17:51 09 January 2014
It has been 70 years since Hitler’s Waffen-SS men took the small French village of Oradour-sur-Glane by surprise and killed nearly all of its inhabitants. The methodical slaughter was one of the worst in history, killing 642 men, women, and children.
All the men were taken to barns and were shot dead while the women and children were burned alive in the village church. Now, 70 years after the heinous crimes, an 88-year-old former member of Hitler’s SS, has been charged for taking part of the murders.
A court spokesman in Cologne said: "The prosecution charges an 88-year-old pensioner from Cologne with (joining in) the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane in France.
"He and another shooter are said to have killed 25 men in a barn with his machine gun. He is also said to have aided the burning down of the village church."
The accused, who was not named for security reasons, denied all the charges.
According to his lawyer, Rainer Pohlen, he did not fire a single shot in Oradour.
Mr Pohlen said: "He could have fired. He says, however, 'I had the great luck of being deployed for something else'.
"He said 'I heard shots, I saw people shouting, I saw the village burning. It was terrible. It was absolutely awful. But I was not myself involved in any of the action'."
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