Kahn's statement made at Münster in January 1964

 

    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 try and determine the involvement and guilt (if any) of Otto Erich Kahn, who had been the second-in-command during the attack on Oradour-sur-Glane. It was also the intention to discover the involvement of Lammerding, the Das Reich commander and to see if his actions warranted his prosecution and / or extradition to France over the affair.

    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.

    Comments are in italics.


    This statement made at Münster on 2nd January 1964, is just 5 pages, and is thus considerably shorter than Kahn's first at Dortmund in 1962, which ran to 19 pages. This new statement consists in the main, of Kahn re-iterating his previous evidence and denying evidence from other people, such as Stadler, Werner and Gerlach which contradicted him in certain aspects. Kahn was adamant that his earlier statement was correct and especially that he had not told Gerlach that they had been shot at near the boundary of Oradour, but that they had (probably) heard shots in the distance. He was unsure where these shots came from or who fired them. Kahn also denied that he had accompanied Diekmann to Limoges and in fact this was probably confusion on the part of the other witnesses with Erwin Dagenhardt, who seemingly acted as Diekmann's driver that day.

    Surprisingly, Kahn mentioned that Diekmann had told him of two places to, "burn down" that day, but he could not now remember the name of the other place! Kahn said that he had spoken to the most senior platoon leader present (who was Heinz Barth) and told him not to take any such action (very, very strange, an SS officer telling his junior SS officer to ignore the orders of their joint commander). Kahn also said that he knew Barth had been wounded, but did not know if he had survived the war. In fact Barth was living under his own name in Gransee and was to stand trial in East Germany in 1983 some 6 years after Kahn died of natural causes.

    Kahn mentioned the wounding of the officer by the explosion at the church and says he could not understand why Boos was stating things the way he was, especially concerning the destruction of Oradour. Kahn commented on men whom he knew to have fallen in action and said that he cannot remember the names of many others, or knew what has happened to them post-war. He also said that he could not remember saying anything to Okrent about finding ammunition or explosives in the village.

    In conclusion, Kahn said again that he stood by his earlier statement. He said that he could no longer remember why he had not mentioned in it the order to annihilate two villages and not just Oradour.

    Throughout this statement Kahn spells Diekmann as, "Dieckmann", or at least the  secretary typing the notes does so. This misspelling of Diekmann's name is a feature of the post-war investigations into Oradour and it is a bit of a puzzle. The name can be spelled several ways, Diekmann, Dieckmann, Dickmann and Dikmann have all appeared in statements. When a name can be spelled in different ways, normally more care is taken to ensure that the right spelling is used. However either this care was absent, or people were unsure after the passage of time, just how it was spelled in this case.

 


 

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© Michael Williams 10th March 2000 ... updated Wednesday, 15 February 2017