Oradour-sur-Glane

Synopsis of Revisionist Claims by Vincent Reynouard

Warning: Reynouard's claims are against the law in France

Vincent Reynouard is a French revisionist who disputes the official version of the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane. On 9 June 2004, his previous conviction on a charge of "approval of a war crime" was upheld on appeal and Reynouard was sentenced to two years in prison with 18 months of that time on probation, plus a 3,000 Euro fine. The court also upheld the confiscation of his research papers which had been seized in May 2001.

Essentially, Reynouard's crime was that he claimed that survivors of the Oradour massacre lied about the tragedy, and that the women and children were killed by an explosion in the church which was not set off by the Waffen-SS soldiers who were in the village that day. Contrary to Reynouard's revisionist claims, the women and children were burned alive by a fire that was set in the church by the Waffen-SS soldiers, according to the official story.

Reynouard wrote an article which was published in German on this web site, which has since been taken down:

http://www.deutsche-stimme.com/Ausgaben2004/Sites/10-04-Oradour.html

In the article, Reynouard claims that Mathieu Borie, one of the survivors of the massacre in the Laudy barn, was a member of the FTP, the Communist Résistance organization, and that his friend Maurice Beaubreuil was also connected with the French Résistance. He claims that Monsieur Dupic belonged to the French Secret Army and that Paul Doutre was a supporter of the partisans.

In his Internet article, Reynouard said that he wrote, in his revisionist book about Oradour-sur-Glane, that he had checked the government archives and had found that partisans were regularly active in Oradour, as evidenced by records of thefts of cigarettes and gasoline. This partisan activity was contained in a government report by Guy Pauchou, who later co-authored the Official Report in which he stated that Oradour had been a perfectly peaceful village.

In his most ridiculous statement, Reynouard claims that Madame Rouffanche, the lone survivor of the church, could not have jumped out of a window in the church because it was a 12 foot drop and then another 7.5 feet from the top of the retaining wall to the road where she was shot 5 times by the Waffen-SS soldiers. Reynouard points out that Madame Rouffanche was 47 years old, implying that a woman that age could not have jumped out of a window from that height. If he had carefully studied the testimony of Madame Rouffanche, he would have known that she didn't jump down to the road from the top of the retaining wall, but rather crawled around the church to the garden behind the presbyterie after she was shot 4 times in the legs and once in the shoulder as she stood on the ground underneath the window. His measurements are all wrong: the window is less than 12 feet from the ground, and the retaining wall is around 10 feet high.

He points out that Madame Rouffanche testified that there was no explosion inside the church the whole time she was there, although other witnesses stated that they heard several loud explosions. Reynouard accuses Madame Rouffanche of giving false testimony at the military tribunal held in Bordeaux in 1953. Reynouard doesn't believe that Madame Rouffanche was even in the church. He claims that she gave conflicting statements over the years about a crate or box that was brought into the church by two SS soldiers. This was the "smoke bomb" that was allegedly set off by means of lighting a fuse.

Reynouard bluntly calls Madame Rouffanche a liar. He claims that her daughter was a member of the Résistance, using the code name "Danielle." In 1996, Reynouard learned that a British RAF flier named Len Cotton was hidden for three days in the vestry of the Oradour church where "Danielle" brought him food. Reynouard claims that Len Cotton told him in a telephone conversation that Oradour had been a large base of the Résistance. For Reynouard, this is proof that Madame Rouffanche lied in her court testimony because of her connections to the Résistance. Reynouard wrote that Madame Rouffanche, with her improbable story of the "crate" and her jump from the church window, which bordered on a miracle, had tried to put the entire blame onto the Waffen-SS in order to white-wash the Résistance of any responsibility.

More about Len Cotton can be found on this web site:

http://www.oradour.info/images/rafman01.htm

Reynouard wrote that he had already published the story about Len Cotton seven years ago, but there had been no statement by representatives of the official version regarding this story.

Reynouard claims that, with the help of an attorney, he studied the trial testimony which was taken down in shorthand by the court reporter during the war crimes trial held in Bordeaux in 1953. From these shorthand notes, he learned that Mrs. Renaud testified that "there was a large explosion in the church." Mr. Petit testified during the trial that he had entered the church briefly after the tragedy and "it was a terrible picture. There was no intact body. Some had been torn into two pieces." Some of the Waffen-SS soldiers had also testified during the trial about an explosion in the church, according to the notes taken by the court reporter.

Reynouard wrote that he had conducted his research like a Criminal Investigation, examining photos of the corpses found after the massacre. The corpses of the men were burned beyond recognition, but the corpses of the women and children in the church were torn apart with arms, legs and heads severed from the torsos; the clothing on some of the corpses of the women was not burned. The faces on the severed heads were recognizable. According to Reynouard, the corpses of the women and children looked like the typical victims of an explosion, and the church looked like the ruins of a church that had been the victim of a bombardment.

Reynouard points out that a reporter, Pierre Poitevin, who saw the church only hours after the massacre, observed that the fabric flowers (Stoffblumen) on the altar had not burned. Those same flowers are still in the church today, according to Reynouard.

As proof that there was an explosion in the church, Reynouard points out in his article that the roof was blown off, but there does not seem to be much damage caused by a fire inside the church. The wooden confessional did not burn, for example. A brass ball on the roof of the tower did not melt, according to Reynouard, indicating that the roof was blown off, rather than burned. An engraved inscription on the melted bronze bells can still be seen. This proves that the fire in the tower did not burn very long, according to Reynouard. The implication is that a flash fire caused by an explosion partially melted the bells. A Waffen-SS soldier was killed by a stone falling from the church, which is further proof of an explosion in Reynouard's opinion.

Reynouard wrote that he became interested in the Oradour tragedy in 1989. In August 1990, he met Mr. Renaud, one of the survivors of the village and the husband of the woman who testified in court about an explosion in the church. Mr. Renaud told him that he had witnessed an explosion in the church tower and felt the shock waves. Reynouard also claims that he spoke with Maurice Beaubreuil, a survivor who hid with his aunt in a house near the church; Beaubreuil told him about hearing a strong explosion. Today these two men deny that they ever spoke with Reynouard. Reynouard claims that he took notes in a small red notebook in 1990, but it was confiscated and he could not prove in court that he had spoken with Renaud and Beaubreuil.

Reynouard points out that in Oradour-sur-Glane, there were refugees who were Spanish soldiers that had fought against Franco in the Civil War in Spain. He claims that these soldiers would have recruited the villagers to fight along with them in the French Résistance. He points out that the Spanish refugees are never mentioned in the official story. On the contrary, the 26 Spaniards who had been living in Oradour-sur-Glane since 1939, when the Spanish Civil War ended, were most certainly mentioned in the official stories that I read.

Reynouard makes the outrageous claim that the burned bodies found inside the bakery and the bodies that had been thrown into a well were those of German soldiers who had been previously killed by the partisans in the village. If this is true, why didn't the Waffen-SS soldiers take these bodies with them for a proper burial instead of leaving them to be found by the survivors after the destruction of the village?

According to Reynouard's article, the German version of the story, which Reynouard agrees with, is that 120 to 150 members of the Waffen-SS had gone to Oradour-sur-Glane to look for the German soldier, H. Kaempfe, who had been kidnapped by Communist partisans under the direction of Jean Canou. Canou was a Sergeant in the FTP, the Communist resistance army. Canou testified at the 1953 trial of 21 of the SS perpetrators that Kämpfe had been kidnapped and was first taken to the village of Cheissoux; then he was turned over to Canou's "chief" in the FTP, Georges Guingouin. Canou was the only resistance fighter to testify at the trial; his sworn testimony was that there was no resistance activity of any kind in Oradour-sur-Glane.

Reynouard's Internet article continues the German version of the story: The men were separated from the women and children; they were taken to several barns, while the women and children were taken to the church. Then the Waffen-SS soldiers made a search of the houses, whereby they found many weapons and ammunition. Then there was a large explosion in the church, which tore up the women and children, who were inside. The SS thought they were being attacked and therefore opened fire on the men in the barns.

The French always rejected this German version with its own thesis of the peaceful villagers, according to Reynouard; he wrote that the French version of the story is a poor attempt to present the French as innocent, or at least, to justify their innocence. Reynouard reasons that if the SS had wanted to terrorize and demoralize the population of France, they would have destroyed ten, twenty or fifty villages in a similar manner. He points out that the SS first demanded hostages and then made a search of the town. He asks, rhetorically: Why would the SS have wasted all this time in doing a search if they had come into the village only to massacre the population?

Reynouard points out in his article that the Germans had had a perfect excuse to answer the actions of the partisans and to spread "senseless terror" in Tulle where, the day before, 40 German soldiers had been killed by the Resistance and their bodies terribly mutilated. Reynouard explains that, in Tulle, the Waffen-SS left the women and children unharmed, in accordance with their actual custom, while 99 men were hanged. From this, Reynouard concludes that the separation of the women and children from the men in Oradour proves that the SS did not have the intention of killing everyone in the village. Their task, according to Reynouard, was to find the German soldier, H. Kaempfe, and to destroy the partisan base in Oradour, but it had inadvertently ended tragically. Reynouard thinks that the German commander made an error in not searching the church for weapons before the women and children were taken there.

The official transcripts from the trial in Bordeaux have been sealed until 2053. Without having any proof, Reynouard has concocted a scenario in which he theorizes that some of the partisans in Oradour-sur-Glane hid inside the church when they saw the SS men enter the village. When the women and children were taken to the church, the SS soldiers discovered the partisans hiding there, and possibly there was an exchange of gunfire which caused the ammunition hidden in the church to explode.

Reynouard speculates that not all the women and children died in the church as a consequence of the disaster, since parts of the church were not destroyed. He thinks that the women and children who were in the proximity of the wooden confessional and the silk flowers must have survived the drama and that Mrs. Rouffanche was not the only survivor of the church.

In support of his theory, Reynouard mentions the story told by a German soldier, Eberhard Matthes, who visited the ruined village in 1963 and spoke with two women who claimed to have survived the destruction in the church. Why didn't these two women testify during the trial in Bordeaux in 1953? Maybe they did, but we won't know until 2053 when the court records will be open to the public. Until then, Reynouard has no proof of his revisionist claims.

In June 1997, Reynouard published a 450-page book in Belgium; its title was "Le measure acre l'Oradour." This same book was also published in Germany. Reynouard says that he wrote in the preface to the book that he would gladly invite critics to have an honest discussion about what he had written. He claims that the representatives of the historical version would have dismantled his theories in a public argument if their official historical version were correct, but his opponents never noticed this offer in his book. Instead of discussing the matter, they preferred brutal censorship, Reynouard says.

In his article on the Internet, Reynouard says that, after his book was published, an intense media campaign against him began in the Limousine region where Oradour-sur-Glane is located. He claims that he was insulted, dragged into the dirt, and called a liar and a counterfeiter; he was never interviewed by the press and his answers to the accusations were never published. Only his opponents were heard. By September 1997, the sale of his book was forbidden in France by a decree of the Minister of the Interior, who was at that time, Jean- Pierre Chevènement.

Contrary to news reports about the case, Reynouard claims that he did not make a video about Oradour-sur-Glane, and that he did not send the video to two survivors of the massacre. The video was made by a group of activists in 1998 and 1999 to illustrate the arguments that Reynouard had made in his book. One month after it went on the market in January 2001, the video was banned in France. A friend of his had sent a copy of the video to the only two living survivors of the shooting in the barns, Robert Hebras and Marcel Darthout. This was proved in court by a handwriting analysis of the address on the envelope and a DNA analysis of the saliva on the stamps.

Reynouard says that the French authorities tried to accuse him of "denying a war crime," but the accusation had to be amended to "approval of a war crime." On May 16, 2001 his residence in Brussels was searched by Belgian policemen on orders from the French. They seized approximately 60 cardboard boxes containing books, papers and recordings. The offices of his publisher in Antwerp were also searched. Reynouard's passport was confiscated and he was forbidden to visit the area of France where Oradour is located.

On September 27, 2001, four years after Reynouard's book was banned, the French Minister of the Interior issued a decree which also banned the video in France.

The first court proceedings against Reynouard took place on November 18, 2003. During the proceedings, the judge refused to allow the video to be shown. Reynouard claims that the judge insured that he could not defend himself by interrupting him continuously. On December 12th, he was convicted of "approval of a war crime," and sentenced to one year in prison with nine months of that time on probation; he was also fined 10,000 Euro.

His appeal was heard in court, starting on April 14, 2004, and on June 9, 2004, the final judgment was announced. The judges changed the original sentence, going beyond the demand of the prosecutor, and condemned Reynouard to two years in prison with 18 months of that time on probation. The fine was reduced to 3,000 Euro with the money going to the three civil parties involved in the case: Marcel Darthout, a survivor of the massacre, the "International League against Racism and Antisemitism," and the "Friends of the Association of the Memory of the Deportation." The Deportation was the name given to the sending of captured French resistance heroes to such Nazi concentration camps as Natzweiler-Struthof, Buchenwald and Dachau, where they were denied the rights of POWs, since they were illegal combatants under the Geneva Convention of 1929.

Reynouard ended his Internet article by claiming that his "enemies" had won legally, but they had lost intellectually because, in the seven years since he wrote his book, they have not answered his arguments, nor openly discussed the contents of the book with him. Instead, they preferred the protection of the law, prohibiting his work and demanding his arrest. Reynouard says that these circles would like to silence him, but they have inadvertently caused the spreading of his arguments. In that, he is correct: the world-wide publicity about his case has certainly spread his revisionist story about Oradour-sur-Glane.

Story told by Madame Rouffanche

Affidavit of Eberhard Matthes

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