MAY 8 … END OF WW2 … AND 100 BODIES OF GERMAN SOLDIERS FOUND IN THIAIS CEMETERY OUTSIDE PARIS … (update)

  (THERE ARE TWO UPDATES AT THE END OF THIS PIECE.) On this day, Thursday, May 8, 2014 – 69 years to the day that the Second World War in Europe ended – we here in France learn that on Monday, April 28, 100 bodies of German soldiers were found piled into an unmarked mass […]

1940: Hitler visiting conquered Paris.

1940: Hitler visiting conquered Paris.

 

(THERE ARE TWO UPDATES AT THE END OF THIS PIECE.)

On this day, Thursday, May 8, 2014 – 69 years to the day that the Second World War in Europe ended – we here in France learn that on Monday, April 28, 100 bodies of German soldiers were found piled into an unmarked mass grave in the cemetery of  Thiais, a few kilometres south of Paris.

The skeletons were found because the Paris city authorities are doing an archaeological survey of areas of the cemetery which do not yet hold graves. Paris’s cemeteries will be full within a couple of years, so more burial space has to be found for those who will be dying from now on. This is not the first time that Paris has run out of burial space. Indeed there had been a major transfer of skeletons at the end of the 18th century from Paris’s cemeteries to what is now the Catacombs and where there are 6 million skeletons today. (Gives you goose pimples does it not?)

Skulls and bones in Paris's Catacombs.

Skulls and bones in Paris’s Catacombs. (copyright marilynztomlins)

The moment the surveyors realised that the bodies they had come to, Paris’s town hall notified the German Embassy of the find. It is now for France and Germany to decide the fate of the bodies: bury them here in France, or repatriate them back to Germany. Meanwhile the area has been sealed off.

The question now is how did these soldiers die?

In battle?

Did the French shoot them?

Were they captured in Paris at the Liberation of Paris in August 1944 and hanged, and the bodies were then carted to the cemetery, conveniently outside Paris and not in the public eye?

Damage done to a building on Paris's Boulevard Saint Michel by German tanks during the fight for the Liberation of Paris in August 1944

Damage done to a building on Paris’s Boulevard Saint Michel by German tanks during the fight for the Liberation of Paris in August 1944 (copyright marilynztomlins)

 

Thiais Cemetery, the third largest of the cemeteries of Paris and its region dates from October 1929. There are about 130,000 graves over the cemetery’s 250 acres.

There lies Lev Sedov, son of Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary and founder of the Red Army.

Lev Sedov

Lev Sedov

Sedov, in exile in Paris, died in February 1938 of complications due to appendicitis. Just 32 years old he was taken to a Paris hospital for an appendectomy from which he did not recover.

Today, 76 years later, there are still claims that Stalin had him assassinated, just as he had had his father Leon Trotsky assassinated in Mexico in 1940.

Leon Trotsky then still the young revolutionary.

Leon Trotsky then still the young revolutionary.

It was also in Thiais Cemetery where the last king of Albania, Zog 1, living in exile in Paris, had been buried on his death in 1961.

Zog, birth name Ahmet Muhtar Bej Zogolli, self-proclaimed King of Albania, fled his country at the outbreak of WW2 when Hitler’s ally in Rome, Mussolini, invaded Albania and declared it a Protectorate of Italy.
King Zog’s remains were returned to Albania in October 2012 and now lie in a mausoleum in Tirana, the Albanian capital.

 

-0-

If you are interested in Paris in the Second World War you can read my book about Dr Marcel Petiot, French WW2 serial killer. It is available on all Amazon sites.

Dr Marcel Petiot as a young family doctor.

Dr Marcel Petiot as a young family doctor.

 

My book Die in Paris - the paperback

My book Die in Paris – the paperback

You may also like to read my novel BELLA … A FRENCH LIFE to give you insight into how the French find it difficult to forget those years from 1940 to 1945 when Nazi Germany occupied France. You can also buy the novel on all Amazon sites.

'Bella ... A French Life'  about love, sex, and adultery ... and food, glorious food as only the French can make it.

‘Bella … A French Life’ about love, sex, and adultery … and food, glorious food as only the French can make it.

 UPDATE No 1:

SATURDAY, May  10, 2014

It has now been revealed that the bodies of 800 German soldiers have been found in the cemetery.

However, according to Bernard Poirier, head of the laboratory of the Archaeology Section of the Val de Marne Department  (LDA) in which the cemetery is located, the number is not final as the excavations are still under way. (The laboratory – there is one in each department of France – verifies that archaeological finds are not fakes while if the find is a human skeleton it endeavours to establish the date and reason of its demise. (LDA – Laboratoire départemental d’archéologie)

Monsieur Poirier pointed out that one must not start speculating  about the deaths of the German soldier because the bodies were buried in “quite a normal way. In coffins.”

He added: “There was therefore no massacre of German soldiers as is being rumoured.”

Therefore, where , or in what battle, could these soldiers have fallen? Eight hundred is quite a large number and, as it is, the number may increase.

Historian Henry Rousso and the head of research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS – Centre national de la research scientifique) point out  there were just two periods in the Second World War when there were a large number of German fatalities in France. Indeed, one such period was in August 1944. The other was in June 1940 when the Wehrmacht was moving in on Paris and the French Army was still fighting.

The battle to liberate Paris from German occupation had begun on August 19 and 6 days later, on August 25, the capital was liberated and the Germans were on the run. On August 24 there had been heavy fighting near to Thiais, in and around the town of Fresnes and many Germans had fallen.  Fresnes is 17 kms (11 miles) from Paris and 5.7 kms (3.5 miles) from Thiais.

A spokesperson of France’s Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles – DRAC) which falls under the ministry of culture and is in charge of historical monuments and buildings has speculated that it is possible that the Wehrmacht had buried its June 1940 dead in the Thiais cemetery and, then in 1944, having fled the capital, they had abandoned their dead there where they had fallen, and the French, cleaning up, had collected the bodies, and knowing that the Wehrmacht had been burying its dead in Thias had  taken the new dead to the cemetery too for burial.

The fact that the graves were unmarked, DRAC suggested could have been because, at that time, the fate of a dead enemy was not a priority.

And, as time went by, the fact that Wehrmacht soldiers were lying buried  in Thiais Cemetery in unmarked graves, was forgotten.

Until, of course, Monday, April 28.

What I will say now is: You must have heard the saying, Go tell it to the Marines?

If you ask me, the explanations being given now about the bodies of these German soldiers in Thiais Cemetery, you can go and tell to the Marines.

-0-

Why was there heavy fighting around the town of Fresnes?

Because there was (still is) a large prison in the town of Fresnes and the Germans had taken it over and there they had incarcerated – and tortured – those they had arrested in Paris and around Paris.

This is what I write about Fresnes Prison as it was during the Second World War in my book ‘Die in Paris’ mentioned above. (The Marcel referred to is Dr Marcel Petiot, French WW2 serial killer, the subject of my book.)

The prison, built at the end of the nineteenth century was Europe’s largest. It consisted of a complex of three identical three storey buildings, four smaller two storey buildings and another two storey building, all around a courtyard. The buildings were connected by underground corridors. High concrete walls surrounded the complex, and German soldiers with submachine guns stood guard in watchtowers; the commanding officer was also German and so were some of the guards.

 Inside, cells lined corridors. There were fifty cells on each. Marcel’s was Number 440 on the fourth floor; a political detainee, he shared with three political activists, Roger Courtot, a student, an engineer named de la Teulade and a paratrooper lieutenant, Richard LHéritier, arrested on parachuting into Normandy from London. Political detainees were not allowed visitors. Neither were they allowed to receive parcels, even from the Red Cross. They also could not write or receive letters. And they lived with the knowledge their jailers, Germans or French, could shoot or guillotine them any day.

A French author would write of Fresnes: ‘At the time of the occupation, Fresnes was to the French a place of horror, tears and of death. They called the prison ‘death’s antechamber’ or ‘the Devil’s associate’’.

 So there you have it: the French needed revenge.

-0-

UPDATE NO 2 :

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2014

Finally, the cemetery’s archives confirmed that the bodies of 800 Wehrmacht soldiers had been buried in the cemetery in 1944.

However, as the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK) – the German War Graves Commission – has informed the French, the bodies were exhumed four years later (1948) by the French and were laid to rest in the German Graves Cemetery of Champigny-la-Futelaye in Normandy. Twenty-thousand fallen Wehrmacht soldiers lie buried there.

So what had been dug up in Thiais Cemetery?

Some shoes and some bones which had been overlooked at the exhumation of the bodies in 1948.

There are however still 8000 Germans who had gone off to war who remain ‘missing’.  A majority of them was in Germany’s Navy and their remains are thought to lie at the bottom of the oceans.

Champigny-la-Futelaye Cemetery for fallen  German soldiers of WW2

Champigny-la-Futelaye Cemetery for fallen German soldiers of WW2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

If you wish not to miss one of my blogs, do subscribe.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

HOW TO CONTACT ME

Should you wish to contact me you can do so by email: marilyn@marilynztomlins.com