Germany inquiry into Oradour wartime massacre in France

German investigators visit Oradour-sur-Glane, southern France, 29 January The ruins of the village have been preserved as a memorial

Related Stories

German investigators have opened a new inquiry into the wartime massacre of 642 people by SS troops in the central French village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

They acted on evidence uncovered in the archived files of East Germany's Stasi secret police about six soldiers, then aged 18 or 19, who are still alive.

East Germany refused to extradite the suspects for the original post-war trial of surviving SS men in France.

The ruins of the village are preserved just as they were after the massacre.

German investigators have travelled to Oradour-sur-Glane to investigate where different SS units were deployed and will hear from witnesses and survivors.

Some 60 soldiers were brought to trial the 1950s. Twenty of them were convicted but all were later released.

The German prosecutor says he hopes a new legal process will begin in Germany but with the suspects now 87 and 88 years old time is short, the BBC's Christian Fraser reports.

Women and children
BBC map

On 10 June 1944, a detachment of SS troops surrounded the tiny hamlet in the Limousin region.

It is believed by some that they were seeking retribution for the kidnap of a German officer but some say that resistance members were based in a different, nearby village.

Most of the victims were women and children. Many of them were herded into a local church into which hand grenades were thrown before it was set on fire.

The men were locked in a barn. Machine-gunners shot at their legs, then doused them in petrol and set them alight.

Sixty-eight years on, one survivor, Robert Hebras, welcomed the new German inquiry but said it should have happened earlier.

"Lots of the people concerned are now old men like me, who may well have lost their memories. Nonetheless, it is good that Germany is taking responsibility for Oradour and remain concerned by it."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A robotClick Watch

    The latest in robotics including software that can design electronics to solve problems

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.