ASSOCIATED PRESS, December 5, 2011
BERLIN — Six former members of an SS armored division that was responsible for the largest massacre in Nazi-occupied France are under investigation on possible charges of murder or accessory to murder, a German prosecutor said Monday. Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel told The Associated Press he opened the investigation of the men earlier this year based on a precedent set by the trial of John Demjanjuk. ...
Brendel said it is known that the six men under investigation, all aged either 85 or 86, were part of the 3rd Company of the 1st Battalion of the “Der Fuehrer” Regiment of the fanatical SS’s “Das Reich” Division.
The company was responsible for the June 10, 1944, massacre in Oradour-sur-Glane in central France, just four days after the D-Day landings in Normandy, in which the Germans killed 642 men, women and children.
The troops herded the civilians into barns and into a church, blocked the doors and then set fire to the entire town. Those not killed in the blazes were shot as they tried to flee, though a handful managed to escape.
Oradour-sur-Glane today remains a phantom village, with burned-out cars and abandoned buildings left as testimony to its history.
The killings were believed to have been ordered by battalion commander Sturmbannfuehrer Adolf Diekmann, whose SS rank is equivalent to major, in retaliation for the kidnapping of a German soldier by the French Resistance, Brendel said. ...