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Thursday
Oct032013

Witnesses

The Germans brazenly committed the massacre in the middle of the village and allowed neighbors to watch from their windows. Several provided eyewitness reports. This report was later made by Philippe Kuntz, a tinsmith from nearby Buc. Although part of the initial roundup, he was spared and later returned to his home. His account follows.

September, 27, I went to the town hall with all of the men of Etobon.  I hadn’t taken part in the digging work of the previous days.  As soon as I went in, I was recognized by one of the accusing prisoners who named me as one of the former interpreters of the camp.  I was lined up among the suspects.  A junior officer of the Cossacks said, “That’s enough.”  There were 17 of us suspects.  Before leaving for Chenebier, the officer of the Cossacks had me say in French,  “You’re going to work on the fortifications at Héricourt.  It will only take two or three days.”  We left at the head of the detachment.

In the meeting room at Chenebier, the suspects were taken to one side.  A little later, two escaped prisoners appeared, re-equipped and armed.  I think they had come from Belfort with the Gestapo:  a lieutenant, an adjutant, a corporal and a soldier, all wearing the insignia (S.D.) on their sleeves.  The captain of the Cossacks was with them.  We were ordered to stand up, uncover our heads, and be silent.  Some of the men had their hands in their pockets, and were slapped for it by the lieutenant.  The ex-prisoners from Belfort went through our ranks and pointed out the men they pretended to recognize. 

As each designation was made, the officer took down the name and birth date of the victim.  They paid no attention to the age or the family situation … Just then, the lieutenant took me aside and said, “Why are you in the resistance?  Tell me the truth.”  “ I was brought in by force.  They forced me to present myself at the Etobon cemetery, September 9, or be shot.”  He asked if I knew some of the men and if I could name the leaders of the Etobon group.  I said I didn’t know any of the village men, because I was taken immediately to guard the prisoners.

The most persistent of the former prisoners (Karl Lade, no doubt) then called our comrade Georges Surleau into a smaller room and made him submit to interrogation, from which he emerged severely beaten.  Three others followed, whose names I don’t know, submitted to the same torture.  That’s when the other men, considered civilian prisoners, were led out, to be taken to Belfort.  (Of which seven would be shot ten days later at Banvillars.)

The lieutenant spoke a few words to the forty remaining men:  “You have made war against our soldiers.  You have killed some.  You’ve starved the prisoners.  You all deserve to die.  You will be shot.”

Immediately after, the adjutant made the first group of 10 to leave, and I heard the shots.

I was part of the second 10.  As I was leaving, the prisoner pointed to me and said, “this one was good to us.  He shouldn’t be shot.”  The officer pulled me aside and crossed out my name on his list.  I stayed in the meeting room until the executions were over.  The officers were also there.  They did not take part in the massacre.  

After the last shots were fired, the adjutant came back and saluted, saying, “Mission accomplished!” 

The lieutenant shook his hand.

They gave me a written order to present myself to Belfort to join the Todt organization.  They took me in a truck to the Commandant at Belfort.  There, I succeeded in sneaking away and got back to Buc in the evening.

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