German prosecutors are re-evaluating the case against six former SS members, accused of taking part in one of the worst massacres of the second world war in France.
642 civilians were killed by the Nazis’ elite paramilitary,The SS-division “Das Reich”, in Oradour-sur-Glane in western France.
On June 10 1944, almost the entire population of the village was butchered. The women and children were taken to the town’s church and burnt to death alive. Those who tried to escape were shot. The men of the village were herded into barns and shot.
Despite previous unsuccessful investigations, prosecutors in Dortmund say they are re-evaluating the case.
“With the help of the French police we have heard from several witnesses in France over the course of this year. We have looked at archive material and files from the former East Germany, and now we are able to put together the events in Oradour like a mosaic, one piece at a time,” explained Chief Prosecutor Andreas Brendel.
Oradour is a ghost village left to stand as a memorial to the dead. It is still a source of pain to the French but by the end of this year its hoped there will be enough evidence to file charges against several suspects.
On Wednesday there was an unprecedented visit by the president of Germany aimed to underscore French -German post war reconciliation. Along with the French president and a survivor of the atrocity he paid his respects to those who had been butchered there.