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Sun Jun 9, 2024, 10:33 AM Jun 9

On This Day: Civilians rounded up, 99 hanged in public, following French Resistance operations - June 9, 1944

(edited from Wikipedia)
Tulle massacre

The Tulle massacre was the roundup and summary execution of civilians in the French town of Tulle by the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich in June 1944, three days after the D-Day landings in World War II.

After a successful offensive by the French Resistance group Francs-tireur on 7 and 8 June 1944, the arrival of Das Reich troops forced the Maquis [a French Resistance group] to flee the city of Tulle (department of Corrèze) in south-central France. On 9 June 1944, after arresting all men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD) men ordered 120 of the prisoners to be hanged, of whom 99 were actually hanged.

In the days that followed, 149 men were sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where 101 died. In total, the actions of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, and the SD claimed the lives of 213 civilian residents of Tulle.

A day later, the same 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich was involved in the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane.

[German crackdown]

Given the activity of the Resistance in the region, the department of Corrèze and in particular the town of Tulle and its surroundings were the object of frequent interventions by German Security Services.

In collaboration with a division cobbled together under the command of Major General Walter Brehmer, [the German and German-aligned forces] systematically swept the region during April 1944. In total, the operations against the Resistance by the Brehmer division were responsible for 1,500 arrests, 55 shootings, 128 crimes or offenses in 92 localities and 200 Jews murdered, but no direct confrontation with the Maquis [a major group of French Resistance]. The crackdown partially explains the operations in Tulle by the Resistance, which hoped to end the suffering of the population.

Battle of Tulle - [Resistance operations]

Resistance operations in Tulle were planned in mid April or at the beginning of May 1944.

The offensive began on 7 June 1944 at 05:00 with a bazooka shot on the security forces' barracks at Champ de Mars serving as the signal to begin the attack.

For the Resistance, with the exemption of two small holdouts, Tulle was liberated.

German losses were estimated by Sarah Farmer as 37 dead, 25 wounded and 35 missing. For G. Penaud, they amount to about 50 dead, sixty missing, probably taken prisoner, and between 23 and 37 wounded. The majority of the prisoners were probably shot thereafter, except for a handful of soldiers of Polish origin who agreed to join the Maquis.


On 8 June at about 21:00, the first tanks of the 2nd SS Panzer Division arrived in Tulle from three different directions, surprising the Maquis.

Throughout the night of 8 June, the SS patrolled in town and encircled it.

Mass arrests

On 9 June, [SS commander] Kowatsch told [Tulle officials] that the mass arrests had already begun, detaining all men between the ages of sixteen and sixty and authorizing only "the release of all essential elements after verification of their loyalties."

In total, close to five thousand men and boys were assembled in front of the weapons factory.


In accordance with the agreement with Kowatsch that authorized the release of those essential to the resumption of normal activity in the city, French officials went to the arms factory to negotiate who among those rounded up would be counted among these. The representatives of the French government obtained the release of 3,500 of the 5,000 men and young people.

The remaining hostages were divided into three groups of different size and composition as the selection gradually ended up creating two groups of sixty men, suspected, according to Schmald, of participation in the Resistance based on factors like being unshaven or wearing shoes that weren't polished. According to H. Espinasse, even though Schmald asked for verification of some identity cards, he judged people based on their appearance and, for no apparent reason, sent them to join the small group on his left [the future victims]. According to Trouillé, "the three groups were constantly changing, ..."


Around 15:30, in response to a last-minute plea from the prefect that the executions not be carried out by hanging, Kowatsch responded that "we have developed on the Russian Front the practice of hanging. We have hanged over a hundred thousand men in Kharkov and in Kiev, this is nothing to us".

On their arrival [at the town square], the prisoners discovered, over many hundreds of meters, nooses hung from trees, lampposts, and balconies.

[Deportations, torture, and aftermath]

On 10 June, the hostages remaining at the weapons factory in Tulle were treated in the same manner as in the selection of the hanging victims the previous day: negotiations between members of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich and the SD, including Schmald, and the French authorities, divided them into groups destined for deportation and those who would be pardoned by interventions.

149 of the remaining prisoners were transferred to Poitiers, then on to Compiègne, and from there they were taken to Dachau concentration camp on 2 July; 101 would not survive.

On 11 or 12 June, the 2nd SS Panzer Division began moving north to the Normandy front. With the massacres at Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane and other killings, it had killed 4000 people, including many civilians.

Repression continued in Tulle in the weeks following the hangings. From 11 June to 31 July, the laboratory of the weapons factory was used as a centre of torture, where the Milice cooperated with Schmald.

In total, the crimes of the Wehrmacht, of the Waffen-SS and of the SD had claimed 218 civilian victims in Tulle.


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