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Russelsheim Massacre

Discussion in 'Massacres and Atrocities of the Second World War' started by brianw, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. brianw

    brianw Member

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    Russelsheim Massacre. 26 August 1944


    Russelsheim is the largest city in the Rhein-Main area of Germany which is now home to the Adam-Opel AG motor manufacturing facility.

    During the war, the Opel works was an obvious target for RAF Bomber Command and was subject to a number of air raids, including the raid during which my father’s Halifax was damaged by flak resulting in a crash landing at Woodbridge emergency aerodrome on 12 August 1944.

    One of the later raids on 25 August 1944 resulted in much damage to the city and numerous civilian casualties; Bomber Command was at that time employing the tactic of area bombing.

    The USAAF did not employ area bombing, preferring to use “precision bombing” in daylight and on the afternoon of 24 August 1944 launched a strike against targets in the nearby city of Hanover. During the raid a B24 Liberator was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and the crew successfully baled out and were captured.

    The damage done to the railway links by these raids meant that the captured crews could not be immediately removed from the battle area but were held overnight and then moved to the nearest railhead at Russelsheim on foot, under guard by two German soldiers.

    On the 26th August, the townspeople of Russelsheim already angered by the previous night’s raid saw the American airmen and mistook them for Canadian members of the RAF and a riot broke out. Six of the American airmen were beaten to death in the street by the mob and two others, William M. Adams and Sidney Eugene Brown although badly beaten managed to escape during another air raid and four days later were recaptured and taken to the Oberursel POW camp where they remained until after the war in Europe ended.

    Russelsheim fell into the American Sector after the war and when the massacre came to light and the bodies found on 28 June 1945, eleven residents who took part were put on trial in late July.

    The trial found six guilty and were condemned to death, the rest were given long prison sentences. Five of the six were hanged on 10 November 1945 and the sixth, a German soldier was hanged in 1946.
     
  2. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    That story is new to me mate, thanks for sharing.
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    New to me also Stalin, cheers Brian ... :thumb:
     
  4. brianw

    brianw Member

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    While it wasn’t one of the better known or more heinous atrocities perpetrated during the war, and there were only six victims, it was a massacre none the less.

    First, there was the obvious failure on the part of the German guards to protect the captured prisoners of war which was (and still is) against the Geneva Convention which applied at the time, and Germany had signed up to, but also the disturbing way that those six US airmen died; beaten to death in the street with rocks, bricks, wooden staves and iron bars; methods which go against all that is humane and decent.

    Even in war there’s a difference between casualties of war and murder victims.

    It was right that the perpetrators were brought to justice.
     

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