The excavation of a possible mass grave in Meymac, Corrèze, did not uncover the remains of around thirty German soldiers executed by resistance fighters in June 1944, the prefecture announced on Thursday. Despite this disappointment, the prefecture remains determined to continue the search.
Disappointment instead of exhumation. The excavation of a presumed “grave” in Meymac, Corrèze, did not yield the remains of around thirty German soldiers executed by resistance fighters in June 1944. Announcing the news on Thursday, August 24, the prefecture stated that they remain determined to continue the search.
On June 12, 1944, a group of 46 German soldiers and a Frenchwoman suspected of collaboration were allegedly executed by a local group of Partisans and Franc-tireurs, who were affiliated with the Communist Party, according to the testimony of a surviving member, 18-year-old Edmond Réveil at the time.
Based on this testimony and soil analysis, a team of archaeologists began exploring a wooded hill in Meymac in the hope of finding these bodies, over half a century after initial excavations led to the exhumation of eleven corpses.
“After ten days of excavation, we are obviously a little disappointed not to have found the bodies, but we knew we only had clues and not certainties,” said Étienne Desplanques, prefect of Corrèze, to AFP.
However, the expanded search of an adjacent “vast wooded area” did lead to the discovery of objects dating back to World War II: 20 bullets and cartridges from French, German, American, and Swiss firearms predating 1944, along with 5 coins dating prior to 1943.
“These artifacts confirm that the resistance fighters were present, at that precise location,” emphasized the prefect. “By discovering these bullets and cartridges, we had hoped to find the site of the execution squad. But unfortunately, we have not found the remains.”
This research campaign, conducted under the auspices of the National Office for Veterans and Victims of War (ONACVG) in collaboration with VDK, the German agency responsible for the maintenance of German war graves, will conclude on Thursday, according to the prefecture.
“The most probable hypothesis is that (the bodies) are still in this area. So we remain determined to search for and find these remains,” insists Étienne Desplanques, expressing optimism about the outcome of the search.
“We will pause the project,” added the prefect, in order to find new clues during “the coming months” that will allow the resumption of the excavation campaign.
However, analysis of georadar data, additional archive research, and topographical analysis using Lidar (laser remote sensing) technology will continue to be conducted to find “new elements” for a future excavation campaign, the authorities specify.
Secret excavations were previously carried out in 1967 in an attempt to find the bodies of these 46 Wehrmacht soldiers who were captured by the Resistance in Corrèze on June 7 and 8, 1944.
They were executed shortly after the massacres committed by the SS Das Reich division in Tulle on June 9 (99 civilians hanged) and in Oradour-sur-Glane (Haute-Vienne) on June 10 (643 inhabitants machine-gunned and burned in barns and the church of the village).