Oradour Sur Glane

In this southern France village, in the region of Limousin, took place an horrible Nazi massacre, carried out by an SS regiment the 10th of June, 1944. It is yet unknown whether it was for retaliation or to search for something or someone, but that morning an armoured SS regiment detached from the convoy headed to Normandy to fight the Allied troops, and entered Oradour, a village with 800 inhabitants that could in no way represent a military objective.
That morning of 66 years ago, the Nazi troops raided the village, rounded up the population in a park of the town’s plaza and went on to search every house and building, destroying everything.

Be it partisans, refugees, fugitives or hidden weaponry, the soldiers didn’t find what they were looking for. All men were separated from the women and children and brought inside the near barns, where some machine guns had been placed. These were used to shoot the harmless men in the legs, so as not to kill them but to leave them unable to run away. The barns were then burned down, with the wounded still inside.
After this massacre, the SS transferred the women and children inside the town church, and placed the machine guns at the entrance. They then threw a firebomb inside the church, causing more victims, and then gunned down the survivors who tried to escape.
A total of 642 of Oradour’s villagers lost their lives that day: 197 men, 240 women and 205 children. The houses were later burned down and the whole village was destroyed.
About twenty people who had escaped when the Nazis arrived survived and witnessed the atrocities that were carried out that day at Oradour sur Glane. After the war, De Gaulle decided that the village was not to be rebuilt, as testimony of French sufferance under Nazi occupation.
And so, Oradour remained a ghost town. A place worth visiting, for it urges a reflection on the senselessness of human wickedness.

(Translation by Marco Salvadori

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