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Timeline for Oradour-sur-Glane

Coat of arms for Oradour-sur-Glane
Coat of arms for Oradour

    This Timeline shows the relevant dates and events in the story of Oradour-sur-Glane leading up to the massacre itself and what happened afterwards. It is as complete as my present knowledge allows, but it is a work in progress and will be subject to addition and alteration for a considerable time to come as new data come to light. Every Timeline has to start somewhere and this one begins with the birth of Adolf Hitler, without whom this story would never have happened and it ends with the arrest of six ex-members of the Der Führer Regiment in 2011. See the Dramatis Personae for more details of all the personnel involved in the story. It is unfortunate, but I do not have the birth dates, or dates of death for many of those on the French side.

    It is important to know that Der Führer Panzer Grenadier Regiment was a part of the Das Reich 2nd SS-Panzer Division and in the context of this Timeline, Oradour means Oradour-sur-Glane and not any of the other places with Oradour in their titles.

 

Date

Event (some of the times quoted below are my best estimates from the available data)

   
20 April 1889 Adolf Hitler born in Braunau am Inn, Austria, he was Der Führer (leader) of the Nazi Party from 1920 until his suicide on 30 April 1945
   
 7 October 1900 Heinrich Himmler born near Munich, Germany, he was Reichsführer-SS (head of the SS) from 6 January 1929 until 29 April 1945, when he was declared a traitor and deposed by Hitler
   
27 August 1905 Heinrich Lammerding born in Dortmund, Germany (leader of Das Reich 2nd SS-Panzer Division on 10 June 1944)
   
4 March 1908 Otto Kahn born in Berlin-Borsigwalde (second-in-command at Oradour on 10 June 1944)
   
30 December 1910 Sylvester Stadler born in Fohnsdorf, Austria (leader of the Der Führer SS-Regiment on 10 June 1944)
   
27 May 1914 Otto Weidinger born in Würzburg, Germany  (leader of the Der Führer SS-Regiment from 14 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 and later to become the official chronicler of the Das Reich SS-Panzer Division and the Der Führer Regiment)
   
09 December 1914 Karl Gerlach born in Hamburg, Germany (in June 1944 he was Ordnance Officer for Der Führer and was kidnapped by the French Resistance on 9 June 1944; escaping back to the regiment the same evening)
   
18 December 1914 Adolf Diekmann born in Magdeburg, Germany (officer-in-command of the attack on Oradour on 10 June 1944)
   
?? - September 1919 Adolf Hitler joins the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (The German Workers Party) founded by Anton Drexler and Dietrich Eckart earlier that year as member number 555 (he later tried to claim he was member number 7) 
   
?? - April 1920 Hitler becomes leader of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei and changes its name to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (The National Socialist German Workers Party); later known throughout the world as the Nazi Party
   
15 October 1920 Heinz Barth born in Gransee, Brandenburg (just north of Berlin), Germany. He was to become the highest ranking member of the Der Führer Regiment to be tried in person (in 1983) for the attack on Oradour.
   
06 January 1929 Heinrich Himmler becomes Reichsführer-SS
   
27 April 1937 Bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica by the German Condor Legion as part of the Nazis assistance to General Franco during the Civil War (an event usually considered to be before the start of and not part of, WWII)
   
7 July 1937 Japan invaded China, thus starting World War II in Asia (generally regarded as the first act of World War II)
   
1938 - 1939 Rapid expansion of the Waffen-SS due to the ambitions of Heinrich Himmler. Various new units were commissioned at this time but due to the loss of records at the end of the war, the exact sequence is no longer always clear
   
08 April 1939 The name of "Der Führer" bestowed on a new formation of troops in Linz, Austria. This was to become the SS-Regiment and a part of Das Reich Division which supplied the soldiers who attacked Oradour
   
01 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland, thus starting World War II in Europe
   
03 September 1939 Britain and France followed their treaty obligations and declared war on Germany
   
19 October 1939 Founding of the SS V-Division (eventually this was to become the Das Reich Division) in the Czechoslovakian Protectorate near Pilsen. It incorporated the Der Führer Regiment from the very beginning
   
1939 - 1945 Das Reich Division, with the Der Führer Regiment, was in more-or-less constant action throughout the war, first in Poland, then France, then Russia, back to France again and finally in Hungary at the end of the war in Europe on 8 May 1945
   
06 June 1944 (Tuesday) D-Day the start of Operation Overlord, the invasion and liberation of mainland Europe
   
07 June 1944 (Wednesday) Das Reich came to march readiness in preparation for the move north to Normandy
   
08 June 1944 (Thursday) Das Reich started to move north and at the same time began anti-partisan patrols in its surrounding area. The Division experienced attacks by the Resistance during the day, especially on the western arm of the march. Little real military damage was done, but much irritation and frustration caused by having to overcome the obstacles. For full details of all sections of Das Reich's march north, see Chapter 6 of In a Ruined State.
   
approximately 16:00 Adolf Diekmann's men who were on the western arm of Das Reich's march to Normandy, come under fire from the Resistance whilst crossing the river Dordogne at Groléjac
   
approx 16:30 Just over the river Dordogne on the north side, Diekmann's men are attacked again near Carsac
   
approx 17:00 Diekmann's men encounter a barricade at Rouffillac and take casualties, some civilians are also killed
   
approx 18:00 The eastern arm of Das Reich surprises a Resistance meeting at Gabaudet and kill about 40, capturing 71
   
approx 19:00 Sylvester Stadler at the head of Der Führer arrives at Brive-la-Gaillarde, hears of the plight of the besieged German garrison at Tulle and sends troops under Heinrich Wulf to help
   
approx 21:00 The SS arrive at Tulle, relive the garrison and begin to round-up those suspected of taking part in the attack
   
09 June 1944 (Friday) The lead elements of Das Reich reached Limoges at about 02:00
   
approx 05:00 Dawn and the remainder of Das Reich was strung out south on the road from Limoges, as far as the St. Céré area
   
approx 10:00 Karl Gerlach captured with his driver by the Resistance near Nieul, just north of Limoges
   
approx 10:00 Helmut Kämpfe with his battalion was en-route to Guéret to help relive the garrison there, which was under attack by the Resistance
   
approx 16:00 to 19:00 The SS hang 99 suspected members of the Resistance from lampposts in Tulle
   
approx 21:00 Gerlach, manages to escape from his captors in the gathering dusk and makes his way back to Limoges by about 06:00 the next morning
   
approx 21:00 Helmut Kämpfe abducted by the Resistance section of Jean Canou under the command of Georges Guingouin, on the road from Guéret to St. Léonard-de-Noblat
   
10 June 1944 (Saturday) The attack on Oradour-sur-Glane took place today by men from Der Führer Regiment of the Das Reich Division. Men from the Deutschland Regiment of Das Reich Division attacked Marsoulas.
   
probably early morning Helmut Kämpfe killed by the resistance, exact time, location and other circumstances remain unknown
   
approx 06:00 Karl Gerlach arrives back in Limoges and reports to Sylvester Stadler at Der Führer headquarters
   
approx 10:00 Violette Szabo, a British SOE agent captured by men from Das Reich, near the village of Salon-la-Tour
   
approx 10:00 Adolf Diekmann arrives in Limoges from his billet in St Junien for a meeting with Sylvester Stadler. He brought news from Milice collaborators that "a high ranking German Officer" was being held by the Resistance and was to be killed later that day. It is at this point that Diekmann learns that Kämpfe was kidnapped the day before and may be at Oradour-sur-Glane. He asks for and is given, permission by Stadler to attempt a rescue
   
approx 11:00 Diekmann leaves Limoges and travels back to St Junien after speaking to Karl Gerlach
   
11:30 - 12:00 Diekmann arrives in St Junien and is then told by collaborators that Kämpfe is dead (this is my own conclusion)
   
approx 12:00 Diekmann summons Otto Kahn for a meeting concerning the attack on Oradour
   
approx 12:00 A prisoner of the Gestapo was released from prison in Limoges (on the request of Sylvester Stadler) in order to contact the Resistance and secure Kämpfe's release. He was to offer 35,000 Reichmarks and the release of 30 captured Resistance fighters in exchange for the safe return of Kämpfe (a most unusual offer on the part of the SS)
   
between 12:00 - 13:00 A meeting between collaborators and the SS under Adolf Diekmann was held in the Hotel de la Gare in St Junien to plan the attack on Oradour-sur-Glane
   
approx 13:00 Kahn's company, plus some more men summoned by Diekmann, set off from St Junien to drive to Oradour. There were a total of about 150 men led by Diekmann with Kahn as second-in-command
   
13:30 - 13:45 The SS halt before entering Oradour and a final briefing given, Heinz Barth remarks, "blood will flow"
   
approx 14:00 The SS enter Oradour and commence the round-up of the citizens
   
14:00 Robert Hébras was on the street outside his house on the Rue Emil Desourteaux, talking to his friend Martial Brissaud and saw the troops arrive at what he described as, "2 pm German time" (the Germans had recently imposed an additional hour of 'daylight saving time' on all the Reich)
   
14:02 Clément Broussaudier was ordered from his seat in the barber shop to go to the Champ de Foire and noticed the time on his watch
   
approx 14:45 Roger Godfrin runs from the infants school, is shot at and 'plays dead' to escape being killed
   
approx 15:00 The population assembled on the Champ de Foire and the women and children were moved off to wait in the church whilst the village was searched for, "arms, ammunition and prohibited merchandise"
   
15:15 - 15:30 The men sitting on the Champ de Foire are asked if they have knowledge of the, "arms ammunition and prohibited merchandise". No one admits knowledge and they are divided into 6 unequal groups and moved to various buildings whilst the village is to be searched
   
approx 16:00 The signal was given for the killing to begin throughout the village
   
approx 16:15 Pierre-Henri Poutaraud escaped from the Laudy barn, but is seen and shot dead. Robert Hébras, Marcel Darthout, Yvon Roby, Clément Broussaudier and Mathieu Borie escaped from the Laudy barn via some rabbit hutches and eventually reached safety by about 20:00
   
approx 16:15 A test tram arrives from Limoges and is sent back by the SS after their killing assistant engineer, Marcelin Chalard
   
approx 16:30 Madam Rouffanche escapes from the church
   
approx 17:00 Diekmann leaves Oradour to report to Stadler in Limoges
   
approx 17:00 The killing at the various sites was now complete and the village buildings were searched for any stragglers
   
17:00 - 18:00 Many of the soldiers were at the church, gathering firewood to throw onto the conflagration
   
approx 18:00 Roger Godfrin reaches the river Glane and safety, but sees the dog 'Bobby' shot and killed
   
approx 18:00 The Pinède children made their escape from the Avril Hotel and were let go by an unknown SS soldier. They found shelter at the hamlet of La Martinerie, where coincidentally so did Robert Hébras and Mathieu Borie. Jacqueline Pinède gave first aid to Robert Hébras by using tweezers to remove bullet fragments (next day he was treated by a doctor in Cieux) 
   
approx 18:00 onwards The looting and destruction of the village began
   
approx 19:00 Diekmann arrived back in Oradour and from then on, no further killing took place
   
approx 19:00 The scheduled tram from Limoges arrived and was stopped outside the village. All passengers were made to get off and the tram sent back to Limoges. After an anxious wait the passengers were let go and told to make their own way home, but not to enter Oradour
   
20:00 onwards Various people who had managed to hide in the village made their escape, including the men from the Laudy barn. Most of the soldiers left Oradour, leaving a small rearguard at the Dupic house
   
11 June 1944 (Sunday) Relatives enter Oradour and discover what had happened. Madam Rouffanche is found alive
   
12 June 1944 (Monday) Troops from the Der Führer Regiment arrived in Oradour to begin a half-hearted clean-up operation and to try and bury some of the dead
   
13 June 1944 (Tuesday) Das Reich leaves the Limousin area and heads north to Normandy
   
29 June 1944 (Thursday) Adolf Diekmann killed in Noyers, Normandy, France
   
04 March 1945 General Charles de Gaulle visits the ruins of Oradour and meets some of the survivors
   
29 April 1945 Hitler declares Himmler to be a traitor and deposes him from all his offices, replacing him as Reichsführer-SS with Karl Hanke
   
30 April 1945 Adolf Hitler commits suicide in Berlin, Germany
   
8 May 1945 End of the war in Europe with Germany's surrender
   
23 May 1945 Heinrich Himmler commits suicide in Lüneburg, Lower Saxony, Germany following his capture by the British
   
2 September 1945 End of the war in Asia with Japan's surrender and this marked the end of WWII in all theatres
   
20 November 1945 to 1  October 1946 The War Crimes Trials of 22 principle Nazis was held at Nuremberg, Germany. The subject of Oradour was not an issue and no one was ever charged in connection with the affair. Following the main trial, a series of trials of lesser figures was to run on until 13 April 1949 (with appeals being heard until 1951).
   
12 January to 13 February 1953 The trial in Bordeaux of the 21 members of Der Führer Regiment that could either be located, or who were already in prison. The result was deeply unsatisfactory and pleased no one, in that justice was not seen to be done to either the defendants or the dead of Oradour
   
02 April 1953 Death by natural causes of Hugo Sperrle in Munich. It was the 'Sperrle Orders', issued whilst he was Commander-in-Chief West, which provided the basic justification for the harsh measures taken by the German armed forces in suppressing the Resistance in the Western theatre of war.
   
13 January 1971 Heinrich Lammerding died in Bad Tölz, Bavaria, Germany; without ever being tried in person for his part in the Oradour affair
   
??-???-1977 Otto Kahn died in Ottmarsbocholt, near Münster, Germany (where he had lived since 1945), without ever being tried in person for his part in the Oradour affair
   
25 May to 07 June 1983 Heinz Barth tried in person in East Berlin and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane
   
10 January 1990 Otto Weidinger died in Aalen, Germany. Weidinger had been tried in person by the French on various charges during 1951, but none relating to Oradour and acquitted on all counts
   
23 August 1995 Sylvester Stadler died in Augsburg-Haunstetten, Bavaria, Germany (he was never accused of any war crimes)
   
??-???-1997 Heinz Barth released from prison on the grounds of poor health and his expression of remorse for his part in the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane
   
?? - March 1998 Madame Rouffanche died and was buried in the cemetery at Oradour on 25th May 1998
   
10 March 2000 This website opened, initially at http://www.oradour.btinternet.com and from 31 July 2003 moved to its present location at http://www.oradour.info
   
11 February 2001 Roger Godfrin (who was the youngest survivor of the massacre) died of natural causes, aged 65
   
6 August 2007 Heinz Barth died in Gransee, Brandenburg, Germany
   
5 December 2011 Six former members of the Der Führer Regiment arrested in Dortmund and may face trial in the future (more details will be added when known)
   

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© Michael Williams: first posted 15 February 2011 and last updated on Friday, 21 February 2014