This statement forms part of what I am calling the Dortmund files. These files form the record of the investigation into the part paid by Heinrich Lammerding when he was the commander of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division, Das Reich, into the attacks on both Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane. The purpose of these interrogations was to determine whether there was a case for Lammerding to answer in France. The French wanted him extradited, so that he could be tried by a French court. Given that Lammerding was already under a death sentence in France for his part in the Tulle hangings on 9th June 1944, he was quite naturally not willing to go voluntarily. In effect, these hearings were to determine if in German eyes, Lammerding had a case to answer and if he had, then Germany would allow the French request. In the end, after many hundreds of pages of evidence spread over several years, the German judicial system decided that there was no case to answer and so Lammerding never stood trial for any war crimes at all, either in France or any other country.
This statement is dated 23rd February 1962 and so is nearly 18 years after the events at Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane. It is not to be wondered at, that some degree of memory loss and or confusion existed in Weidinger's mind when he was asked to describe events of long ago. In fact Weidinger was becoming the Das Reich and Der Führer historian and eventually the author of numerous books and pamphlets detailing all the events they had been through: see the bibliography for details. In the light of Weidinger's research into the Der Führer regimental history he can perhaps be more relied on than some other witnesses. What is notable in this statement is that Diekmann's name is spelled correctly throughout and for these statements, that is quite unusual.
What is quite striking and is consistent with all the other statements that form part of the Dortmund hearings, is the denial that Lammerding had any part in the killings at Tulle or the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane.
The statement reads rather oddly in that it is in the form of replies to unseen questions, which must have led to a discussion between Weidinger and his interrogator. The statement shown below being in effect a summary of the discussion.
Comments about the text below are in italics throughout.
The Chief Prosecutor, currently in Aalen, 23rd February 1962
at the district court in Dortmund
Az .: 45 Js. 2/62
Siehlow (Siehlow was the interrogator in many of these interviews about
Here appears on subpoena: Otto Weidinger and had explained to him and was familiarized with the subject of the interrogation and pointed out to him that he should be heard as a witness, after being admonished to tell the truth.
My name is Otto Weidinger, born on 27th May 1914 in Würzburg, now residing in Aalen, 4 Haydnstrasse, a druggist by profession, neither related to the suspect (Heinrich Bernard Lammerding) by blood or marriage.
Down to business:
I was a member of the Waffen SS and in 1944 I belonged to the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich. My rank was SS-Sturmbannführer, my position was not fixed before the invasion of France, I would like to call it a leader's reserve. I was an informational service to the regimental staff of Der Führer and charged with the aim of shortly taking over the regiment (on 14th June 1944). Before the invasion, the entire division, which had been relocated to France for freshening-up and repositioning, was in the Montauban / Toulouse area. I myself had initially spent a holiday in Germany in the month of May and returned in the last days of the month.
I can therefore not say whether large parts of the division had already been used for special operations at the request of the local military commanders as part of the partisan warfare before the invasion. For the duration of my presence until I left, I can say with certainty that my regiment was billeted in accommodation near Montauban.
At the beginning of the invasion, the regiment was alerted and, as I remember, set off for the invasion front in the early morning hours of 7 June, 1944. Since some units were not yet ready to march, of the two Panzer grenadier regiments only one marching group with a strength of 3 Battalions and regimental units could move away. It was the 1st and 3rd Battalion Der Führer and 1st Battalion Deutschland. The unit's leader was SS-Standartenführer Stadler. The battalions were formed by SS-Sturmbannführer Diekmann (I. Der Führer), Sturmbannführer Kämpfe (III. Der Führer) and SS-Hauptsturmführer Schuster (I. Deutschland). The commander of the SS regiment Deutschland, SS Obersturmbannführer Wisliceny, remained with the remaining units in the location. Wisliceny lives in Hanover today. I discussed Lammerding's presentation of the division's structure. It applies.
The regiment advanced north on the main road to Brive (Brive-la-Gaillarde). Since we received reports during the day that our left flank was uncovered, Diekmann's Battalion moved westwards to Perigueux, but possibly swinging away from the city, in any case also marching north, parallel to our main road. The day's destination was Limoges, where 1. Der Führer reached us again. However, the battalions around the city were advanced north as a backup. I know with certainty that after the right flank, no protection was pushed out by us during the march. Nor can I say which units advanced east of the main road. At best, the Panzer Regiment would come into question, because after discussion I have in mind that the other departments of the division followed us on the main road.
When asked: I know the village of Aurillac, but I don't know that units of the division have marched through this place. In view of the fact that from 4th to 7th June a unit was said to have been on the march there, I believe that I can say with certainty that this unit could not have belonged to the divisional association (i.e. that it was not part of Das Reich). I cannot remember at all that there were other Waffen SS units in the south and southwest of France. I can only remember that shortly after our arrival in Normandy the two Waffen SS divisions, "Hohenstaufen" and "Frundberg" arrived there, which I understand were fed from the Eastern Front. I know that very well because the regimental commander, Stadler took over the Hohenstaufen division and I became his successor as regimental commander (of Der Führer). Incidentally, based on my experiences in France after the war, I think it is unlikely that a punitive action or illegal shooting actually took place here, otherwise this case would have been in the series of trials that were conducted by the Higher Military Court in Bordeaux.
On further questioning: I don't know anything about the incidents in Tulle from my own experience, but I did hear details during my captivity in France. There was also no reason for the regiment to deal with Tulle because Limoges was about 100 kilometres northwest of Tulle and we ourselves remained in Limoges until the morning of 11th June 1944. However, I myself believe that on the night of 10th/11th June 1944, I drove back to Tulle with a motorcycle protection train from the division, to bring important supply reports and other reports to the divisional staff. I also think I met Lammerding in Tulle that night.
Response to allegation: My date just cannot be right, because when I arrived in Tulle, the partisans were hanged the day before. Then my trip must have been in the night of 9th-10th June. I can still remember that there was talk of the incident in Tulle. I never saw any more dead bodies. Lammerding did not go back with me, he followed me during the day.
From my time of imprisonment in France between 1947 and 1951 I know that I was initially accused of Tulle. However, I was able to invalidate this, based on my description above. A number of division members had been accused of these acts, but the number of those accused decreased as the investigation progressed. The trial at Tulle, as Lammerding has indicated, was directed only against 4 members of the division. However, I cannot say for sure, I had always thought it possible that the 1a, the SS-Sturmbannführer Stückler of the division, who had transferred from the army, had also been charged.
I myself was subsequently brought to trial with about 70 men from the division for belonging to the SS (this was under the Law of Collective Responsibility. For details see Chapter 5 of In a Ruined State: The Trial at Bordeaux 1953). But we were all acquitted of the charges and then returned to Germany.
In the course of the morning of 9th June 1944, the SS Obersturmführer Gerlach of the assault gun department, who was dressed only in underpants and undershirt, reported to the regimental command post in Limoges. As the advance command of his detachment, Gerlach was on the way from Limoges to the north-west of it to prepare quarters for the advancing detachment. According to his report, he was dragged out of his vehicle in Oradour, robbed with his driver, robbed of his uniform and weapons and bound, and led out of the village to a forest area, in his opinion to be executed, at least Gerlach heard that in Oradour. He managed to free himself through a trick and flee. He then returned to Limoges on foot. Gerlach is said to live in Hamburg today. According to Gerlach's report, at least one Maquisard group was in Oradour. We received the next report about Oradour the following morning (10th June 1944) from Diekmann. He reported that 2 French policemen, I am correcting, civilians, (these were members of the Milice, the French collaborator force) had reported the detention of a senior German officer who was being held in Oradour. We immediately suspected that it might have been the battalion commander, Kämpfe, who had become captive and had been overwhelmed and kidnapped by Maquisards during a brief stop of his vehicle. That was only possible because he had driven alone, ahead of his unit in his vehicle. In order to make sure that the described place was the presumed Oradour sur Glane, we brought Gerlach over to compare the place descriptions. It was known to us ........ I correct: We had no doubt that both reports were related. In addition, on the morning of 10th June, in the middle of Limoges, the personal papers of Kämpfe were found on the main thoroughfare, so the conclusion was that he had been taken through Limoges in the middle of the a night by transport, without us observing it and had managed to throw his personal papers out of the vehicle. In view of these circumstances, Diekmann asked that he and his company be allowed to move to Oradour to free Kämpfe. He was then ordered by Stadler to only bring in prisoners, but otherwise not to engage in fighting.
By way of warning: It occurs to me that an order had been given, shortly before, to stop the Maquisards when they met them and to bring them in as prisoners to offer them as an exchange for our prisoner. An order from Lammerding is not quite familiar to me at the moment. I think it is quite possible. In addition, on that day, perhaps it had already come through, the Allies declared the Maquisards to be a part of the French armed forces of the national army. This broadcast message may have raised doubts for us as to whether the former order of the senior Commander West (Hugo Sperrle) could still be valid. This can also be supported by the fact that a French employment person who was previously treated as a prisoner was released.
I know that for certain, because I myself arranged for the Battalion detachment to go, but I cannot say whether the order came from Lammerding.
In the meantime Diekmann had moved with the 3rd company under SS-Hauptsturmführer Kahn towards Oradour. We only found out what was going on there after he returned because the radio connections were broken.
Diekmann reported that he had been shot at when he approached the village and he had counterattacked the village. All the men were captured to be shot later. In my memory, he said nothing of women, not even of the fact that the women and their children died in the church. He further reported that he burned the village down, with ammunition blowing up in the individual houses.
On hold: I have just been informed of Lammerding's description of the report. I think it is possible that this representation could be correct, but I was not aware until today that the women were captured to be taken to the church, where they were later burned. Stadler first asked about the prisoners brought in. When Diekmann replied that he had no prisoners, Stadler was very excited and announced that Diekmann was going to be court-martial, as this attack was arbitrary and had clearly violated the orders that Stadler had given and he could not leave this mess on the regiment's reputation.
I just remembered something else: When Diekmann moved to Oradour with approval, it could also be called an order, he also received ........ I have to correct myself: After Diekmann had left, the regimental staff took on its own yet another measure to redeem the prisoner. It took the form of releasing a Maquisard leader from among the prisoners who had previously been with the Sipo (Security Police) in Limoges, on condition that his staff negotiate to exchange the Prisoner Kämpfe. To this end, Stadler arranged for the administrator, Hauptsturmführer Poweleit, to free 35000 - RM (Reichsmark) from the cashier's office in order to make the exchange offer even more palatable for the Maquisards. The Maquisard leader then went off and later telephoned once, saying that he had not been able to find his staff so far and that he would continue to search. No further reports were received.
According to Diekmann's outrageous report, Lammerding must have been informed, but it was not possible to get much done on the spot because the march had to continue in the early morning of the next day. I only know so much and that is that after the arrival in Normandy, extensive interrogations began of Diekmann, Kahn and also at the divisional court. I do not know anything about the outcome of the proceedings.
Diekmann fell shortly after the first mission. Kahn was seriously wounded, he lost an arm and has been missing since then. In any case, he never returned to the unit. I once heard rumours that he was said to be living in the SBZ (Soviet Occupation Zone) today (in fact, Kahn lived out the remainder of his life under his own name in Ottmarsbocholt, near Münster).
A court martial has also taken place in France regarding Oradour. It is better to say that a trial for Oradour has taken place at the Higher Military Court in Bordeaux. The trial was in 1953. I know myself that 43 people were sentenced to death, 41 of them in absentia (according to the trial records presented in Chapter 5 of In a Ruined State the numbers were, 46 condemned to death in absentia, including Lammerding and Kahn). Present were Georg Boos, who now lives as a representative in Saarbrücken. He was released in 1956. The second to be sentenced to death was Lenz, who is now in the Palatinate. In addition, members of the company present were sentenced to prison terms of 10-15 years. I think someone was acquitted (this was Erwin Dagenhardt, see Chapter 5 of In a Ruined State).
I believe that the Central Legal Protection Unit of the Federal Foreign Office stores the documents of both trials (Tulle and Oradour) in an archive. However, I do not know whether copies of the French files are available.
Perhaps Dr. Luther may be able to say where he got the documents cited from in his book (there is no information available in the statements about Dr Luther or his book).
At this point, an order that may have played a role with Diekmann must be pointed out when Oradour was destroyed. The temporary OB-West General-Field-Marshall Sperrle had issued an order that houses and accommodation that the Maquisards used as accommodation for staff quarters, hiding places for ammunition and weapons should be burned down. This order already existed at this time and has also been discussed in detail in the war-court proceedings, also against Sperrle. However, Diekmann obviously had violated the specific order to only bring in prisoners and not to allow himself to be involved in fighting with the Maquisards.
I am aware of the addresses of members of the divisional staff who can say something about the incidents:
The commander of the artillery regiment was SS-Standartenführer Kreutz, who is said to live in the Bonn area today.
The commander of the tank regiment, Sturmbannführer Tychsen, has probably fallen, in any case missing.
Hauptsturmführer Wulf (reconnaissance department) lives in Cologne and is the organizational manager of the Haller Bausparkasse.
A tank division commander, at that time was the SS Sturmbannführer Tetsch, who I know is alive. He was with the Americans for a while after the war. Office in Esslingen Nord.
The commander of the communications department, the SS main assault leader Sorg, is a forester in the civil service in Baden-Württemberg.
The commander of the assault gun division Hauptsturmführer Krack also lives in the South-West (?)
The division's 1a, SS Sturmbannführer Stückler, who was not charged, now lives in Freising-Oberbayern where he runs a driving school.
Gerlach lives in Hamburg.
The 0.II Döppner lives in Stuttgart-Degerloch and is a tax auditor.
May I point out that the events of Oradour and Tulle have also been discussed in detail in American war history, based on our reports. America's war history has been accumulated in America. On my manuscript, which is on page 287 of Dr. Luther, I notice, that he says that I am currently working on the history of the DF Regiment (Der Führer), which will be published in book form at the end of the year. The quote is wrong, in that it must be called SS-Panzer Grenadier Regiment. (Weidinger went on to write, not only the history of the Der Führer Regiment, but also the history of the Das Reich Division in 5 volumes, plus 1 volume of photographs).
Read, Approved, Signed .................. Otto Weidinger
© Michael Williams ... 10 July 2020 ... last updated on Thursday, 25 August 2022