Kahn's statement made at Dortmund in December 1962


     This document is the one that featured briefly in the French television documentary: Oradour, Retour sur un Massacre which was broadcast on 29th May 2004 by France 3 and was claimed to show a clear, unambiguous order to destroy Oradour. It was intended to show that there was no mystery concerning the attack on the village, it was all a deliberate, cynical plan to crush the French Resistance and 'blood' the SS-Troops, that had been instituted from within the highest levels of Das Reich. It was also intended to absolve the Resistance from any responsibility for the massacre by suggesting that the abduction of Sturmbannführer Kämpfe had nothing at all to do with the affair.

    As will be realised on reading Kahn's full statement below in conjunction with the transcript of the video (Oradour, Retour sur un Massacre), that the program makers were being very selective in what they showed and claimed in their presentation. The claim that the massacre was carried out to orders by Lammerding (or Stadler) is not supported by Kahn at all, in fact he repeatedly says that Diekmann only claimed that the order came, "from the Regiment" and that he (Kahn) subsequently never saw or heard any supporting evidence for this claim.

    The statement is reproduced in full, in English translation below and there are some points to bear in mind when reading it:

    1) Unusually (in my personal experience) the original document is riddled with spelling mistakes and various typographical errors, all these errors have been corrected in the translation and only a few of the more significant ones left in, such as the consistent misspelling of Diekmann's name as Dieckmann. Remember that Kahn knew Diekmann personally and signed this statement as being correct, so it does seem odd that he let such an obvious error go uncorrected. In a later statement made in 1967, Kahn spells the name as, "Dikmann", "Dickmann" and "Dickmanns",  so in the literature and statements surrounding the case of Oradour, Diekmann has had his name spelled a total of four different ways! (Diekmann, Dieckmann, Dickmann and Dikmann are all valid German family names).

    2) Kahn was giving this statement partly to help old comrades, principally Heinrich Lammerding, the commander of Das Reich at the time of the attack on Oradour and by implication the reputations of Sylvester Stadler and the Waffen-SS in general and not solely for his own personal benefit. It has to be said though, that he seems to have been motivated to some extent by fears for his pension as a war veteran and did wish to show himself in a good light.

    3) The statement reads poorly, it is not great prose, it is the words of a man answering questions on events from his past, perhaps events that he wished had not happened. It is very obvious in certain parts of his statement that Kahn wishes to show himself in a good light and having acted in a virtuous manner.

    4) There are several surviving witness statements from the trial at Bordeaux in 1953 that show Kahn to be fully involved with the killings and acting in a brutal manner. It is noteworthy that in several places in this statement, Kahn mentions that witnesses to his deeds have gone missing in action, so the only evidence to his actions, is his own testimony.

    5) I have located the statement made by Lammerding in February 1962 and this is now been added to the website. I now have many more written statements from other members of Das Reich and have added their content to the website. There is also on this website the trial judgement against Heinz Barth and this should be read in conjunction with this statement.

    Read the statement and make up your own mind as to its reliability and value. Comments below are in italics.

45 Js 2/62 (File Reference)                                                                                              Dortmund: 13. 12. 1962 (Thursday 13 December 1962)


Prosecuting attorney Siehlow as examiner

Court Clerk Liebscher as secretary

Otto Kahn is a commercial employee from Ottmarsbocholt and has appeared as a witness and after the hearing process had been explained, he was admonished to tell the truth in accordance with Section 55 of the Criminal Justice System.

Kahn died in 1977 and is buried in Ottmarsbocholt, to the south-west of Münster.

The person:

I am called Otto Erich Kahn, born on the 4. 3. 1908 in Berlin - Borsigwalde, now resident in Ottmarsbocholt, by occupation a commercial employee in Münster, and with the accused Lammerding (Brigadeführer Heinrich Bernhard Lammerding, the commanding officer of Das Reich on 10th June 1944), am neither by blood nor marriage related.

The matter:

It has been communicated to me, that an investigation procedure by the public prosecutor's office in Dortmund, is pending against Lammerding, the former commander of the SS-Panzer-Grenadier division Das Reich, because of excesses by the division in France in the year 1944. I am to be heard as a witness.

Further I was alerted that an anonymous notification has been received against me because of my participation in the attack on Oradour. Furthermore it is well-known that a criminal-procedure had been implemented by the French side after the war, by the French military-court in Bordeaux against members of the Division, due to the Oradour affair, in which I and others were allegedly sentenced to death in our absence. This punitive process and / or this conviction impedes a renewed prosecution against me in the Bundersrepublik, because under article 3 paragraph 3b of the first part of the transition agreement of 1955,  when the examination was finally completed in a French investigation, a renewed prosecution in the Bundersrepublik can then no longer be implemented. One has told me furthermore, that this process has also actually excluded the present records in Bordeaux, and my involvement in the excesses at Oradour, so that a renewed prosecution by the German side is therefore out of the question.

This means that Kahn was in the clear as far as the German authorities were concerned and that no action would be brought by them against him.

As to the question, whether I want to take a position now to the incidents, I have explained that I am ready to give a statement as a witness.

In my résumé it is to be noticed, that I have served in the Reichwehr, the 100,000 man army, for 12 years and was discharged in October 1938 as a sergeant after 12 years service. After I had attended school for the military police, I was then active in that service in the Uckermark (Uckermark is a Kreis (district) in the north eastern part of Brandenburg, Germany) until the war started. In October 1939, I was placed in the way of the delegation of the District President of Potsdam and was assigned to the Feldgendarmerie of the SS-VT-Division in march. I was appointed in accordance with my Military Police grade (Hauptwachtmeister) as an SS-Stabsscharführer in the Waffen-SS and was then employed by them up to my wounding in the year 1945. In the year 1940, I was promoted on the basis of my military background to SS-Untersturmführer of the reserve. My final rank was Hauptsturmführer of the reserve. Up to March 1944, I was constantly employed with the SS-Division  Das Reich. On my own wish, I then came to the SS-Regiment Der Führer and took on the 3rd Company as Company Leader. I led this unit up to my second wounding on the 1. 8. 1944. I had to hand over the unit, since I lost my left arm through an explosive-projectile and had to go into a military hospital. After re-establishment, I was employed at a training camp as a Battalion-Commander and then further in 1945 was in action in Czechoslovakia. At the end of the war, I was with the more senior SS and police-leaders in Prague. At the end of the war I was in Prague and came into Russian captivity, from which I was released at the end of 1945. I came back into the present-day territory of the Bundersrepublik by way of Austria (that is, he returned to what was in 1962, West Germany).

What is remarkable in this statement, is that he was released from captivity in 1945. Normally SS Prisoners of War could expect a very long and difficult imprisonment when in Russian hands. In fact I wonder if he is correct in stating that he was in Russian captivity, as Otto Weidinger in his book Comrades to the End says that the Der Führer regiment (a part of the Das Reich Division) surrendered to American forces. Of course Kahn was no longer with Der Führer, but it does seem strange that he had such a short period of captivity.

Today, I am active as a commercial employee in a private company in Münster (just north of Ottmarsbocholt). On the basis of my former official-position with the Gendarmerie, I am a so-called 131 Official. I am regarded as duty-incapable however, and so am therefore officially retired.

To the incidents in France, I can say the following:

In the spring of 1944, the division was retraining and recuperating in south-west France. My company was in the area of Montauban - Agen. At the beginning of June 1944, after the invasion of the French coast, our division was alerted and set in march to the invasion-front. I can no longer state an exact date today.

The march actually began on Wednesday the 7th of June, see: Chapter 6 of In a Ruined State for more details.

It has been communicated to me that on 30. 5. 1944, a part of the Division in Eysses captured 1200 Frenchmen and procured their deportation, whereby 400 were murdered on the march. I have heard of this for the first time today. The locale of Eysses is not known to me. As to the arrest of these Frenchmen, that were to be deported: neither I nor my unit was appointed.

It has been communicated to me that a notification from France is also present against Lammerding, for the time of 4. 7. 1944 in Aurillac (Cantal), about a detachment of the division that should have been situated there, that could have murdered inhabitants there. I have myself have looked at the position of the place on the map and can with determination declare that the place is unknown me, I am even of the opinion that the alleged SS - unit was not of our Division, since the place lies much too far to the east.

In three places in this statement Kahn uses words similar to, "I can declare with determination" and when he does so, I for one can believe him.

The advance to the invasion-front took place up the main road with first big march-objective, Limoges. I moved forward with my unit in the formation of the first Battalion, under the leadership of SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann (sic). At the same time this column of the main advance got into a muddle and strayed eastward and had contact with French resistance-fighters. This column came from the south by way of Tulle where from my memory, fighting had already taken place. Anyway on this march-day, as we passed Tulle, we reached the march-objective of Limoges where we were allotted accommodation situated west from it in St. Junien. The entire battalion arrived approximately towards midday. I first ordered rest for my unit, that is, we lay down. Concerning this, it is to be realized that this advance was rather arduous, since we were continuously engaged through plane-attacks (I think that Kahn is mistaken here, for as far as I know, no aircraft attacks took place on Das Reich until they had crossed the Loire), also through attacks by the resistance fighters, as well as through strongly held roadblocks. About the further plans in St Junien, nothing was still known, in any case rest should first be taken. I myself went with my company-troop into a hotel and reserved a big room there. I wanted to lie down to sleep when a messenger ordered me to the battalion-commander Dieckmann (sic). Dieckmann (sic) revealed to me that a command for the burning down and annihilation of the village of Oradour had been received and that I would have to execute it. Upon my amazed questioning for the reason, Dieckmann (sic) repeated the command without any further explanation. Since the affair seemed to me most strange, I raised the objection that Dieckmann (sic) should first clarify with the regiment once again, why this command had been issued and try to turn away the implementation of the issue from us, or at least to delay it.

1) Diekmann's name is consistently misspelled as "Dieckmann" throughout this statement. Kahn is the only person that I have read who has mentioned aircraft attacks this far south and I rather think that he was mistaken in his memory of events of 18 years previous. Most reports of Allied aircraft attacking the German forces at this time, say that such events only occurred after crossing the river Loire further to the north.

2) Kahn questioning an order from his immediate superior sounds very odd indeed; but not impossible, as frankness between ranks in the SS was encouraged, as long as orders were obeyed.

Dieckmann (sic) became very indignant as a result and ordered me in a brusque tone, that I should kindly make the company march-ready. Since however further objections or even a command-refusal appeared pointless to me at the moment and also risky, especially since we were in action, I decided to first let the company assemble and also then to attempt simultaneously to raise contact with the Regimental Commander in order to receive clarity over the issue. To this I must note that I had an especially good relationship with the Regimental Commander on the basis of my long affiliation to the Divisional Staff and could talk frankly to him. I would have been able to visit him without any announcement. After the company had assembled, I called my entire company about me so as to give the known order.

Sylvester Stadler, was the SS-Standartenführer commanding the Der Führer Regiment at this time. Stadler was one of the more charismatic leaders in the SS and I can quite believe that Kahn could have had a good relationship with him.

With the words, we would now have to take care of a "mess", I communicated the given order to my men. The unit consisted of a combat troop of approximately 120 men at that time. Even while I was making the announcement, Dieckmann (sic) sent an order saying that we should wait and that he would take the lead. Shortly after this he appeared himself in the company of the so-called, Small Lead-Group and two armoured Infantry vehicles. An Ordonanzoffizier, whose name is no longer familiar to me, was part of the Small Lead-Group. To this I must still remark that the facts of the French Court Martial are well known to me from the press and that I have also read the names of the members of the unit involved in the trial at that time. Indeed at that time, the name of Dieckmann's (sic) accompanying officer was unfamiliar to me. I have not remembered his name after examination of the names either. Certainly I know that it was not Untersturmführer Klaar, turned down by me as Ordonanzoffizier, who was servicing with the regiment at that time. I recollect this so well, because I got shut of him back to his company, since I only had one officer as a leader in the company at that time. As a result I had also spoken to Dieckmann (sic) at that time, that he should return Klaar to me and to the unit, which he refused. Approximately 6 messengers as well as a combat clerk belonged to the Small Lead-Group. Furthermore, drivers were already assigned. The personnel of an Infantry Support vehicle normally included a group (of approximately 10 men), however I cannot say how strongly the two vehicles were occupied at that time. I estimate that approximately 145 - 150 men were gathered for the job.

While the combat group made itself ready for departure, I tried again to find out the reason for the action and also tried to prevent the implementation of the command. Because as I previously have suggested, the affair would not go down well with Stadler, the Regimental-Commander. Even at this time Dieckmann (sic) objected in a stroppy manner and stated that the convoy would now move under his leadership.

Diekmann taking the lead, suggests that he did not trust Kahn to do a good job. Normally such a lack of faith in a subordinate would have been regarded as a grave insult and worthy of some comment, however Kahn does not seem to have been at all upset.

As for my place in the convoy; he instructed me to drive at the tail of the combat-group. We set off in the direction of Limoges. I already decided somehow to look for an opportunity to evade Dieckmann (sic) in order to make contact with Stadler. I knew that halfway lay a French combat-group of approximately 1 - 2 companies of the Road Security Service of the French Militia. At this troop, I wanted to try to move away in the direction of the Regimental Staff. Shortly before this column, Dieckmann (sic) ordered me to the front of the motorised column to take the lead, in order to lead the unit to Oradour over a crossroad. Since I now saw a fine possibility, I decided to ignore this command of Dieckmann's (sic) in order to drive on to Limoges to the regiment. Dieckmann (sic) noticed however that after crossing over the crossroad, I intended to take another way to Oradour and he grasped and snapped at me and with that he adopted the leadership of the convoy himself again. As a result, we drove by a side road through forested terrain to Oradour. As we left this forested area on a height and saw Oradour lying  beneath us, we paused. I tried again with the remark, nodding my head in the direction of the village, "do you intend to burn down this village"? Even at this time Dieckmann (sic) skipped my objection and immediately gave the order. While two platoons should drive the population of the village together, a third platoon had to immediately begin with igniting the houses. The fourth platoon with the heavy machine gun should take on protection duty through giving covering fire outside the place.

Kahn now portrays himself as a man willing to abandon his post and his men in order to drive off to speak to Stadler in Limoges, this action if carried out would have been considered as disobedience of an order and warranted severe action.

On question:

We were approximately 400 m distant of the entrance to the place. Up to this time we had had no enemy contact, also we were not shot at or in anyway been hindered. During the march, that I myself did in a Volkswagen I had hardly seen a human being. It was an almost peace-time march, however with consideration of the previous disturbances, it was done with war-time security. We had not once been bothered by planes. As to the weather, I have no memory, in any case it had not rained or stormed. It occurs to me that before our stop, we had seen on the road, a toppled truck lying in the ditch that was considerably damaged by gunfire. About the vehicle, lay corpses, approximately 8 - 10 persons, who had been partly burned. As far as I remember, the persons were French, possibly members of the French Militia. Anyway I have no memory about it being members of the German armed forces.

1) As mentioned before I think that Kahn was mistaken in saying that they had experienced air-attack on the previous days.

2) The mention of the truck is strange and is reminiscent of Robin Mackness's account in his book, Oradour-Massacre and Aftermath, it is also odd that Diekmann seems to have ignored the situation and carried out no investigation at the time. No real indication is given as to where this incident was observed, except that it was, "before our stop".

I think that our column reached the southern end of the village. Except for the corpses described by me, I had not seen any traces of fighting, especially from German armed forces-vehicles, or corpses of German soldiers. I have been reproached, that Dieckmann (sic) had said that in 1944, he had found terribly mutilated corpses in German uniform at the village-entrance, also amongst them dead German armed forces-helpers in uniform, all corpses found, having been dishonoured. Of this, I know nothing. With determination, I can declare, that I was at the place where the command for the action was given and that I observed no trace of the scene described by Dieckmann (sic). In this connection I emphasize that I would have observed these traces well, especially since I drove in my open Volkswagen and could well observe the surroundings of the street. If that which Dieckmann (sic) describes, were true, I would have surely raised no objections any more about the action on the village. My reaction was exactly that that an action that was not offered by the general circumstances at all, should not be enforced against a peaceable place.

It is true that it has been claimed by various people, amongst them Otto Weidinger, that bodies of German personnel had been found in the burned-out remains of an ambulance at the outskirts of Oradour. What is interesting here is that Kahn claims not to have seen such a thing and also he says that if he had, then he would not have had any objections to attacking the village. I wonder if the burned-out ambulance and the "toppled truck" have been confused and are in fact one and the same.

After Dieckmann (sic) had planned the organisation of the action, he gave me the command to remain standing with my vehicle and driver at the stop, to watch the advance and to wait to see what would happen. He thereupon set off with the column to march in the direction of the village.

On question:

On the march to Oradour however, I had at approximately the altitude of the turn-off where the French unit lay, heard isolated shots, that came from a southern direction, in any case quite the opposite to Oradour.

The hearing was interrupted between 13.15 o'clock until 14.15 o'clock.

During the lunch hour, I have thought through the previous hearing again.

On side 7 in the middle, is recorded the sentence: (Kahn means side 7 of the original typed statement)

            At this troop, I wanted to try to move away in the direction of the staff.

I ask, the sentence now, to contain, as follows:

            At this troop, I wanted to try to lead my column in the direction of Limoges in order to make contact with the commander of the regiment. (Sylvester Stadler, with whom Kahn claimed to have a very good working relationship)

After the column had moved away, I watched the village. After the column was already in the village, I heard abrupt MG (Machine Gun) fire. I cannot say whether it concerned German or foreign arms. I heard voices of command and as a result noticed a considerable unrest in the place. After scarcely half an hour I noticed when looking around, that a young girl of about 18 years, came from out of the forest and went in the direction of the village. I gave my driver the command to walk toward the girl in order to send her back, because I didn't want that she would also be shot. I sent my driver because he could speak French better. The girl however absolutely wanted to go into the village, whereupon I also climbed from the vehicle and pulled my pistol and with unequivocal movements finally made the girl to understand, so that she moved away.

My driver, who had seen this incident, fell shortly after arriving at the front. (No witness to confirm the story)

After approximately ¾ of an hour, a messenger came from the village and delivered to me the command to come to the commander. I met him when I reached the village on foot, approximately in the village centre, on the street, standing between the rounded up villagers. On the one side of the street, the men were gathered while the women stood on the opposite side with the children. As I beheld this picture, I asked Dieckmann (sic) again whether he wanted to execute the command further. He answered correspondingly, "orders are orders" and led the women with the children through a group of the company to the church approximately 100 m distant. Thereupon, Dieckmann (sic) ordered the division of the men into groups of 30 persons. Squads of the company divided the men into these groups and led them into barns that stood in the near vicinity. I estimate that approximately 180 male villagers had lined up. As the groups disappeared into the barns, I moved away, because I didn't want to hear or see this murder. I removed myself, in an easterly direction on the village exit road, where I knew that there was a tram station. The tramways went right through the village. They came from the direction of Limoges. While I moved myself away, I heard shooting in the barn. I had not observed that anybody from the men had tried get away or escape. According to the picture that is before my eyes, approximately 250 - 300 were women and children. Afterwards I saw in the distance, approximately 250 m in the easterly direction along the rails, a stationary Tram, out of which people had already gotten. Furthermore, I saw that a security squad lingered by the vehicle. I now hurried to the sentry and asked "what is the matter?" I got as an answer from the leader, (the name and rank is unknown me), the news that the passengers were to be arrested and brought into the village.

Kahn's memory is quite good here, as there were indeed 6 sites of murder and about 180 men in total were killed. His estimate of the number of women and children is a little on the low side, but under the circumstances, it was reasonably accurate. Note his somewhat squeamish declaration that he did not wish "to hear or see this murder"

Thereupon I stopped this command with a sweep of the hand and gave the directive that all the French should climb into the streetcar and drive away. I made it clear to the driver that he should drive back. He made difficulties for me, apparently, because he wanted to continue the journey into the village. Thereupon I became forceful and compelled the driver and the conductor to get into the Tram in order to drive it back. In consequence they reluctantly did so.

This story has been mentioned by several sources, but this is the first time that I have read of Kahn being involved.

I now remember that an approximately 28 year old Frenchman came along and spoke in broken German to me. He made me to understand that he absolutely must go through the village to the next village. Since I could communicate with him quite well, I caused him to understand firstly, that it was better if he returned. As he still wanted to however, I explained to him: that if he wanted to see the evening still living, he must return. He must have understood that, because he disappeared into the streetcar that thereupon departed as a result. I went along the edge of the village then because I didn't want to be present at the shootings. While I moved to the edge of the village, some houses went up in flames. Shooting had ceased in the meantime.

After a while, I was called into the village again by a messenger to see the commander and found him approximately 30 m distant from the church. I first asked him the question what he wanted to do now. Enough had happened. The village was burning at this time. I remember that in the proximity to the church was standing the parsonage, it was also burning. However I said then to the commander that he should at least let the women run. I believe I said to him that he should chase the women into the forest. The only remark Dieckmann (sic) made was: That it was out of the question. Whereupon he asked the question: Do you have explosives with you? I answered: "No". Thereupon, an Unterscharführer behind me who was the equipment manager for arms and ammunition, answered: "Yes Sturmbannführer I still have something on the wagon". He said that he had a batch of 2 or 4 kilos of explosive with him. I turned around and only said to the Unterführer: "Idiot". Dieckmann (sic) however ordered him to get the explosives and asked me whether I had any idea of blasting. Although I had a pioneer-education as an old infantryman, I declared: "No". On this question of Dieckmann (sic), an UnterschaFührer, who wanted to have an explosive-certificate, came forward. He got the command to install the explosives in the church and to ignite them. I did not see where this charge was installed since I did not go along. On the other hand Dieckmann (sic) accompanied the Unterführer. I assume that the charge was put within the building. When the explosion was carried out, the Unterführer was most severely injured. I saw him hurled outside through the church-door covered in blood. I am not familiar with the name of this Unterführer, however he died of his injury (this was almost certainly Untersturmführer Knug, the only SS fatality on the 10th at Oradour). After the explosion, the whole ground staggered and a deafening noise was to be heard from the church. The walls themselves remained standing. I noticed that Dieckmann (sic) meanwhile collected some teams with MG's (Machine Guns) and hurried to the church-door. This business was to me so jarring that I turned away and moved away a northerly direction. I was accompanied by a messenger of my company-troop. We both went into a house at the village-edge, not yet burned and sat down. I was there for approximately one hour. About then Dieckmann (sic) appeared and gave me the command to collect the company. During this hour, conflagration reigned in Oradour, during which we heard explosions from time to time that were interconnected with a rattle, like a firework. I assume that ammunition that had been stored in the houses went up.

1) This is the first time that I have read any detail from the SS side about the explosive device used in the church and it is noteworthy that Kahn does not mention the use of smoke grenades, only explosives.

2) Kahn, both above and in other parts of this statement uses quite loose terms for the ranks of various personnel, for example "Unterführer" was not an official SS rank at all but was used to refer to any of the non-commissioned officer ranks.

3) I find it amazing that an officer, the second-in-command of such an operation, could claim that he went into a house with a messenger from his company and "sat down" and that he, "was there for approximately one hour"! This is rather like Captain Hardy of the Victory, saying that during the battle of Trafalgar he left Admiral Nelson on deck while he went below with a cabin boy and sat down for about an hour, whilst the battle raged above. Even more remarkable is that when Diekmann reappeared he did not apparently mention the matter, but gave Kahn, "the command to collect the company" as if Kahn's behaviour was completely unremarkable.

The company assembled in my vicinity in the meantime, as Dieckmann (sic) had beforehand given them a similar command even before he had given me the command. Dieckmann (sic) said to me then, I should wait at the northern edge (of the village) as he wanted to drive to the regiment in the meanwhile and report the news.

During the period, in which I stopped at the waiting point at the northern edge of the village, I noticed no hostile fire or other resistance actions.

After Dieckmann (sic) moved away with the vehicle, I first gave the command that no one should be shot at any longer. I dared no one to still shoot the French, otherwise I would shoot them down. My people responded to me.

This statement contrasts strongly with witness statements made at the trial in Bordeaux in 1953, when SS troopers specifically mention Kahn at the church and other places, behaving in a brutal manner. For example at one of the barns, Pfeufer added, "We fired at 20 men on orders of Hauptsturmführer Kahn, it was all over quickly" and according to Jean-Pierre Elässer, at the church, when one of the women attempted to escape "Hauptsturmführer Kahn shoved her back into the flames. He said he was not going to have any witnesses turning up later".

Approximately after a half hour, Dieckmann (sic) reappeared. While we stood at the northern edge, a group of approximately 35 - 40 French people of both sexes suddenly appeared, accompanied by 7 - 8 men from a squad. The squad explained to me, it had the command to deliver the French people to me. I gave the French to understand that they could not go into the village and that they should vanish in a northern direction, which I made clear to them through sweeps of the hand. They understood that and ran for it. I had the feeling that these French were very scared because they could see the traces of the previous events. These French people as I ascertained had come with the streetcar and on the basis of a former command of Dieckmann (sic) been led to me.

1) "Approximately after a half hour, Dieckmann reappeared", I doubt if Diekmann could have driven to the Regiment and back in half an hour. Even today, in a modern car, it would be difficult to drive from Oradour to Limoges and back in half an hour. It seems that Kahn simply did not realise just how long Diekmann was away, but it must have been at least an hour for the round trip and making his report to Stadler.

2) The story of the civilians from the tram has been mentioned in several accounts, but this is the first time that I have heard of Kahn's involvement in freeing them.

Approximately after a half hour Dieckmann (sic) appeared with his vehicle again and called me to get in with him. He was in an armoured protection vehicle. The eldest ZugFührer got the command to lead the company to new quarters, name unknown. I myself drove with Dieckmann (sic) in advance where we arrived by nightfall. During this trip and in the quarters, where the other parts of the battalion already lay, hardly anything was spoken. It just occurred to me that during the trip, Dieckmann (sic) explained, that I did not need to write the action-report, as he wanted to deal with it.

Diekmann's wish to write the report is understandable, if as Weidinger reports in "Comrades to the End", Stadler was furious with him for the extent of the attack.

The entire business of Oradour had lasted approximately 4 hours.

I have not become familiar later with how the correct order to go into action had read for Oradour. I am still reproached today by statements made by witnesses of the incident.

Kahn is saying that he did not have personal knowledge of, nor at any time had he seen an order to attack Oradour.

To the description Volume II Bl. 3:

I know nothing of murdered German ambulance teams in Oradour, whose corpses would have lain at the side of the road. Anyway, I myself saw no dead German soldiers lying there.

To the statement 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 in his absence. After the action at Oradour, we were almost always both on the further advance and in action in the vicinity together. 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 soldiers, also officers, I know nothing of this. I would like to make a qualification however: I have 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 streetcar.

I now have Rudolf Lusar's statement and a translation of it indicates that Kahn is correct. The statement reads very oddly indeed and at the present time I am inclined to think that Lusar was mistaken in his identification of Diekmann as the officer he met in Bordeaux.

I must correct my statement of the start of this page: Rest day was on the next day. I know that therefore because an Oberscharführer appeared to see me in order to check out details for the purpose of funerals for the corpses of Oradour. I was so outraged over it, that I practically threw him out of my quarters and I told him, he should report to the commander, who had given the command. The Unterführer went to the commander and then later also drove to Oradour. I think we would have lain at this place for two days, because I envision that the Oberscharführer appeared again on another day and the same happened again as I have just described it. I cannot state the name of the Oberscharführer, he is however to my knowledge missing. He is to my knowledge missing together with Untersturmführer Klaar.

This is very interesting as it seems to explain that the order to try and bury the dead and clear up the mess at Oradour, originated with Diekmann. It has always been a matter of conjecture who gave this order, but it could be that Diekmann, smarting from his rebuke by Stadler did initiate it.

Neither with Dieckmann (sic) nor with members of the company have I spoken over these things after the incident.

After I was wounded for the first time in Normandy during the night of the 29th  to the 30th June 1944 (this was when Diekmann was killed, although Kahn does not mention it) I remained with the troop and approximately 5 - 6 days later the division judge appeared to see me, in order to hear me because of the happenings at Oradour. I was in the area of Avranches - St. Lo at that time. The judge, I cannot say his name, maybe it was Mr. Okrent (Okrent's name is also mentioned in Barth's trial judgement and his full name was Detlef Okrent. Interestingly Okrent was a member of the German men's hockey team which won the silver medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics), wanted me to describe the exact circumstances. We were in a farm cellar. During the hearing, the place was under artillery fire, the impacts of which were occasionally nearby. I can now remember that the judge ran for cover during an impact that was very near, into a neighbouring room, while I sat. I had the opportunity, there, the files of gentleman ..... to look at and realise that the starting point of the issue was a notification by the bishop of Limoges. This notification had gone to the French government in Vichy, they relayed the process to the German liaison-officer, Lieutenant-General X? and he had referred the matter to the Commander-in-Chief West. The Commander-in Chief West, General Field Marshal Kluge, I saw his signature, had passed on the issue to Das Reich via the 7th Army. I remember now that Lammerding attributed this action to the judge.

You can almost hear the chuckle in Kahn's voice as he describes how the judge, Detlef Okrent ran for cover. It is interesting to compare Okrent's account of the meeting with Kahn with this one by Kahn himself: the circumstances are markedly different.

Out of the hearing, remaining yet in my memory, is that the judge, after my narration, contrasted that in the regimental staff nothing was well known of an order to go into action at Oradour. About the further result of this examination, nothing is known to me, because I had left the Division after my second wounding on the 1 - 8 - 1944.

The judge according to Kahn, confirmed that there was no order from the Regiment to attack Oradour. Kahn's second wounding on 1st August 1944 resulted in the loss of his left arm.

Otherwise, I have not been heard further. I can also say nothing about in what way Lammerding had contributed to giving the command. Dieckmann (sic) himself did not mention the name of the Divisional commander. He had only given me to appreciate by repeated conversations over the implementation of the command, that he had received the command, "from the regiment".

This is a crucial statement. Kahn states that Lammerding's name was never mentioned (nor was Stadler's). The only assertion that Diekmann made was that the order came, "from the regiment".

The description that an officer of the division is supposed to have been in Oradour before our deployment there and to have escaped from there out of French captivity, while his escorts, from memory a further officer and his driver had been shot, I heard in a conversation after the deployment, on a visit to the Divisional staff. About the fate of Sturmbannführer Kempfe (sic) captured on the south - north march by French resistance fighters, nothing is known to me. I would like to emphasize that I have maintained no relationships at all after the war with the former Divisional members and the Waffen-SS.

This sounds like a slightly confused memory of the confusing and indeed confused, dual kidnapping of Gerlach (who escaped), his driver (who was shot) and Kämpfe (exact fate unknown to this day).

A ZugFührer with the deployment was Untersturmführer Barth (see Barth's trial in 1983, 6 years after Kahn died). The ZugFührer who had to bury the corpses, his name is not familiar me, but later to my knowledge he went missing. As well as two Ober or Hauptscharführers. Boos was a Gruppenführer in the company. Lenz was to my knowledge acting ZugFührer or Gruppenführer.

This record was dictated aloud in my presence and corresponds to my statements, with which a part of the sentences have been formulated by me. I forgo therefore a repeated reading.

                                                                        read, signed,

                                                                        Otto Kahn


Siehlow, StA. (Prosecuting attorney)

Liebscher, Angest. (Secretarial Employee)


Back to top of page

Back to Appendices

Back to Home Page

© Michael Williams 10th March 2000 ... updated Wednesday, 18 January 2023