Former French Resistance Fighter Breaks Silence, Prompting Search for Mass Grave of German Soldiers

In Southern France, the search for 47 executed Wehrmacht soldiers will begin on Tuesday. Former French Resistance fighter Edmond Reveil broke the silence about the mass shooting of prisoners of war during World War II, initiating the investigations.

According to France 3, ground radar will be used to locate the presumed mass grave until Friday. If the Germans are found at the suspected site, the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraberfürsorge (German War Graves Commission) will arrange for their exhumation and burial in a German military cemetery, as announced by the French Ministry of Defense. The identity of the Germans is not yet known.

The Germans were shot in June 1944 following a massacre by the Waffen-SS against the civilian population in Tulle and the annihilation of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, a war crime that became a symbol of Nazi barbarism in France. It was generally known that the Germans, along with a Frenchwoman accused of collaboration, were shot in a wooded area. However, all parties involved remained silent about the circumstances. The last surviving witness recently broke his silence at the age of 98.

At the time, 19-year-old Reveil was part of a resistance group that had captured numerous German soldiers during an attack in Tulle. They withdrew with the prisoners to a poorly accessible wooded area. “We didn’t know what to do with them,” Reveil recalls in an interview with the newspaper “La Montagne.” “We received the order to shoot them,” he reports. Each of them was supposed to kill one of the Germans. Since no one wanted to shoot the woman, they drew lots. “We forced them all to dig their own graves. Then we poured lime into them. It smelled like blood,” he said.

Detailed information about Reveil’s testimony can be found here: 98-Year-Old Frenchman Breaks Silence on Alleged War Crime in 1944.

The executed soldiers are said to rest in two mass graves. One with eleven bodies is said to have been located in 1967 under the strictest secrecy. The remaining deceased are believed to be buried about a hundred meters away, underground.

The data analysis is expected to take about four weeks. Only after that will a decision be made on when and where to dig. If human remains are found, they will be sent to a laboratory in Marseille. The identity of the Germans is not yet known.