Heinz Barth's trial judgement of 1983
The document shown below is the official judgement against Heinz Barth by the East German judicial system following his trial in 1983. All comments below are in italics and parenthesis. Document translated 25th August 2009 from the original court judgement. It is noteworthy that very little actual evidence is produced below; rather it is a summary of the court's findings and judgements. One point to note is that names are often abbreviated and this seems to be for legal reasons. Wherever possible I have shown what I believe to be the full name, but this has not been possible in every case.
For the trial, witnesses from Oradour were called to give evidence as to what happened on the 10th June 1944. These included both Robert Hébras and Marcel Darthout who were survivors from the Laudy Barn. Read the transcript of Kahn's statement at Dortmund in conjunction with this trial judgement.
Berlin City-Court (this was located in East Berlin, capital of the German Democratic Republic from 1949 to 1990)
Serial Number 1009a (Excerpt)
Table of contents
Order of Judgment
1. In the historical time frame of the activity of the accused.
2. The personal circumstances of the accused. (not available at the time of translation)
3. The Circumstances.
3.1. Offenses in the context of the assassination of Heydrich.
3.2. The destruction of Oradour.
4. Evidence and Proof Assessment.
5. Legal Assessment.
6. Sentence and expenses.
In the name of the people, the criminal case against the former SS-Obersturmführer:
Heinz Barth (note that in this case "Heinz" is not a shortened form of "Heinrich")
Born on the 15.10.1920 in Gransee (about 30 miles north of Berlin and in 1983 located within the German Democratic Republic, which was usually called "East Germany" by member states of NATO at that time).
Resident at 1430 Gransee, married, two children, employed.
Citizen of the GDR. (German Democratic Republic, or in German, Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR)
Not previously convicted in the GDR, in detention while awaiting trial since 14.7.1981 because of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Criminal Senate 1a of the city court of Berlin, capital of the GDR for the public hearing on the 25, 26, 27, 30, 31 May and 1, 2, and 7 June 1983 is for right recognised:
The accused is condemned to lifelong imprisonment because of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in accordance with Article 6, letters b and c of the statute for the International Military Court in Nuremberg of the 8.8.1945, in connection with Article 8 and 91 of the condition of the German Democratic Republic, ??91 Section 2, 93 Section 3 StGB, ?1 Section 6 of the introductory law to the penal code and to the code of criminal procedure, UN convention over the Statute of Limitations on Nazi war crimes of 26.11.1968.
The accused is permanently deprived of civic rights. The accused bears the expense of the trial (this practice, which seems very odd to democratic sensibilities, was normal practice in East Germany for those persons found guilty. However it was not very expensive, approximately €250 or so. What happened if the accused could not pay, I do not know).
1. In the historical time frame of the activity of the accused.
With the erection of the fascist dictatorship to which millions of people fell victim, the most reactionary circles of German imperialism had kindled organized terror against all progressive forces. Directed first against their own people, the tyranny increased and was realized in the foreign states, occupied as the result of the aggressive actions opposing the subjugated people with especially ruthless brutality.
The Czechoslovak Republic was occupied in March 1939. The goal of this illegal occupation was the enslavement and annihilation of the Czech people as a nation and their incorporation into the German empire. In addition, the so-called Reichs Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was set-up under the guise of the dictation of Munich.
Already, many times by the courts of the German Democratic Republic and especially in the judgment of the Supreme court of the GDR against Globke (Hans Globke) of the 23 July 1963, 1 Zsts (I) 1/63, it has been determined that the Reichs Protectorate was only used for the realization of the fascist goals by ruthless and brutal suppression. In the process of the reign of terror, tens of thousands of Czech people, because of their affiliation to the KPC (Czechoslovak Communist Party) and other progressive and national organizations, because they belonged to the intelligencia of their people or were of Jewish descent, were, or because they did not want to approve of the measures of the Occupation Forces (the German Army) were pursued and of their freedom were robbed, abused and murdered in huge numbers.
In the legitimate fight against the oppressors, after the assassination of the representative of fascist despotism, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich, who became the acting Reichs Protector on 27.5.1942, the terror suddenly intensified in the whole country. The legal basis was the abrogation of Czech rights and the subjugation of Czech citizens under the Third Reich, for their enslavement and extermination policies.
Execution of this objective was the entire aim of the organized terror, it was all the courts and concentration camps, the Gestapo and their courts martial and finally also the execution squads. The fascist police occupied an essential position in it. They worked in the occupied areas in the military formations of regiments and / or battalions of the security police and frequently completed the murder actions organized by the Secret State Police (The Secret State Police were the Gestapo; who were a part of the Allgemeine-SS).
After the assault on the French republic in June 1940, this country was also subjected to the fascist despotism, which tried with increasing terror, to suppress all opposition.
As was established at the judgment of the International Military-Tribunal against the chief war criminals in Nuremberg in the year 1946, the SS was one of the most important fascist instruments of terror and that it was developed into a highly disciplined organization and was composed of the elite of National Socialism.
The chief of the SS, Himmler, had asked the SS with cynical candour, "to be hard and ruthless, and thanked, that they were not finicky with the sight of hundreds and thousands of corpses of their victims". Barbaric terror and contempt for life belonged to the nature of their determination in the close network of oppression over almost the whole of Europe. Spreading fear and horror in the occupied countries, there was no crime, about which the SS had second thoughts. Crimes to people of other races, to opponents of Nazi Germany, became a matter of course and the subject of pride (see the Nurnberg trials, Rütten and Loening, 1. Edition, Berlin 1957, Bd.I, S.224). Led by officers, that frankly identified themselves with the fascist ideology; the SS murdered and plundered everywhere where it was met with resistance or where the population should be terrorized by fear and terror. The SS in all its arrangements was proclaimed in the Nurnberg verdict against the main war criminals, as being an illegal organisation (see, The SS: Alibi of a Nation 1922-45. by Gerald Reitlinger).
After the invasion of the allied troops in Northern France in June 1944, the Divisions of the Waffen-SS that were stationed in the south of France marched to the war zone. As the consultant in the main hearing stated, the Commander in Chief West (this was Hugo Sperrle: see the Sperrle Orders) gave the principle instruction to fight the Resistance with all means whilst on the march to the second front. The Waffen-SS fulfilled this job, strengthening public opposition against itself by means of cruel hardness. However, they hesitated to apply the annihilation tactics gained in their experiences of partisan fighting in the occupied Soviet areas.
The accused was first a member of the fascist protection-police and until the end of the war an officer of the Waffen-SS.
2. The personal circumstances of the accused.
(This section was not available at the time of translating this document).
3. The circumstances.
The accused is accused of having committed severe war crimes and crimes against humanity during his affiliation to the fascist police and the Waffen-SS.
3.1 Offenses in connection with the assassination of Heydrich.
The assassination of the infamous Deputy Reichs Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, SS Obergruppenführer Heydrich (he effectively took over from the titular Reichs Protector, Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath) on the 27 May 1942, was used by the fascist leadership as an excuse to proceed with great brutality against the Czech people in the occupied area, to practice cruel vengeance and to accelerate the Germanising of large parts of the Czechoslovak population. During the evening of the assassination, Himmler arranged, by a telegram to SS-Gruppenführer Frank, to arrest 10,000 Czech citizens as hostages, especially those from the intelligencia, and to shoot 100 the same night. The fascists led manhunts in the entire protectorate, planned arrests in large numbers and murdered men, women and teenagers. Arbitrarily accused by the Gestapo at so-called courts martial of, "Approving of the assassination", or, "Of non-compliance with the police reporting regulations", these measures were used to further justify their actions. The corresponding decrees and writs as well as the implemented actions were published in press and radio broadcasting as well as through public posters. The homicidal commands of the Gestapo were enforced by the police units, among others those at the barracks at Pardubice, (65 miles east of Prague) at which the accused was stationed.
Even the fascist documents read out in the hearing of evidence, pointed out that the murder of the victims was ordered by the police in hundreds of cases alone, because of their "Approving of the assassination", or, "Of non-compliance of the police reporting regulations" (that is they were accused of approving of the assassination of Heydrich, or not giving information to the authorities concerning it).
Altogether, by the middle of June 1942, 1,357 people were murdered as a consequence of the reprisals and a further 3,188 were killed in the concentration camps.
Especially severe crimes of the fascists were represented by the annihilation of the places Lidice and Lezaky. Lidice with its 99 houses was burned down completely on the 10.6.1942 (exactly two years before Oradour was attacked) and its 199 male inhabitants over 15 years being shot there at the same time. 184 women went into the concentration camp at Ravensbrück, 88 children into the camp at Litzmannstadt and 7 children under one year were carried off to Prague. Three children that were so-called 'ethnic German' in the fascist race terminology were released for Germanisation.
On the 24.06.1942, the place Lezaky was wiped out. Its eight houses were first plundered and then were burned down. 18 men and 19 women, the youngest 16, the oldest person 74 years old were murdered in the Pardubice barracks and their 14 children were carried off.
One of the Penal System Organisations used for these crimes was Reserve Police-Battalion Kolin that was used east of Prague in the locations of Kolin, Pardubice (Pardubitz), Nachod and Hradec Kralove (Königgrätz) and which was led by the already mentioned Battalion Commander Got(xxxx) (the full name is not spelled out in the document, but for example in this case, may have been 'Gottlib').
In accordance with the instruction Ia - Tgb.Nr.246/42 (g) - of 2.6.1942 of the commander of the Security Police for the Protectorate in Prague, the unit of (Battalion Commander) Got(xxxx) did not only search as well as other safeguarding pursuit measures, but was responsible subordinately to the central leadership to support prosecution measures of the Gestapo, also for the shooting of the Gestapo supplied individuals. The location of Pardubice was chosen as the main murder place in this area, because afterwards, the victims of the Gestapo could be burnt in the local crematory under their own supervision of the employees of the crematory; according to the witness Cha(xxxx) and Dal(xxxx) and could have had handed over the ashes of the dead person to themselves for the purpose of the total elimination of the tracks of the crime.
Feustel, the leader of the Gestapo foreign office Kolin; convicted by the city court in Berlin on the 11.12.1972 (101a BS 55/72), and the leaders of the offices of the Gestapo in and around Pardubice, had murdered at the time 178 nominally well known Czech citizens between the 3.6.1942 to the 9.7.1942 alone, through the units of the reserve police Pardubice and in the crematorium there. Moreover, as the witnesses explained, many persons were burned so as to disguise the cruelties committed on them by the Gestapo during the interrogations.
A small depression in the ground was used as an execution site in the barracks at Pardubice, in the forest that was close to the so-called 'Small Palace' that was included within the barracks area. Up to five victims at a time were paraded and were fastened with interconnecting eyes at posts. Special Shooting-Commandos, that consisted of 5 to 15, mainly voluntary marksmen, carried out the killings by means of aimed shots under the direction of a police officer. Victims still living afterwards were killed by the officer with a pistol shot. The killing, the evacuation of the corpses and their combustion with subsequent transfer of the ashes, took place under the non-stop supervision of the Gestapo. The execution commands that contained futile accusations, such as, "Approving of the assassination" were read out to the citizens about to be murdered. The victims frequently rejected these accusations and accused their torturers of the murder. The records of the fascists recording all details of the shootings, which were read out in the hearing of evidence, prove that. During his membership of the 1st Preparatory Training Course for Reserve Officer Candidates in Klatovy, from the middle of May 1942 up to the 17th June 1942 the accused, directly after the assassination of Heydrich, went for a short time with the course participants to Prague, where he took part in raids and searches of residential areas near Wenceslas Square. On the 9.6.1942, volunteers were sought from the circle of participants of the course of the accused, for the shooting of four people. The accused reported and belonged to the command of 10 marksmen under the leadership of Lieutenant Hänel. The observed victims were shot by himself on the firing range of the Education Unit outside Klatovy near Luby. The accused aimed and shot in each case at the heart area of the victim assigned to him.
In his location of Pardubice, the accused had still volunteered in the following period for shootings. Twice he was assigned to the Execution Commando and once to the Security Commando and with his weapons, thwarted escape attempts by the victims.
On the 24.6.1942 at 21:15 began the assassination of 33 well known by name victims of Lezaky in the Pardubice barracks grounds. The accused belonged to the comprehensive command of 15 marksmen that planned the shooting under the leadership of its then company leader, Lieutenant Preuss. In addition the victims, were paraded in 11 groups of 3 persons before the Gestapo, also the children were torn from the side of their mothers. The accused shot at the hearts of the victims.
On the 2.7.1942, the Gestapo arranged for the reserve-police-unit at Pardubice to do the most extensive shooting. The accused reported voluntarily to the 15-man Execution Commando under the leadership of Lieutenant Preuss. Around 20.00, the killing of the 30 men and 10 women began in groups of five persons apiece. Also here, the accused killed through aimed shots into the heart area. Four out of the total of 40 known victims came from Lezaky.
On the 9.7.1942, between 19:00 and 20:00, 12 men and 3 women, whose names were determined in the main hearing, were killed at the same murder place by a 10 strong commando of marksmen under the leadership of Lieutenant Preuss. This time the accused was allotted the Security Commando. With this, (the Security Commando) he covered the ordered position and safeguarded the scene of the crime with weapons ready to fire.
Summarizing: it has been established that the accused, in the time from 9.6.1942 up to the 9.7.1942 was in four cases; three times as member of an Execution Commando and once in a Security Commando was involved in the murder of 92 Czech men and women.
3.2. The destruction of Oradour.
At the beginning of the year 1944, the accused was an SS-Untersturmführer in the SS-Division Das Reich and employed in the education of NCOs' to refill the units smashed at the eastern front. This SS-Division was stationed in the south of France (around Montauban).
On the 6.6.1944, the Allied Forces opened the Second Front in Northern France. The accused this time was leader of the 1st Platoon, of the 3rd Company, under its company-leader, SS-Hauptsturmführer Ka(hn), of the 1st Battalion under SS-Sturmbannführer Diekmann of the 4th SS-Panzer-Grenadier Regiment Der Führer, under its commander SS-Standartenführer Stadler. This regiment was a component of the 2nd SS-Panzer-Division, Das Reich under the command of, General of the Waffen-SS, SS-Oberführer Lammerding (Lammerding's official rank within the Waffen-SS at this time was that of an SS-Brigadeführer).
The commands of the leadership given to the SS units on the march to the war scene in the north of France, demanded at the same time of all members of the fascist garrison powers, vis-a-vis the French, "sharpest measures" and "ruthless hardness". Military education and national socialist upbringing of the SS officers in such squads were to guarantee that these commands would be with merciless consequences put into action. Every opposition would be smothered in blood. In the daily reports of the units, the number French citizens that were named as "enemy dead" was presented as news of success.
For instance, on the 7.6.1944, the accused's unit was shot at in Frayssinet-le-Gélat whilst on march to the village. That accordingly caused the instructions of the Commander-in-Chief West (Hugo Sperrle) of the 12.2.1944 over intensified measures against partisans, to be enacted, in which consequence members of the 3rd Company shot 10 men and hanged 3 women as well as setting on fire properties in the village. Resistance fighters or suspects had not been found. Meanwhile, the accused was not at the scene of the crime. Another unit of the division had the job on the 9.6.1944 to avenge a resistance-action in the city of Tulle. At least 99 men were hanged by the SS in the local Avenue de la Gare.
On the same day, Diekmann's battalion had reached the area of Limoges and was to interrupt the march there for approximately 3 days. The accused's unit was billeted in St. Junien, where also the battalion staff had its headquarters.
On the 10.6.1944, the fate of Oradour was decided. The day before, the commander of the III Battalion, SS-Sturmbannführer Kämpfe, had been captured by partisans. Retaliation and revenge was to be exercised for it.
On the morning of the 10.June, the accused was ordered to a meeting of the commanders, in which Diekmann gave the command to the 3rd Company, with reference to a higher authority, to occupy the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, northwest of Limoges, to kill the entire population without exception, from infants up to old men and to burn down the place. In this convenient, militarily insignificant place, no resistance was to be expected. SS-Sturmbannführer Diekmann took over the command of the action. Between 12.00 and 12.30, the company started moving with approximately 10 trucks and at least two armoured vehicles from St. Junien toward Oradour. Their three platoons, including the Company troop and the Reconnaissance troop, had 148 SS-members with three officers. Together with Diekmann and his company, there were at least 150 SS-people. Each platoon was lightly armed, the Company had heavy machine guns. The remaining marksmen had carbines. Furthermore, explosives were carried along.
The officers already knew the orders which were announced to the troops directly before the place at 14.00. The 1st Platoon of the 3rd Company was ordered by the accused to drive through the place and to surround it. At 14.15, this starting position was reached without any incident.
It was recognized that in this showy type of travel through the village and the renunciation of any military safeguarding of their own forces that the SS reckoned without either incidents or resistance.
The accused rearranged groups 1 and 2 with 26 SS-men. He ordered them to prevent escape attempts, by shooting persons seeking to leave or enter the place. In accordance with this command, the guard troops appointed by him shot many times at escaping people.
At 14.30, from all sides, the SS began to comb the place and to drive the inhabitants from their houses to the centrally situated market place. With the overall 19 remaining SS-men of his 3rd group and the platoons, the accused assumed his assigned section. Others were occupied holding the market. No one seriously looked for arms and ammunition.
That the sole goal of the action was to round up the population on the market place in order to be able to liquidate them completely, became obvious, any found infirm, non-ambulatory people were to be shot promptly at their place. By about 15:00 the accused had evacuated approximately 15 houses and their inhabitants had been driven to the market, amongst them also were the 64 students of the boys-school with their teachers. By this time, almost all the inhabitants, including those working in the fields had been driven together; only a few villagers succeeded in hiding. At the market place, the women and children were separated from the men and were taken away to the church. Unsettling scenes happened as a result.
The announcement of a demand, to declare ammunition stores and the demand for the taking of hostages was thought to be (deliberately) misleading. The actual goal of the action was to remain hidden from the population as long as possible.
Towards 15.30, the SS pushed the men held up until then in six different sized groups into barns, sheds and garages picked out previously. They were those of Milord, Bouchoule, Desourteaux, Laudy, Denis and Beaulieu.
That was the situation that the accused found, when he was called by a summons to Diekmann at the market. He saw the garage of the Beaulieu family filled with at least 20 men, which was guarded by members of his platoon there. Diekmann gave him the instruction to command the shooting of these men on a signal. On the given signal of the commander (Diekmann), the massacre began at all the murder-places, such that in a few minutes the male population of Oradour fell victim. Only five survived this mass shooting (to be strictly accurate six survived the initial shooting and M. Pouteraud was shot separately in the road to the cemetery a little while later as he tried to escape).
The accused gave his group the command to fire and even fired two bursts from his own machine pistol at the men in the garage.
Lying in pools of blood the dead and wounded bodies were covered with combustible material and burned, as it had been ordered from the beginning. How many live bodies died this way in the flames one has never been able to determine.
The witnesses, whom successfully escaped from the Laudy barn, were the only ones that could report on the dreadful experience. From their statements, it is known that living bodies were still under the shot-to-pieces bodies and that single shots were delivered to those that still gave signs of life, before the total was set fire. After the testimonies, it can be said with certainty that victims were burnt alive. They had exchanged last words with the witnesses.
At the Beaulieu garage, the accused relayed the order for the combustion, had thrown fuel into the garage and set it on fire. He had not seen for himself whether living bodies were still under those shot down. He was of the opinion that no one would have been able to survive because of the strength of fire of his group.
After the setting on fire of the murder-places, they began to burn the remaining village.
At the same time, the fascists also carried out the massacre in the closely surrounded church.
In conclusion, of all evidence heard over the events in the church, it is no longer possible to reconstruct the exact course of events with certainty. It can be firmly stated that a crate with explosives and ignition cords was put at the main altar of the church and ignited and after an explosion, biting smoke took the air for breathing from the women and children. Several SS-Soldiers entered into the church and killed women and children. Desperate attempts to flee from the church through doors or windows were prevented by shots from the surrounding SS-Guards. The SS-Soldiers piled up the pews and fuel in the church and set fire to it. The witness Rou(ffanche) that alone succeeded in escaping from the burning church and made these observations, was badly injured during her escape through a church-window, as a result of several shots from the SS-Guards (she was in fact shot 5 times in the legs).
The accused had ordered, towards 16:15, on the command of the commander one of his groups to the action at the church and to participate in the extermination of the women and children. According to him, he heard the whimper of people from the burning church.
The SS-Soldiers of his platoon had begun, like the other platoons before and during the massacre in the church, to systematically burn down the village and to plunder it. The accused had assigned the sections of his group to do this. At least eight estates were burned down on this command. From a grocery store, he appropriated cash for himself with the remark that it was too precious for burning.
In the evening hours, the village burned down - the ordered destruction of Oradour was accomplished.
The permanent military tribunal at Bordeaux determined the names of 642 victims with the judgment of the 13 February 1953. From the children of Oradour, only a single one, the boy Roger Godfrin, eight-year old at that time, succeeded in eluding the mass-murder through escape.
Found among the victims are also those men, who lost their lives by the direct shooting order of the accused and by his own shots on the day. Those that were amongst them and could be identified were: Besson, Guillaume; Chapelot, Louis; Jackow, Jean; Lavergne, Jean; Lavergne, Jean-Baptist; Mirablon, Albert; Moreau, Lucien; Moreau, Pierre; Peuroulet, Marcel; Pinède, Robert; Valentine, Jean; Bardet, Leonhard; Nicoles, Jean-Baptist.
With the destroyed place still before their eyes, Diekmann instructed the officers to keep silence, if necessary, it should be explained (to outsiders) that during breaking resistance from partisans, the church, which had been storing ammunition, had exploded. The accused conveyed this legend to his platoon members in accordance with the command.
After the retreat of the 3rd Company to St. Junien, it continued the march in the night to the 11.6.1944.
Another SS-Unit was ordered in the morning of the following day to Oradour. It hastily buried, mainly in mass graves a number of corpses, particularly from the church.
Stadler's regimental news of the 11.6.1944 was: "SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 4, Der Führer continued the clean-up operation on the 10. and 11.6.1944 in the area. SS-Der Führer marched on 10 6 1944 to Oradour and surrounded the place. This was burned down after a search of the place. Ammunition was stored in almost every house ....
Results 548 enemy dead - Our casualties, 1 dead 1 wounded"
Those injured SS-Personnel were in both cases victims of their own fury in the village.
In the future, the fascist command centres tried to hush up with a multiplicity of lies and concealments the actual happening itself, with the legend distributed by Diekmann covering up the core of what happened.
The inconsistent and in part manifestly wrong explanations of the witness Okr(ent), formerly SS-Obersturmbannführer and chief judge of the SS-Division "Das Reich", leads to no conclusion as to whether court martial examinations were enforced (see Kahn's Dortmund statement of 1963 where he says that Detlef Okrent took his statement after Oradour). Anyway, nobody was brought to account. The accused was also not an involved officer at any time (this means that in the eyes of the Das Reich judicial system, Barth was not considered responsible in any way the massacre).
For his participation in the crimes at Oradour-sur-Glane, the accused was sentenced to death in his absence by the permanent military tribunal at Bordeaux on the 13th February 1953, however the decision of the execution limitation of the 12.2.1973 now applies (this meant that Barth would not now be executed because of the East German Statute of Limitations for such War Crimes and neither would he be returned to France).
4. Evidence and Assessment of the Evidence
The prominent facts of the case are the outcome of the hearing of evidence. It is based on the extensive statements of the accused and the statements of the witnesses, spoken and / or read out in the main hearing: Deg., Ueb., Cha., Dal., Heb., Bea., Bor., Mac., Bro., Dar., Ro., Thu., Da., Els., Gra., Boo., Okr. und Ka. (again, the names are abbreviated and the evidence is not itemised in this trial summary).
Records and documents of the person of the accused, as well as of the places of the events, photo documentation and minutes of the actions and in addition available investigation reports, as well as military documents were included into the hearing of evidence. As experts, Dr. Sik of the Czechoslovakian government commission for the pursuit of Nazi war crimes and Dr. Ges of the military historical institute of the GDR were heard.
The objective evidence from personnel records about the accused before 1945, with his completely proven membership of the Protection Police of the Reserve, including precise proof of his presence and functions at the crime scenes in Luby and Pardubice, stands in complete agreement with the confession of the accused in his participation at the shootings in the CSR (Czechoslovak Republic). Is expressly noted in the records about the shootings in Luby by Klatovy on the 9.6.1942 that the Execution Commando was drawn from participants on the Preparation Course for Reserve Officer Candidates. The confession of the accused, who was present as a course participant, is adequately objective and free from contradiction.
After the end of the course on the 17.6.1942, the accused took part in two mass shootings in his location at Pardubice. It is about those of the 24.6.1942 and of the 2.7.1942. that his confession is confirmed also as leader, by the shooting records of his commander; therefore, his unit is expressly identified as a Killing Commando by documents. The same observations apply to the confession and records content over the shooting on the 9.7.1942, in which the accused took part as a security guard. The explanations of the accused correspond with the objective evidence, supported additionally by the statements and records of the witnesses Cha. and Dal. (notice again the abbreviation of the witnesses' names).
The accused killed on the three days established, as well as in every case secured the scene of the crime with his weapon ready to fire. He acted because he was confident of the fascist ideology with its humanity despising theories and wanted to earn his place in this system. He decided in these circumstances, as a member of the Occupation Force to commit these actions on foreign territory.
The killing actions of the fascists after the assassination (of Heydrich) were retaliation and deterrence measures, which the accused also recognized, and they were as such propagated extensively, as was proven in the main hearing through the documents read-out.
The decisive participation of the accused in the crimes at Oradour-sur-Glane is also proven free from doubt, as a result of the hearing of evidence. His confession became confirmed through the testimonies, as well as the objective proof of his membership as leader of the massacre executing 1st Platoon of the 3rd Company of the SS-Regiment Der Führer as a part of the SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich. He was one of the four directly responsible SS-Officers at the place of the crime and that as well as his superior's command to murder hundreds of men, women and children, he implemented and assumed through his own command personal participation in the killings.
The statements of the accused and the witnesses, the documentary conclusions to the events in Oradour of the French archive of the investigation office for hostile war-crimes and further documents, verify again the certainty, that no military confrontation took place in Oradour-sur-Glane but that it was destroyed for the purpose of naked vengeance and deterrence alone, that this terror act of last resort, was used like others before it and afterwards, to retard the unfavourable course of the war for the fascists.
5. Legal assessment
That in these proceedings for judging actions against the Czech and French people almost four decades have past, but for no hour have they been ousted from the memory of peace loving people, they remained alive as a depressing experience from history, because only the constant consciousness of this cruel time and its cause as well as the certainty of a just punishment for such war - and the crimes against humanity by those responsible - after which passage of time the law reached the perpetrators - the people are protected against the repetition of such barbarity. Therefore the German Democratic Republic has in absolute enforcement of the spirit and letter of the Potsdam agreement of 1945 and the Nuremberg Trials against the chief war criminals, taken as a basis, the international law principle of the statute of limitations, as well as the practice of prosecution of Nazi and war-crimes, as it was fixed from the beginning of its constitution in the UN-convention of the 26.11.1968.
After article 8 and 91 of the constitution of the German Democratic Republic is article 6 of the statute of the International Military Tribunal (IMT-Statute) criminal law currently in force, like in the judgment of the supreme court of the German Democratic Republic, as was established against Globke on the 23.7.1963, part G, section I, - (I Zst (I) 1/63*), - and against Fisher of the 25.3.1966 -, (1 Zst (I) 1/66** ). After that article 6 of the IMT-Statutes determines materially and legally, which actions are War Crimes. Condemning crimes against humanity is on the basis of §1 Section 6, Sentence 2 of the Introductory Law, the corresponding findings of the particular part of the StGB and of the StPO of the 12.1.1968 in the setting of the criminal framework of 16.6.1977. Insofar as the ??91 Section 2s and 93 Section 3 StGBs come into consideration.
The established actions of the accused, that he committed as a German during the war against the civilian population in the areas occupied by Germany, are war crimes according to article 6 of the IMT-Statute. That also pertains to the crimes in the so-called Reichs Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. In this context, refer to the legal opinion of the Nuremberg judgment against the chief war criminals, "... these zones (Bohemia and Moravia) never became incorporated into the Reich..." (the Nuremberg trial, ibid, S.205).
After the 1.9.1939, in this area of the CSR, already annexed before the beginning of the war through the extortion politics of Nazi Germany, deeds were committed against the population judged as war crimes, in the sense of Article 6 of the IMT-Statute. Those after Article 6, letter b of the IMT-Statue indicate war crimes in the conquered areas and at the same time identical crimes against humanity with the alternative letter c.
While the accused voluntarily took part himself in the established complex actions in Klatovy and Pardubice in the assassinations following the Gestapo decisions to kill Czech citizens, he committed, according to Article 6, letters b and c of the IMT-Statute, murder of the civilian population during the war. The described findings include not only the immediate killing of people as acts of murder for which the accused has to be responsible as a member of the Execution Commando but also those forms of participation, that were a necessary component to the implementation of the crimes. The safeguarding of the place of murder with weapons, to prevent the escape of the to-be murdered people, is therefore participation in their killing. The participation of the accused in the Security Commando at Pardubice during the shooting on the 9.7.1942 is consequently found equally criminal according to Article 6 of the IMT-Statutes.
The accused contributed as one of the leading officers to the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane. Also, this action was to be realized in its entirety only when all participants of the working party made their necessary contribution to the total result. This consideration underlies the findings of the participation in the sense of the IMT-Statutes. The accused has to take moderate responsibility for such a state of affairs. Through command execution, giving of orders, personal shooting and through the control of his subordinates, the accused made himself guilty according to the same alternative of the quoted IMT-Statutes. Article 6, letter b of the IMT-Statutes furthermore places involvement in the wilful destruction of villages in occupied areas under penalty. The participation of the accused as a leader of an SS-Unit in the burning down of Oradour is also thus consequently taken as a basis for condemnation.
The accused acted purposely in all complex deeds. The prosecution assumes it and agrees with the defence regarding the full extent of the complex deeds at Oradour.
However, the defence rejects criminal responsibility for the four deeds accused of happening in the CSR. The defence is guided essentially by the following arguments.
The accused has, because of that conveyed ideological attitude of reasoning, interpreted all resistance against the German occupying powers as a crime he was destined as a policeman to prevent and punish. Judgments, also those of the so-called Standing Courts, have been sufficient legitimation for him for the killing. Besides, he had not been in his status as a Group Leader in a police battalion, in a position to recognize the illegitimacy of his actions. The actual cause for the fascist attitude of the accused at the time of his actions, is to be sought in the then socio-political circumstances that moulded him into a typical product of his time.
The court has not ignored this argument from the start. So the Senate also agrees, that the accused was absolutely the result of his actual upbringing in his attitude, it is however certain that at the same time the accused attempted to find his place in the fascist ideological system. It is obvious that not to punish and to free such a culprit from his criminal actions caused by his fascist ideology, would be absurd. This point of view is not in this procedure of the crucial importance however as this formulated the defence. The accused was a convinced fascist. The actual motive for his decision to agree to the killings, was to realize the wish in this social order, to be able to follow a career as a civilian police officer.
Not, the fact of his ideological stand as an unconditional supporter of the fascist regime justifies the criminal blame of the accused for the crimes to be judged, but his conscious decision, to kill members of other nations, which had been subjugated by force by Nazi Germany, only therefore because they wanted to take up their right to existence, in that they were not being flexible in the demanded scope, but welcomed the assassination of the leader of the occupation for example, or to defend their homes in France as Frenchmen sought, for that which in France like before in the CSR, completely uninvolved people had to leave their livelihoods.
Type and measure of the reaction of the German Occupying Power in the foreign states were plainly recognized deterrents for it against the civilian population, that moreover as well as in the CSR, also as in France, they were inhuman terribly unequally recognisable crimes, in whatever form they were always committed.
The accused did not have to take not part in the dreadful reprisals in the CSR, of which he acquired knowledge; he volunteered for the killing. Therefore for this crime complex not even the legal problem of 'following orders' is to be argued. Also, his participation in the crimes at Oradour finds no justification in orders. According to Article 8 and Article 6 of the IMT-Statute, acting on orders is not a reason to exclude punishment, it can under certain circumstances, if necessary, provide circumstances in mitigation of punishment for participation in war crimes. The latter is to be answered in the negative here, because he was in no internal contradiction to the given instructions for destruction, but agreed absolutely with them.
In completing appreciation of all objective and subjective facts as well as legal prerequisites, the Senate decides that the accused is guilty of having purposely committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Czech and French people during the war; in that he himself on the 9.6, 24.6. and 2.7.1942 acted as executioner as well as on the 9.7.1942 as a security guard at the assassination of 92 named civilians of Czechoslovakia, as well as an officer of the Waffen-SS on the 10.6.1944, involved in the annihilation of Oradour-sur-Glane with its 642 murdered citizens of the French Republic.
6. Sentence and expenses
The crimes of the accused are of extraordinary weight. They are marked by unprincipled contempt for the life and dignity of the people. This attitude had its root in fascism. The accused was a loyal follower of fascism and dutifully appointed his whole person for its misanthropic goals. Therein lies the motive for his criminal deeds. He executed not only commands and murdered people, who did not have the slightest thing to do with the war-event, but pushed them through with great application, keeping an eye on it that his subordinates executed these distressing commands exactly. His career was an incentive at anytime to even greater trying to raise the expectations of his superiors and to put his faultless fascist attitude to the proof at any time. Beginning with his voluntary reporting to the execution commands, the accused has executed each murder command, up to the annihilation of whole settlements with their inhabitants, without inhibitions. The accused, a multiplicity of defenceless victims faced eye to eye and neither desperation nor disgust touched him. He took cash notes himself in order to save them from the flames; he prevented through his commands that women and children could escape from the fire in the church. So, all points of view that the defence worked out for the reason of a lesser blame for the accused, were in the end to be excluded.
The concealment of his past, made possible a life of freedom after 1945 for the accused that he had forfeited through the crimes that he had led. He had achieved this with false and incomplete statements, carefully worked out and continually repeated.
Another point of view, brought up by the defence, is that the accused behaved well in our social order (that is within the German Democratic Republic) and justly reached good achievements thereby and was several times distinguished for so doing. This fact in relation to the criminal actions of the accused, has been repeatedly stated by the Senate, that crimes of such an extent, already met with in other proceedings with similarly heavy criminal offences are not moderated by the fact that the perpetrator behaved later in a socially acceptable manner. At the same time, the Senate includes also the willingness of the accused to accept its view as to the criminal findings and to admit his blame after the disclosure of the crimes and to contribute to the full enlightenment of the actions, their contexts and backgrounds.
So it remains to assess that the Senate recognizes no reasons, that would be suited to let the guilt appear less for the weighty deeds of the accused or to be more lenient in the vicinity of that boundary; so a prison sentence would be appropriate.
It was to be consequently decided in agreement with the application of the prosecuting attorney and the accused, to a sentence of lifelong imprisonment.
The court pronounces this penalty in the name of the people of the German Democratic Republic, whose highest principles are peace and humanity.
In accordance with §58 Article 3 StGBs, the accused is permanently deprived of his civic rights.
The costs decision follows from §§362 and following StPO
© Michael Williams: August 2009