• France's news in English
Germany probes former SS men over French massacre
The "Hitler Youth" SS division in France. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-297-1740-10A / Kurth / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Germany probes former SS men over French massacre

AFP · 29 Jan 2016, 14:50

Published: 29 Jan 2016 14:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Jan 2016 14:50 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The three suspects, all in their 90s, were members of the so-called "Hitler Youth" SS division blamed for killing 86 people in the northern French town of Ascq.

The head of the central Nazi war crimes investigation unit in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Andreas Brendel, told AFP that the probe also covered other unspecified war crimes between April 1944 and May 1945.

"We also searched the homes of other people and seized documents linked to the Hitler Youth division and the probe into the Ascq massacre, but these people are for the moment only considered witnesses" and not suspects, Brendel said.

On the night of April 1st, 1944, 86 people were shot dead in Ascq in revenge for an attack on a troop transport of the "Hitler Youth" division.

"The accused denied during questioning having been members of the division and thus any participation in the killings," following the raids carried out on Tuesday and Thursday, Brendel said.

He said the confiscated documents were now being scoured for clues. Should the investigation lead to criminal charges, the ability of the aged suspects to stand trial must also be assessed.

"This is always a serious problem with elderly suspects," he said.

"Our aim is to shed light on what happened - it is above all about establishing legal clarity on the Ascq massacre."

Brendel also led the investigation into a German former soldier over the Nazis' worst atrocity on French soil, the 1944 slaughter of 642 people in the tiny village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

A court in the western city of Cologne finally threw out the case in 2014 against Werner Christukat, then 89, citing a lack of evidence.

The new investigations are part of a twilight bid by the German justice system to prosecute crimes committed by the Nazis before the last perpetrators die.

Story continues below…

Around a dozen investigations are currently under way against former SS officers who worked at Nazi concentration camps.

The so-called "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" Oskar Gröning was sentenced to four years in jail last year as an accessory to murder in 300,000 cases in which Hungarian Jews were sent to the gas chambers between May and July 1944.

Another two cases involving Auschwitz personnel are due to go on trial next month.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available