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Massacre in Offenburg on 12 April 1945

Volker Ilgen from Offenburg.

Volker Ilgen has spent one-week researching at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on behalf of the town archives of Offenburg. He traced back 40 biographies in the archives searching information on their persecution. “In March/April 1945, more than 600 prisoners were abused to defuse bombs and repair damaged railway lines in Offenburg”, explained the historian. “On 12 April 1945, 41 of them were bestially murdered at the artillery barracks, because they were too exhausted to be evacuated before the arrival of the advancing French troops.”

The Command was under the administrative control of the Natzweiler Concentration Camp. “Pursuing research at the ITS, I could recognize specific patterns typical of these prisoners’ life or their sufferings”, said the historian. Dawid Orenbach, born in 1927, was moved from Concentration Camp Auschwitz to Sachsenhausen, Flossenburg and finally Natzweiler. “One of the fates characteristic of the time”, knows Ilgen. “Some other prisoners were arrested by the Gestapo in Nurnberg/Furth and sent to Natzweiler/Command Offenburg via the Bayreuth penitentiary and Flossenburg.”

Reappraising the fates of the murdered should be a first step which might lead to further projects, said the historian. “We have not decided yet how we will present our research results. Information boards, publications of essays or publications on our website – all these are possible outcomes