Place of supplication
for resistance fighters
. 69 resistance fighters thrown into a pit
. The charnier
was not discovered until May 1945. A memorial pays tribute to those tortured.
On May 18, 1945, an ossuary was discovered in the former shooting range of the Port-Louis Citadel.
On May 19, exhumation and identification of the 69 corpses of patriots began. Six bodies could not be identified
The first executionswere said to have taken place on May 9, 1944, the last in July 1944
Thanks to information provided by a Czech and Pole forcibly incorporated into the German disciplinary companies, a mass grave was discovered under the rubble of the shooting range set up by the Germans at the entrance to the Port Louis Citadel (on the site of today's Memorial) We know that they had deliberately dynamited it to make it look as if it had been destroyed by a bomb, dropped by Allied aircraft.
The bodies were placed in coffins and lined up along the Citadel rampart, where families and loved ones of the missing came to identify a spouse, a son, a brother, a friend.
On Saturday May 19, 1945, civil and military authorities attended the exhumation in the presence of German officers including General Fahrmbacher, commander of the Lorient stronghold
After successful research thanks to various German and French archives, in 2020 and 2021, four of the six unknowns were identified
Until this grim discovery, the families had no idea of the fate reserved for their son, husband or father. The Nazi generals and the soldiers under their command had thus, in defiance of the Hague Convention, perfectly complied with their Führer's orders, enshrined in the December 1941 decree known as a NN Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) explained as follows Himmler, Reichfürber, head of the SS, head of the Gestapo, on December 7, 1941.
After careful consideration, the Führer's will is to modify measures against those guilty of delicts against the Reich or against German forces in occupied areas. Our Führer is of the opinion that a sentence of penitentiary or hard labor for life sends a message of weakness, The only possible deterrent is either the death penalty, or a measure that will leave the family and the rest of the population uncertain as to the criminal's fate. Deportation to Germany will fulfill this function.
Instructions completed for the States Majors of the Wehrmachtby a letter from Marichal Kantel, head of the German High Command, in his directives of 07/23/1941 and 09/16/1941 circulated to all German army units throughout occupied Europe:
- Prisoners will disappear without a trace,
- No information will be given on their place of detention or fate
On April 27, 1944, the General Fahrmbacher commander of the 25th Army Corps (stat-major at Pontivy gave the order to incarcerate the Resistants in the Port Louis Citadel, Other assembly centers were set up at the Brest Citadel and at Fort de Penthièvre.
From Mal 1944, a special section of the Feldkommandantur Tribunal was set up in Rennes to hear resistance cases. In Morbihan, Tribunal de la Feldkommandantur, which had not handed down death sentences since 1942, did so again from February 1944. The abundance of cases to be tried led to the creation of two special tribunals, one sitting in Port-Louis at the beginning of May, the other in Penthièvre a few days later
The Port-Louis Tribunal handed down 69 death sentences. According to the Ouest-France newspaper, Lieutenant Waldeck, who had been ordered to sit on this tribunal that condemned the accused without hearing them, is said to have chosen to take his own life.
According to historian Jean-Claude Catherine:
The executions took place around 5 a.m. The platoon of soldiers was under the orders of 30-year-old Second Lieutenant Hermann Fuchs, who commanded the citadel's disciplinary company This one was under the authority of General Walter Düvert who, as head of the 265th Infantry Division based in Southern Brittany, was directly involved in the citadel's activities, forbidding the exchange of letters and parcels between prisoners and their families, as well as the presence of a chaplain to assist those being shot. Victims, many of whom had their hands and feet bound with wire and were blindfolded, were shot at the edge of the pit and received the coup de grâce from a burst of machine-gun fire
Photo credit Le Bourvellec Éric
Contribution Isabelle Christien.