Mas Cabardes - Aude
Translation of clippping from L’independent, Wednesday 13 August 2003
8 August 1944 by Pierre Silvestre
Nazi Atrocity at La Grave and Trassanel.
8 August 1944: The men, exhausted after enormous difficulties and superhuman effort, arrived at the grotto (at Trassanel) at dawn on 8th August. There they thought they would be safe for a while. The lookouts were doubled, and Louis Bales was sent to look for bread at the nearby village (he escaped the killing).
The vice was being tightened, the Germans were on the trail of the partisans (maquis), and they caught up unexpectedly on the rearguard at Picarot, who were taken without a struggle. The prisoners were horribly tortured, and seven of them were executed in the La Grave stream. Antoine Armagnac, when the rearguard did not rejoin the rest of the group, became worried. A patrol under the command of Lt Alexander (soviet comrade) was dispatched. Before they got to Picarot, the patrol was intercepted at Montredon by the Germans, who fired on them. The partisans fired back, two enemy were killed, and Lt Alexander was injured in the thigh. Nonetheless, supported by another soviet, they arrived painfully back to the grotto around 18h, where they raised the alarm:
“Leave quickly friends, or you will be taken prisoner”. But how would they escape from the trap? Finally it was decided that the partisans would withdraw to the other side of the valley. And so the men, carrying all their packs, food, arms and munitions, left the grotto in single file. Lt Alexander, though injured, was at the head of the column. The partisans went through the ravine (the only available way out). The wooded ravine at first gave them cover, then they halted at an ice cave where they were discovered. Intense gunfire broke out, and the Germans were more numerous, better armed and their firing position was better. Despite this, the partisans activated two machine guns, one of which was manned by their leader Antoine Armagnac.
The Germans made their way through the woods, where a real manhunt began, and the injured were finished off with daggers and bayonets. 15 partisans fell in combat.
TWO SURVIVORS: Antoine Armagnac, gravely injured by machine gunfire, died the next morning. About 30 partisans managed to survive the barrage of gunfire, and thus there were about 30 taken prisoner. The Nazis brought them to the village, about 2km away, after having beaten them and obliged them to carry all their kit. Suffering under the weight of their loads and struggling on the steep dry path, they arrived at Trassanel (from which all the inhabitants had fled) where they were allowed to drink at the water trough.
During that time, a German officer phoned the Commandant at Carcassonne. After a short time, they were directed to go to Villeneuve-Minervois (having been told they would be sent to Germany to work). They passed by the little cemetery, and had hardly walked a few hundred metres when they were ordered to stop and 26 were made to go down a path on the other side of the road which was bordered by a little wall, at the place where the monument to the memory of the partisan victims now stands. The other six were taken to the prison at Carcassonne, where some of them were executed on 19 August at Baudrigues.
Two machine guns and several sub-machine guns were set up. The German officer in command shouted ‘You have fought against the great Germany, so for you partisans it is over. Say your prayers.’ They never had a chance to say their prayers, because he immediately called ‘Fire!’
Five men leapt up, jumping over the wall, and succeeded in getting away. Two survived: Louis Bouisset and Henri Tahon.
Trassanel, Picaussel, Maudrigues, Rieux-Minervois, etc have all known tragedy which must never be forgotten.