Hans Gerlach's statement made at Dortmund 31 May 1963

   

    This statement forms a part of what I am calling, The Dortmund Hearings, which commenced in 1962 and ran on for several years. This particular hearing was used to try and determine whether Heinrich Bernhard Lammerding, who had been the commander of the Das Reich Division at the time of the attack on Oradour-sur-Glane, was culpable of the crime and was to be allowed to be extradited by the French to stand trial in France for the attack. The conclusion, reached at the end of the hearings and after evaluating all the statements, was that Lammerding did not have a case to answer and so he never stood trial in France for the events at Oradour (or Tulle).

    This particular statement has been paraphrased from the original document, which was obtained from the German National Archives on the understanding that it would not be directly copied or distributed. All such documents will be displayed here as paraphrased translations and will give all the necessary facts without having been directly copied from the originals. I appreciate that some people may find this unsatisfactory, but I was only allowed access to the documents by agreeing to this condition. I assure you that what follows below is an accurate rendition of the content of the statement. Should the situation change in the future then the full translated version will appear here in place of the paraphrased version. For comments on this statement, see the foot of this page and notes made in italics throughout.

    All these statements were taken by means of a face-to-face interview between the subject and a Prosecuting Attorney, with a Justice Secretary present to take a transcript of the proceedings.............


    Hans Gerlach began his statement by emphasising that he was Hans Gerlach and not the Karl Gerlach who had been to Oradour and who was a member of the Assault Gun Detachment. He went on to say that he knew virtually nothing at all about Karl Gerlach.

    Hans Gerlach said that he had been in the tank regiment of Das Reich Division (he did not quote the actual regiment's name) at the start of 1944 and that he moved to the Divisional Staff at the beginning of June.

    It is obvious from reading his statement that a fair amount of forgetting of detail has taken place from the events of 19 years earlier. Gerlach is somewhat vague as to points of detail concerning the march route to Normandy and this is not to be wondered at, because at the time it was just another march. It was only later that the sequence became important, at the time it was nothing special. Gerlach accompanied Sturmbannführer Stückler on the march northwards with the intention of forming an advance party in order to get the Division into action as quickly as possible.

    Gerlach and Stückler visited Tulle in the afternoon of 9 June and in the Hotel Modern, Gerlach saw the bodies of German soldiers who had been killed in the uprising there. Gerlach also mentions that Lammerding visited Tulle, but he was vague as to exactly how long Lammerding stayed, or exactly when he arrived. Gerlach also said that Weidinger must have visited the town, but that he did not personally know him at that time (there is no dispute about Weidinger visiting Tulle, as he has stated this in his own account of events there).

    From Tulle, Gerlach continued northwards along a poorly remembered route. He stated that he only got to hear about events at Oradour later, when they reached the invasion front and that this was by way of gossip. He thought that the matter was being kept secret and that as he personally did not have anything to do with the case, he did not enquire further.

    The rest of Gerlach's statement describes the events that he remembered after Normandy, such as the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. He is vague as to details and could not even remember Lammerding's movements in any detail (he had been wounded and left the Division for some months).

    Hans Gerlach's statement is useful, because it is the memory of someone who was a part of the Das Reich Division, but someone who was not directly involved in the affairs of either Tulle, or Oradour. It is obvious from reading his statement, that neither event made a big impression on him at the time; they both were just incidents along the way, nothing remarkable.

    The names that are not mentioned at all in Hans Gerlach's statement are those of Stadler, Diekmann or Kahn. It is not obvious from the statement exactly why Hans Gerlach was being interviewed; the implication is that it was because of some confusion between his name and that of Karl Gerlach, but this is not explicitly stated.

    The main conclusions to be drawn are that Lammerding was not implicated by Hans Gerlach (mentioned almost in passing, but not implicated) and neither was Stadler, who is most conspicuous by his absence in the testimony.

 

 
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© Michael Williams: 21 February 2015 ... revised 19 August 2016.