Today we visited Oradour sur Glane to visit the remains of the village where 642 men, women and children were massacred by a German Panzer division on the 10 June 1944 as a reprisal for attacks by the French maqisards(French resistance.
On 10 June, Oradour-sur-Glane was sealed off and all the townspeople and people from the surrounding farms were ordered to assemble in the village square, ostensibly to have their identity papers examined. The men and women were separated with the men taken to six barns where machine guns had been set up. The women and children were taken to the church. On a signal the soldiers opened fire on the men in the barns and then covered their bodies with fuel and set the barns on fire. A total of 190 men died.
The soldiers then placed an incendiary device in the church where the women and children were held causing smoke to fill the church. The women and children tried to escape only to be met with machine gun fire. The church was then fired and deliberately further damaged. A total of 247 women and 205 children died in the carnage. The village was then fired by the soldiers and the bodies dumped in mass graves. Only 34 people survived.
We visited the Centre de la Memoire a museum which sets the historical context and why such an act of brutality took place as well as outlining what happened that day. We then made our into the remains of the village as it was left in June 1944 and now preserved as a memorial to the dead.
Walking around the silent streets and seeing the ruined buildings and poignant objects such as cars, sewing machines etc. really makes you think about the brutality of war and the senseless loss of life. This place is a unique and humbling experience.