Consolidated PoW report dated 7 July 1944
This page is a transcript of the original Prisoner of War (PoW) interrogation report carried out on the named personnel below at Kempton Park in England. This document is the earliest written record relating to Oradour-sur-Glane that I have yet to find and dates from less than 4 weeks after the massacre took place. It is noteworthy that 3 of the men were captured the same day that Diekmann was killed in action (29 June). The only one of the four men to stand trial at Bordeaux in 1953 was Alfred Spaeth and he was an Alsatian (who went on to join the French Army after the war and fight in Indo-China before the trial: see Chapter 5 of In a Ruined State).
It is immediately obvious on reading the report, that by today's standard of knowledge, there was considerable confusion in the minds of the four men concerning the course of events. For example the assertion that all the men were assembled in "a large barn" and shot there is contrary to the fact that there were 6 separate site of execution. However the largest site by some good measure was the Laudy barn and it seems likely that this is what was being referred to. The reference to a 12 year old girl jumping from a window, breaking her ankle and being shot seems a case of identity confusion, as the only people known to jump from the church window were Madame Rouffanche (who survived) and Madame Henriette Joyeux (née Hyvernaud) and her 7-month-old son René (who were both killed, but identifiable). It is possible that another girl could have got out of the window unseen by Madame Rouffanche and the best candidate for this would be Sarah Jakobowicz who was actually 15 at the time. Sarah was one of the 52 persons who could be identified and this does suggest that her body was found outside the church, but I do not have any confirmation of this at the moment. The reference to the village doctor being "shot immediately" on his return from Limoges is odd and at variance with the known facts, I suspect that this is another confused recollection, but I do not know with what.
Hopefully in the near future I will be able to get more of these original reports and gain a fuller picture of events, when I do they will be displayed in the Appendices of this website. Comments on the transcript are in italics.
Report No. PWIS(H)/KP/113 SECRET SS Pz Gren Regt 4 "Der Führer"
Consolidated report on interrogation of four PW of SS PZ Gren Regt 4 "Der Führer" - Kempton Park Camp 7 July 1944.
1. PW KP/22217 MERCKEL Johann Peter SS Pz Gren Captured nr. St Lo (?) 29 Jun 44
KP/22278 BIRK Franz SS Pz Gren Captured near Caen 29 Jun 44
KP/22650 VOIGT Gerhardt SS Pz Gren Captured ? 27 Jun 44
KP/22242 SPAETH Alfred SS Pz Gren Captured ? 29 Jun 44
2. UNIT 1 Company and 3 Company SS Pz Gren Regt 4 "Der Führer"
3. ORGANISATION The organisation of 1 Company now appears to be the same as 2 and 3 Companies with two light platoons and one heavy platoon.
4. REF SHAEF QUESTIONNAIRE ON TROOP MOVEMENTS
A. (i) 3 Company quartered in two large country houses 3 kilometres from VALENCE on road VALENCE - AUVILLAR, officers and NCOs' in the one nearest VALENCE and men in the other.
B. (xxi) (e) Speed of column was far from constant. Average of 30 km per hour, reaching 50/60 km per hour at times.
From LIMOGES the Division may have travelled together excluding Panzer and Sturmgeschutz elements which were left behind. They were to have travelled by rail, but did not, owing to heavy rail damage. Whether they followed later by road is not known (the initial reason was that members of the resistance had sabotaged the flatcars used to transport the heavy vehicles).
5. PARTISAN ACTIVITY AND REPRISALS
a) While 1 Battalion was in ST. JUNIEN near LIMOGES, en route for NORMANDY, rumour had it that (the) Commander 3 Battalion had disappeared from the village ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE owing to partisan activity on 10 June 44. (this was Helmut Kämpfe: see Chapter 6 of In a Ruined State)
b) 3 Platoon of 3 Company was posted as a protective Platoon in a cordon round the village and later 1 and 2 Platoons entered the village, assembled all the men in a large barn and shot them with MG's (machine guns).
c) The women and children were herded into the church and became the objects of MG and grenade practice for 1 and 2 Platoons, leaving a heap of bodies, some half alive, some dead, inside the church, which was then set on fire. The screams of the victims could be heard quite clearly outside the church.
d) A 12 year old girl jumped from a window, broke an ankle and was shot. (This was probably Sarah Jakobowicz, who was actually 15: see Chapter 2 of In a Ruined State). The village doctor with his wife and three children returned later from LIMOGES and were shot immediately. (If correct, this is quite different to the normal story of the Doctor arriving alone and joining the other villagers before the killings started).
e) The whole village was then burned to the ground. The entire population of about 900 was completely wiped out. (a considerable over-estimate of the number of casualties, which was set at 642 in 1953)
© Michael Williams December 2007 ... revised January 2013