Werner's statement made at Dortmund on 4th June 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 obtain background material from Heinz Werner as to the involvement of Lammerding (the commander of the Das Reich 2nd SS-Panzer Division) in the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane and to see if there was enough evidence to permit his extradition to France to stand trial there for that event.
This statement was 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. Comments throughout are in italics.
This statement, made by Heinz Werner, is unusual in that it is the first one that I have read made by someone who bore no responsibility for what happened at Oradour, but was a witness to events and who knew most of those involved. Werner therefore had no direct responsibility for what happened and can be regarded as a more-or-less impartial witness to events. Werner also knew Diekmann personally and had done so, "for a long time" (which makes the misspelling of Diekmann's name all the more difficult to understand). It must be realised that Adolf Diekmann was the Sturmbannführer who led the attack on Oradour and was in charge of the day there.
The people who conducted the interview are some of the same interviewers who took the statements of other involved members of the Der Führer regiment, of the Das Reich 2nd SS-Panzer Division, such as that of Sylvester Stadler and Otto Kahn and what strikes me as odd is the more-or-less consistent misspelling of Diekmann's name (in this case as both "Dickmann" (twice) and "Dieckmann" (27 times), but no instances at all of, Diekmann. Maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill, but it does seem strange that two legal professionals could not get right the spelling of the name of the principle character in the Oradour story. It is also noteworthy that there is no mention of Diekmann's forenames. There are other errors in the transcript, such as writing Diekmann's name instead of Kämpfe's at one point and the misspelling of Werner's address as Harenscheitweg instead of Harenscheidweg. One point of particular note is the consistent stating of the location of the attack as just, "Oradour" and never as, "Oradour-sur-Glane"
The text of the statement takes the form of answers to questions put by the prosecutor and is written in the usual somewhat stilted and colourless prose common to witness statements of all nationalities throughout the ages.
45 Js 2/62 .......... Dortmund .......... 4th June 1963
Prosecutor Siehlow as interrogator
Judicial clerk Liebscher as record keeper
The merchant Heinz Werner appeared at the summons and declared he is familiar with the subject of the interrogation and was exhorted to tell the truth as a witness:
About the person:
My name is Heinz Werner, born on 2nd December 1917 in Berlin, now a clerk, I live in Essen, Harenscheidweg 65 (In the original document the address was spelled as, "Harenscheitweg", but this must be an error, in 2020 this road did not seem to exist under its original name and it is likely to have been changed at some time in the recent past) and with the accused Lammerding am neither related by blood nor marriage.
To the point:
I belonged to the 2nd SS Panzer Division, Das Reich in 1944 and served until the beginning of the invasion as an adjutant in the, Der Führer regiment. Before the invasion began on 6th June 1944, the regiment was in south-western France, I was with the Staff of the regiment stationed in Moissac; under the SS-Standartenführer Stadler. I can no longer say exactly whether we received the marching orders to Normandy on 7th or 8th June 1944. I know for sure that we reached Limoges on the evening of 8th June 1944. By we, I mean the regimental staff and the 15th company. The regimental staff included the commander Stadler and myself, the SS-Obersturmbannführer Weidinger, the regimental doctor and the administrative director. An orderly officer, whose name I am not familiar with, also belonged to this staff. The advance to Limoges was without significant disruptions. We did have a few small combat touches that developed at barricades. After a short gun battle, however, we were able to continue to advance undisturbed. Looking back, this advance for me was played without special incidents. The losses were also relatively small. I know that from the 15th company some wounded people were killed in a collision.
The regiment consisted of 3 battalions, namely two that belonged to the regiment as planned, as well as a battalion of the sister regiment under the leadership of SturmbannnFührer Schuster. The commanders of our two battalions were Dieckmann (sic)(1st) and Kämpfe (3rd).
It is true that on the morning of 9th June 1944 the battalion received a combat mission under Kämpfe which was to lead towards Gueret (sic) (northeast of Limoges). In the evening, or rather, during the night of the following day, when I was already asleep, the battalion doctor returned with wounded and, after waking me up, informed me that the battalion commander, Kämpfe had been captured by French partisans whilst on the march. In any case, the doctor, Dr. Müller reported this because Kämpfe had suddenly disappeared and his vehicle was found abandoned on the road. In any case, we immediately began to consider what could be done to free Kämpfe. Since investigations into Kämpfe by the battalion had been unsuccessful, the decision was made to contact the partisans by sending an officer to initiate negotiations to release Kämpfe. For this purpose, after consulting with the local chief of security and Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service), Meyer (?), A captive leader of the Maquis was selected, provided with money, and sent to the Maquis camp. He had already received a firm offer. Where he should go was up to him because at the moment it was not known where the opposing camp was. The town of Oradour had already been referred to as the headquarters of an enemy staff in reports from the local leader of the security police and SD, but the Frenchman had not been given the task of going there. After the reconnaissance, a relevant French staff should be found in Oradour. At least, that was Meyer's report. (This is truly extraordinary, an SS-Panzer Division ready and willing to negosiate with partisans for the release of one of their officers. It is like putting a price tag on the heads of all Divisional members and could have led to a determined attempt by the Maquis to kidnap as many Divisional members as possible in order to raise some cash).
The next message that came in, in connection with the disappearance of Kämpfe was the finding of Kämpfe's documents that had been in his possession, which had been found on a street in Limoges in the morning of 10th June 1944. From this we concluded from the staff that Kämpfe in a vehicle had been carried out through Limoges, where he had managed to throw away his personal papers. In the morning hours of 10th June 44, the SS-Obersturmfuehrer Gerlach, who was only dressed in his underwear, reported to our command post. He said he had fallen into the hands of the Maquis on an exploration trip for his assault gun division and was supposed to be shot. Before this action was to take place, he had been brought to various staffs of the French resistance movement and interrogated. He was also in Oradour, where there was a higher leader. Later he managed to flee shortly before his execution and struggled back to us. For us, the reference to Oradour was confirmation of the investigation report. Shortly afterwards, when the commander Dieckmann (sic) appeared at the staff with the report that in his accommodation area, Frenchmen had said that a high ranking German officer was being held in Oradour, we immediately thought that this could only be Kämpfe, especially since there were no reports of loss of other leaders. Dieckmann (sic) immediately urged to advance to Oradour and free his friend Kämpfe. Aside from Stadler and Dieckmann (sic), I remembered that during this conversation at the command post, the following were present:
With certainty the Ia - Recorder, I am not familiar with the name at the moment and possibly Weidinger, was also present. After Dieckmann's (sic) proposal was briefly discussed, Stadler issued Dieckmann (sic) the following command: (to give the gist).
"Move to Oradour with a company of your battalion and see if the report about the detained officer is correct. If you are resisted, break in and search the location. If Kämpfe is not found, make sure to look for the French staff (of the Maquis) and bring in those relatives as prisoners, as many as possible".
In this context it was made clear to Dieckmann (sic) that the prisoners were needed as an exchange, in negotiations with the Maquis.
I am told that this clear order is presented differently by the other members of the regiment who have been heard so far. First of all, I cannot say whether after reporting the loss of Kämpfe, a report was made to the division staff. I have in mind that the connection on the radio or telephone lines was temporarily broken; regarding the radio, however, it occurs to me that radio silence was ordered. It has been announced to me that Weidinger would still have gone to the staff in Tulle that night in order to consult there about supplies and other orders. I cannot remember that. Nor do I remember that my commander Stadler had a meeting with Lammerding after losing Kämpfe. Excerpts from Stadler's statement were read to me, according to which, after Dieckmann's (sic) report, he wanted to speak to Lammerding about the measures to be taken. However, this conversation may also have taken place shortly before Dieckman's (sic) announcement.
I cannot recall having seen Lammerding in Limoges on the morning of 10th June 44. I only know, and only by conversation, that he is said to have only been on the staff for a short time on the evening of 10th June 44, after the Oradour campaign. I was temporarily, on the morning of 10th June 44 sent to inspect companies on the outskirts of the city. I also cannot remember if I later heard in conversations that Lammerding was said to have been in the command post.
I can't say whether the division's Ia, Stückler, was with the staff this morning.
In any case, today I can no longer say with certainty whether Stadler may have consulted someone else, to get advice on the order to Dieckmann (sic), before issuing the order. The form of the order from Stadler has been read to me in excerpts form. I believe that the command was clearly to liberate Dieckmann (sic) (quoting Dieckmann's name here must be in error for that of Kämpfe) and not to be prevented from doing so by resistance. The struggle as such only referred to the resistance, not to any measures in the village itself. This order of command may have taken place in the late morning.
When asked again:
I am still of the opinion today and this is intensified also through my experiences in French captivity, which I was in, until 1951:
As far as I remember, Lammerding was not in Limoges until Dieckmann (sic) left and was also unaware of this order. I know from the French interrogations that the French did not believe that Lammerding gave the order to Dieckmann (sic), or had anything to do with this order. (This is in complete contrast to the present day situation). Neither did the French believe that the regimental staff, or rather the commander, had issued the order to destroy Oradour. The practical consequence for me was that I was not brought to trial because of the Oradour complex, but only because of my general affiliation with the SS. (The law of collective responsibility: see Chapter 5 of In a Ruined State for details)
We received the next report about Oradour from Dieckmann (sic) in the late afternoon or evening hours of 10th June 44. I think that Dieckmann (sic) came with another officer, but I'm not sure who it was. After hearing from an interrogation of Gerlach (Bd.II Bl. 127 d, LA). It was read that Dieckmann (sic) and Kahn had returned to the command post together after the action. I now tend to think that Dieckmann's (sic) companion was almost certainly Kahn. Because I know for sure that it was a company leader. I even think that during my interrogations in France I pointed out that Dieckmann (sic) and Kahn had returned together. Dieckmann (sic) reported to the staff that he had received fire as he approached Oradour. He then occupied the town with the company, broke the resistance and found that civilians had taken part in the fighting. Despite thorough searches of all houses, Kämpfe could not be found. He had therefore ordered that the men, whom he assumed to have been involved in the fighting, be executed. I have 160 men in mind today. When asked by Stadler how many prisoners he had brought, Dieckmann (sic) explained, none. As a result, Stadler became very angry and made clear to Dieckmann (sic) that he had acted contrary to the orders and had ignored the fact that prisoners had to be brought in. The execution of the men, had by far exceeded his authority.
He further made it clear to him that he had to file a crime report due to this incident and asked him to immediately submit a written report of the operation. In the course of further discussions, which could have taken place without Dickmann (sic), Stadler considered whether Dieckmann (sic) should not be detained immediately because of this gross highhandedness. Only because of the upcoming missions in Normandy had it been abandoned. (In a 21st century situation I cannot see an officer who has committed such a gross breach of orders being allowed to keep his command, no matter how urgent the situation, but this was 1944 and the Nazis were the political force in charge).
I no longer remember if Lammerding had subsequently appeared. As I said above, I lay down and when I woke up I found out that Lammerding had been at the command post in the meantime. Stadler told me that he spoke to Lammerding and that he agreed to the immediate introduction of the crime report (but not to suspend Diekmann from duty).
I only got to know about the terrible bloodbath in Oradour, especially the killing of women and children, in Normandy, when the then commanding officer Weidinger, initiated an investigation with a request for comment. This came from the commander-in-chief and was on the subject of the Oradour outrage. I then found out about the killings of women. In this connection I have to point out that I gave up my duties as adjutant on 11th or 12th June 1944 to take over Kämpfe's battalion (i.e. Werner had no involvement before, during or after the event).
The company commander, possibly Kahn, who was present when Dieckmann (sic) reported, was not present when the orders were issued. I have no memory of any special behaviour by this company leader when I reported back. I met up with Dieckmann (sic) again and again on the march; until his death. Incidentally, I had known him for a long time. At none of these meetings was there any discussion about Oradour between the two of us. However, if I had known the extent of the action at the time, I would have asked Dickmann (sic) about it. In retrospect, I tend to think that Dieckmann's (sic) highhandedness, based on the resistance he had been given, sought to clarify the situation in Oradour in a short time, by having all the residents rounded up, giving them a time to consider submitting a report as to where Kämpfe was, assuming that the reports to us were based on truth, then, after an unsuccessful passage of time, gave the order to shoot the men. When this also remained unsuccessful (report on the whereabouts of Kämpfe), he may have come to the decision, which is completely incomprehensible today, to kill the women.
When reporting, Dieckmann (sic) said that during the fighting, some houses had caught fire, and there had been a lot of banging, from which he concluded that there was hidden ammunition. Thereupon he let all houses be set alight.
I would like to note that when I issue commands, setting fire to the houses would be out of the question.
The key parts of the Kahn statement have been made known to me. I consider this to be essential. Points that are untrue, relate to the extent that his own participation is dealt with (Kahn said in his statement that he was not involved in the killings and had tried to deflect Diekmann away from such actions). I also find it difficult to understand why Dieckmann (sic) allegedly said nothing about the reason for the assignment. Above all, it seems strange to me that Kämpfe is not mentioned at all. In retrospect, I can only say that the regiment to which I belonged from the beginning, never got into similar situations and we already had a substantial blemish that had fallen on us because of this highhandedness.
I know an SS Sturmbannführer Fick from the division, since he was commanding the reconnaissance detachment in 1943. I mean, he was no longer part of the Division in 1944, but he was during the invasion temporarily subordinated to it during the fighting. I remember a Fighting Group Fick, which was formed on the march back after the smashing of the SS divisions at the front and was subordinate to the division in terms of leadership. I cannot say which division it was, but I was familiar with the Frundsberg, Hohenstauffen and Hitlerjugend divisions, and possibly Götz von Berlichingen from that time. I can't remember a place called La Roserie in Normandy. The places La Roche and Wibrin from the time of the Ardennes officers are not stuck in my memory either. The division, who led it at the time, I can no longer say today, was subordinate to the 2 SS Panzer Corps under Bittrich and was deployed in the VI association SS Army.
The above interrogation was dictated aloud to me in my presence and corresponds to my memories. I therefore refrain from reading again.
Liebscher: Legal Secretary
© Michael Williams ... Friday 10th March 2000 ... this page was last updated on Thursday, 25 August 2022