A former SS soldier, now an 88 year old man identified only as Werner C, is being charged by German prosecutors for allegedly taking part in a 1944 massacre of 642 people in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, during World War II.
Although the accused was in fact in Oradour-sur-Glane at the time Nazi soldiers slaughtered most of the village, he “disputes any involvement in the murders.”
The prosecutor’s office said the Cologne man has been charged “in the murder of 25 people… and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people.”
It all came to light again when a historian recently discovered documents with all six suspect’s names in connection to this crime, still alive and now aged between 85 and 86, giving the nearly 70-year old case enough evidence to be re-opened. The other suspects are still at large, but German prosecutors plan to pursue them as well.
In typical Nazi style, 400 of the people murdered were women and children and were either shot, or rounded up in the town church, and burned to death.
Only one woman managed to escape the flames. After the war, French President Charles de Gaulle ordered that the ruins of the village be preserved as a memorial.
The village has been undisturbed since the massacre to serve as a memorial and as a constant reminder of the unrelenting evil of the Nazis.
On Wednesday, the regional court in Cologne said: ‘The prosecutor’s office in Dortmund has charged an 88-year-old from Cologne over the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people.’
Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel told French reporters in Oradour last year: ‘We hope the survivors may be able to help us identify any culprits who are still alive.’
Camille Senon is one of survivors who witnessed the aftermath of the massacre in which her family members died, said: ‘It is considered a positive gesture by the Germans to send investigators for the first time, 68 years after, even though I would have liked to have seen it happen sooner’.
Robert Hebras, another survivor who was 19 at the time, hid under the corpses of others who were machine-gunned, said, ‘I was consumed by hatred and vengeance for a long time,’ adding: ‘We must reconcile with the Germans.’