Lusar's statement made at Munich on 16th July 1962
 

    This statement forms a part of what I call, 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 was not allowed to be extradited to France.

    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.............


    Note: There was a Rudolf Lusar, described as a, "Major of the Reserve" who wrote a book, published in 1957 describing, "German secret weapons of the Second World War." This book contained information on various weapons, including a, 'Flying Saucer.' I do not know if this man was in any way related to the Rudolf Lusar who made the statement below.

    Rudolf Lusar was born on 24th December 1896 and was thus 47 years old at the time of the attack on Oradour-sur-Glane on 10th June 1944. He was a Captain in the Luftwaffe Flak (Anti-Aircraft) Artillery and in early June 1944 got an order to report to his Divisional Commander in Bordeaux so as to be re-deployed to the French Air-Force base at Mont-de-Masan (a major French Air Base, to the south of Bordeaux). When Lusar reported to the Flak Divisional Commander's office in Bordeaux, he was told by the Adjutant that he would have to wait before seeing him, as an SS-Officer was speaking with the Commander at the time. Lusar expressed astonishment and asked what was an SS-Officer doing talking to a Flak Divisional Commander? The Adjutant said that the SS-Officer "did" Oradour, a subject which Lusar was wholly unfamiliar with at that time.

    There was no time for further questions as just then the SS-Officer came out of the Commander's office and introduced himself as, Dieckmann (sic) and according to Lusar's knowledge he was an SS-Hauptsturmführer (there are two points to comment on here, as firstly, the name of the man who led the attack on Oradour was spelled Diekmann, not Dieckmann and secondly, Diekmann was a Sturmbannführer not a Hauptsturmführer).

    Lusar and Dieckmann (sic) then spoke together for about 10 minutes, during which time Lusar asked Dieckmann (sic) what had happened at Oradour and was told that as communication had been lost between the 1st Battalion and the Regimental Staff, he was to take the 3rd Company to Oradour and clarify the situation. As far as Lusar remembered the staff of the 1st Battalion had gone to Oradour the previous evening in order to sleep there.

    When challenged by the Prosecuting Attorney, Lusar repeated that Dieckmann (sic) was the leader of the 3rd company and that he had heard the name of Kahn (who actually was the leader of the 3rd Company) for the first time that day (the day of the interview). Lusar further claimed that Dieckmann (sic) did not mention that he was the Battalion Commander. (Lusar is being consistent here, as a Battalion Commander would have had the rank of Sturmbannführer and a Company Commander that of Hauptsturmführer. Previously, above, Lusar had said that he remembered Dieckmann (sic) as being a Hauptsturmführer).

    Dieckmann (sic) then claimed that as they approached Oradour they found terribly mutilated, dead German soldiers, including officers, by the roadside. Among the soldiers were some German auxiliary helpers who were equally dishonoured. When Dieckmann's (sic) men questioned local people they met with sullen resistance and a lack of help, but he gained the impression that members of the French Resistance were close-by.

    Dieckmann (sic) then sent forward some scout-cars and one of them came across a truck with members of the French Resistance still in attendance and some German auxiliary helpers held captive. The SS were able to free about 12 of the auxiliary helpers and found out from them that the Resistance had attacked the place in the night and had massacred most of the German soldiers.

    Lusar also mentioned that about 60 female Communication Helpers (probably telephonists and radio operators) had gone missing during the retreat from southern France. The fate of these helpers was uncertain to this day (1962).

    Dieckmann (sic) then said that his men had become infuriated at what they had seen and heard and that an example was called for. He said that he had the population rounded-up, with the women and children being locked in the church and the men held separately.

    Dieckmann (sic) then said that he had the men killed and afterwards set the village on fire. He felt justified in doing this as arms had been discovered during a search of the place. By an 'accident', the church caught fire from a flying spark. Lusar could not remember if Dieckmann (sic) was present at this time or not.

    When challenged by the Prosecuting Attorney, Lusar said that he had heard for the first time that day that women and children had been shot whilst they tried to escape from the church and that Dieckmann (sic) had not mentioned this at all.

    Dieckmann (sic) seemed agitated and even depressed through this narration. Lusar remembered that there was talk of a court martial, but was not sure if he knew this at the time, or learned of it later.

    Lusar said that he did not put any questions to Dieckmann (sic). He himself remembered that at about this time the French Resistance began a series of strong attacks against German lines of communication.

    When challenged by the Prosecuting Attorney, Lusar said that until the day of his statement, he was only aware of one Oradour; namely Oradour-sur-Glane and that he had only learned of Oradour-sur-Vayres that day.

    Lusar said that he did not see Dieckmann (sic) after that day and heard later that he had been killed in France. He also said that he had the strong impression that what Dieckmann (sic) told him was true as he seemed too fluent with the story for it to have been made-up. From his memory of events the date of meeting Dieckmann must have been either the 12th or 13th June 1944. At this point Lusar states that the name of Lammerding was not mentioned in connection with ordering the attack and neither was anyone else.

    After the war, Lusar once asked the German Red Cross Tracing Service if they had any information regarding the missing German Communication Helpers, but got no definite answer and did not pursue the matter further.


Comments on Lusar's statement above

    Lusar's statement is quite extraordinary for several reasons:

    1) Rudolf Lusar is the only non-SS man to make a statement concerning Oradour and Lammerding's involvement in it that I have found. I do not know how Lusar came to be asked to make his statement, or if he volunteered it himself. If he volunteered it, how did he find out about the investigation into Lammerding's part in the affair of Oradour? Was there a national campaign in 1962 to find witnesses that could help? It is easy to see how all the other members of the SS who were still alive were contacted for their assistance. They were all in touch with each other through soldiers reunion societies and old friendships, but Lusar was outside this circle, so must have been reached in some other way.

    2) Lusar's statement reads very oddly indeed, it describes a scenario which appears to be a mixture of the events at Tulle on the 9th June and at Oradour on the 10th. The comment about the Resistance attacking the place at night and massacring and mutilating the German soldiers there, fits the case of Tulle far, far better than that of Oradour. Yet the description of the villagers being split into two groups and the women and children being locked in the church, is what happened at Oradour and not Tulle.

    3) Kahn, in his statement says of Lusar:

    "The statement appears to me strange somehow. First I consider it impossible that Dieckmann (sic) had met with the witness in Bordeaux after the action. I know that, because as the most senior officer, I had to represent the commander in his absence. After the action at Oradour, we were almost always both on the further advance and in action in the vicinity together. Anyway I don't remember that I had to represent the commander at any time up to his death. I also consider the description of Bordeaux implausible for another reason. Furthermore if one looks for themselves on the map at the position of the city of Bordeaux and takes into account, that we continued the advance the following morning by way of Poitiers, Tours, Le Mans to Caen, I even consider it impossible that Dieckmann (sic) could have returned from the north-west front to the south. 

    The description, that Mr. Lusar gives, also appears to me dubious for another reason: 

    When Dieckmann (sic) claimed, that at the approach to Oradour we found at the roadside dead German soldiers, also officers, I know nothing of this. I would like to make a qualification however: I have not seen the western edge and exit of Oradour. Also, I had observed no corpses of auxiliary helpers in uniform. When the company assembled after the action, no foreign unit Germans were with it, above all no auxiliary helpers. I certainly would have had to observe these. I can also say with determination that I neither saw them on the street on which we approached, at the village exit, nor at the streetcar".


    The question then arises as to what we should make of Lusar's evidence? My own view is that he became confused as to what he heard and when in 1962 he was making his statement of events of 18 years previous, he amalgamated the stories of Tulle and Oradour. The man he met in Bordeaux was certainly not Adolf Diekmann, it is simply inconceivable that he had any reason to visit the city in any capacity at all.

    Lusar met someone, whom I do not know and this person (who had some involvement with Das Reich and seems to have been an officer) told him a version of the events at both Tulle and Oradour, which over the years became combined into one story in his memory.

    There was one thing which Lusar said, which was agreed by every other witness at this hearing and that was that the name of Lammerding was not mentioned at all in connection with ordering the attack on Oradour-sur-Glane (it is worth remembering that the purpose of this hearing was to determine if Lammerding had a case to answer in France, it was not an enquiry into the actions of German forces during the war years).

 

 
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© Michael Williams: 26 July 2013 ... revised 19 August 2016.