During World war 2 on Saturday 10th June 1944 in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, in the Haute-Vienne region of France a massacre took place by Nazi troops. I visited this very thought provoking memorial on July 15th 2014.
The village had been far from any centre of conflict, was not, nor had ever been an active resistance stronghold. Yet on that Saturday, men from the Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen SS Panzer Division Das Reich, drove into Oradour and killed everyone that they could find, a total of 642 men, women and children. The village was then looted and every building, set on fire. To this day there is no universally agreed explanation as to why the SS acted as they did, or why they chose Oradour for their attack. All the principal characters on the SS side are now dead and the few French survivors of the village were not given any clues by the troops as to why they were acting as they were.
The Village has remained virtually untouched since that sad day, but the ruins stand as a memorial to those who lost their lives and were effected by the cruel inhumane massacre that occurred.
After visiting the site you cannot remain untouched, as it is a vivid reminder of the atrocities and futileness of war. Walking around the village feels slightly eerie yet peaceful, but I did notice a lack of birdsong! Burnt out cars are left slowly rotting away, as are numerous sewing machines, beds and even a small pram riddled with bullet holes. Tables and chairs remain in the ruins of café’s and tools in the carpenters workshop, all a reminder of how peoples everyday lives were destroyed within a few hours.
A new village has been built next to the old one, so life carries on for the following generations of villages of Oradour-sur-glane. A few people survived the massacre, some even by escaping Nazi bullets. Their stories are retold with the help of graffiti photo’s and films in the Memorial Centre which you pass through to enter the old village. The Centre also stock a large number of books, postcards. catalogues and video cassettes, but none of the tacky souvenirs associated with some tourists sites. I found it very worth while to purchase a book giving the full history and details about the massacre, it also tells about the following days and how a whole community was decimated but managed to re-build itself.
A visit to the Haute Vienne region of the Limousin in France, would not be totally complete without a visit to Oradour-sur-glane. It stands not only as a memorial to those who lost their lives, but also as a reminder that war is so futile and that rising dictators have to be stopped in their tracks, as atrocities like this can still occur in or so called modern world.
The Memorial site and village is situated at 87520 Oradour-sr-glane. Tel 0555430430
Opening times – 7 days a weeks from 1st Feb to 28th Feb – 9.ooam to 5.00 pm. -1st March to 15th May – 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. – 16th May to 15th Sept – 9.00am to 7.00pm . – 16th Sept to 31st Oct – 9.00 am to 6.00pm – 1st Nov to 15th Dec – 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. -Annual closing dates 16th December to 31st January.
www.oradour.info – Oradour-sur-Glane 10 June 1944: a war-crime in France – A very informative site in English by Michael Williams. – This website describes the history, background and events leading up to the war-crime of the Nazi attack upon the martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane.
www.oradour.org – Centre de la mémoire d’Oradour-sur-Glane -Official French website, also in English.
oradour-sur-glane.fr – Website in French for the Commune of Oradour-Sur-Glane en Limousin. Giving info about the village, other tourists sites, sporting activities and other useful information.
Oradour-sur glane Wikipedia page - with a lot of information about the village.
All pictures taken by French Classified and Property on a visit to Oradour-sur-glane 15.7.2014