Lusar's statement made at Munich on 16th July 1962
This statement forms a part of what I call, 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 was not allowed to be extradited by the French and never stood trial for the events at Oradour-sur-Glane.
For comments on this statement, see notes made in italics throughout.
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.
Note: There was a Rudolf Lusar, who was described as a, "Major of the Reserve" who wrote a book, published in 1957 describing, "German secret weapons of the Second World War." This book contained information on various weapons, including a, 'Flying Saucer.' It seems that this was indeed the same Rudolf Lusar, who gave the statement shown below.
Lusar's statement is quite extraordinary for several reasons:
1) Rudolf Lusar is the only non-SS man to make a statement concerning Oradour and Lammerding's involvement in it that I have found. I do not know how Lusar came to be asked to make his statement, or if he volunteered it himself. If he volunteered it, how did he find out about the investigation into Lammerding's part in the affair of Oradour? Was there a national campaign in 1962 to find witnesses that could help? It is easy to see how all the other former members of the SS who were still alive were contacted for their assistance. They were all in touch with each other through soldiers reunion societies and old friendships, but Lusar was outside this circle, so must have been reached in some other way.
2) Lusar's statement reads very oddly indeed, it describes a scenario which appears to be a mixture of the events at Tulle on the 9th June 1944 and at Oradour on the 10th. The comment about the Resistance attacking the place at night and massacring and mutilating the German soldiers there, fits the case of Tulle far, far better than that of Oradour. Yet the description of the villagers being split into two groups and the women and children being locked in the church, is what happened at Oradour and not at Tulle.
3) Kahn, in his statement says of Lusar:
"The statement appears to me strange somehow. First I consider it impossible that Dieckmann (sic) had met with the witness in Bordeaux after the action. I know that, because as the most senior officer, I had to represent the commander (Diekmann) in his absence. After the action at Oradour, we were almost always together, both on the further advance and in action in the vicinity. Anyway I don't remember that I had to represent the commander at any time up to his death. I also consider the description of Bordeaux implausible for another reason. Furthermore if one looks for themselves on the map at the position of the city of Bordeaux and takes into account, that we continued the advance the following morning by way of Poitiers, Tours, Le Mans to Caen, I even consider it impossible that Dieckmann (sic) could have returned from the north-west front to the south.
The description, that Mr. Lusar gives, also appears to me dubious for another reason:
When Dieckmann (sic) claimed, that at the approach to Oradour we found at the roadside dead German officers and soldiers, I know nothing of this. I would like to make a qualification however: I did not seen the western edge and exit of Oradour. Also, I had observed no corpses of auxiliary helpers in uniform. When the company assembled after the action, no foreign unit Germans were with it, above all no auxiliary helpers. I certainly would have had to observe these. I can also say with determination that I neither saw them on the street on which we approached, at the village exit, nor at the tram".
The question then arises as to what we should make of Lusar's evidence? My own view is that he became confused as to what he heard and when in 1962 he was making his statement about events of 18 years previous, he amalgamated the stories of Tulle and Oradour. The man he met in Bordeaux was certainly not Adolf Diekmann, it is simply inconceivable that he had any reason to visit the city in any capacity at all.
Lusar met someone, whom I do not know and this person (who had some involvement with Das Reich and seems to have been an officer) told him a version of the events at both Tulle and Oradour, which over the years became combined into one story in his memory.
There was one thing which Lusar said, which was agreed by every other witness at this hearing and that was that the name of Lammerding was not mentioned at all in connection with ordering the attack on Oradour-sur-Glane. It is worth remembering that the purpose of this hearing was to determine whether Lammerding had a case to answer in France, it was not an enquiry into the actions of German armed forces during the war years.
4) Lusar spells Diekmann as, Dieckmann throughout his statement, but this seems quite a common mistake for these documents and is not in itself a major cause for concern. See Kahn's statement of March 1967 for a much worse example of incorrect name spelling.
45 Js 2/62: At the present time: Munich: 16.7.1962
Ordered to appear: Mr. Rudolf Lusar
and having explained to him the subject matter of the hearing, he was admonished to tell the truth as a witness:
I am called Rudolf Lusar, born 24.12.1896 in Kauthen (Upper Silesia), now resident in Munich, by occupation an engineer and with the accused (Lammerding) neither related by blood nor marriage.
During the last war I was in the anti-aircraft artillery of the air force. In 1944, at the beginning of June, I was deployed in the West of France.
In early June 1944, I was a Captain and I received orders, to go to Bordeaux for the purpose of further employment. In Bordeaux, I got further marching order to go to the anti-aircraft detachment at Mont-de-Masan (French air base south of Bordeaux), to which I should go for further deployment. As I reported to the Commander of the Flak division in Bordeaux, an SS-Officer was, according to the adjutant also desiring communication with him (with the Commandant). At my astonished question as to what we in the Flak would have to do with the SS, the adjutant told me; that, "he did" Oradour. I hadn't heard anything about this incident until then; however there was no time for further questions because the officer came from the Commander's room. He introduced himself as Dieckmann (sic). As to rank, to my knowledge he had that of an SS-Hauptsturmführer (Diekmann was at that time an SS-Sturmbannführer).
We both then spoke together for approximately 8 - l0 minutes, as I could not immediately go into see the Commander. I asked Dieckmann what was going on at Oradour. He told me the following:
As contact was lost between the 1st Battalion and the regimental-staff (of the Der Führer regiment), he got a radio-telephone command to take the 3rd Company in the direction of Oradour in order to clear up. As far as I remember, the staff of the 1st Battalion had moved forward to Oradour in the evening before, in order to sleep there. He was instructed to report the next morning what had occurred. This knowledge comes from the story of Dieckmann (sic).
Dieckmann (sic) now wanted to move away with his Company in the direction of Oradour. I have in memory anyway that Dieckmann (sic) was the leader of the Company.
Response to challenge:
I have always assumed until now on the grounds of my memories that Dieckmann (sic) was the Company leader. I cannot remember anyway that he spoke of his position as a Battalion commander. I heard the name Kahn today for the first time.
Dieckmann (sic) then repeated: As he approached the place with his soldiers, they found dead German soldiers at the roadside, including officers, who were terribly mutilated. The body was partially slit open, others had the genitals cut off, and finally more mutilations were noticed. Among the soldiers, were located some dead German armed forces-helpers, who were equally dishonored. As a result, he first brought inhabitants from nearby and asked them referring to the dead persons, whether there were partisans there. The inhabitants were very sullen and didn't give any clear answers. From the conversation, however, he had gained the Impression, that the partisans could not yet be far off. In any case, he sent forward scout cars, that had taken part in the advance, through the village to check all the arterial roads. A scout car found a truck, at which the Maquis where still present at that time. German armed forces-helpers were on this vehicle. With the prompt rescuing of these armed forces-helpers, approximately 12 were saved. From them he found out that the Maquis had attacked the place at night and massacred almost all the German soldiers. From the Communication Helpers that were on the retreat from South-France to Paris, 60 girls (approximately) were missing. Their fate has probably never quite been resolved.
Diekmann (sic) then said literally: 'My men were infuriated by these incidents and were not to be held-back. It had to be established as an example. I rounded-up the population and the men were separated from the women, children and old men, who were locked up in the church' (this is the first time that there has been any mention of, "old men" being locked in the church, no other witness has ever mentioned them in relation to the events of the 10th June).
Dieckmann (sic) then said something to the sense that he let all the men "be killed." Afterwards he let the village be fired, to which he felt entitled all the more because arms were found in the search as well. By an unhappy accident - caused by the, at that time prevailing great heat and the wind, the church roof was lit by a flying spark. Whether Dieckmann (sic) still was in the place at this time, I cannot say, however he spoke of it, and he departed after the execution of the men.
Response to challenge:
I heard today for the first time, that the women wanting to save themselves from the church were shot down by machine guns and other arms. About this Diekmann (sic) said nothing.
Dieckmann (sic) was extremely nervous when narrating this incident; I would like to say even depressed. I stand by it, that there was already talk about starting a court-martial-procedure. However, I cannot say today, who told me at the time, or whether I heard it later.
I myself hardly put a counter-question about the story. I myself, according to the narration judged the case as the typical attack by the Maquis on German troops. About this time, the Maquis began massive attacks on German units and lines of communication.
Response to challenge:
I know, or that is to say knew until today, of only one Oradour, namely Oradour-sur-Glane. I am myself convinced that south or southwest from Limoges lay another; Oradour-sur-Vayres (see the Oradours of France). About this place, I didn't know anything certain at that time. I later heard, or also read that Dieckmann (sic) fell in France. I myself parted with Dieckmann (sic) in Bordeaux and never saw him again.
From his story, I gained the impression at that time that I also still have today, that he actually must have had this experience at that time. The story came out moderately fluidly, so that I think to be able to exclude the possibility that he recited to me a prepared excuse.
According to my memory the event of Oradour must have been 2 or 3 days previous. The name Lammerding was not mentioned at that time. It was to my knowledge also that no other name was mentioned at all.
After the war, I have out of interest once asked the German Red Cross Tracing Service in Munich, whether in Oradour or from the locality was available news of the loss of armed forces-helpers from the year 1944. I was namely of the opinion that, if so many girls had died there, then it should be recorded somewhere. One explained to me admittedly that missing person-news from Middle-France that maybe could refer to Oradour, was available. However, I didn't get a positive answer, and did not later follow the affair further either.
I suspect that the girls came from Bordeaux, or from the surroundings of there, in order to be shifted via Paris to Germany.
The transcript was dictated aloud in my presence and corresponds to my statements. I therefore waive a further reading.
Approved Signed ... Rudolf Lusar
© Michael Williams: 26 July 2013 ... revised 25 August 2022.