A former member of the resistance told us that German soldiers were executed and buried here by French Resistance fighters. Following the announcement of the execution site, an archaeological excavation began at the site where the German soldiers were supposedly executed.
According to the archaeologists in charge of the dig, up to 36 dead (35 German soldiers and a French woman who is thought to have assisted them) may be discovered.
Although there are no official records, in 1967 the regional authorities may have secretly exhumed 11 Nazi soldiers from a mass grave and buried them in a cemetery reserved for German soldiers in the southwestern town of Berneuil. French news agency AFP, the identities of these soldiers have never been recorded.
The location of the grave was revealed by 98 year old former resistance fighter Edmond Réveil, the last survivor of the company. Réveil told the local mayor where he believed the grave to be, calling it historically significant.
Mr. Réveil, who was a teenager at the time of the execution, said that unit had been captured but they did not have enough men or material to keep them in custody. He explained how lots were drawn to execute German soldiers.
They had sworn to keep the location of the execution site a secret, but Mr. Réveil revealed it because he was the last survivor of the group. (He did not even tell his family for over 75 years.)
The location is roughly 1560 kilometers away from Oradour-sur-Glane. The confession has also given historians—who were aware that there had been an execution but were unsure of its location or scale a greater understanding of the Corrèze resistance movement in 1944.
A collaborative team from the German War Graves Commission and the National veterans’ office is working on the project. There are currently two smaller excavations at the location with 18 workers working to recover the bones.
Any discovered remains will be delivered to a Marseille University for identification. The successfully identified German soldiers’ bones will either be returned to their relatives so they can arrange a burial, if they like, or buried in a German war cemetery.
Cover Photo: The Connexion French News