What were the experiences of those involved?

A German private soldier in the 16th SS Panzergrenadiers

What happened in San Martino: 30th September 1944

This in an extract from testimony by Julien Legoll, private in 1st Company (Reconnaissance Unit) of the 16th Panzergrenadier division, which was responsible unit for the massacre in Monte Sole. He was a young Alsatian university student who had been enlisted in the army in May 1943 and sent to 16th division just a  few days before the operation. Some days after the operation he deserted and surrendered to the Allies on 1st November 1944. He testified about what he had personally seen on the 29th  and 30th  September in Monte Sole.


The sergeant positioned the platoon (20 men), around the village and the shooting, using light weapons, lasted for about 10 minutes. The order was given to ceasefire and our soldiers entered the buildings finding them abandoned and without weapons…As we approached one house we heard a scared woman screaming. Our senior corporal, Knappe, approached a window of this house and without looking inside he threw in a hand grenade. Four of us then entered building and we found a dead woman about 50-60 years-old. Without any doubt she was killed by the grenade. The entire village was then burnt.(..) Then we were given permission to rest.(..). Our short rest was interrupted by 30 to 40 women and children approaching under escort by three SS soldiers. They asked the platoon leader, Boehler, what they were supposed to do with them. Our leader said “they have to be shot”. The women and children were lined up against the wall of the house where the old woman was killed. They tried to run away but they were caught. Boehler order the corporal, Pieltner, to execute them with a machine gun. I heard Pieltner whisper an objection to the order. Boehler took out his revolver and threatened Pieltner who then shot the women and children. This happened around 11-12 am. The corpses were left where they fell. (..)”

Source: Testimony collected by Captain Archer of the British SIB, Walter Reder Trial IV, 63, Military court in La Spezia