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German, 88, charged in WWII French massacre

  • The Nazi era Valentin bunker built using thousands of forced labour from 1943 to March 1945 for the construction of submarines, but unfinished due to two British air-raids and the end of World War II, is pictured in Bremen, February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

BERLIN: German prosecutors have charged an 88-year-old former soldier over the Nazis' worst atrocity on French soil, the 1944 massacre in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, a court said Wednesday.

"The prosecutor's office in Dortmund has charged an 88-year-old pensioner from Cologne over the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people," the regional court of Cologne said in a statement.

SS troops massacred 642 people in Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944 during World War II.

The suspect, who was not identified, is believed to have belonged to a unit that attacked the tiny village in western France and wiped out nearly all its inhabitants, an act of retribution ordered over the purported kidnapping of a commander.

"The prosecutor's office accuses the suspect of causing, along with other members of his company, the deaths of 25 men," it said.

The victims were mowed down with machine guns in a barn, with any survivors shot at close range with pistols before the barn was set ablaze.

The presidents of Germany and France travelled to the village last September and joined hands with a survivor in a historic moment of reconciliation.

The village has been a ghost town ever since the atrocity, deliberately preserved in that state as a memorial to those who died on one of the darkest days of World War II.

 
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