Hans Gerlach's statement made at Dortmund 31 May 1963
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 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 (or Tulle).
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.
Hans Gerlach began his statement by emphasising that he was Hans Gerlach and not the Karl Gerlach who had been to Oradour and who was a member of the Assault Gun Detachment. He went on to say that he knew virtually nothing at all about Karl Gerlach.
Hans Gerlach said that he had been in the tank regiment of Das Reich Division (he did not quote the actual regiment's name) at the start of 1944 and that he moved to the Divisional Staff at the beginning of June.
It is obvious from reading his statement that a fair amount of forgetting of detail has taken place from the events of 19 years earlier. Gerlach is somewhat vague as to points of detail concerning the march route to Normandy and this is not to be wondered at, because at the time it was just another march. It was only later that the sequence became important, at the time it was nothing special. Gerlach accompanied Sturmbannführer Stückler on the march northwards with the intention of forming an advance party in order to get the Division into action as quickly as possible.
Gerlach and Stückler visited Tulle in the afternoon of 9 June and in the Hotel Modern, Gerlach saw the bodies of German soldiers who had been killed in the uprising there. Gerlach also mentions that Lammerding visited Tulle, but he was vague as to exactly how long Lammerding stayed, or exactly when he arrived. Gerlach also said that Weidinger must have visited the town, but that he did not personally know him at that time (there is no dispute about Weidinger visiting Tulle, as he has stated this in his own account of events there).
From Tulle, Gerlach continued northwards along a poorly remembered route. He stated that he only got to hear about events at Oradour later, when they reached the invasion front and that this was by way of gossip. He thought that the matter was being kept secret and that as he personally did not have anything to do with the case, he did not enquire further.
The rest of Gerlach's statement describes the events that he remembered after Normandy, such as the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. He is vague as to details and could not even remember Lammerding's movements in any detail (he had been wounded and left the Division for some months).
Hans Gerlach's statement is useful, because it is the memory of someone who was a part of the Das Reich Division, but someone who was not directly involved in the affairs of either Tulle, or Oradour. It is obvious from reading his statement, that neither event made a big impression on him at the time; they both were just incidents along the way and nothing remarkable.
The names that are not mentioned at all in Hans Gerlach's statement are those of Stadler, Diekmann or Kahn. It is not obvious from the statement exactly why Hans Gerlach was being interviewed; the implication is that it was because of some confusion between his name and that of Karl Gerlach, but this is not explicitly stated.
The main conclusions to be drawn are that Lammerding was not implicated by Hans Gerlach (mentioned almost in passing, but not implicated) and neither was Stadler, who is most conspicuous by his absence in the testimony.
45 Js 2/62 ..... Dortmund 31. 5. 1963
Prosecuting attorney Siehlow as questioner
I am called Hans Gerlach, born on
the 21. 5. 1911 in Berlin; now resident in Frankfurt-am-Main, 24 Anne-
Frank-Strasse (there is some irony here, a former SS-Officer living in a
street renamed after a celebrated Jewish child authoress and victim of the Nazi
oppression of which he had been a part), by occupation an
industrial merchant and with the accused Lammerding, neither related by blood nor
After discussion of the subject of the hearing, may I point out first of all, in
the context of this appearance, that I am not the Obersturmführer Gerlach, who
entered Oradour. However, I know, that a Gerlach belonged to the Assault Gun
Detachment as an officer at that time, however I cannot say anything about this
person. I suspect that even then he was a Knight's Cross winner at that time.
On the advance, I met with Stuckler one afternoon after Tulle. I had to obtain quarters, and then I came into a hotel, which was partially occupied by corpses of killed German soldiers (from Tulle) in the rooms. When the divisional orders from the 9- 6-44 are shown in front of me now, I can now say with determination that it was the hotel, "Modern".
From memory; I was only about 24 hours in Tulle. After it was told to me during
the course of today's discussions, that the leaders of the Reconnaissance
detachment, with which Stückler should supposedly have been, reached the place
on the 8-6-44 in the afternoon; as the Divisional order from 9-6- 44, came at
23.15 o'clock I am now doubting this, because, Stückler and I, departed earlier
in the morning with an armoured-car from Tulle. This could have been 10-6-44. I
have come to that conclusion because I remember that Lammerding had been with us
for some time in Tulle. I cannot recall the Divisional Orders from 9-6-44. I
also do not remember if Weidinger was with the Divisional Staff in Tulle for the
evening or the night. To this I have to add, that I did not know Weidinger at
this time and it was not until November 1944 that I subsequently met him. I knew
him then, when I came to the Divisional Staff, as previously I had only known
the leaders of my tank regiment. The other leaders of the Grenadier Regiment and
other Detachments I met more often when I came to the Divisional staff. With
this explanation I want to make it clear that Weidinger certainly visited us in
Tulle, especially as a constant coming and going of unit commanders took place
at that time.
© Michael Williams: 21 February 2015 ... revised 25 August 2022.