Oradour sur Glane: Remember

July 7th, 2013

There were hideous atrocities committed during World War II; too many to even contemplate.  But one of the most vile of them occurred in the small farming village of Oradour sur Glane near Limoges, France.   Today it is called the Village des Martyrs and is visited by school children from all over France.  I did not know the story before this trip.

On June 10th, 1944, four days after D-Day, a Waffen-SS division of Nazi soldiers on their way to Normandy entered the village and massacred all of the men, women and children.  Many of the children were infants.   They killed 642 people and then proceeded to burn  the whole village down.

The women and children were herded into the village church and tear-gassed.  If they tried to escape they were machine-gunned.  The alter of the church is pock-marked with bullet holes.  Only one woman escaped through the alter window on the left.

The plaques on the buildings indicate the names and occupations of the people who lived in the village.  The above plaque in blue is for a boulangerie or bakery with the shop owner’s name.  You can see the oven inside the structure. The plaque on the left indicates where some of the men were gathered and killed.

We walked the length of Oradour’s main street with other people making the pilgrimage.  Everyone spoke in hushed tones as they passed the gutted and burned buildings.  The town has been rebuilt in another location.  Charles De Gaulle wanted the original town to remain “as is” as a reminder of what happened there.  Today the ghost town has remained untouched for over 60 years.  Only one English word greets you as you enter. “”Remember””.   How could we ever forget?

10 responses to “Oradour sur Glane: Remember”

  1. KathyWalker says:

    Oh my, I had no idea. I can see how everybody would take pause and talk in hushed tones. How sad.

  2. Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen says:

    I too didn’t know about this village. What an atrocity. We’ve been to one of the concentration camps near Munich and no one talked their either. In fact we didn’t speak for ours afterwards.

  3. Larry says:

    It’s hard to believe the things the Nazi’s did. I read some more about this and to according to Wikipedia, this wasn’t even the village they intended to deal with – it was the near-by Oradour-sur-Vayres

  4. Cathy at Wives with Knives says:

    Wow, I have a lump in my throat as I read this post. What unspeakable tragedy. It must have been a very moving experience to walk down that street. We need to remember what people are capable of.

  5. Bonnie Hunter says:

    So many atrocities from that time for some of us to still discover.


  6. Darla says:

    I’m sure there are many atrocities that the Nazi’s committed that we will never be aware of. I was appalled when I read a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Many Germans worked to defeat Hitler, to no avail. Thank you for sharing this. It is hard to comprehend such evil.

  7. Katie says:

    We’ve been there twice – the first time was on Christmas Day, before the Visitor Center was built and we were the only ones there… Just wandered in through the gate. The cemetery, with all the photos of the people, all with same date of death was heart-wrenching. And to think it happened to the wrong Oradour…..

  8. Mary says:

    Words escape me, all I could think to do is pray for those lost. I showed this to my husband, he’s very interested in WWII. Thank you.

  9. Susan says:

    What a sad, sad story! I’m glad the town remains as a reminder of the souls lost that day.

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