SS officer in 1944 French massacre dies

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    By THOMAS SEYTHAL, Associated Press Writer Tue Aug 14, 10:20 AM ET

    FRANKFURT, Germany - Heinz Barth, a former SS officer convicted of involvement in the massacre of an entire village in Nazi-occupied France, has died, a priest in the town where he lived said Tuesday. He was 86.

    Barth died of cancer in the past few days, said Heinz-Dieter Schmidtke, the parish priest in Gransee, north of Berlin. He could not provide the exact date of Barth's death and did not say where he died.

    In 1983, a court in East Berlin convicted Barth and sentenced him to life in prison for his role in the slaughter of villagers in Oradour-sur-Glane in 1944, widely considered the worst atrocity in Nazi-occupied France.

    On June 10, 1944, as they headed toward Normandy to combat D-Day invasion forces who landed four days earlier, German troops of the armored SS Division "Das Reich" slaughtered 642 men, women and children in the village.

    The Germans rounded up the village men, forced them into barns and machine-gunned them. The 241 women and 209 children were herded into the church, which was set afire with grenades and then shot at with machine guns.

    "There are some events that can never be forgiven or forgotten," Alain Marleix, the top French official for veterans affairs, said in a statement. "The death of this sinister person, more than a half-century after the victims of his own crimes, draws no tear or regret from me."

    In addition to involvement in the massacre, East German judges also found that Barth volunteered to participate in an execution of 92 Czech civilians in 1942.

    Barth, the SS equivalent of a lieutenant, was also sentenced to death in absentia in France in 1953.

    Barth lived under a false name in communist East Germany, working as a decorator in Gransee and running a grocery store, until his identity emerged in 1981 and he was imprisoned.

    In 1997, a state court freed Barth on health grounds, commuting his sentence to probation. Barth, who lost a leg in the war, suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments.

    "I feel guilty about the terrible crimes in Oradour," Barth was quoted as telling the Berlin tabloid B.Z. at the time of his release. "But I have paid long enough."

    Schmidtke said Barth had lived a secluded life in Gransee. He said Barth's burial would take place in September.

    Barth's death "reminds France of one of the most tragic episodes of its history," French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in a statement. Sarkozy "pays tribute to the victims and to the pain of his descendants," it added.
     
  2. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    60 odd years too late for me.
     
  3. Konigstiger205

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    This makes you think about how ironic life really is...
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    One of those death notices you lose interest in reading half a chapter. He's dead....so what's on TV?
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    He certainly did not suffer eneogh for his crimes...
     
  6. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    If there is a Hell, that's where he's goin' :!:
     
  7. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    you can believe it, what a dick-head, and helping put a grave mark on his unit that will never be gone.
     
  8. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I hope he has his own special little hell in which he relives the massacre through the perspective of the victims ad infinitum.
     
  9. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    I'll drink to that !

    Charles
     
  10. bigZ

    bigZ Member

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    I first saw the matryred village Oradour-sur-Glane on "World at War". The pictures said it all.
     

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  11. rogthedodge

    rogthedodge Member

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    Not sure I understand you. Das Reich was responsible for many attrocities, the vast majority are not commemorated.

    Just one murderer among a large group of murderers.

    "In addition to involvement in the massacre, East German judges also found that Barth volunteered to participate in an execution of 92 Czech civilians in 1942"

    Should have been hanged IMO, one leg or none.

    26 or 66 years old - still guilty.
     
  12. Aussie1001

    Aussie1001 Member

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    I will be slightly more lenient i hope he suffers for his crimes but the poor bas##rd was a victim of circumstance. I don't think anyone here doesnt know about the hitler youth camps that the young were forced to endure and were made to attend. Also can you imagine a regiment called Das Reich would only contain hard core nazi's. The regime that the nazi's built up around themselves and infected everyone around them was disgusting. It hardly was the worst thing that they did. I do not mean that last comment as callous or unfeeling i sure would hate to be stareing down the buisness end of a MG 44 with an SS guy behinde it but as i said he is sort of a victem of circumstances...
    If this comes across wrong tell me don't shout........
     
  13. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    This individual was fully aware of what he was doing he was not brain washed. If he was a nutter why change his name just a year later and try to dissappear. A common cop out "I was just following orders" or the most used phrase at the end of WW2 "I was never a Nazi it was the others" he was a nasty little piece of work. The only victims were the civvies doused in petrol shot.
     
  14. Konigstiger205

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    It's easy to condemn others but put yourself in his shoes....my country was full of normal people just like any democracy in the world but as soon as the soviets took over in 45 everyone turned against each other...friends..family...wife...you couldn't trust anyone anymore....you have to live trough a regime to know the feeling and thank God I wasn't born then but I heard enough stories....
     
  15. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    If you fail to condemn these actions and look for excuses the next thing that happens is another dose of the same thing.
    Should we look for excuses for the labour camp guards or Eichmann, Himmler or even Hitler after all he was greatly effected by WW1.
    A line has to be drawn between right and wrong or everything becomes grey and you can do as you please without concequence.
     
  16. Konigstiger205

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    I didn't mean to say that they shouldn't pay for their crimes but the main reason for this is that wrong people have the power or too much power and in my country after the revolution that overthrown the communists the real murderers got away....so tell me what is right in this world?
     
  17. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    He committed atrocities on his own free will. Its inexcusable. What more can you say?
     
  18. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    I cant comment too much on the post war situation Konistiger as I'm not that up on it.
    But IMO I would say invading Poland,France,Belgium Holland etc etc with plans to conqour, enslave or exterminate all Europe and Russia and possibly with their Japanese and Italian friends the whole world, is wrong.
    Fighting to opposing this plan was right.
    Unlike any other war I can think of it was the most black and white conflict in history.
     
  19. Konigstiger205

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    I agree....starting a war was the worst thing Germany did in its entire history and I feel bad for Germany because that war destroyed centuries of culture and respect by other nations and it totally leveled Germany as a military power and I still wonder how it would have looked if that war never took place and its many atrocities...
     
  20. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    Like anything that never happened Konigstiger we can only make guesses, mate
     
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