The Allies were essentially ready to invade Western Europe by crossing the English Channel. Nazi Germany knew this and planned to repel an invasion by rapid redeployment of its heavy armored divisions. The French Resistance diminished the effectiveness of the Axis war machine in targeted attacks on infrastructure based on surveillance and intelligence gathering. Most German soldiers and French citizens had no evidence as to who were the spies and saboteurs for either side, although investigators gathered pieces of information to make assessments.
The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend set out by rail for Normandy at the end of March, 1944. On the first of April their train was approaching the gare d'Ascq, a critical bottleneck where three railroads intersected, when an explosion blew the line apart, causing two cars to derail. The commander of the convoy, SS Obersturmführer Walter Hauck, ordered troops to search and arrest all male members of the houses on both sides of the track. Altogether 70 men were shot beside the railway line and another 16 killed in the village itself. Six other men were arrested, charged with bomb attack after an investigation by the Gestapo, and finally executed by firing squad.
At the end of the war, some SS men stood trial in a French Military Court at Lille. They were sentenced to death, even though the sentences were later commuted to a period of imprisonment. The last prisoner Walter Hauck was released in July 1957. Hauck also instigated a similar massacre in Leskovice in May 1945.
After the massacre, 60,000 workers started a strike in Lille — which is one of the most important demonstration in France during the World War II under German occupation — and minimum 20,000 people were present at the funerals in the village.
- Édouard Catel, Le Crime des nazis à Ascq, Croix du Nord, Lille, 1944. Reedited by Société historique de Villeneuve-d'Ascq et du Mélantois (SHVAM) in 1996.
- Louis Wech, J'accuse, Imprimerie Boulonnais, Ascq, 1945. Reedited by SHVAM in 1996.
- Jacob Louis, Crimes hitlériens : Ascq - Le Vercor, Éd. Mellotte, collection "Libération" 1946.
- Die faschistische Okkupationspolitik in Frankreich (1940- 1944) Dokumentenauswahl. Hg. und Einl. Ludwig Nestler. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1990 ISBN 3326002971.
- Docteur Jean-Marie Mocq La 12e SS Hitlerjugend massacre Ascq, cité martyre (album historique), Éd. Heimdal, 1994
- Claudia Moisel, Frankreich und die deutschen Kriegsverbrecher: Politik und Praxis der Strafverfolgung nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2004 ISBN 3892447497.