|SS-Standartenführer Kurt Meyer|
ϟϟ-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Meyer
The Abbaye Ardenne Case: On December 10 – 28 1945, a Canadian Military Court in occupied Germany accused Kurt Meyer of having, as Commander of SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25 of the 12.SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend, incited and counselled his men to deny quarter to allied troops. The Canadian court had not found him guilty of directly ordering the killings, but merely of tacitly condoning them - the court sentenced Kurt Meyer to death. In Meyer's closing statement before sentencing, he chose not to ask for clemency, but instead defended the record of his unit and the innocence of his soldiers. Meyer was probably saved by a petition written on his behalf by Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, the archbishop of Münster, and shortly before the sentence was to be carried out, the commander of Canadian forces in Europe, Christopher Vokes had second thoughts. Vokes' main concern was the degree to which a commander should be held responsible for the actions of his men, feeling that it was not simply enough for a commander to fail to prevent such killings. Discussing the case, Vokes conceded that: there isn't a general or colonel on the Allied side that I know of who hasn't said, 'Well, this time we don't want any prisoners; indeed, he himself had ordered the shooting of prisoners in 1943. Even Canadian Army officers and journalists confirmed this in their attempts to overturn what was probably an unjust decision. Vokes commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Meyer petitioned for clemency in late 1950 - somewhat surprisingly including an offer to serve in the Canadian military force if released. He was released from prison in 1954.
Later Canadian troops found themselves accused of having killed captured German soldiers on the June 1944 invasion of Normandy. It was claimed that forces of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division were ordered to take no German prisoners of war during the Normandy campaign, but this for a variety of reasons were not investigated by the Allied powers after WWII, or they were investigated and a decision was taken not to prosecute. On June 7 1944 notes were found by Waffen-SS Grenadiers on captured Canadian prisoners saying German soldiers who had surrendered during the campaign would be shot, information later confirmed by Canadian infantry under interrogation; that prisoners were ordered not to be taken if they hindered operations. Hubert Meyer also confirmed this story; he stated that on June 8 1944 a Canadian notebook was found that contained orders to not take prisoners if they impeded the attacking force. Image: Kurt Meyer standing among his fellow Waffen-SS officers. Commons: Bundesarchiv.
Labels: C:VI Knights in Normandy 1944