The Gold of the Oradour-sur-Glane Massacre

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Detecting.org.uk Home > Nazi Gold > The Gold of the Oradour-sur-Glane Massacre

As an Allied attack on Europe loomed, the local French Resistance increased its activities in order to occupy the German forces and hinder communications.

2nd SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich' was ordered to make its way across country to the fighting in Normandy. Along the way it came under constant attack and sabotage from the French Resistance. Allegedly, SS soldiers were further angered by finding atrocities committed by some resistance; in particular, a German ambulance in which all the wounded had been killed and the driver and assistants tied to the cab before the vehicle was set on fire. No record of this alleged incident exists in German records.

Early on the morning of June 10 Sturmbannf�hrer Adolf Diekmann reported to Sturmbannf�hrer Otto Weidinger that he had been approached by two French civilians who claimed that a high German official was being held by the French Resistance guerrilla, the maquis, in Oradour. That day he was to be executed and publicly burnt amidst celebrations. The two French civilians also stated that the whole population was working with the maquis and that high ranking leaders were there at the moment. At about the same time the SD in Limoges reported that their local informers had reported a maquis headquarters in Oradour. The high German official was believed to be Sturmbannfuhrer Helmut Kampfe, a personal friend of both Diekmann and Weidinger who had been captured by the maquis the day before. Kampfe was never found and is listed in SS records as 'Missing in southern France in action against terrorists'.

On June 10 the 1st battalion of the Waffen-SS (Der F�hrer) regiment, led by Sturmbannf�hrer Otto Dickmann, encircled the town of Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered all the inhabitants to congregate in a public fairground near the village centre, ostensibly to examine people's papers. All the women and children were taken to the church, while the village was looted. Meanwhile, the men were taken to six barns where machine gun nests were already in place. According to the account of a survivor, the soldiers began shooting at them, aiming for their legs so that they would die more slowly. Once the victims were no longer able to move, the soldiers covered their bodies with kindling and set the barns on fire. Only five men escaped; 197 died there.

Having finished with the men, the soldiers then entered the church and put an incendiary device in place. After it was ignited, the surviving women and children tried to flee from the doors and windows but were met with machine gun fire. Only one woman survived; another 240 women and 205 children died in the mayhem. Another small group of about twenty villagers had fled Oradour as soon as the soldiers appeared. That night the remainder of the village was razed. A few days later the survivors were allowed to bury the dead.

Post-war outcomes

On January 12, 1953, a trial began against the surviving 65 of the about 200 soldiers before a military tribunal in Bordeaux. Only 21 of them were present (many living in Germany would not be extradited). Among them were 7 Germans, the 14 others were Alsatians, i.e. French nationals who were members of the SS Division 'Reich'. All but one of them claimed to have been drafted into the Waffen-SS against their will (the so-called malgr�-nous). The SS records do not show that any such drafting took place. It is most likely that the Alsatians were Nazi sympathisers and volunteered.

This caused huge protest in Alsace, forcing the French authorities to split the process in two separate ones according to the nationality of the defendants. On February 11 20 defendants were found guilty. Continuing uproar (including calls for autonomy) in Alsace pressed the French parliament to pass an amnesty law for all malgr�-nous on February 19, and the convicted Alsatians were released shortly afterwards. This in turn caused bitter protest in the Limousin region.

By 1958 all the German defendants had been released as well. General Karl-Heinz Lammerding of the Das Reich division, who had given the orders for the measures against the Resistance, died in 1971 after a successful entrepreneurial career, never having been indicted.

The last trial against a former Waffen-SS member took place in 1983. Shortly before, in the GDR the former SS-Obersturmf�hrer Heinz Barth had been tracked down. Barth participated in the Oradour massacre as a platoon leader in the regiment 'Der F�hrer', commanding 45 soldiers. He was amongst other war crimes charged with having given orders to shoot 20 men in a garage. Barth was sentenced to life imprisonment by the 1st senate of the city court Berlin. He was released from prison in the re-unified Germany in 1997.

After the war, General Charles de Gaulle decided that the village would never be rebuilt. Instead, it would remain as a memorial to the cruelty of Nazi occupation. In 1999, President Jacques Chirac dedicated a visitors' centre, the centre de la m�moire, in Oradour-sur-Glane and named the site a Village Martyr.

The Oradour-sur-Glane Massacre was one of the great horrors of world war two. 642 unarmed men, women and children were slaughtered by the Der F�hrer regiment of 2nd SS Panzer Division, Das Reich led by Sturmbannf�hrer Adolf Diekmann[1]

The Alleged Gold of Oradour

In 1988 a new spin was put on the story of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre when a British man named Robin Mackness released a book telling the story of how he went from working in a comfortable job for a Swiss bank to an unpleasant prison cell in France.

In 1982 Mackness was asked by a colleague at the bank, Jamie Baruch [], to meet a man named Raoul Denis [] who had a large quantity of gold that he wanted to move to Switzerland.

Raoul Denis claimed to be one of the few survivors of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre, but he told a story very different to the widely excepted history. According to Raoul, the massacre was not a reprisal for the death of a high ranking German officer but was an attempt by Das Reich to recover a shipment of gold which had been stolen from a convoy that had been attacked by members of the French Resistance.

Raoul claimed that he was a member of the resistance cell that had ambushed the German convoy and that he and a German soldier were the only survivors of the ensuing fire fight, the soldier escaped leaving Raoul with what was left of the convoy.

Raoul found one of the trucks in the convoy piled high with filing cabinets and heavy boxes which contained gold bars. Realising that he was alone with no transport he buried the gold in the corner of a nearby field and set what was left of the convoy ablaze.

The Germans were quick to notice the loss of the gold shipment and sent troops to the area of the ambush and to the nearest village - Oradour-sur-Glane.

The troops rounded up the villagers, examined their identity papers and then began interrogations to try and learn the location of the gold, but Raoul was the only person who knew where it was and he was not in the village at this time. The German troops, unable to get the locals to tell them where the gold was, massacred the towns population.

Raoul claimed that he recovered the gold from the field at the end of the war, used some of it set a business and hid the rest.

Raoul wanted Mackness to smuggle the the gold from France to Switzerland, after hearing his story Mackness agreed and loaded 20 bars of gold into his car. On route to Switzerland, Mackness was pulled over by French Customs officials and his car was searched. He managed to escape only to be caught by armed officers in a nearby village, a photograph in his book shows a number of bullet holes in the BMW 735i Mackness claims to have been driving at the time of his capture.

Mackness refused to name Raoul in court and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and fined 8 million Francs (reduced to 80,000f on appeal). His employers, 'BanqueL�man', refused to cooperate with the French authorities and basically left him rot. The bank did, however, refund Raoul the full value of the gold the French had seized.

Mackness claims that Raoul died of cancer before his release from prison in 1984. After he was released Mackness contacted Raoul's family who denied any knowledge of what had happened to him and, I assume, denied all knowledge of the gold.

Why did Raoul claim that the gold had originated from the Oradour-sur-Glane Massacre?

The most obvious answer to this is that the gold did genuinely have a Nazi/SS pedigree and he needed to explain how he got it without admitting its actual history.

Gold bars have markings and serial numbers, markings and serial numbers can be traced, what if the current holders of the gold tried to sell it but the markings and serial numbers proved that the original owners were the Reichsbank, circa 1944, or even worse, that the bars could be traced directly back to the SS. You would need a solid cover story.

It might seem to many a small justice that the descendants of the very few survivors of the massacre still had the gold - they had paid for it in blood so why shouldn't they be allowed to keep it?

What is the 'Oradour gold's' true history?

I certainly don't doubt its Nazi vintage given that much of it bore Reichsbank stamps, the gold could have been from one of the many caches of gold that where hidden as the 'thousand year Reich' crumbled. It may have been recovered soon after the war ended or even many years later.

Although I'm not a betting man, I'd lay money on the gold having been stored in Spain. Why Spain?[2] The simple answer is that after the war so many high ranking Nazi's settled there, including the infamous 'Commando Extraordinaire' Otto Skorzeny.

SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny

Above: SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny, once called 'the most dangerous man in Europe' lived out the rest of his life in Spain after being cleared of war crimes. He died in a car crash, or from cancer (depending on source) in 1975, a multi millionaire.

These men were used to living the high life, not only would they have needed money to establish themselves in a new country (a house, a business etc.) but they would certainly have also wanted the finer things in life that they had become accustomed to as Hitler's trusted henchmen, and by all accounts they got them.

Where did all that money come from? It doesn't take a Philadelphia lawyer.

Spain was also believed by many intelligence officers to be a major centre for the ODESSA[3] network, indeed, Otto Skorzeny was believed to have been the head of ODESSA right up until his death in Spain in 1975.

Another possibility is that the gold had been in the keeping of a stay behind in France since World War 2.

Problems:

1) Robin Mackness uses pseudonyms for all the players in story making fact checking very difficult or even impossible, even the name of the bank he worked for, Banque L�man, is a pseudonym.

2) 'Raoul Denis' is the only person to have told the gold theft version of the story of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre. To my knowledge the gold connection has never surfaced from any other source.

3) There seems to be no evidence that a German convoy was ambushed anywhere near Oradour around the time period claimed by Raoul - gold carrying or not.

Conclusion:

I have no doubt Robin Mackness's story is the truth, that is to say, Robin Mackness genuinely believed that what he had been given was a piece of the 'Oradour gold.' I just think his contact had used a cover story to dupe him into helping him dispose of it. The 'Oradour' Nazi gold could still be out there - somewhere - but in my opinion it is nowhere near Oradour-sur-Glane and had nothing to do with the massacre. The whole story reeks of being what I have come to call a 'credibility prop,' not dissimilar to the Rommel's Gold story.

Official View of the Gold Story

Most people connected to Oradour-sur-Glane view the gold story with great suspicion and say that to attribute the massacre to a theft is a great disrespect to the memories of those that were killed. Officialdom lends no credence to Raoul's story.

If you are connected to the village in some way, I would love to hear what you have to say about Robin Mackness, the gold story or 'Raoul Denis' email me

References:

[1] Most sources give the Sturmbannf�hrer's name as Otto Dickmann, however according to http://www.oradour.info the original SS documents say that Adolf Diekmann is the correct name, 'Otto Dickmann' came in to widespread usage due to inaccurate newspaper reporting.

[2] (i) At the time of writing (March 2006) investigators from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Operation Last Chance are searching for Aribert 'Dr Death' Heim (the SS doctor of the Mauthausen concentration camp) who was, at least until recently, known to be living in Spain. Rumours suggest that he may have relocated to Denmark.

(ii) L�on Joseph Marie Degrelle (June 15, 1906- April 1, 1994) was a founder of BelgianRexismwho joined the Waffen SS(becoming a leader of its Walloncontingent) and, after the war, became a prominent figure in the neo-fascistand Holocaust revisionistmovements. Helped by the ODESSAnetwork, he was sheltered by Francisco Franco's Spainfrom Belgium, which had convicted him of treason. He died in San Antonio Park Hospital, Malaga, Spain in 1994.

[3] ODESSA (Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angeh�rigen; 'The Organization of Former SS-Members') was/is a Nazi-German fugitive network set up towards the end of World War II by a group of SS officers, among whom were Martin Bormann and Heinrich Himmler. This group's purpose was to establish and facilitate secret escape routes, called ratlines, out of Germany to South America and the Middle East for hunted members. With alleged ties to Argentina, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the Vatican, ODESSA ostensibly operated out of Buenos Aires and helped Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, Erich Priebke, Aribert 'Dr Death' Heim and many other war criminals find refuge in Latin America and the Middle East. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Some of the information on this page is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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