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 whether Heinrich Bernhard Lammerding, who had been the commander of the Das Reich Division at the time of the attack on Oradour-sur-Glane, was culpable of the crime and was to be allowed to be extradited by the French to stand trial in France for the attack. The conclusion, reached at the end of all the hearings and after evaluating all the statements, was that Lammerding did not have a case to answer and so he never stood trial in France for the events at Oradour.
Most of 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.
The man previously known as Georges René Boos and now signing himself as Georg René Boos made at least three statements, of which this is the second, concerning the role of Lammerding in the affair of Oradour. The first point to bear in mind is that Boos was not a voluntary witness, he had to be subpoenaed in order to attend the hearing and he was not a willing, or co-operative witness. Boos's lack of co-operation was understandable, he had spent the longest time in prison of all the defendants of the 1953 trial in Bordeaux and he had narrowly escaped execution. Boos statement reads poorly, it is not a smooth flowing document. It is more a collection of short statements that give information and not necessarily presented in the most logical order. Boos, as is quite common in these hearings spells Diekmann's name incorrectly, in this case as being, "Dickmann". In fact the whole of this second statement is full of typographical errors and even Kämpfe's name is misspelled as being Kampfe. So I suppose it is possible that the problem could lie with Justice-Secretary Zebedies and not Boos himself (but he did sign the document as being a true record of what he staid).
Boos said that as a sergeant he had first heard of Dickmann (sic) and his Battalion in 1944. He stated freely that he had volunteered for the German armed forces in March 1941 at the age of 17 years (this meant that he was a minor at the time and not fully legally liable for his actions). He also stated that he specifically joined the Waffen-SS and not the normal non-SS forces. There is little information on his training and service prior to June 1944 and there is no specific information about his time spent on the Eastern Front. When Das Reich started to move north to Normandy, Boos said that he was in charge of the supply train for the Der Führer Regiment and had special responsibility for ensuring that all stragglers were accounted for and kept with the troop. He implied that the movement was somewhat disorganised and that he was unaware of the exact location of other units on the march north.
He was adamant that he knew nothing of who gave the order to go to Oradour, or who ordered the attack on the village. Boos says that he was ordered by "Captain" Kahn to take a Sergeant with a serious head wound to Limoges for hospital treatment and that this was a slow process because they had to drive slowly on account of the patient's condition. Whist it is not explicitly stated, the implication was that the sergeant had been wounded in Oradour (see Kahn's statement regarding the wounding of an Unterführer at the church during the attack on Oradour). If it was the Unterführer mentioned in Kahn's statement, then Boos must have been present in Oradour at the time the church was set on fire. Boos stated that the trip to Limoges and back took between 2 to 3 hours and of course this would mean that he was not present in the village at the time when much of the killing was taking place.
Boos made quite a long statement to the effect that both throughout his captivity and subsequently, he had spent much time in trying to work out just what had happened and why the order to destroy Oradour had been given. He was still unclear as to who had issued the order, or why the destruction had been ordered. In this Boos was quite clear that Lammerding had not been mentioned by anyone as the originator of the order to destroy the village.
Boos stated that he had had the statements by both Lammerding and Weidinger read to him but that he could not add anything more to them as, he "did not have any awareness in this regard". All he would say is that as far as he remembered Oradour had not been burned when he (Boos) drove through the village (but remember that he said that he had taken the wounded Unterführer to Limoges).
Boos commented on several conversations he had with Weidinger (no dates at all given and this could have been post-war) in which Weidinger told him about Kämpfe and his driver disappearing near Oradour and "another" who also disappeared and escaped in his underwear back to the Regiment. This part of the statement is obviously miss-remembered as Kämpfe was on his own when captured and Gerlach along with his driver was the one captured by the Resistance. Boos said that he assumed that these two were being sought in Oradour (even though he made no comments as to having being told this at the time when he was in the village).
Boos final remarks were to comment on the sentences handed down to other members of the Regiment who were at Oradour and who were tried at the same time as himself at Bordeaux. It is striking to note that the only other defendant mentioned by name was Lenz, all the others names had by now been forgotten. Boos did mention that Lenz came from the Luftwaffe and joined the Der Führer Regiment in Russia and served as a soldier (and not as an airman).
From his statement it is clear that Boos was not a very capable man, or of great intellect, or good memory. He quite often refers to members of the SS by some very non-standard terms, such as, "Hauptmann" when referring to Hauptsturmführer Kahn, a very odd mistake for an ex-member of the SS to make. But and this is crucial, he does not implicate anyone in giving the order for the destruction of Oradour. He admitted he did not know who gave the order and his main aim was to present himself in as virtuous a light as possible, or at the very least, not involved in the killings.
Boos statement follows:
The district court: Saarbrücken, 10 January 1963
7 Gs 3644 / 62
County Court Judge Wolff as a judge
Justice-Secretary Zebedies as Registrar of the office In the criminal case and investigation against:
Engineer Lammerding from Düsseldorf, formerly commander of the SS-Panzer
Grenadier Division Das Reich and among other things, because of murder,
The Person: Georg René Boos, 39 Jahre old, Insurance Employee, married, resident in Saarbrücken s.v.
The Matter: As a Sergent I had heard of Dickmann's (sic) battalion in 1944. As an Alsatian I volunteered for the German armed forces at the age of seventeen years in March 1941. I Immeadiatly joined the Waffen-SS. Dickmann's (sic) Battalion belonged to the 3rd or 4th Regiment of Der Führer. This Regiment was part of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division, Das Reich under Lammerding. From February to June 1944 we lay in the area of Montauban - Toulouse. Shortly after the invasion began in the beginning of June 1944, we started moving in the direction of the Atlantic coast. During this advance, I had to take care of the supply train of the Battalion to ensure that all unusual vehicles, including the baggage train remained with the troop. I cannot say which unit was at the front of our Battalion on the march and which was behind our Battalion. To the rear, the Battalion didn't have any contact with another unit.
I cannot say who gave the operations order for the undertaking in Oradour and what had been the reason for the operation in Oradour. Nothing is known to me that the command was given from the start to use force against Oradour. I can say nothing about how it came to a fight in Oradour. I was, as already stated, at the very end of the Battalion on the march to Normandy. I still remember that I took a wounded sergeant from Oradour to Limoges on the orders of the Company Chief, Captain Kahn. The sergeant had a serious head wound. We had to drive very carefully with the armoured personnel carrier. On the way, we had to halt once because the casualty could not tolerate the transportation. Limoges is about 25 km from Oradour. After about 2 to 3 hours I was back in Oradour after implementing this casualty transportation. I still remember that an officer who was temporarily with the Battalion came with us to make a report to the Regimental field post in Limoges. During my constant confinement from September 1944 to April 1959, I tried ceaselessly to work out the relationships to what happened in Oradour and to make clear the events which led up to it. I did this also after release from captivity. I still use the opportunity today to try and work out who had given the command for the operation in Oradour. I have not succeeded up to today to determine who gave the order. Also, I cannot say anything about how the fight in Oradour occurred.
Later I had, if I remember correctly, several conversations with Weidinger, when he said that Battalion Commander Kämpfe with his driver had disappeared in the area of Oradour and that another had been captured and escaped in his underwear and reported to the command post in Limoges. I assume that these missing were being sought in Oradour.
The statements by Lammerding and Weidinger about the events at Oradour were read to me. I cannot say anything about this, as I have already indicated that I did not have any awareness in this regard. If I remember correctly, Oradour had not yet been burned when I drove through. Exactly when I cannot say. I know the following from the criminal proceedings in Bordeaux. They was sentenced beside me:
Sergeant Lenz came from the Luftwaffe and was placed in our Company in Russia. There he did service as a soldier, two soldiers under the age of 18 whose names I cannot remember were sentenced to between 10 to 12 years in prison. Lenz was sentenced to death. The Company Medic was sentenced to 12 years. The name I no longer remember, a Battalion member whose name I also don't know, to prison for five years, approximately 15 Alsatians, a part of whom were minors and who were serving with the German armed forces, to 5 years. These were later amnestied. All the remaining defendants were not present. I cannot say how many and who they were.
Read, approved, signed
© Michael Williams: 12 February 2015 ... revised 30 November 2021.