Oradour-sur-Glane

I’ve been putting off doing this post since I got back from Jonathan’s.

Jonathan mentioned that Oradour was quite near Limoges and as we were going to the airport there would I want to visit and I said yes, and to be honest the closer we got the less sure I was of doing so. For those of you who don’t know what happened there this is from Wiki.

‘On 10 June, Diekmann’s battalion (I/4th SS PzGren, 2 SS Pzr Div) sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered everyone within to assemble in the village square to have their identity papers examined. This included six non-residents who happened to be bicycling through the town when the SS unit arrived. The women and children were locked in the church, and the village was looted. The men were led to six barns and sheds, where machine guns were already in place.
According to a survivor’s account, the SS men then began shooting, aiming for their legs. When victims were unable to move, the SS men covered them with fuel and set the barns on fire. Only six men managed to escape. One of them was later seen walking down a road and was shot dead. In all, 190 Frenchmen died.
The SS men next proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the attack. The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She escaped through a rear sacristy window, followed by a young woman and child. All three were shot, two of them fatally. Rouffanche crawled to some pea bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. About twenty villagers had fled Oradour-sur-Glane as soon as the SS unit had appeared. That night, the village was partially razed.’

It is one of the most truly affecting sites that I have ever visited, at first you walk along a road past a few wrecked houses and it feels bad but then as we turned into the main street it was truly shocking. And I mean in a real sense, the sight of the ruined street with the tramlines running off down the hill and the knowledge of what happened there was both physically and emotionally shocking to me. I was going to try and be silent (there’s a large sign asking for Silence as you enter) but by the time we got halfway down the road I just had to say something to Jonathan (I did do so in a whisper though) as the mixture of disgust, sadness and anger was just too much to hold in any longer. Pretty soon we were by the church and I told Jonathan that there was no way I could go in, in fact I didn’t want to get any nearer than we were at that moment as I was going to lose it completely. After that we walked the rest of the village but, to be honest, I think I had really had enough by then, not in a bad way, I just felt drained and slightly numbed.

Having said all this if you are ever close enough to visit this place, you must go. We must never forget.

And the next time you see someone at a club or gaming event wearing a Waffen-SS formation t-shirt or badge smack them in the mouth. Hard. Them give them one for me too.

 

P.S. I had planned to take a couple of pictures but it didn’t seem right to do so, there’s plenty on the web.

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