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Geschichte(n) -> 1945 Investigation of French Military Personnel Stationed at Ottweiler - Neunkirchen area

Investigation of French Military Personnel Stationed at Ottweiler - Neunkirchen area

 

17 April 1945

 

Investigating Officer: H.O. Pinther, Col., I.G.D., Corps Inspector General

 

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Headquarters XXIII Corps

Office of the Inspector General

APO 103, U.S. Army

 

17.04.1945

 

333 (IG)

 

Subject: Investigation of French Military Personnel Stationed in the Ottweiler - Neunkirchen Area.

To:   Commanding General, XXIII Corps, APO 103, U.S. Army

 

I. Authority:

1. This investigation was conducted on 14 - 15 April 1945 at Ottweiler and Neunkirchen, Germany, by Colonel H.G. Pinther, I.G.D, at the direction of the Commanding General, XXIII Corps, APO 103.

 

II. Matter Investigated:

2. The purpose of the investigation was to determine the effecttiveness and conduct of French military personnel and their relationship with American Military Government stationed in the Ottweiler - Neunkirchen area.

 

III. Facts:

3. The 8th Company, 2d Battalion, 146th regiment of the French Army, was stationed at Neunkirchen during the period 20 March 1945 to 15 April 1945. At approximately the same time the American Military Government Detachment I1A2 had represantatives in the same area. (Exhibit „A“: Memo fr Det I1A2 to AC of S, G-5, Third Army).

 

4. Numerous other French military personnel were also in the area, though apparently not stationed there. Some of them were from Metz. (Exhibit „A“: Memo fr Det I1A2 to AC of S, G-5, Third Army).

 

5. The investigation revealed an unsatisfactory situation, which was attributable to four factors:

a. Lack of cooperation on the part of the French military personnel with American military personnel.

b. Looting by French military personnel.

c. Fraternisation by French military personnel.

d. Lack of discipline on the part of French military personnel.

 

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a. Considerable difficulty was encountered by American military personnel who were attending to operate the coal mines in the Neunkirchen area, because the French soldiers refused to recognise passes issued by the American Military Government. This prevented the German laborers from reporting to work and hold up production of coal, which is an essential military requirement. In some cases the French even went so fas as to pick up the passes. (Exhibit „C“: Statement of Lt Col C.W. Jeffers)

 

b. The results of conferences between Captain Jacobs, the Commanding Officer of the American Military Government Detachment, and Major Martin, the Commanding Officer of the French forces, were unsatisfactory in that very little cooperation was secured from the French. Promisses were made to American officers that certain personnel would fe furnished to the Americans, but the promises were not fulfilled. (1)

 

c. The French were unwilling to assist in the control of displaced perons, because they said that these persons were our allies and could not be in any way guarded by French soldiers. (2)

 

d. The French guards, who were stationed at the mines, would not disarm displaced persons who were preventing German laborers from entering the mines to work. (3)

 

e. The French military personnel in some cases required passes issued by the French in addition to those issued by the American Military Government. This was reported as a frequent occurence. True copies of such passes are attached hereto as Exhibit „D“ (Exhibit „D“: German civilians pass issued by French authorities, and German civilian pass issued by American Military Government). Complains were registered by German civilians that passes issued by the American Military Government were destroyed by the French guards. (4)

 

f. The Chief of Police at Neunkirchen was apprehended by four French soldiers on 13 April 1945. This official has been „screened“ by our own CIC, and was reported by them as doing a first class job. The excuse offered by the French for the arrest was that they had heard he was formerly a gestapo agent. The French officers, when questioned, knew nothing of the matter. The Chief of Police was released immediately by the American soldiers. (5)

 

7. Looting by the French military personnel in the area was quite prevalent.

 

a. Immediately upon occupation of the area by the French there began an apparently organised looting program by members of the French military personnel from Ardennes. Trucks, bicycles, tools and typewriters were taken. (Exhibit „C“: Statement of Lt Col C.W. Jeffers)

 

b. French guards at a large wine cellar in Neunkirchen allowed looting of the cellar by their own soldiers, American soldiers and displaced persons. (16)

 

c. Major Martin, the French CO at Neunkirchen, „fined“ a German wine merchant 200 bottles of wine because on of his soldiers had been overcharged for two bottles of wine. (7)

 

d. The French military personnel „requisitioned“ German vehicles that were essential to American Military Government and had been so designated. The owner of one vehicles explained this to the French at the time and showed the French the permit issued to him by the American Military Government Officer. The vehicle was taken in spite of this, however. (8) (Exhibit „K“ shows the authority issued by the Military Government Office for the retention of this vehicle by the German civilian [not included]).

 

e. Numerous instances of stealing or looting by the French military personnel were brought to the attention of American Military Government officials; but due to the press of other duties, these officials did not follow up each case. (9)

 

f. In one case the French military personnel at St. Wendel destroyed an „Off Limits“ sign posted by the American Military Government and took wine from a cellar. Ccopies of letters by German civilians protesting acts of looting on the part of French military personnel are attached herto as Exhibits. (10) (Exhibit „F“: Ltr from Adam Himburger protesting act of looting; Exhibit „G“: Ltr from Adam Himburger protesting act of looting; Exhibit „H“: Ltr from Otto Goeddel protesting act of looting)

 

g. A French 2d Lieutenant approached Captain Jacobs of the American Military Government at St. Wendel, and told him that he had been ordered to obtain horses formerly owned by the Wehrmacht and take them to Lorraine for use on frarms. He was unable to produce any authority gor his quest, and was told by Captain Jacobs that his procedure was not concurred in by SHAEF directive. He had 19 horses, according to his own story at that time, and it is not known whether or not he took them with him. (11)

 

h. Cars set asside for fire protection under American Military Government in Neunkirchen were being taken by French military personnel when the process was interrupted by an American Military Government Sergeant. (12)

 

i. A German civilian reported to the CIC Detachment at Neunkirchen on 15 April 1945 that French soldiers, who had been billeted in her building and who had departed from Neunkirchen that morning, had broken open storage vaults, ransacked them and broken windows in their billets prior to their departure. The quarters were visited immediately by this Inspector General, and it was observed that the windows were broken and locks on the storage vaults had been broken.

 

j. A German civilian residing in the same building told this Inspector General that French soldiers, who had been quartered there, had, during their stay entered her apartment, requested coffee and then had fired a shot through a davenport on which an old man was seated. There was a bullet hole in the davenport and in the wall directly behind it, which was observed by this officer.

 

8. Fraternization between the French military personnel and Germans was not infrequent. French military personnel have been seen walking with Germans, drinking with them in cafes; and in one reported case, two French soldiers were allegedly found in bed with German women. This Inspector General, during his presence in Neunkirchen, noted several cases of French military personnel walking arm in arm with German civilian women. (13)

 

9. The behavior of the French military personnel has been prejudical to good order and military discipline as has been evidenced by disclosed facts.

 

a. There was indiscriminate shooting by French soldiers in Neunkirchen during the early part of their stay. (14)

 

b. On one occasion French military personnel discharged their weapons when a convoy of German Prisoners of War was driven through St. Wendel. Upon questioning, the French said they did it because the civilian population had waved at the prisoners, and the Germans in reverse position had doen the same thing in France. (15)

 

10. Excerpts from official reports from Captain Jacobs, Commanding Officer of the American Military Government Detachment at Ottweiler, are indicative of the extent of the disorder and looting on the part of the French military personnel. Repeated reports were not made, although the same offenses were recurrent. Extracts of the reports of 1 and 2 April 1945 are quoted herewith:

a. „1 April 1945 - French Company assigned in Neunkirchen indulging in shooting weapons at night and looting. At least seven supply trucks which had been given licenses exempting them from being „requisitioned“ by US Army were taken by men of this command (French command)“.

b. „2 April 1945“ - Disorderly conduct and looting by French 8th Company, 146th Regiemnt continued“.

 

11. Further difficulties encountered by Captain Jacobs were made a matter of official recrod through other reports to the CG, Third Army, and to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Third Army. Pertinent information is attached as exhibits A and I.

IV. Discussion:

12. Further interrogation of more witnesses would undoubtedly have revealed many more facts, which would only be repetitious of those already disclosed.

 

13. Person observations made by this Inspector General during the course of the investigation revealed that French military personnel seen on the streets, at their stations and around their quarters lacked the military bearing and appearance of a well-disciplined organisation. The emotional French, without strong leadership and restraining influences, followed their natural inclinations to take revenge against the Germans, who hold them in bondage so long.

 

14. Prompt action on the part of American Military Government personnel in reporting irregularities of French military personnel to their officers did, in a measure, curb these proclivities.

 

15. It is realised, hower, in spite of the shortcomings of the French, that the German civilian population stands in awe of any military authority; and in view of the shortage of American personnel, the French did perform a necessary and essential function. The mere presence of military personnel acts as a deterrent with the civilian population and is essential in maintaining the enforcement of issued orders.

 

V. Conclusions.

16. The French military personnel in this area have been noncooperative. They are guilty of looting. They have fraternised with Germans; and they are lacking in discipline.

 

17. The presence of French military personnel has been of valu, however, in spite of their shortcomings. If American forces are not available, the French should be utilised under the supervision and direction of American Commanders in places and on details were their responsibility is commensurate with their ability.

 

VI. Recommendations:

18. That the senior French officer in the area be advised as to the findings in this investigation.

 

19. That the French military personnel be fully informed of their relationship to the American forces stationed in their respective areas.

 

20. That French military personnel be utilised on duty commensurate with their ability and under direction and supervision of American Commanders.

 

H.O. Pinther

Col., I. G. D.

Corps Inspector General

 

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List of References to supporting evidence as indicated

by figures in parenthesis in statement of facts

 

(1)   -         Q 7 P 2

(2)   -         Q 4 P 1; Q 6 - 7 P 1 - 2; Q 28 F 8

(3)   -         Q 18 P 5

(4)   -         Q 23 P 6; EXHIBIT „D“

(5)   -         Q 42 P 13

(6)   -         Q 7-10 F 2-3

(7)   -         Q 9-10 F 3

(8)   -         Q 12 P 3; EXHIBIT „E“

(9)   -         Q 14 P 4; Q 23 P 6

(10) -         Q 23 P 6

(11) -         Q 34 P 10

(12) -         Q 37 P 11

(13) -         Q 16 P 4; Q 37 P 11; Q 42 P 13

(14) -         Q 12-13 P 3-4

(15) -         Q 29 P 9

 

Index

 

Exhibit „A“   Memo fr Det I1A2 to AC of S, G-5, Third Army

Exhibit „B-1“         1st Lt Eugene A. McNamara      1-5    1-18

Exhibit „B-2“         Pfc Bernard Price   6-7    19-25

Exhibit „B-3“         Capt Stanley R. Jacobs   8-10  26-34

Exhibit „B-4“         S/Sgt Henry J. Rodgers   11-12         35-38

Exhibit „B-5“         TecSgt Richard J. Harrigan        13-14         39-43

Exhibit „C“   Statement of Lt Col C.W. Jeffers

Exhibit „D“   German civilians pass issued by French authorities, and German civilian pass issued by American Military Government

Exhibit „E“    Permit issued by American Military      Government for use in German vehicle

Exhibit „F“    Ltr from Adam Himburger protesting act of looting

Exhibit „G“   Ltr from Adam Himburger protesting act of looting

Exhibit „H“   Ltr from Otto Goeddel protesting act of looting

Exhibit „I“    Ltr fr Det I1A2 to CG, Third Army, Attn. AC of S, G-5

 

Detachment I1A2

Co A, 2nd ECAR

APO 658

 

4 April 1945

Memorandum:

To: Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5 Section, Third Army

 

1. In response to note of Lt. Henry M. Adams, Det I2A2, I preseent herewith the experience of my Detachment with the so-called French „security“ troops.

a. Neunkirchen: 110 men of the 8th Co, 2d Bn, 146th Regt of the French Army, commanded by Major Martin are stationed at Neunkirchen. On 28 March when I proposed to Major Martin to keep Displaced Persons under control, he objected to making „prisoners“ of Allied Nationals in Germany. Primarily, Major Martin’s command seem interested not only in aiding and abetting Displaced Persons to loot, but to indulge in the practice themselves. 1st Lt McNamara, of this Detachment, and Public Safety Officer, is living in Neunkirchen with one Enlisted Man and has had continuous difficulties with Major Martin. Major Martin took offense at Lt. McNamara’s suggestion that he pay for two bottles of wine he had taken from a wine merchant for his own consumption. The following day, the Major stated he had been overcharged after having paid 150 francs for both bottles, whereupon he arbitrarily decided to „fine“ the wine merchant 100 bottles for each bottle that he was overcharged on. Lt. McNamara prevented this and I explained to Major Martin, as I had already done at least half a dozen times that he and his men were attached to the Third Army and that he was expected to obey its orders. In my recent 24 hour report I have referred to this organization.

On 1 April, I had information that at least 7 supply trucks which had been given licenses exempting them from „requisition“ by US Army were taken by men of his command. Major Martin admitted that he had only 4 trucks when he came from Metz and he now has a minimum of eight. On the whole it may be said that his organization is totally uncooperative and out to get what they can. Today, 2 more trucks „licensed for supply“ by my organization and specifically exempted from „requisition“ by US, British, French and Belgian forces, were appropriated by two soldiers from Metz, not members of Major Martin’s organization. I told one of his officers today that Neunkirchen should be OFF LIMITS to all French personnel not stationed there. S/Sgt Rodgers, of this Detachment prevented a group of French soldiers from outside the city from taking three more trucks this afternoon. It can be safely predicted that within a few weeks most of the transportation of the region will have been taken to France, thereby interfering with food supply and indirectly with the production of coal looked for in this region.

b. St. Wendel: There is a platoon of Frenchman at St. Wendel for the guarding of bridges. Only today several incidents were reported where Frenchmen were holding up citizens go get their watches and the contents of their pocket books. A French supply truck went to a farm today to requisition eggs and after getting the eggs, they also took the chickens. They have been interfering with our civilian policeman.

Stanley R. Jacobs

Captain, CMP

Mil Govt Officer

Commanding

Eugene A. McNamara appeared before the Inspector General, XXIII Corps, Colonel H. O. Pinther, I.C.D., the investigation Officer, at Ottweiler, Germany, on 14 April 1945, the matter being investigated was explained to the witness, the 24th Article of War was read to the witness and he acknowsledged full understanding thereoff, and having been duly sworn as a witness in this investigation, testified as follows:

 

1. Q. Will you state your full name, rank, serial number, organization, duty and station?

 

A. Name:               Eugene A. McNamara

Rank:                    1st Lieutenant

Serial number        O 578 454

Organization          Company „A“, Detachment I1A2, 2d European Civilian Affairs Regiment

Duty                      Public Safety Officer

Station                  APO 658

 

2. Q.    Lieutenant, how long have you been on duty in this area?

A.        Since 18 or 20 March 1945.

 

3. Q.    Have you, in your work in this area, had any contact with the French military forces?

A.        Yes, sir.

 

4. Q.    Will you give me briefly the experiences that you have had with them?

A.        While the Detachment was operating at St. Wendel, I was sent with Staff Sergeant Henry J. Rogers to represent Military Government in Neunkirchen on approximately 28 March 1945. Upon arriving at Neunkirchen with the Commanding Officer, Captain Stanley R. Jacobs, we called on Major Martin, Commanding Officer of the 2d Battalion of the 116th Infantry Regiment, French Army. We talked over general security measures for the area, but arrived at no definite understanding. At that time I requested the use of French soldiers to control displaced persons, but I was informed, they were our allies and could not in any way be guarded by French soldiers.

 

5 Q.     Was this statement made by Major Martin?

A.        Yes sir. At this time in Neunkirchen there were approximately 5000 displaced persons in camps in and around the city. They were looting and general disturbance in the city.

 

6. Q.    By whom was the looting?

A.        By Russians, Italians, etc. Upon leaving the French garrison, I located my headquarters and started to make a reconnaissance of the city and enviros. I visited all the camps and informed all the displaced persons there that I would not tolerate any disturbance. I worked well into the night and apprehended many persons on the streets with property which had been plundered. The situation continued until the 30th day of March, at which time I again interviewed Major Martin in company with Captain Jacobs, an American Major from the SHAEF Solid Fuels Section and a British Lieutenant Colonal of the same section. I at that time told Major Martin that an order had been given by Military Government that no displaced persons were to be allowed on the streets at any hour and there was no particular argument between us. He agreed it was a bad situation, but in the French manner shrugged his shoulders and said he couldn’t control ist.

 

7 Q.     Did he state that the French military personnel were not obligated to control allied prisoners of war?

A.        Not at that time. He asked me how many man I wanted. I told him I wanted ten men. He said I could have nine men and a Sergeant. I told him that the men were going to be used not to guard the displaced persons, but to enforce the Military Government order and that the displaced persons were not to ciruclate on the streets; however, upon leaving Major Martin, Sergeant Rodgers and I worked out a plan by which we secured civilian transportation, and the following morning we started sending the displaced persons to designated camps. In regard to the ten men promised me, they would promise to have men at my headquarters at 9 o’clock. The Sergeant would go the the French garrison, and usually by 10:30 would come back with four or five men. This continued for a few days when a platoon of the 558th Field Artillery battalion came into Neunkirchen, and soldiers were furnished by them to go with the trucks to the camps. The soldiers were not as guards, but for safe conduct for the trucks. About 1 April I received a call of much disturbance in a wine cellar in Neunkirchen. Upon arriving at the spot, there was a large number of Germans in line to purchase wine. There were two French sentries on duty at the entrance to the wine cellar. There was a steady stream of French soldiers, displaced persons and a few American soldiers coming out of the wine cellar loaded with bottles of wine. I took several of the French soldiers myself, ordered the American soldiers to return the wine to the cellar and ordered them back where they were billeted. I reprimanded the soldiers and instructed the French guards to stop further looting. I carried this information of the conduct of the French soldiers to the Company Commander (I don’t know his name). He promised that they would be punished. The next morning I was informed by the wine merchant who lived in the building next to the wine cellar that trucks were coming from the wine cellar all during the night. Upon arrival of Lieutenant McArthur’s troops of the 558th, a guard was rosted at the wine cellar, and for the first few nights French soldiers would rome and rettle the door and had to be chased away by the American guards.

 

8. Q     Was the wine that was in the possession of the French and American soldiers and displaced persons taken as loot rather then paid for?

A.        It was taken as loot, sir. There was no attempt to pay.

 

9. Q.    You know that definitely?

A.        Yes sir. I later questioned the American soldiers, and they told me the French and the displaced persons were doing it, and they just wanted something to drink. Upon placing the American sentries at the wine cellar, I had a conversation with Major Martin, in which he had requested 200 bottles of wine and which the sentries had refused to honor. In a rather heated conversation, he first saidd that it was a request of the French Army, and then he said that is was a fine imposed on the wine merchant by him because under my order one of his soldiers had to buy two bottles of wine and the soldier was overcharged.

 

10. Q. that was one of Major Martin’s soldiers?

A.      Yes sir, on guard there. Before the Americans took over the guarding of the wine cellar the French had a daytime guard, who would allow French soldiers, Americans and displaced persons to take wine, but at night if the guard was removed, the wine merchant tole me that trucks were there all during the night. On numerous instances it was reported to us that French soldiers were indiscriminately „requisitioning“ both passenger cars and trucks by painting them with the French color and marking them with a French number.

 

11. Q. Do you know if they had any papers or anything of that sort to show as a request in those cases?

A.        No sir, I don’t, for this reason - the only ones we actually apprehended were on 4 April. Staff Sergeant Rodgers apprehended I believe four or five Frenchmen in the act of painting the French color and numbers on this vehicles. Sergeant Rodgers informed me that the French soldiers told him that they were under orders from Metz to secure vehicles. He took a rag, rubbed the paint off the cars, rubbed out the numbers, kicked the print bucket over and told them to take off to Metz.

 

12. Q.  Were those French soldiers?

A.        Yes sir. On the same day it was reported that trucks were taken by French soldiers. During the first week I was in Neunkirchen it was reported to me on numerous occasions that civilian automobiles and trucks were being „requisitioned“ by French soldiers. I had several conferences with Major Martin regard to this and would take him the papers of the „requisitioned“ vehicles with the authorization of the US Military Government that they were intended for use by the community and were not to be „requisitioned“. One of the cars taken was No. 54105, and the papers and statement by Military Government „not to be requisitioned“ are attached hereto as an exhibit. Major Martin would inform me that the vehicles were being taken by French soldiers from Metz and not by his troops. In one conversation he told me that when he arrived in Neunkirchen he had four trucks and had requisitioned four, which made a total of eight, and he now had sufficient transportation and they were not „requisitioning“ further. I then implored him to guard the roads with road blocks to keep other French soldiers out and this he promised to do. About 7 or 8 April 1945 Lieutenant Colonel Barthalet, Commanding Officer of the 146th Infantry Regiment, French Army, came to Neunkirchen. I informed him of the difficultires I had in regard to the French „requisitioning“ civilian vehicles. He was most courteous; and after his arrival the „requisitioning“ diminished. For the first few nights after my arrival in Neunkirchen there was indiscriminate shooting in all parts of the city. I protested to Major Martin about this, and he promised to attempt to rectify it.

 

13. Q.  Do you know by whom the shooting was done?

A.        It couldn’t have been done by anyone except the French, as they were the only soldiers here. I didn’t actually see them. There were numerous reports made by the German civilians of French soldiers looting, plifering (?) and taking of bicycles.

 

14. Q. Were you able to follow up any of these cases and get definite proof against the French.

 

A.        No sir. Sergeant Rodgers and I were so busy with the administration of the city and with the removal every day of approximately 300 displaced persons that we were unable to apprehend or follow up the reported misconduct of French soldiers.

 

15. Q.  Did you come across at anytime any black market operations by French soldiers?

A.        No sir.

 

16. Q.  Do you know of any cases of fraternization between the French and the Germans?

A.        Yes sir. Lieutenant McCarthy and Major Martin apprehended two French soldiers in a room in a compromising position with three German girls. The French soldiers were taken by Major Martin for punishment.

 

17. Q. Do you know how the French garrison obtained its food supply?

A.        The French garrison at Neunkirchen was fed by the American Army.

 

18. Q.  Do you have anything else that you wish to add to the above testimony?

A.        A number of Russian displaced persons were armed both with rifles and pistols, and in one mine refused to allow German workers to enter and work. This condition existed during the time the French military personnel were guarding the mines. These Russians were disarmed by Staff Sergeant Rodgers and soldiers of the 55th Field Artillery.

 

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Bernard Price appeared before the Inspector General, XXIII Corps, Colonel H. O. Pinther, I.C.D., the investigation Officer, at Ottweiler, Germany, on 15 April 1945, the matter being investigated was explained to the witness, the 24th Article of War was read to the witness and he acknowsledged full understanding thereoff, and having been duly sworn as a witness in this investigation, testified as follows:

 

1. Q.    Will you state your full name, rank, serial number, organization, duty and station?

A.        Name                Bernard Price

           Rank                  Pfc

           Serial Number    32 878 368

           Organisation      Company „B“, Detachment I1A2

           Duty                  Interpreter

           Station              APO 658

 

20. Q   How long have you been on duty in this area?

A.        Approximately four weeks.

 

21. Q.  During that time where has the principal amount of your work been?

A.        At St. Wendel.

 

22. Q.  Will you give us briefly your experience with French troops located in this area?

A.        The French soldiers stationed in this area where I am stationed were hindering me in fulfilling my duty. There were several cases where French soldiers „requisitioned“ radios, mattressess, automobile parts and food items.

 

23. Q.  Do you know that this „requisitioning“ was not a local requisitioning?

A.        Yes. This so-called „requisitioning“ was unlawful and upon my request that such cases should not happen again, Lieutenant Withman promised me that he would call on his men not to have these repeated, however, this was not so. I always was called by civilians, and I had to aks these „requisitioning“ soldiers to return goods on the spot. One wine cellar that has been closed by me was broken into, and I put on a sign „off limits for troops“ and signed by Military Government. I found the next day this slip removed, and the owner of the wine cellar told me that the French soldiers had removed it and taken out some liquor and wine. I asked Lieutenant Withman about this incident, and he told me that one of his soldiers had brought in this stuff and that he was willing to pay the owner. I am submitting originals of two letters from the Ortsburgermeister of Urweiler, in which a few incidents concerning „requisitioning“ of chickens, a goose and automobile parts by French soldiers are described. I further submit the original of pass No. 0864, which I issued for our Detachment for a German civilian worker. I was told that the French guard did not recognise the pass written in English and that the French Commandant of the St. Wendel sector insisted upon the issuance of a second pass written in French. This French pass is inclosed herewith. I had several complaints from civilians that passes issued by my Detachment were torn into pieces and that the French guards insist on having passes in the French language.

 

24. Q.  Do you know of any cases in which the French Military Personnel were involved in black market operations?

A.        No sir.

 

25. Q. Do you have anything else you wish to add to the above testimony?

A.        No sir.

 

Witness dismissed.

 

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Stanley R. Jacobs appeared before the Inspector General, XXIII Corps, Colonel H. O. Pinther, I.C.D., the investigation Officer, at Ottweiler, Germany, on 15 April 1945, the matter being investigated was explained to the witness, the 24th Article of War was read to the witness and he acknowsledged full understanding thereoff, and having been duly sworn as a witness in this investigation, testified as follows:

 

26. Q.         Will you state your full name, rank, serial number, organization, duty and station?

A.     Name                   Stanley R. Jacobs

        Rank                    Captain

        Serial Number       O 140 293

        Organization         Detachment I1A2

        Station                 APO 658

 

27. Q.         Captain, how long have you been on duty in this area?

A.     Since approximately 20 March 1945.

 

28. Q.         Will you give me briefly your actual personal experience with French troops located in this area?

A.     The „F“ Detachment that was assigned to Neunkirchen to help us out was alerted on 27 March. I went down on the morning of 28 March, having been introduced to Major Martin on the afternoon of the 27th by Colonel Hastings of the „F“ Detachment. I decided to place Lieutenant McNamara and his Sergeant there in Neunkirchen. I knew that the solution to public safety and good order was disposing of displaced persons, which we had been doing successfully during the first six days at St. Wendel by disposing of them and placing them under guard. When I came to Major Martin that morning with Lieutenant McNamara, I spoke directly to him in French and told him what I was to do. He immediately raised his eyebrows and objected to making prisoners of allied civilians in Germany. I told him that I though it was the only solution, but he didn’t want to go along. I told Lieutenant McNamara what he had to do. On my daily visits to Neunkirchen he gave me continous reports of trouble with the French; however, after a certain amount of uncontrolled looting by DP’s, I went with Major Price of the SHAEF G-4, a British Lieutenant Colonel and a French 1st Lieutenant, who were all assignet to the unit at that time, to see Major Martin again and tell him that we wanted to declare Neunkirchen streets off limits to all civilians except Germans. He prevented not to understand my request at first. He said no - only to keep foreign civilians of the streets. He didn’t want to go along on that.

 

29. Q.         That would have meant the displaced persons?

A.     Yes. The best information that I could give would come from certain comments in my 24-hour-reports, as well as excerpts from a letter, dated 30 March 1945, to the CG, Third US Army, APO 403, same of which are quoted herewith:

 

        „1 April 1945 - French Company assigned in Neunkirchen indulging in shooting weapons at night and looting. At least seven supply trucks which had been given licenses exempting them from being „requisitioned“ by US Army were taken by men of this command (French command)“

 

        „2 April 1945 - Disorderly conduct and looting by French 5th Company 146th Regiment continued2

 

        Having written a special memorandum to the AC of S, G-5, Third US Army on 4 April, as well as certain paragraphs in a letter on displaced persons to the CG, Third Army on 30 March, I did not continue to report the various offenses to the French in my daily reprots, although the offences continued. On Tuesday afternoon, 10 April 1945 I was in St. Wendel with Captain Sauvain of Detachment E102. As we left our car, we heard a series of shots. We then noticed that a convoy of German prisoners was going through the streets. I immediately inquired of Frnech soldiers on the street why they had fired. The answer was that they had fired because the civilians waved at the prisoners. I told them that this was not necessary, and was informed that the Germans in the reverse position had fired when they were in France.

 

30. Q.         Were the shots fired at the prisoners or in the air?

A.     I don’t know. I only heard the shots.

 

31. Q.         Do you know if anyone was hurt during the shooting?

A.     As far as I know, no one was hurt.

 

32. Q.         Do you know of any cases of black market operations by the French military personnel?

A.     No

 

33. Q.         Have you heard of any?

A.     Yes. Lieutenant McCarthy of the 558th Field Artillery is more familiar with it than I am.

 

34. Q.         Do you have anything else that you wish to add to the above testimony?

A.     While I was in St. Wendel a French 2nd Lieutenant came in to the office and told me that he had been ordered to obtain horses formerly owned by the Wehrmacht and take them to Lorraine for use on the farms. Upon my requesting to see his orders, he showed me an order from SHAEF directing him to proceed to Luxemburg for duty. This order mentioned nothing about proceeding to Germany to obtain horses for Lorraine. He tried to high-pressure me by saying that he was ordered by the American Chief of Staff at Metz to execute this commission.

        I told him that it was against SHAEF orders to transport property from Germany to France; and that in order to permit him to remove any horses, I should have to receive a written order from the Commanding General, Third US Army, and that I did not take orders from any officer in Metz, which was a that time in the Seventh Army area. I left him greatly perturbed. He said he was coming back with an order. I do not know if he took the 19 horses, which he said he had loaded up and which were Wehrmacht horses. I pointed out to him that if they were Wehrmacht horses, they were the property of the US Army now.

 

Witness dismissed.

 

-------------------------------

 

Henry J. Rodgers appeared before the Inspector General, XXIII Corps, Colonel H. O. Pinther, I.C.D., the investigation Officer, at Ottweiler, Germany, on 15 April 1945, the matter being investigated was explained to the witness, the 24th Article of War was read to the witness and he acknowsledged full understanding thereoff, and having been duly sworn as a witness in this investigation, testified as follows:

 

35. Q.         Will you state your full name, rank, serial number, organization, duty and station?

A.     Name                       Henry J. Rodgers

        Rank                        Staff Sergeant

        Serial number           33 183 779

        Organization             Detachment I1A2, Company „A“

        Duty                         Interpreter

        Station                     APO 658

 

36. Q.         Sergeant, how long have you been on duty in this area?

a.     Approximately 15 days.

 

37. Q.         What has been your contact with the French military personnel who are stationed in this area?

 

A.     Lieutenant McNamara and I were sent into Neunkirchen from St. Wendel. Upon arrival there we had trouble with DP’s, and that was our general purpose. They were looting, shooting and fighting. When we got there, we discovered that the French were causing just as much trouble as the DP’s. The next day while I was making a tour, a wine merchant was selling wine to the customers. The Russians, Italians and the French soldiers were going in and carrying wine out by cases. Some were drunk. We stopped the Russians and gave back the wine. We couldn’t stopp all of the French and they got away with it. The second night we stayed home and we heard shooting. Upon investigation, we found that it was the French at the brewery. The second day I noticed fraternization. The French were walking with the Germans arm in arm. Some would break it up, and some wouldn’t. You would have to lock the girls up. Later in the evening I checked three beer parlors. I noticed in every one were French soldiers and gendarmeieres sitting at tables with German girls. I stopped an American MP, and he was not quite sure whether he should arrest the gendarmeieres and the French soldiers. I saw about eight in one saloon. There must have been close to eighteen French soldiers and gendarmeieres in the three places. We have in our official records names of the women that were arrested for fraternization with French soldiers. There were three cars we had registered to furnish for pulling the fire apparatus around. I noticed a truck standing in the alley with one French soldier. I asked him what he was doing, and he said „Comrades“. I went around the corner and they had already painted the numbers on two cars and they were changing the batteries. I inquired what they were doing and they said their commander from Metz had sent them up for a few machines. I told them that the cars were registered for the First Department. I told them to wipe the numbers off, seal the doors and ran than off.

 

38. Q.         Have you witnesses any other cases of looting by the French soldiers?

A.     Actually, no. We have not run anything down, but they have been reported to us.

 

Witness dissmissed.

 

-------------------------------

 

Richard J. Harrigan appeared before the Inspector General, XXIII Corps, Colonel H. O. Pinther, I.C.D., the investigation Officer, at Ottweiler, Germany, on 15 April 1945, the matter being investigated was explained to the witness, the 24th Article of War was read to the witness and he acknowsledged full understanding thereoff, and having been duly sworn as a witness in this investigation, testified as follows:

 

39. Q.  Will you state your full name, rank, serial number, organization, duty and station?

A.        Name           Richard J. Harrigan

           Rank            Tec Sergeant

           Serial number      36 811 829

           Organization 223d CIC Detachment, XXIII Corps

           Duty            Special Agent

           Station         APO 103

 

40. Q.         How long have you been on duty in this area?

A.      Three days.

 

41. Q.         What has been your observation of the French military personnel on duty in this area?

a.       My observation is that the French Commanding Officers do not have control over the activities of their men, both on and off duty.

 

42. Q.         Can you give any specific instances?

A.      Yes. I have seen and have stopped numerous French soldiers driving civilian automobiles, motorcycles on the road, who appearently were not in line of duty, at excessive rates of speed. Because of oru situation I was unable to hold everybody, and I don’t speak French. I couldn’t do a lot about it at the time. I have seen French soldiers in the company of German civilian women. Two days ago, the 13th, in the afternoon I was going to the Chief of Police Headquarters in the City Hall. As I approached the building I noticed four French soldiers in charge of the Chief of Police of Neunkirchen. They had him under guard were taking him toward the City hall jail. I accosted them and inquired as to the reason for this arrest. The soldiers stated that they were placing the Chief of Police under arrest because they had information that he was formerly a gestapo agent. I asked the soldiers to release him to my care and I would investigate any necessary measures. The soldiers refused to do so, and only after a great deal of persuasion was I able to the soldiers to take the Chief of Police in his office and hold him there. I took the Sergeant in charge of the four soldiers to Lieutenant Colonel Barthelet and asked what authority they had for the arrest. The Colonel knew knothing about the matter. No orders had come from him. He reprimanded the Sergeant in my presence, and this all the action he took that I know of. The Chief of Police was put in office of the Military Government and has been one of the very few reliable men we have seen. He has been very satisfactory in getting things done. Things of this kind are defeating the purpose for which we are here. The Chief of Police was so upset I think he feared for his life, and we can’t work with him if thins like this occur.

 

43. Q. Do you have anything else that you wish to add to the above testimony?

A.        No.

 

Witness dissmissed.

 

-------------------------------

 

Exhibit C

 

14 April 1945

 

The following statement was made by Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Jeffers, GSC, AC of S, G-4, SHAEF, at a conference of a number of American officers who were involved in occupational duties. The conference was to determine the effectiveness of the French military personnel in the area:

 

Before we uncovered the Moselle and the Saar, we talked with the owners of the concessions in the Moselle, and we came to the conclusion that there would not be management and supervision of the personnel left here by the Germans. We organized a group of French technicians, and it was more of an insurance policy from our experience in the Aachen field. We feld that the Germans had removed all of the top management from the coal mines. When we came into the Mosell that worked out perfectly because the mines in the Moselle had been under direkt German supervision. They took the management when they retreated south. We move the French management right in. We have no processed and are feeding and quartering pretty close to 200 supervisors in the Moselle. We have processed 27 French engineers, who had formerly operated the mines in the Saar, for the purpose of putting them in charge of the mines, assuming that the management would be gone. When the boys came in after the mines were uncovered, they found the General Managin Director of the three groops - East, Center and West mines - and found him quite cooperative. We do not know how they will be after things go on for a while. Practically the total organization was intact. The first thing that they asked was whether or not we would bring the French in. Our interest was from the G-4 angle and was the coal for Moselle properties. There was a minimum civilian required. What immediately happened was this - there apparently was an organized looting the the French military personnel from Ardennes. There were not may guards on the bridges. Whoever sent in the gendarmes did not put them on the bridges of the Moselle. Colonel Kelley was instrumental in getting some troops to put on the bridges. They didn’t have any instructions in regard to American troops. Immediately the French came over and painted signs on vehicles, looted trucks, took bicyles and took tools from the mines. They also took typewriters. .We needed the trucks. What we were interested in were the essential tools in order to get essential coal.

 

(Questions asked by Colonel M.O. Pinther, I.G.D.)

 

What did they do with the things that were looted?

 

God only knows what they did with them.

 

Was that looting done by the French military personnel?

 

There was a French Lieutenant in French uniform, who had a civilian car, and it had a label which read „Poor Officiel“. I know the lieutenant myself.

 

What was his name?

 

I don’t know his name, but I can get it.

 

And you know that the car is in the hands of the French?

 

Yes, they took it. Afterwards we came up and talked with the General Director of the mines. In the meantime, Major Price had started things rolling to get personnel and start functioning. The question came up of getting circulating permits. They were afraid to get our primarily because of displaced persons. The Russians were running amuck. They got hold of arms. There was a perfect vacuum here. We came up here on 28 or 29 and rode all over the Saar, and only saw two G.I.’’s walking down the road armed. We saw eight G.I.’s at a mine. There just weren’t any troops here to try to keep law and order. We went around to all the mines about the 29th, I am not sure, and found that the miners were afraid to work. Now, Major Prices tells me today that the French gendarmes have picked up the passes and won’t accept them. They shoot at the guards when they come to work. In one case they went to the manager of the mine and told him that he had arms hidden there; and unless the produced them by 6 o’clock, they would arrest him. The manager said they had no guns. The demand was made to produce those guns or they would arrest him. As a consequence, it has interfered with the circulation of the miners. An agreement was reached between the American Military Personnel supervising the operating of the mines and the Military Government in this area that the personnel operating the mines would issue passes to personnel working in the mines. These were picked up by the French, thereby preventing the German workers from going to and from their work. What we are concerned with it to get production in these mines as soon as possible, which concerns locomotive coal. In order to get maximum production, it will be necessary to have circulating permits beyond the curfew hour. We would like very much if that could be worked out.

 

------------------

 

16eme B.C.P.

1ere Cie.

 

Autorisation de Circuler

 

Monsieur Liell Peter est autoriser a circuler dans l’arrondissement de St. Wendel pour le service du ravitaillement

 

St. Wendel le 14 Avril 1945.

Le Lieutenant Wittmann, commandant

les troupes francaises du secteur de St. Wendel.

 

----------------

 

Detachment I1A2

Type Exemption    to circulate between the town limits

From                    St. Wendel

To                        St. Wendel between 0600 and 2200

Reason                 Essential worker in food supply for City of St. Wendel

Name                   Peter Liell

Adress                  St. Wendel

Date issued           13 April 1945

Date expired         13 May 1945 /a/ Pfc Bernard Price 32878368

 

----------------

 

Exhibit F

 

Report

 

Yesterday a few Frenchmen arrived in our town with a truck, took the chickens and one goose forcibly away, with the remark that the Germans did the same thing in France. I was called and told them that the Commanding Officer would not tolerate this. They wanted to take me to the Commanding Officer. I refused and they took off. Two of the Frenchmen had weapons. I herewith ask for immediate order what to do.

 

a/ Adam Himburger

 

(There is a stamp on this letter showing the arrival of this letter in Alsweiler on 13 April 1945.)

 

------------------

 

Letter written to Burgomaster.

To Burgomaster at Alsweiler.

 

The agricultural office of the town of St. Wendel published a proclamation according to which all vehicles belonging to the Wehrmacht have to be reported and delivered.

 

In addition to that I report in our town there appeared yesterday and today four persons from Lothingen accompanied by uniformed men which removed the wheels and tires, batteries and parts of the engine from vehicles and put same on large trucks.

 

The uniformed people arrived with a loaded rifle. They tried to get into the Post Office, but were stopped by a courageous man. They also tried to get at our cows and our horses.

 

What shall I do?

 

a/ Adam Himburger

 

This is a certified true translation.

 

-----------------

 

Letter of Otto Goeddel, Neunkirchen, dated 12 April 1945,

adressed to the Mayor of Neunkirchen, Dr. Blank.

 

Re: Looting of my Tailor Shop

 

On April 11, 1945 the following incident occured in my house. Shortly after 10 o’clock two French soldiers came. One was about 5’ 8’’ tall, slim, in black uniform, and the other was shorter, in brown uniform. I was just working in my garden. My wife did not understand the two men. They left and came back after a half hour with an interpreter, Mr. Richter, Neunkirchen, Moltkestraße 41. As Mr. Richter seemed to be the interpreter of the troops and remarked that we had no chance against anybody, my wife thought she could not do anything. The two French soldiers wanted English material for a suit or for a dress for their wives against compensation. When my wife replied that we were all out of English material due to six years of war, they looked through all the business premises and through my appartment, opening all closets and shelves. They did not find what they were looking for and my wife had to take them into the cellar where I had stored my last stock in order to protect it from the bombardement. They took all the material - about 35 yards of my very best lining and what was left of my silk lining as well as rayan lining and one package of lining. Also, most of my thread, silk as well as wool, and one scissors. I estimate the value of the looted stuff to be approximately 1,000 to 1,200 marks. As I cannot purchase any of the material today, the value is much higher than this now. I am almost not in a position to rebuild my business.

 

When my wife raised any argument that this would mean the end of my business the French told her through the interpreter that in case of any complaints by her, they would come back with an automobile and take everything that was still left. Mr. Richter also said to my wife that she should not get excited, as we had no chance to do anything against them. After the gentlemen had everything packed Mr. Richter took another package with him.

 

When I came home I went firstly to Mr. Richter who confirmed the incident. He told me that the gentleman in brown uniform had two stripes put on at an angle on his sleeve. When I asked where the things would go, he answered that the Frenchmen had the intention of taking them into hin apartment. According to Richter he declined first to do that, but later permitted that they should be stored in his business premises in Adolph Hitler street.

 

I herewith ask respect of the Mayor to discuss this matter with the Commanding Officer. I further would be obliged for an investigation as to whether it was Mr. Richter’s duty to assist in this looting and whether Mr. Richter did not commit any crime. I would appreciate it through your office if your efforts would have some results for me.

 

a/ Otto Goeddel

 

This is a certified translation.

 

-------------------

 

Detachment I1A2

Co A, 2nd EGAR

APO 658

 

30 March 1945

 

Subject: Report of displaced persons at Neunkirchen (Q-6083)

To: Commanding General, Third US Army, APO 403, US Army

     (Attention Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5 Section)

 

Extract

 

3. On 28 March 1945, this Detachment took over the actual operation of the city of Neunkirchen from Detachment F2A3. The displaced persons situation was bad, apparently none having been moved from the city despite the presence of the 65th Infantry Division. With the departure of the 65th Infantry Division on the night of 27-28 March, no tactical troops remained in the city and the total occupational troops consisted of 110 men from the 8th Company, 146 Regiment of the French Army, commanded by Major Martin. On 28 March, it was proposed to Major Martin that it was planned to move all displaced persons to one or two centers and keep them under guard as had been done successfully at St. Wendel. The Major’s view was that it would not be proper to make „prisoners“ of Allied civilians in Germany.

 

4. During the last two days, looting in the city of Neunkirchen by displaced persons of various nationalities has been rempant. I again visited Major Martin, accompanied by Major Peperakis and one French Officer and one English Officer of tthe Saar Unit Solid Fuels SHAEF, G-4, in order to convince Major Martin that one hundred percent cooperation in the restraint of displaced persons within designated areas was essential for the opening of the coal mines. It is the desire of the Coal Mission to reestablish Neunkirchen as a coal producing area as soon as possible. At the present time, many workers will not leave their houses for a working day because of the displaced persons situation.

 

/s/ Stanley R. Jacbos

/t/ Stanley R. Jacbos

Captain CMP

Mil Govt Officer

Commanding

 

 

Source:

National Archives at College Park, MD, USA

RG 331, SHAEF, entry 254, First Allied Airborn Army,

Investigation of French Military Personnel Stationed at Ottweiler - Neunkirchen area

box 19, 290/8/29/6

 

Historische Forschungen · Roland Geiger · Alsfassener Straße 17 · 66606 St. Wendel · Telefon: 0 68 51 / 31 66
E-Mail: rolgeiger(at)aol.com · (c)2009 hfrg.de

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