Almost eighty years after they were executed by French resistance fighters, the investigation has begun for the remains of 46 Wehrmacht soldiers and a suspected collaborator near the town of Meymac in central France.
Ten days they were paid for the work. In the area, which will be dug with ground radar, more than 30 trees have been cut. About twenty archaeologists, anthropologists and supporters are expected to do the ‘hard work’.
The operation follows the revelations of a veteran of the French Resistance. He named the Le Vert forest area as the site of the mass grave in May. The specialists who do the research need rest and concentration. That is why the prefecture of Corrèze chose to invite the media to the beginning of the investigation. After that, the place is no longer accessible to foreigners.
Resistance veteran Edmond Réveil is relieved that the ‘secret of Mymac’ has been revealed after almost eighty years. “He had to know and I think it’s over now. I am 98 years old and I want my rest,” he told regional reporters on Wednesday morning France 3. According to the public chain, the eighties felt “in the twilight of his life he needed to say everything because the weight of this dirty war story became too much for him.”
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According to Réveil, the shooting of 46 German soldiers and an alleged female collaborator (20) was a war crime, because they were unarmed and the execution was ordered by higher authorities. The crime has now been banned because it took place more than 30 years ago.
The French, the last surviving witness, was part of the French resistance movement FTP, founded in 1942 by the leadership of the French Communist Party. In early June 1944, he took many prisoners in the town of Tulle during an attack on a school where German soldiers were staying. The Waffen-SS hanged 99 innocent civilians in the city. The resistance group was withdrawn to a forest area and captured by German soldiers and alleged collaborators, who would work for the Gestapo.
“People were not prepared for so many prisoners,” Réveil said in an interview with the regional newspaper on Monday. The mountain. Part of them – 46 German soldiers and female collaborators – were transferred to the department for which he worked as a courier. “We received orders to shoot them.” Four members of the resistance, including the then 18-year-old Frenchman, refused, the others each shot a German.
“Because no one wanted to kill the woman, they drew lots. The prisoners then had to dig their own graves and our commander, a German-speaking Alsatian, tearfully told them that they would be executed. Before their deaths, the prisoners looked at pictures of their loved ones at home. They were not young soldiers because the youth were in Russia. After the execution we throw plaster on the mass grave. He smelled blood. We never talked about it again after that.”
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The execution of German POWs was an open secret in Meymac. The facts were revealed in a historical work, but those who lived later did not want to open old wounds and remain silent about it. The location remained a secret until Réveil made it known.
The German war graves commission had already searched for the remains of soldiers in the 1960s. The remains of eleven were found in 1967 and buried in a German military cemetery in western France. Mayor Meymac asked the war graves commission in 1969 not to continue the investigation. Perhaps due to concern that the reputation of the French resistance fighters could be damaged.
After the Réveil revelation, the French National Service for Veterans and War Victims (ONaCVG), which works together with the German War Graves Commission, was able to find a place where the soldiers are believed to be buried, mainly due to the size and the many ‘metallic effects’ of the uniform they and the medals would come from the victims.
If the remains of the 46 German soldiers are found, they will be examined at the Anthropological Institute in Marseille. Scientists are using bones, hair and uniforms to identify the victims. As soon as this is known, the German War Graves Commission will contact the families. They have a choice: return the remains to Germany or have them buried in a German military cemetery in France.
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