German retribution for Partisan activity in Figeac - "Free" France- anyone know about this?

Discussion in 'General' started by slaphead, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor

    Sapper brought up the subject of a German massacre in the Limouge district of France and that reminded me of a story told by a mates Das who was seven years old when was broke out. I was told the story twenty odd years ago so I my "facts" may be a bit loose but I was wondering. Does anyone know anything about what follows?

    In the Lot district is a town called Figeac. Near to Figeac is a village called Fons. Aparently at some time in '43 or '44 a German convoy was driving along the road above the village and it was attacked by partisans. I cannot remember if any Germans were killed. A few days latter a group of SS entered the village. Rounded up the villagers and nuns from the nunnery and interogated them. Not getting what they wanted the Nazis took a few villagers and possably a nun away for further interogation and in the end they shot them.

    Now I say again, this was told to me twenty years ago by someone who was seven at the time. Does anyone know whether any of this actually happened?
  2. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    My family had links to Figeac until fairly recently and I spent several holidays in Figeac back in the 1970s. I cannot recall anything like this ever coming up but I was a relatively callow youth at the time and it may have gone above my head. The family we knew well had made their money from scrap-dealing after the war, almost literally turning swords into ploughshares. I would be very interested to hear what you can turn up, Slaphead.

  3. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor

    Fons is about 8 to 10 miles North West of Figeac on the Racamadour road. As to what I can turn up, I dont really know where to look. The chap who told me this was the father of one of my friends from college, both the father and son are dead now. I dont speak French and I dont know anybody in the village. I only went there a couple of times and the subject only came up because of a conversation about the big Roman fort that is in the village, and how it became a nunnery many years ago.

    A rummage around the all knowing Googoo turned up nothing so I though I would ask here. If anyone knows of further research avenues I would love to find the truth.
  4. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Figeac in the Lot Department was at the centre, as many towns were in the South West of France of Maquis, FPT and Resistance reseaux activity.These groups were trained, coordinated,and armed by British SOE operatives.

    The main SOE circuit in the area was the Wheelwright Circuit but other minor ones such as the Clergyman and Footman, which was part of Pimento,also operated in this area.

    I will have a look and see if I can reveal a little more.It has to be said that their were many examples of German ratissages on villages in the wake of resistance activity and some of the attacks by the resistors at times, could be criticised for the lack of planning and return.

    It was the resonsibility of the SOE to ensure that these actions against German units were meaningful and the risk of retaliation against innocent civilians, properly assessed.

    Was in the Figeac area in June. Each village memorial to the innocent tells the story of German retaliation against most innocent villagers.The nearest village was saved,at least its villagers were, when the village was raided by a German unit from Figeac.The inhabitants apparently had had early warning and had fled to the hills which gave superb cover as the Germans did not like to run the risk of been ambushed in areas where they had little strength and were not sure of the terrain.

    I think the incident mentioned might have occurred in June 1944 when the Das Reich division were on the march norethwards from Montauban,although as I say rattisage operations against villages or suspect resistance centres were commonplace from the time when Germans occupied Vichy territory in the South of France in November 1942.
  5. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    Search en français, peut-être?

    Figeac features in this list: Massacres perpétrés par les Allemands en France durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale - Wikipédia

    11th/12th May 1944: The SS had hundreds of victims and deportees in this region.

    The Figeac listing only expands slighty on this here: Figeac - Wikipédia

    ... As punishment for resistance in Quercy, the Germans of the 2nd SS Das Reich division arrested 800 Figeacois. 540 of them were deported to the camps Dachau and Neuengamme.

    So you've the date and the unit responsible now. Typically the wikipedia listing for 2nd SS Das Reich fails to list it and even the AHF doesn't mention it; Axis History Factbook: 2. SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich

    Passing mention: The training and refitting program for Das Reich was running behind schedule, in part due to diversions created as the result of operations conducted against the French resistance. For example, on May 11, 1944, members of the division engaged in reprisals against the towns of Montperzat-de-Quercy, St. Cere, Bagnac, Cardaillac, Lauze, caylus, Cadrieu, Frontenac, Figeac and Terrou, (amongst others), in which extensive looting, burning and killing of civilians occurred. From Massacre at Tulle and Oradour

    I believe Max Hastings "Das Reich" might mention it. Sadly it's over shadowed by the events of June of course.

    Bon Chance!
  6. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    We were at a remote hamlet above Terrou which a walk across the uphill meadows gave a good view down towards the village.The village,a few miles south and uphill from St Ceres, was sacked twice and finally the Germans burnt it down on 2 June 1944,but as I said the villagers with good intelligence fled to the hills and woods before a life was lost.However, there is a memorial on the D653 in the Commune of St Medard-Nicourby (which gives access to the uphills from the south side) to two men (one if I recollect was in his 60s) who were deported to Dachau in May 1944.

    In Terrou,the leading coordinator was Abbe Souiry who found work and shelter for young men fleeing from German STO service.

    The first maquis in the area was the Maquis Timo with Groupes Veny, Jean-Jacques Chapou FTP and later Robert Noireau (Colonel Georges).There was a lot of haggling over arms with the Groups Veny having the most as they had a very good liaison with the SOE.The resisters had a special group for liquidating collaborators and one Lorrainer was said to have accounted for 98.But overall the resistors lacked experience, training and good middlle ranking officers and there were internal betrayals due to lack of security.

    As Abbe Souiry said, postwar,the true resistors were just ordinary inconnus

    The killings at Frayssinet-le Gelat was as a result of a ratissage against the village by a Das Reich unit (I think Dickmann of Ouradour sur Glane infamy was invoved).One victim turned out to be an FFI member who was killed on the outskirts of the village and is commemorated by a dedicated memorial while a village memorial records the remainder of the victims.A niece and aunt were shot when the aunt pointed a shotgun through a bedroom window.The two now lying in the village cemetery.

    Staying on holiday in a remote farmhouse and witnessing beautiful sunsets,it was difficult to imagine all that had gone before.I suppose if the farmhouse could talk,it would have related the account of a farmhouse abandoned due to resistance activity and not recovered for 45 years.

    Just found Fons,it is just off the N140 to Figeac.
  8. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor


    I knew some of the more famous German reprisals, but I didnt know there were so many that a story like this is basically unremarkable and commonplace.

    I find this whole side of the war incomprehensible. I used to go to Heidelberg on business and studied German and German poetry at school. It just seems impossable to link not just the events but the mindset of the people then to the people now. I know we are involved in counter insurgency in Iraq and Afganistan but we dont wipe out a village for each road side bomb that goes off.
  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Fons. Cannot find a memorial to civilians but they may be included in the village war memorial which has 25 people remembered.20 from 1914-1918 and 5 from 1939-1945.Sometimes civilians are listed as "victims civil" on the war memorial.Cannot make out from the photograph the exact detail.

    The village memorial apparently is situated at the higher end of the village opposite the entrance to the church as below:

    Also included is a photograph of the memorial to those civilians murdered in the ratissage at Frayssinet-le-Gelat on 21 May 1944.15 victims are remembered including the FFI member who I think was Georges Lafont who has his own dedicated memorial,presumably where he was killed, on the outskirts of the village.

    Photographs via Memorial Web Gen

    Attached Files:

  10. piaf

    piaf Member

    Have you tried the Mairie at Fons?
    There is a book on sale at the Mairie in thevillage where I live detailing the events of the years 1939 -1945.
    Best wishes
  11. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor

    Wow, thangs for all this info gang.
    Piaf, I was going to try the Mairie but I was not sure if the village had one as it is quite small and also my French is terrible as is my Spanish (now none existant) and my German is really poor too.. (and English aint so good, either! In my day I was called "thick" nowerdays I would be dyslexic)

    Harry, How do you know Fons and its war memorial? My friends family were the Morisot's and they had/lived in the converted plum oven and house on the hill
  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Wow, thangs for all this info gang.
    Piaf, I was going to try the Mairie but I was not sure if the village had one as it is quite small and also my French is terrible as is my Spanish (now none existant) and my German is really poor too.. (and English aint so good, either! In my day I was called "thick" nowerdays I would be dyslexic)

    Harry, How do you know Fons and its war memorial? My friends family were the Morisot's and they had/lived in the converted plum oven and house on the hill

    Sorry,I have never visited Fons but have spent some time over the years in the Lot and know the area quite well.Fons is one of those villages which are sign posted off a RN,some you might vist and some not.

    As it was, Fons was easily traceable from the IGN map I have and was quite close to Macapelle-Marival,the principal town in the area which we frequented this past summer.Usually if there is memorial,sometimes referred to as a "stele",it will be marked on the related IGN but for Fons,I could not find one.I would think that the victims that you have heard about are on the Fons memorial under 1939-1945 as "victims civil"

    If you wish to have more information on memorials, then go to the French Memorial Gen Web,ie might provide further clues on past atrocities.Some might cover atrocities under "victim civil" on the war memorial while others,depending on the magnitude of the atrocity might have their own dedicated memorial as do frequently,individuals.

    I think that it has been recorded that 200.000 French civilians lost their lives during the Second World War from all causes and it has been estimated that 5% of the population were active in resisting the invader,either actively in the field or by passive means.So you will find that the past has not been forgotten by the evidence of memorials to victIms and deportees and to those who helped to liberate internal France as regulars or irregulars.

    Regarding information on these groups,you will find that the French sources are the best for detailed knowledge but there has been a number of researchers other than French who have publications in English which are very helpful.

    As has been said, the local commune may have detail of atrocities.Failing that you will usually find that towns have resistance museums where a great deal of information can be had.

    Figeac,I would think would have a museum dedicated to the Resistance as the area was a hive of resistance activity and SOE involvement. (I was very impressed with the Sologne Resistance museum at Blois which also covered SOE involvement and the outstanding contribution of No 138 and No 161 RAF Squadrons.So you will find that the "British" are not entirely forgotten)
  13. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor

    Thank you for your info on GenWeb Harry. I will give them a try.
    So far no luck from the Mairie in Fons so I am trying the Mairie in Figeac.

    I'll let you know how I get on...
  14. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Google Orador sur glan and Tulle. The Victims of the SS from the Das Reich pigs and their Vichy French co-criminals.
    That is where they put the woman and children in the church and burned them alive.

    Fortunately a great many were caught in the Falaise pocket and were slaughtered....

    For that gave me great pleasure. Bstrds.

Share This Page