The massacre of 52 civilians in Mussidan (11 June 1944)

9 June 1944: 99 hostages hanged from the balconies of Tulle (Corrèze) and 149 men are deported, 101 of whom do not return from the concentration camps.

10 June: Massacre of 642 people at Oradour-sur-Glane (Haute-Vienne).

11 June: execution of 52 hostages in Mussidan.

The destruction of the German protection train by the 4th FTP battalion in Mussidan on 11 June 1944 had immediate repercussions.

On arrival at the scene, Lieutenant-Colonel Traugott Wilde, commander of the 111th Armoured Grenadier Regiment, ordered his men to arrest 300 men from the town and the surrounding area. He also contacted the liaison headquarters in Périgueux and asked for police reinforcements in order to identify those hostages who were not in order. The news of the attack reached the headquarters of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst, security police) in Paris.

Along the RN 89, the soldiers arrested all the men aged between 16 and 60. In Mussidan, they searched the houses and took the men to the town hall for an identity check, where they were parked in a courtyard. A gendarmerie report written on 8 November 1944 states that the men « were kicked and beaten with rifle butts [and that] as soon as they arrived, they had to lie on their stomachs, with their arms stretched out and their noses in the dirt.

Captain Henrich Wilsmann, head of the 5th Company of the 19th SS Police Battalion based in Limoges, conducted the interrogations. Not bothering to consult all identity papers, the soldiers formed two groups: « Those who were to be executed and those who were to be deported or released. At around 7 p.m., the men over sixty years old and the war cripples were released. The others were assembled, still in two separate groups, in classrooms inside the town hall. In the meantime, the mayor of Mussidan, Raoul Grassin, who had spared no effort to protect his fellow citizens by giving all the details requested, received permission to return home. He had to wait for the arrival from Périgueux of a commission which was to decide on the fate of the hostages. It arrived in Mussidan at about 8pm. It was in fact the head of the SD, Michaël Hambrecht, who had come with practically all his men. They were followed by North African auxiliaries commanded by the pimp Raymond Monange, all of them from the Parisian underworld (better known as the Carlingue, the « French Gestapo of the Rue Lauriston » or the « Bonny-Lafont gang »).

The SD selected 50 men who were executed on the chemin de Gorry, about 100 metres from the town hall; two survived. Four people were executed in the street, including the mayor and his deputy, Camille Christman.

Until their departure, German soldiers and North African auxiliaries looted houses and shops and committed rapes.

The next day, when the curfew was lifted, the people of Mussidan discovered the many corpses. The toll was heavy: 52 people executed, including 4 in the street. The massacre of 11 June was the largest massacre of civilians committed in the Dordogne during the Second World War. It was also one of the ten largest in France. The destruction, on 11 June 1944 in Mussidan, of the German protection train by the 4th FTP battalion had immediate repercussions.

Hostages gathered by the occupying forces in front of the town hall. On the right, hands on their heads, the hostages shot

in the evening. Photograph taken by Marie Gras from the window of her flat.