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June 22, 2015

Madame Rouffanche, the “lone survivor” of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:27 am
Altar in the ruins of the Oradour-sur-Glane church

Altar in the ruins of the Oradour-sur-Glane church with 3 windows behind it

This year, I let the June 10th anniversary of the Oradour-sur-Glane tragedy go by without blogging about it. Now I am going to answer a comment made on one of my previous blog posts.

The following comment was made by Anthony Godly:

Was Mme Roufanche ever in the church? After escaping through that church window She hid in a garden (in daylight?). Miraculously, the younger woman with a child was shot and killed whilst trying to escape from the church through that same window, only seconds before Mme Roufanche – a much older Woman – manage to climb up to that window. Did Mme Roufanche have any burn marks, cuts or bruises?

Here is my answer to Mr. Godly’s question:

We don’t  know if Madame Roufanche had any “markes,  cuts or bruises” because she checked into a hospital under an assumed name, and no one was ever allowed to see any of her “burn marks, cuts or bruises.” She stayed in hiding in the hospital for more than a year.

Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, the lone survivor of the massacre in the church, had allegedly managed to escape from the burning church in Oradour-sur-Glane by using a ladder to climb up to a broken window behind the main altar in the church, then allegedly leaping out of a window, which was 9 feet from the ground.

Madame Rouffanche allegedly leaped through this window behind the altar in a church

Madame Rouffanche allegedly leaped through this window behind the altar in a church

Although allegedly hit by machine gun fire from German soldiers, and wounded 4 times in the legs and once in the shoulder, this 50-something, overweight woman was able to crawl to the garden behind the presbytery where she hid among the rows of peas until she was rescued, 24 hours later, at 5 p.m. the next day, and taken to the hospital in Limoges where she was admitted under an assumed name. It took a full year for her to recover from her wounds.

In 1953, she testified before a French military tribunal in Bordeaux about the massacre of the women and children in the church.

The window on the left is the middle window in the church

The window on the left is the middle window in the Oradour-sur-Glane church

Madame Rouffchance had to first climb up this ramp to get to the window

Madame Rouffchance had to first climb up this ramp to get to the window in the Oradour-sur-Glane church

Madame Rouffanche jumped out of the middle window, rolled down the embankment and then stuck the landing

Madame Rouffanche jumped out of the middle window, rolled down the embankment and then stuck the landing

The German attack on the village of Oradour-sur-Glane was prompted by the kidnapping of Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, the battalion commander of the 3rd Battalion of Das Reich Division, on the night of 9 June 1944. Representatives of the French resistance had sent a ransom note to the “Der Führer” battalion command post on the morning of the 10th of June.

Acting on this information, Sturmbannführer Otto Diekmann, a close personal friend of Kämpfe, took two platoons from 3rd Company/1st Battalion/Regiment “Der Führer” to Oradour-sur-Glane to search for him.

On the search for this “beloved officer,” Diekmann’s men had discovered a burned-out German ambulance that had been set on fire, apparently by the French partisans, near the southern entrance to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

The driver of the ambulance had been tied to the steering wheel with wire. He had been burned alive, along with the man sitting next to him in the passenger seat, and four wounded soldiers inside the ambulance.

Before entering Oradour-sur-Glane, the SS rounded up the residents of the hamlets on the south side of the village, because this was the vicinity where the burned out ambulance was found. By coincidence, the one woman who allegedly survived the massacre, Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, lived in a hamlet on the south side of the village.

I believe that Madame Rouffanche was a partisan, who was fighting in World War II as a resistance fighter, aka an illegal combatant.

The destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane had the desired effect because, immediately after the massacre, the Communist partisans, who had been wreaking havoc in the Limosin area, gave the order to stop fighting.

The order was intercepted by the Germans and this immediately lifted their morale. The reprisal had worked; this was basically the reason why reprisals were allowed at that time, although such bestial cruelty as the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane is, understandably, no longer legal under international law.

In a rambling autobiography entitled “SS Panzergrenadier,” former Waffen-SS soldier Hans Schmidt, with whom I have personally spoken, wrote about the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre from the SS point of view. In a footnote on page 377 of his book, Schmidt debunks the official story that the villagers were innocent.

They were illegal combatants who were stopped by a legal reprisal.

January 30, 2014

Today’s Germany — no country for old men

Filed under: Germany — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 7:48 am

In a news article in The Daily Beast, which you can read in full here, Michael Moynihan wrote that “There Should Be No Statute of Limitations on Prosecuting War Crimes.”

He means German war crimes, of course.  No Allied soldier, who served in World War II, was ever put on trial for war crimes, and none ever will be put on trial.  Only the losers are war criminals. Only the winners are allowed to make up new laws, after a war is over.

At the end of World War II, the Allies made up ex-post-facto laws, under which the Germans were put on trial by the Allies in the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and the American Military Tribunal held at Dachau, Germany.  One of these ex-post-facto laws was called “common design” or “common plan.” Under the new common design law, anyone who was anywhere near the place where a war crime, or a Crime Against Humanity, had been committed, was guilty simply because he was there.

Under the new laws made up by the Allies after the war, the Waffen-SS was declared to be a criminal organization, as was the National Socialist political party, known to Americans today as the Nazis.

If Germany had won the war, the Germans might have designated the US Marines as a criminal organization, along with the Democratic political party.  Anyone who belonged to either of these organizations would have automatically been a war criminal, under the new laws.

The ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane

My photo of the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane

Moyniham’s article includes a great photo of the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane, a village in France, where a German soldier named Werner C. was present when the Germans did a reprisal action against the village for the kidnapping and murder of German soldiers, including Major Helmut Kämpfe, a beloved German officer, who was believed to have been killed at Oradour-sur-Glane.

This quote, regarding the Oradour-sur-Glane reprisal, is from Wikipedia:

A few days later, survivors were allowed to bury the dead. 642 inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane had been murdered in a matter of hours. Adolf Diekmann claimed that the episode was a just retaliation for partisan activity in nearby Tulle and the kidnapping of Helmut Kämpfe.

Under the Geneva Convention of 1929, a reprisal was legal.  Under the Geneva Convention of 1949, which is currently in effect, reprisals are no longer legal.

This quote is from the article written by Michael Moynihan:

…. German prosecutors, mining information from East German secret police files, have assembled a case against former Waffen-SS soldier Werner C. (German privacy laws protect the accused’s identity), an 88 year old from Cologne who acknowledges being present in Oradour-sur-Glane on that grim day [June 10, 1944] but claims to not have participated in the orgiastic violence.

But they are right to haul—or wheel—a geriatric SS man present at a notorious, if largely forgotten, massacre into the courtroom. Countries who don’t reckon with the past, shunting memories of political and institutional violence to the side in favor of “moving forward,” risk banalizing totalitarianism. For instance, a recent Gallup poll found that “residents in seven out of 11 countries that were part of the [Soviet Union] are more likely to believe its collapse harmed their countries than benefited them.” And Germany saw a recent wave of nostalgia for East German dictatorship (bloodlessly called “Ostalgie”), because there was no commensurate Nuremberg Trial, no nie wieder, no truth and reconciliation at the collapse of Soviet communism.

It’s unclear what role Werner C. played in the massacre, though years of rigorous academic research of Nazi crimes both inside and outside Germany have punctured the myth of soldiers merely “following orders,” lest the poor conscript too became a victim of fascism. If Werner C. pulled a trigger or pulled the pin from a grenade, or pushed children into a locked church in Oradour, he should breathe his last breath inside a prison. A small measure of justice, 70 years later, and reassurance that not all the perpetrators have “escaped the penalty of their crime.”

If Werner C. is put on trial in Germany, it will not be because he “pulled a trigger or pulled the pin from a grenade, or pushed children into a  locked church in Oradour.”  He will be put on trial and will be automatically convicted because he was there when a reprisal was conducted against the villagers in Oradour-sur-Glane. If he was there, he is guilty under the ex-post-facto law, known as “common design.”

John Demjanjuk was recently convicted, in Germany, under the “common design” law, which set a precedent for new charges to be brought against any former German soldier, who is still alive.

What really happened in Oradour-sur-Glane, that caused the German soldiers to do a reprisal?  Ever heard of “the tragic well” in Oradour-sur-glane? The photo below shows the tragic well.

The tragic well where bodies of German soldiers were found in Oradour-sur-Glane

The tragic well where bodies of German soldiers were found in Oradour-sur-Glane

You can read about the bakery, where burned bodies were found by the German soldiers when they entered the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Oradour-sur-Glane/Tour/Ruins/Bakery.html

You can read the SS version of what happened at Oradour-sur-Glane on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Oradour-sur-Glane/Story/Synopsis02.html

My photo of an old car in the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane

My photo of an old car in the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane

You can read the notes that I wrote, after my visit to the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane, on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Oradour-sur-Glane/Story/TripNotes2.html

October 20, 2013

The church funeral plans for Priebke sparked an outcry in the United States.

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:34 am

The title of my blog post today is a quote from a news article about the protests against the funeral of Erich Priebke, who was a convicted Nazi war criminal.

Here is the full quote from the news article on the CNN blog which you can read in full here:

The church funeral plans for Priebke sparked an outcry in the United States.

“Erich Priebke was a monster,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

“He does not deserve the dignity and respect of a proper church burial. His body should be cremated and his ashes scattered at sea, without further ceremony.”

Priebke, a former SS captain sentenced to life in prison for his role in an Italian massacre in 1944, died on Friday.

Priebke was convicted by Italian court in 1998 for helping organize the execution of 335 men and boys in retaliation for attacks on German troops. The former Nazi was unrepentant, denying the Holocaust in his final statement, according to the Associated Press.

Note that the news article says that Priebke was convicted of the crime of helping to organize the execution of 335 men and boys in RETALIATION for attacks on German troops.  No, this was not a RETALIATION, but rather a REPRISAL.

There is a difference between a reprisal and a retaliation.  A reprisal was an action that was legal under the Geneva Convention of 1929.  (Reprisals are no longer legal under the Geneva Convention of 1949) The purpose of a reprisal was to stop illegal combatants from killing enemy soldiers during war time.

An example of a reprisal was what happened at Orddour-sur-Glane.  After the reprisal, the killing of German soldiers by French Resistance fighters in the area of Oradour-sur-Glane stopped, so the reprisal was successful.

After World War II, the Allies changed the laws so that illegal combatants were legal combatants and reprisals against illegal combatants were now ex-post-facto war crimes.  After the war, illegal combatants who had been captured were now considered Prisoners of War, and it was a war crime to put illegal combatants into a concentration camp.

Priebke was convicted under ex-post-facto laws, created by the Allies AFTER the war.  In other words, Priebke was not a war criminal at the time that he participated in a legal reprisal.

As for Priebke’s crime of Holocaust denial, Italy did not have a law against Holocaust denial at the time that Priebke made his Holocaust denial statements. He was never convicted of being a Holocaust denier.  Italy is now trying to catch up to the rest of the world; Italy will soon become the 18th country to have a Holocaust denial law.

I previously blogged about Primo Levi, who was a famous Italian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz.  Levi was arrested for being an Italian partisan, i.e. an illegal combatant.  However, when he was admitted to the camp, he said that he was a Jew, because he was afraid that he would be killed if he admitted to being a Resistance fighter.

October 11, 2013

Unrepentant Nazi war criminal “remained an arrogant Nazi monster until his dieing (sic) day,” according to UK newspaper

An article in the International Business Times, which you can read in full here, starts off with this headline:

Nazi War Criminal Erich Priebke’s Political Will: ‘Jews were to Blame for the Holocaust’

This quote is from the article:

In the interview, [Eric] Priebke proved he remained an arrogant Nazi monster until his dieing day. He claimed Jews are partially to blame for the Holocaust, which extent he however denied. He reveals himself as an unreconstructed anti-Semite who continued to peddle the lies that stoked the genocide of six million Jews, among them 1.5 million children, as well as millions of Russians, Poles, gypsies and gays.

“Responsibility lies with both parties,” [Priebke] said. “Due to their religious beliefs most Jews considered themselves better and above all other human beings,” Priebke says, adding that nevertheless he doesn’t hate them. “There are also good people among them.”
“In Germany Jews’ behaviour was openly criticised since the early years 1900s. They had amassed a huge economic and political power, despite being a scanty part of the world population. This was perceived as unjust.

“It is a fact that even today if you take the 1,000 most powerful and rich individuals in the world, most are Jews,” Priebke said..

Priebke claimed that Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe caused “a real catastrophe” in Germany after the First World War. [Following World War I, German territory was given to the new country of Poland. The Poles denied citizenship to the Jews, and forced them to go to Germany where they became stateless persons.]

“They stockpiled huge capital while most of Germans were living in poverty. Moneylenders got richer and annoyance towards Jews grew higher,” Priebke says.

Priebke said Hitler tried to persuade Jews to leave Germany peacefully but “had to lock them up in lagers as war enemies” after the Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass. [Jewish men were locked up for several weeks until their families could arrange for them to leave Germany.]

So, what was the heinous war crime committed by Priebke?  Why was he hunted down in Argentina and brought back to Germany for trial?

Erich Priebke as a young SS soldier

Erich Priebke as a young SS soldier

This quote from the article in the International Business Times explains Priebke’s crime:

During WWII [Priebke] served under the command of Herbert Kappler in Rome.

On 23 March 1944 Keppler ordered the execution of 335 Italians, in retaliation for an attack by partisan troops that had killed 33 German soldiers.

The execution by firing squad was carried out under captain Priebke’s supervision in the ancient Ardeatine Caves in central Rome.

At his trial Priebke claimed he had only ticked off the names of those killed from a list that included 12 underage boys, about 80 Jews and a catholic priest.

After World War II ended, the Allies made a new law called “common plan,” or “common design,” under which any German was guilty of a crime if he or she were anywhere near where the crime was committed. So when Priebke “ticked off the names” of the people to be killed in a reprisal action, he was guilty of a  crime under the new law of  “common plan.”

Note that the article in the International Business Times does not mention the word “reprisal.”

During World War II, reprisals were legal.  A reprisal was an action carried out against the enemy in an effort to stop the enemy from engaging in partisan activity.  Note that the people killed in the reprisal in Italy were described as “partisans.”

Under the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929, POWs, who had been captured while fighting on the battlefield, were protected from reprisals.  However, it was not until the Geneva Convention of 1949 that civilians were also protected against reprisals. The Geneva Convention of 1949 states that the principle of the prohibition of reprisals against persons has now become part of international law in respect to all persons, whether they are members of the armed forces or civilians.

According to international law during World War II, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, it was legal to violate the laws of war by responding with a reprisal against civilians in order to stop partisan actions that were against international law.

The fact that “underage boys” as well as Jews and a Catholic priest were killed in the reprisal where Priebke “ticked off the names,” indicates that this was a legal action taken against civilians as revenge against the civilians for killing German soldiers.

Priebke was guilty of being a “war criminal” only because the Allies changed the laws AFTER World War II.

Would it have killed the reporter for the International Business Times to have explained all this?

In today’s news, only one side of the story is told.

July 27, 2013

World at War TV series misconstrues the Oradour-sur-Glane reprisal

Filed under: Germany, TV shows, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 3:29 pm
Entrance into the ruined village of Oradour-sur-Glane which is now a memorial site

Entrance into the ruined village of Oradour-sur-Glane which is now a memorial site

I wrote a previous blog post about Oradour-Glane, a French village that is shown in the British TV series entitled World at War.  At that time, I had not actually seen the World at War episode that starts with a speech by Sir Lawrence Olivier, which I quoted in my previous blog post. I also blogged about the tragedy at Oradour-sur-Glane on this blog post.

Today, I watched several World at War episodes, and I learned that the one which starts and ends with Oradour-sur-Glane is the very last episode.  The Oradour-sur-Glane reprisal, which was done by the Germans in an attempt to stop the war crimes perpetrated by the French Resistance, is purported to be the way that Germany fought World War II, attacking villages and killing civilians for no reason.  Instead of reporting the truth, that Oradour-sur-Glane was a reprisal action, the false portrayal of the destruction of this French village is used to demonize the German Army and the German people.

A series of photos of Oradour-sur-Glane is shown in the last World at War episode, as Sir Lawrence Olivier intones these words:

“Down this road, on a summer day in 1944. . . The soldiers came. Nobody lives here now. They stayed only a few hours. When they had gone, the community which had lived for a thousand years. . . was dead. This is Oradour-sur-Glane, in France. The day the soldiers came, the people were gathered together. The men were taken to garages and barns, the women and children were led down this road . . . and they were driven. . . into this church. Here, they heard the firing as their men were shot. Then. . . they were killed too….”

The photo below shows the church, which is mentioned in the World of War, as the place where women and children were killed …. by German soldiers.

The ruined church at Oradour-sur-Glane

The ruined church at Oradour-sur-Glane

After the opening scenes in the World at War episode, which shows Oradour-sur-Glane, there is a photo of the ruined church, much like my photo above. Then a photo of the altar in the church is shown, and a photo of the windows in the church.

The photos below show the road, down which the soldiers came, on a summer day in 1944.  What summer day was it, exactly?  June 10, 1944.  The date should have been mentioned in the World at War, because the destruction of the village took place FOUR DAYS after the Normandy invasion.

Ruins along the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Ruins along the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Ruins on the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Ruins along the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Why did German soldiers take time out to go to a remote village and kill innocent women and children in a Church, of all places?  The World at War documentary doesn’t tell us, so we are left to conclude that the Germans were intent upon killing innocent civilians, not winning the war.

What does the evidence show about the atrocity at Oradour-sur-Glane?  This issue was not addressed in the World at War episode.  I previously blogged about the evidence, as shown in the photos that I took when I visited Oradour-sur-Glane.

You can read about another reprisal action in France, which I wrote about on this blog post.  French civilians fought throughout World War II as terrorists, aka illegal combatants.  You can read about the French Resistance on my website here.

My photo below shows the entrance road, early on a foggy morning, before the arrival of the many tour groups which stop here.  The entrance road comes to a dead end where it intersects with the main street, called Rue de Emile Desourteaux, which is shown in the fog in the background.

The photos of the road into Oradour-sur-Glane were very dark on the show World at War

The photos of the road into Oradour-sur-Glane were very dark on the show World at War, much like my photo taken in 2001

The entrance road, on the left, ends at the fairgrounds

The entrance road, on the left, ends at the fairgrounds in the center of the village

Well on the Fairgrouds at Oradour-sur-Glane was shown in The World at War

Well on the Fairgrounds at Oradour-sur-Glane was shown in the World at War

My photo immediately above shows a well, which is at the edge of the Fairgrounds in Oradour-sur-Glane. A photo similar to this one was shown in the TV series World at War.

Why this photo?  It has nothing to do with the tragedy at Oradour-sur-Glane.  However, the photo below does have something to do with why the Germans did a reprisal at the village.

The "tragic well" is shown on the right

The “tragic well” is shown on the right

One of the first sights on the entrance road is the “Tragic Well,” where dead bodies that had been thrown into the well were found. The photo above was taken inside the enclosure of an old farmstead near the entrance into the town. It shows an old well with a wooden cross placed beside it.  The cross was put up by the Germans.

According to defense testimony at the Nuremberg IMT, the SS claimed to have found a number of bodies of German soldiers who had been executed in Oradour-sur-Glane.  Some of these bodies were found in the “Tragic Well.”

According to Philip Beck, who wrote a book about Oradour-sur-Glane, entitled Oradour, Village of the Dead, the names of the victims whose bodies were found in the well are unknown. Out of the 642 people allegedly murdered in the village by the SS soldiers, the bodies of only 52 were ever identified.

The entrance street into the ruined village is the former road to St. Junien, a town that is 13 kilometers southwest of Oradour-sur-Glane. The Waffen-SS soldiers who destroyed this peaceful village on 10 June 1944 were coming from St. Junien, but they didn’t use the present entrance road to enter the village. Instead, they traveled south and entered the village at the southern end, which is now closed off. Originally, tourists were allowed to enter the ruined village from three gated entrances, including the present entrance, which is currently the only entrance.

A new town has been built right next to the ruined village.  The photo below shows the church in the new town.

Church in the new town of Oradour-sur-Glane

Church in the new town of Oradour-sur-Glane

You can see photos of the ruined Oradour-sur-Glane church on my website here.  Each side has it’s own version about what happened at Oradour-sur-Glane. You can read all the different versions of the story on my website here.

May 31, 2010

World War II Massacre in the French village of Maillé

Today I came across an old news article, dated July 2008, which told about a German prosecutor, Ulrich Maass, who had reopened the case against German soldiers, who destroyed the French village of Maillé and killed 124 civilians, in a reprisal action during World War II on August 25, 1944, the same day that German troops surrendered to the Allies in Paris. You can read the full news article here.

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