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88-year-old German charged over WWII French massacre

Published time: January 08, 2014 18:08
Edited time: January 10, 2014 12:51
(FILES) A photo taken on June 10, 2006 shows the remains of cars at the partially destroyed village of Oradour-sur-Glane, south-western France, where a German SS Nazi troops massacred 642 people on June 10, 1944. (AFP Photo / Olivier Laban-Mattei)

(FILES) A photo taken on June 10, 2006 shows the remains of cars at the partially destroyed village of Oradour-sur-Glane, south-western France, where a German SS Nazi troops massacred 642 people on June 10, 1944. (AFP Photo / Olivier Laban-Mattei)

Germany has charged an 88-year-old man with involvement in what is considered one of the Nazi’s worst massacres, when 642 people were murdered in a French village in June of 1944. The pensioner ‘aided and abetted,’ said a German court.

Oradour-sur-Glane, a village in central France, was the site of the horrific SS attack. Women and children were rounded up and imprisoned in a church while the village was looted, the men divided into four groups, taken to barns and machine-gunned down. Many of the victims were set alight in the barns.

A full 190 men were killed. A further 247 women and 205 children died after an explosive was set off in the church, which subsequently went up in flames.

The unnamed German, 19 at the time of the massacre, was indicted over taking part in gunning down the men.

“The prosecutor's office in Dortmund has charged an 88-year-old pensioner from Cologne over the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people,” said a statement released by the Cologne prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.

He was also deemed complicit in the deaths of the women and children as he “provided a guard near the church,” the court heard.

People visit on August 30, 2013 the martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane, central France, where 642 citizens including 500 women and children were killed locked up in a church intentionally set on fire by a SS division on June 10, 1944. (AFP Photo / Thierry Zoccolan)

The village was left as a ghost town in the aftermath of the massacre, and burnt-out cars and ruined buildings serve as a solemn reminder of the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

Around 60 suspected accomplices, 20 of whom were convicted, were taken to court in the 1950s over the devastation caused. All were released at a later date.

On the same day as the conviction, a German court dismissed a further case against a 92 year old who had stood accused of murdering a Dutch resistance fighter. The decision was due to the evidence lost during the seven decades elapsed since the event.

The accused, Siert Bruins had been a member of the Waffen-SS (the elite armed wing of the SS). He had previously been sentenced to seven years in prison for the murder of two Jewish brothers in 1945, according to Reuters.

Prosecution told reporters that the decision had shocked him. “My client [the victim’s sister] has waited 70 years for the murder of her brother to be atoned for,” lawyer Detlef Hartmann told reporters. Bruins, along with another man, killed Aldert Klaas Dijkema with four bullets, one to the back of the head.

“This ruling is a slap in the face of the German justice system because it took 70 years to get this far and now we are at a point where the proof is insufficient and the case has to be stopped,” Hartmann said.

The village of Oradour-sur-Glane, France, August 25, 1944. (AFP Photo / Weston Haynes)

Comments (33)


Conrad Turner 25.05.2014 15:28

people comment on war crimes and such committed by other nations, but no one says nothing about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the japanese were taken to court coz they attacked pearl harbour, which was a base of the american navy, they say that this was when america entered the war,,, well maybe they should have helped out their european allies a bit sooner, so then they decide to drop 2, yes 2 nukes on japanese cities, knowing full well the devastating effects of such bombs, did they expect civilians to not get hurt?


سرود سیماوسدا 11.01.2014 01:47

Well, tens of thousands of woman and children have been killed in Palestine during so many years and it still happens every single day...have you ever heard of any israeli held accountable for the atrocities!?


Steven Severn 10.01.2014 06:55

It seems almost absurd that after 70 years an 88 year old would be tried for once being a teenage soldier obeying orders (however horrific) in a time of all-out world war. I imagine he would have been shot for refusing to comply and the massacre would have taken place without him regardless. Will it be another 70 years before current US/UK war crimes are looked at, or will they be ignored because they were only committed against Johnny Arab?

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