Gardelegen Massacre 13 April 1945

Gardelegen men forced to construct military cemetery

Gardelegen men assemble with white crosses, April 22, 1945

On the orders of General Frank A. Keating, around 250 to 300 male citizens of the town of Gardelegen assembled in the town square on April 18, 1945, dressed in their Sunday best. They were then marched five kilometers to the barn, escorted by American soldiers and Sherman tanks. At the barn, soldiers of the 327th Engineer Combat Battalion stood guard with fixed bayonets while the Gardelegen men were forced to dig up the bodies from the trenches near the barn and to carry out the dead prisoners still inside the barn.

The men had to march 5 kilometers under guard to the cemetery

The two photographs above were taken on April 22, 1945 when the men of Gardelegen were ordered to assemble again, in front of the town hall, with white crosses, which they had to carry to the grave site. In the background of the photo above is a restaurant, also shown in the second photo below, which was still in business when I visited Gardelegen in May 2002. On the right in the photo above is the town hall, which is also shown in the first photo below, taken in May 2002.

Horse and carriage wait for a wedding party in front of town hall

Restaurant faces town square in Gardelegen

Old photo shows crosses waiting to be put on graves in military cemetery

Photo credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Ceremony at the cemetery

Prisoners who escaped

Gerhard Thiele ordered the massacre

Old Photos contributed by soldiers

Old Photos contributed by Ethel B. Stark

Karel Margry's account of the massacre

Text of Memorial Site Pamphlet

Germans forced to see the barn

Pamphlet made by 102nd Division