Dortmund hearings
(from 1962 onwards)


    This page describes that part of the German legal process (based at Dortmund in northern Germany) that was used post-war to determine which of its citizens accused of war-crimes, were to be allowed to be extradited by foreign countries in order to stand trial there. Oradour was of course not the only war-crime for which justice was sought and many other crimes were considered in the post-war years. As this website is about Oradour-sur-Glane in France and what happened there on 10th June 1944, only the parts played by Heinrich Bernard Lammerding as the commander of Das Reich and other persons from that Division will be covered on this page.

    Following representations from France in the years following the war and especially following the trial at Bordeaux in 1953, the German authorities carried out their own investigations into whether or not some of their citizens should stand trial for what happened at Oradour. This process took the form of a series of interviews with the people involved, at which they were able to put their side of the story. In addition, the accused could call upon other witnesses in order to show that they were not culpable and should not have to stand charge, either in Germany or in another country.

    In respect of what happened at Oradour, the French authorities especially wanted to have Lammerding on trial in France, for instigating the: "Crime committed by the 2nd SS Division Das Reich under orders of General Lammerding". Lammerding, having already been condemned to death in absentia for the killings at Tulle on the 9th June 1944, was naturally not willing to go voluntarily to France and so an investigation was initiated at Dortmund to determine whether or not he had a case to answer. The hearings eventually concluded that there was insufficient evidence against Lammerding, or anyone else from the Division to justify allowing the French to have them extradited and so post the 1953 trial in Bordeaux, no one ever had to stand trial in France itself.

    I do not think that I will attempt to obtain and translate any more of these files as there seems to me to be little point in reiterating again and again the same message. The consensus of all the statements is that Lammerding did not order the attack on Oradour and neither did Stadler, the Regimental Commander. The inference is that Diekmann went and did it of his own volition as a result of grossly exceeding his orders from Stadler to free Kämpfe and take hostages as necessary.

I have the following statements from various witnesses as to what happened at Oradour on 10 June 1944 and to the extent of their involvement in the attack.

 Georg René Boos, who had been tried and convicted at Bordeaux in 1953 and was finally released in 1959.

 Hans Gerlach, a member of the Divisional staff of Das Reich Division and not to be confused with the Karl Gerlach of the Assault Gun Detachment who's testimony is recorded below.

 Karl Gerlach, a member of the Assault Gun Detachment and who was kidnapped by the resistance on 9th June, but escaped after being taken (according to his testimony) to Oradour-sur-Glane. This testimony is not actually part of the Dortmund process, but is included for the sake of completeness and ease of reference by the reader (i.e. to keep all the personal testimonies of those involved in Oradour together).

 Otto Erich Kahn, the second-in-command at Oradour and who was thought (by the French) to be in hiding in Sweden (in fact he was living under his own name in Germany).

 Heinrich Bernhard Lammerding, the commander of Das Reich on the 10th June 1944.

 Rudolf Lusar, a non-SS, Luftwaffe Officer, who claims to have met Diekmann in Bordeaux after the 10th June 1944. Kahn mentioned in his testimony that this, "statement appears to me strange somehow".

 Detlef Okrent, the Das Reich Divisional judge on the 10th June and the man charged by Lammerding with carrying out the internal investigation into the Oradour affair.

 Johannes Seefried, (added to this list in July 2020). A doctor who accompanied the troops when they went to Oradour and rendered first-aid to some of them there.

 Sylvester Stadler, the commander of the Der Führer Regiment on the 10th June 1944.

 Otto Weidinger, who became the commander of Der Führer Regiment on the 14th June 1944.

 Heinz Werner (added to this list in May 2020), At the time of Oradour, Werner was a Hauptsturmführer on the staff of Der Führer and was shortly to become a Sturmbannführer and Knights Cross winner. Werner is interesting as a witness because he was not directly involved, or responsible for what happened at Oradour and so he is perhaps more of an impartial witness than some of the others.

    Other people gave their testimonies as well as those shown and their names will be added above when their statements have been located and translated.

    Most of these men came forward and voluntarily (Boos's first statement being the notable exception) gave their testimony as to what had happened and their involvement (if any) in the affair of Oradour. This included Kahn, who was by far the most involved of all of them. He had actually been there as second-in-command and was the most wanted man (by the French) after Lammerding himself. Nevertheless, in the spirit of comradeship which had characterised the SS, they all came forward and spoke-up in support of Lammerding. Their testimony is universal in that they all, without exception, say that either Lammerding was not involved, or that his name was never mentioned by anyone in connection with the affair (and so by inference, that he had not ordered the attack).   

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© Michael Williams: 26 July 2013 ... revised 25 August 2022.