Synopsis of Revisionist Claims by Vincent
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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