In Abbeville, France, twenty-two Belgian right wing political leaders were arrested by the French Police. Just before the German invasion the twenty-two men were taken to a public park in the town and shot. This must constitute Western Europe's first 'War Crime' of World War II and the first to be documented. After the shootings hundreds of the victims followers rushed to join the volunteer regiments of Germany's Waffen SS.
From ww2f.com: On 15 May the prisons of Bruges in Belgium were overflowing with "fifth columnists" and with the approach of the German Army the 79 suspects were despatched to Abbeville in France. The convoy included Leon Degrelle - the well known Belgian Fascist. He was lucky; he was recognised and dragged out and beaten-up by French soldiers and handed over to the Sureté.
Also included was Joris Van Severen, head of a party called Verdinaso, very right wing and advocates of Greater Belgium (based upon Charlemagne's "Frankish -Flemish" Empire of 800ish). This party, however, was very anti-German.
The remainder were a very mixed bunch: 14 Germans, 6 Dutch, 3 Luxembourg, 9 Italians, 2 Swiss, 1 French man (from Alsace - with a German accent), 1 Austrian, 1 Czech and 1 Canadian - Robert Bell, Ice-Hockey Coach.
The remainder were of unknown nationality - in most cases lack of "papers" had been sufficient to get them incarcerated.
This motley group arrived in Abbeville on night of 19th may 1940 and for want of anything appropriate were locked in the cellar of a large shop. An unfortunate Belgian who had refused to join the French Army was added to the group.
On the very next day, 20 May Guderian's Panzers arrived.
Capitan Marcel Digeon (Major rank in the US or British Army) and his 5th Company, 28th Regional Regiment was in charge. He orders Sgt Mollet to dispose of the prisoners.
Mollet was uncomfortable and returns to Dingeon who this time is more explicit "shoot the lot" is the answer.
To get it over with a French soldier throws a grenade into the Cellar but it does not explode. Then Lieutenant Rene Caron, whose Platoon is involved and who is believed to be drunk, joins the group. The prisoners are taken out and shot in groups of two and four.
A total of 21 are summarily murdered without even an attempt at a Courts Martial. The slaughter is only stopped when another French Officer, Lieutenant Leclabart also of 28th RR comes by - "are you mad" he exclaims and stops the massacre.
Too late to save the 20 men and one old lady who have already been executed. Those executed included, a Benedictine Brother (but German), four Anti-fascist Italian Refugees, the driver of the transport (shot by mistake) and the Canadian Ice Hockey Team Coach.
The Germans set up Trial in 1941 but Capitan Dingeon committed suicide immediately prior to its sitting - it is unclear what happened to others involved.