity were
   about to take place. The men were invited to group
   together in four or five units, each of which was locked
   into a barn. The women and children were led into and
   locked in the church. It was about 1400 hours. A little
   later machine-gunning began and the whole village was
   set on fire, as well as the surrounding farms. The
   houses were set on fire one by one. The operation lasted
   undoubtedly several hours, in view of the extent of the
   locality and the town.
   
   In the meantime the women and the children were in
   anguish as they heard the echoes of the fire and of the
   shootings. At 1700 hours, German soldiers penetrated
   into the church and placed upon the communion table an
   asphyxiating apparatus which comprised a sort of box
   from which lighted fuses emerged: A little time shortly
   thereafter the atmosphere became unbreathable. Someone
   was able to break the door which brought the women and
   children back to consciousness. The German soldiers then
   started to shoot through the windows of the church, and
   they came in to finish off the survivors with machine
   guns. Then they spread upon the soil inflammable
   material. One woman was able to escape; she reached the
   window when the cries of a mother who tried to give her
   child to her, drew the attention of one of the guards,
   who fired on the would-be fugitive and wounded her
   seriously. She saved her life by simulating death and
   she was later cared for in a hospital of Limoges.
   
   At about 1800 hours the German soldiers stopped the
   Departmental train which was passing in the vicinity.
   They told the passengers going to Oradour to get off,
   and, having machine-gunned them, threw their bodies in
   the furnace. At the end of the evening as well as the
   following Sunday morning, the inhabitants of the
   surrounding hamlets, alarmed by the fire and anguished
   because of the absence of their children who had been
   going to school at Oradour, attempted to approach, but
   they were either machine-gunned or driven away by force
   by German guards who were guarding the exits of the
   village. However, on the afternoon of Sunday some were
   able to come into the ruins, and they stated that the
   
                                                  [Page 332]
   
   church was filled with the remains of women and
   children, all shrivelled up and calcinated.
   
   An absolutely reliable witness was able to see the body
   of a woman holding her child in her arms at the entrance
   of the church and in front of the alter the body of a
   little child kneeling, and near the confessional the
   bodies of two children arm-in-arm.
   
   During the night from Sunday to Monday the German troops
   returned and attempted to remove the traces by
   proceeding with the summary burial of the women and
   children outside the church.
   
   The news of this tragedy spread through Limoges during
   the day of Sunday, 11 June.
   
   The general commanding the Verbindungsstab refused to
   grant any passes which were personally requested by the
   regional prefect, so that he himself and a delegate of
   the prefect could move about in the area. Only the sub-
   prefect of Rochechouart was able to go to Oradour and
   report to his chief on the following day that the
   village, which comprised 85 houses, was only a mass of
   ruins and that the greater part of the population, women
   and children included, had perished.
   
   On Tuesday, 13 June, the regional prefect finally
   obtained authorisation to go there, and was able to
   proceed to the town, accompanied by the delegate prefect
   and the Bishop of Limoges. In the church, which was
   partly in ruins, there were still calcinated remains of
   children. Bones were mixed with the ashes of the
   woodwork. The ground was strewn with shells having the
   'S.T.K.A.M.' brand upon them and there were numerous
   traces of bullets at a man's height.
   
   Outside the church the soil was freshly disturbed,
   children's garments were piled up, half burned. Where
   the barns had stood could be seen completely calcinated
   human skeletons, heaped one on the other, partially
   covered with various clothes. They constituted a
   horrible sight."

The paragraph before the last :

   "Although it is impossible to give the exact number of
   these victims, one can state that there were 800 to 1000
   dead, among them many children who had been evacuated
   from regions threatened by bombardment. There do not
   seem to be more than ten survivors among the persons who
   were present in the village at the beginning of the
   afternoon of 10 June."

Such are the facts:

   " I have the honour, General, of asking you," - General
   Bridoux speaking to his enemy - "to be good enough to
   communicate these facts to the German High Command in
   France. I strongly hope that he will bring them to the
   knowledge of the Government of the Reich, because of the
   political importance which they will have from their
   repercussion on the mind of the French population."

Since that time an inquiry was conducted, and you will find
it in the book which has been placed before you. This
inquiry has shown that no member of the French Forces of the
Interior was in the village. There was none within several
kilometres. It is even proved that the causes of the
massacre of Oradour sur Glane were distant and remote. The
unit which perpetrated this crime apparently did so as an
act of vengeance, because of an attempt against it about 50
kilometres further away.

The German Army ordered a judicial inquiry. The Document F-
673, Page 175 and 176, so indicates. This document is dated
4 January, 1945. There were no Germans in France at that
time, at least not in Oradour sur Glane. The version given
by the German authority is that:

   "The reprisals appear to be absolutely justified for
   military reasons.
   
                                                  [Page 333]
   
   The German military commander who was responsible for it
   fell in combat in Normandy."

These are the last four lines of paragraph 1 of Page 176: We
recall the phrase "The reprisals appear to be justified for
military reasons." Therefore, in the eyes of the German
Army, the crime of Oradour sur Glane which I have described
to you plainly, is a crime which is fully justified.

The guilt of Keitel in all these matters is certain.

In Document F-673, and this will be the end of my
explanations, is a strange document which is signed by him.
It was drafted on 5 March 1945. It concerns alleged
executions, without trial, of French citizens. You will find
it on Page 177. It will show the Tribunal the manner in
which these criminal inquiries were conducted, on orders by
the German Army, following incidents as grave as that of
Oradour Sur Glane which had to be justified at any price. In
this document, Page 177, which I should cite in its
entirety, I wish only to look at the next to the last
paragraph. It was in the interest of the Germans to answer
these condemnations as promptly as possible.

THE PRESIDENT: This is not a document of which we can take
judicial notice and therefore if you want to put the whole
document in you must read it in.

M. DUBOST: You have already accepted it. This is F-673. It
was placed before you as Exhibit RF 392,and this is the
whole bundle of documents of the German Armistice
Commission.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but is it a public document? It is not a
public document, is it?

M. DUBOST: Am I to understand that the Tribunal wants me to
read it in its entirety?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, F-673, seems to be a very large bundle
of documents. That is right, is it not?

M. DUBOST: Yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: This particular part of it, this document
signed by Keitel, is a private document.

M. DUBOST: It is a document which comes from the German
Armistice Commission in Wiesbaden, which was presented
several hours ago and you did accept its being deposited
before you.

THE PRESIDENT: I know we accepted its being deposited, but
that does not mean that the whole of the document is in
evidence. I mean, we have ruled over and over again that
documents of which we do not take judicial notice must be
read so that they will go through the interpreting system
and will be interpreted into German to the German Counsel.

M. DUBOST: I am therefore going to give you the reading of
the whole document.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well.

M. DUBOST: " The High Command of the Wehrmacht, Headquarters
of the Fuehrer, 5 March 1945, No. 01487/45-g; by Captain
Cartellieri.

   Subject: Alleged executions without trial of French
   citizens.
   
   1. German Armistice Commission.
   
   2. High Command West.
   
In August 1944, the French Commission attached to the German
Armistice Commission addressed a note to the latter, giving
an exact statement of incidents concerning alleged arbitrary
executions of Frenchmen from 9 to 20 January 1944.

   The information given in the French note was for the
   most part so detailed that verification from the German
   side was undoubtedly possible.
   
   On 26-9-1944, the High Command of the Wehrmacht
   entrusted the German Armistice Commission with the study
   of this affair. The said
   
                                                  [Page 334]
   
   
   commission later requested High Command West for an
   inquiry on the incidents and an opinion on the facts
   submitted in the French note.
   
   On 12 February 1945, the German Armistice Commission
   received from the Army Group B (from the President of
   the Military Tribunal of Army Group B) a note stating
   that the documents referring to this affair were, since
   November 1944, with the Army Judge of Pz, AOK 6, and
   that Pz, AOK 6 and the Second SS Panzer Division "Das
   Reich" had in the meanwhile been detached from Army
   Group B.
   
   The manner in which this affair was inquired into causes
   the following remarks to be made:
   
   The French, and specifically the Vichy Government
   Delegation, have addressed to the German Wehrmacht the
   grave reproach of having carried out executions,
   unjustified by the laws of war, and therefore, murders,
   against citizens of France. It was in the interest of
   Germany to reply as promptly as possible to such
   charges. In the long period which has elapsed since the
   French note was prepared it should have been possible,
   even considering the evolution of military events and
   the movement of troops in relation to such events, to
   take at least part of these charges and to refute them
   by examination of the facts. If merely one fraction of
   the condemnation had been refuted," - this sentence is
   important - " if merely one fraction of these
   condemnations had been refuted, it would have been
   possible to show the French that all of their claims
   rested upon doubtful data. By the fact that in this
   matter nothing was done as far as the Germans were
   concerned, the enemy must have the impression that we
   are not in a position to answer these condemnations.
   
   The study of this matter shows that very frequently
   there exists an utter lack of awareness of the
   importance of refuting all reproaches against the
   Wehrmacht and of acting against enemy propaganda and
   refuting alleged atrocities immediately.
   
   The German Armistice Commission is hereby entrusted to
   continue the study of this matter with all energy. We
   ask that every assistance be given, especially at this
   time with respect to expediting this work within one's
   own jurisdiction. The fact that Pz. AOK 6 is no longer
   under High Command West is not an obstacle to obtaining
   the necessary information for the explanation and the
   refutation of the French charges."

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, you stated, I think, that this
document implicated Keitel.

M. DUBOST: It is signed by Keitel, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Signed by him, yes, but how does it implicate
him in the affair of Oradour?

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, the French Commission, together
with the Vichy Government, frequently brought to the
attention of the German Government not only the atrocities
of Oradour but numerous other atrocities. Orders were given
so that these facts, which constitute absolute reality, not
merely in the eyes of the French, but in the eyes of all
those who have objectively inquired into the problem, should
be examined for the purpose of refuting part of the
reproaches. This letter refers to the protest lodged earlier
by the French, and we read part of it before you in the
course of this examination of the problem, to be exact, the
facts noted in the letter of General Bridoux which mentions
the assassinations of Frenchmen at Marsoulas in the
department of Haute-Garonne, among them fourteen children.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you said that that was the last
document you were going to refer to?

M. DUBOST: It is the last document.

                                                  [Page 335]

THE PRESIDENT: Ten minutes past five. Shall we adjourn? M.
Dubost, could you let us know what subject is to be gone
into tomorrow?

M. DUBOST: Crimes Against Humanity, by my colleague M.
Faure. If you will allow me to present my conclusion this
evening - I will not take long. Our work has been delayed
somewhat this afternoon.

THE PRESIDENT: How long do you think you will take, M.
Dubost, to make your concluding statement?

M. DUBOST: I think by five-thirty I shall be through.

THE PRESIDENT: I think perhaps, if it is as convenient to
you, we had better hear you in the morning. Is it equally
convenient to you?

M. DUBOST: I am at the orders of the Tribunal.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 1st February 1946)


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