Fresh charge over Oradour atrocity

The village's ruins have been left as a memorial

A man has been charged with taking part in the massacre of an entire French village during the Second World War

SEVENTY years after a notorious massacre by the SS when almost the whole population of a French village was killed, a fresh charge has been made against one of the men said to have taken part.

The unnamed 88-year-old, who has been charged in Cologne, Germany, is said to have been involved in the killings at Oradour-sur-Glane in the Haute-Vienne department of Limousin, in June 1944, when 642 people died.

The atrocity followed the Normandy landings and was said to be in reprisal for Resistance activities. SS armoured division “Das Reich” machine-gunned the village’s men in barns and locked the women and children in a church which was burned down. They shot those who tried to escape.

Just five women and one man survived and the village was later partially razed. After the war it was left abandoned as a memorial and a new village of the same name was built nearby.

The 88-year-old, who was 19 at the time, is accused of shooting 25 men in a barn with another man and of helping with the burning down of the church. He denies the charges stating he was present but not actively involved.

The incident is controversial, not only due to its horrific nature but due to the failure afterwards for people involved, who included both Germans and Alsatian French, to be punished. Some trials were held but none of the perpetrators spent long periods in custody. The Alsatians, who said they were forced to join the SS “against our will” were granted an amnesty by France.

President Hollande visited Oradour with German president Joachim Gauck in September last year and met one of the last survivors.

The new charge comes after Germany reopened investigations into the events in 2010 using newly discovered evidence. There are five other suspects but so far no one else has been charged. A trial date has yet to be set.

Photo: The ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane

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