Here, on June 10th, 1944, 642 villagers were killed by Waffen SS troops. 205 children died in the attack. I think the worst bit for me is the fact that the Nazi officers rounded up the men, sending the women and children to the church, then shot the men. To have been a woman in the church on that day, to know what was inevitable, to have to wait for certain death, to be with your children. There can be nothing worse.






DSCF3331Incendiary devices were set off in the church, and when the women and children tried to escape, they were shot by machine gunners. You can trace the bullet holes in the church stone with your fingers.

In truth, it is a very peaceful place, and it reminded me more of ancient ruins, like those at Volubilis, than it did a town that had been home to such a massacre. Had it not been for the signs, you would have no idea what happened here on that day in June 1944.

Sometimes it’s hard to recall exactly why you should get involved in someone else’s battle. This is why.


6 thoughts on “Oradour-sur-Glane

  1. We couldn’t make ourselves go inside the church. It is a remarkable place and a remarkable memorial to the event. Very moving and atmospheric. I agree that everyone should go here once.

  2. i was born on nov 7, 1944. to this day i have trouble believing much of anything good about the germans. i’m american. we were told in school that most germans were good germans. i called bullshit on that and still do. ask the greeks or any country on the mediterranean. i say there were good germans, bad germans and worst germans. the bad and worst killed the good germans in ww2. after ww1and ww2 i cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would believe anything the germans say or do. peace. billy

    1. I think that statement is true of all people. I don’t think there is a modern nation above reproach and the list of massacres all over the world is testament to that fact. It’s very sad. Only where society is strong do the ‘bad’ usually stay with social norms. There was a very public trial in the 60s where the people responsible for Oradour were held to account. Many of them were Alsatians, the region between France and Germany. Thus, it was in fact partially French-on-French violence. The ‘malgré nous’ or ‘in spite of ourselves’ were deemed to have been coerced, but that caused a lot of controversy around Limousin, the area surrounding Oradour. Who can say? No matter who you are or what you believe, it takes an awful lot of hatred and bigotry and anger to kill 400 women and children in a church. And the perpetrators were not just German. However, this could easily have been in Armenia or Kurdistan or Chechnya or even Vietnam. The anger and frustration leading to the desire to punish, to death and by torture, is the underlying factor behind all of these scenes. It should never be that anyone has the power to ‘punish’ the innocent. People are people, whatever else they may be.

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