|He was one of the lucky ones to survive. Heimrich Weber shows the place where his comrades were killed|
According to the Geneva Convention Prisoners of war, who have surrendered are not permitted to be tortured, plundered and especially not to be killed.
On Sunday, April 15 1945 in the early evening heavy fighting took place in and around the village, which ended victoriously for the Americans, who took many Germans prisoner, Pioneers and men of the SS. The victors quartered on the premises of the mayor, Baumann, whose family had fled into the cellar for safety.
From the window of the cellar, in the evening of the 15th April, the 15-year old Jörg Baumann sees with his own eyes how the GI 's murdered the German prisoners of war in the street of the village. Jörg Baumann: “The Americans forced the Germans to walk in front of them with raised hands in groups of four. Then they shot the prisoners from behind with their guns with shots to their heads.” Bauman can never forget these war crimes . “I have not exaggerated anything”, declares the honest farmer emphatically, “I want to say: that is how it was.
The next day there are dead bodies strewn throughout the entire town. “Nobody carried weapons. All had been shot from behind,” reports Pauline Baumann (1929, the daughter of the mayor). The Americans ordered mayor Baumann to divide up the male population in order to collect the dead bodies.
“They all go into a mass-grave”, was the next decision. For this, a site for a mass grave was already allocated. But a US officer waves his hands. “Nix mass grave, they all get transported away.”
“The bodies are being loaded onto a truck and taken to Bensheim. The estimate of the dead bodies is between 30-33 (Blumenstock) and as many as 60, as reported in the village”.
At least one of the murder victims was an ambulance man and wore the clearly marked Red Cross.
After the crime, as reported here, remained unreported for decades before the newspaper “Haller Tagesblatt” wrote about the case in a special edition . The retired US lieutenant Major George Finley was deeply shocked and informed the “highest” places in Washington about it . Following this, in autumn 1996 officers of the department for the American criminal police in Stuttgart, (CID)- Criminal Investigation Devision, investigated the case .
They listened to the eye witness reports of two survivors of the massacre– Pioneers- of which one, Herbert Heßler, hid for three days in an oven and then, disguised by some of the local people was able to make his way to his hometown. The other one, Heinrich Weber, had the presence of mind to fall to the ground and, injured in his hip, played dead. After dark he made his way to the front lines of the German troops near Wolpertshausen. At first nobody wanted to believe his story, because everyone was of the opinion: “Americans don't do such things.”
The not yet (1997) completed investigations showed that of the total of the 63 Germans killed at least 13, or even as many as 48 of them had surrendered and were disarmed, when they were shot by the Americans in the evening of that day. “There are no doubts at all, that in regards to the shootings on 15th April 1945 members of the “K” company of the 254 US-Infantry Regiments were responsible”.
The CID officers obtained copies of the wartime diary, which described the occupation of the village in this way “....The unit penetrated to Jungholzhausen, arrived there at 18:25 and took the town after heavy fighting with about 70 troops of the Weapons SS. After the fighting there was counted a toll of 65 dead...(all on the German side?!) It has been reported that on 15th April 1945 the commander of the company changed. At what time exactly this happened is not known. Lieutenant Major Harvey H. Carrow, 0554141, followed Major James R Hyde, 01315173....”