Kahn's statement made at Düsseldorf in March 1967

 

    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 obtain background material from Kahn as to both his and other peoples war-time record of their employment within the armed forces.

    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.   


    This statement was made at Düsseldorf on 27th March 1967 and is the last statement made by Otto Erich Kahn that I have found to date. This statement runs to 7 pages and is remarkable for the fact that it spells Diekmann's name three different ways and none of them are correct! It appears as: Dikmann (4 times), Dickmann (24 times) and Dickmanns (10 times). On page 1 the name is spelled as "Dikmann" 4 times and as "Dickmann" 2 times and for a German legal document this is quite a strange thing to happen, especially as Kahn signed it off as being his true statement. Other spellings throughout the document mostly seem correct (apart from spelling Limoges as Lemoges) and the use of umlauts and of the Eszett (ß) are as they should be. Quite why Diekmann's name should consistently be spelled incorrectly in these documents is a bit of a mystery, but most of the Dortmund hearings transcripts get it wrong at some point.

    Kahn said in his statement that Diekmann (this is the correct spelling, which was not used at all in the statement) was solely responsible for the attack on Oradour and that he, Kahn was against the idea, but was under binding orders and could do nothing to prevent it. Kahn recounted again how he had been questioned before, starting in 1944, regarding the events at Oradour and that by now he was becoming exasperated at being asked the same questions over again. In particular Kahn stated that he personally had tried to mitigate Diekmann's actions as best he could and that he was not responsible for 1) leading the action, or 2) searching the whole village, or 3) providing the explosives used in the church, or 4) giving the order to shoot the women and children, or 5) monitoring that all the executions had taken place.

    Kahn specifically stated that he had no reason to attack any French people, as neither he nor his men had been attacked by anyone that day.

    Kahn then gave specific objections to the above five points, which were:

    1) that Diekmann would not have left him in charge of the attack, but would have stayed to supervise it personally.

    2) that Kahn himself arrived in the village about half an hour after the action had started and that he had been confined to the east and north of the place and knew nothing of events in other parts of the village. He only found out the complete picture of what had happened later after the end of the day.

    3) Kahn was told by Diekmann to stay away from the centre of the village and was astounded when Diekmann said he intended to blow up the church. Kahn did not supply the explosives used and said that the NCO who did provide them was seriously hurt in the blast when setting them off.

    4) That Diekmann was the one to personally order the shooting of women and children (Kahn did not mention the men in the barns) and that this had to be the case because he, Kahn had left the village immediately after the explosion in the church.

    5) Kahn said that he greatly resented Diekmann using his men for the destruction of Oradour and the killing of the inhabitants. That he, Kahn was a professional soldier and that he had found the whole event repulsive in the extreme. He also said that he could not confirm or deny that the order had originally come from the Regiment, but it seemed to him to be a retaliatory exercise. The previous days had seen the Division attacked by the resistance and much damage occasioned by their actions. Kahn also said that no search at all had been made for the missing Sturmbannführer Kämpfe. Kahn went on to again specifically deny all responsibility for ordering or controlling the attack. He mentioned again letting a young woman go free (see his statement of December 1962 made at Dortmund) who had wished to enter the village. He also stated that he had let two trams and their occupants go free back to, "Lemoges", saving about 80 people. At the end of the action Diekmann handed back full control of the men to Kahn, who said that he informed his men that all killings had to stop immediately.

    Kahn concluded his statement by asking for his pension to be reinstated to him as he was financially embarrassed and unable to pay either his compulsory insurance, or provide for his family.

 


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© Michael Williams 10th March 2000 ... updated Monday, 19 February 2018