Year of visit: 2017
Subject: Second World War.
The ruins of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane recall the massacre that took place here on 10th June 1944. In the village there is a serene, but also uncomfortable silence. Walking through the streets of this deserted village and along the tram tracks with overhead line, you can see destroyed houses to your left and your right. Among the ruins of the houses you see utensils. Like a bed, a sewing machine, pots and pans. But also burnt out (and now rusty) cars. They are the silent witnesses of the horror with which the inhabitants of the village were confronted during the German occupation in the Second World War.
On 10th June 1944 the village was surrounded by SS-troops. The access roads to the village were sealed off. The inhabitants were gathered outside on the market square. The villagers were told there would be an identity verification. Men and women were separated and brought to different places in the village. An explosion in the village was the signal for the German soldiers to execute the men with machine guns. After which the bodies and houses were set on fire. Only five men survived these executions.
The women and children were locked up in the Church. SS officers placed a big crate in the Church from which fuses hung down. These were ignited after which the crate exploded and the entire Church caught fire. The women and children were burned alive. Only one woman managed to escape.
The SS troops looted the rest of the village and then set fire to the remaining buildings. At least 642 inhabitants were massacred. Only 6 survived the massacre.
At the end of the day 20 villagers, who were not in the village at the time of the massacre, arrived by tram at their ruined village. Theirs was the heavy task to identify and bury their murdered fellow villagers.
The massacre was probably an action of revenge. On 6th June 1944 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, to liberate Europe. This caused an increase of actions implemented by the French resistance against the German occupiers. On 8th June 1944 the French resistance blew up a railway bridge near Oradour. Two German soldiers were killed. One of them was SS-Sturmbannführer Kämpfe. A personal friend of major Diekman, who commanded the SS-troops that committed the massacre in Oradour.
BOOKS & ARTICLES
Book: Robin Mackness - 'Oradour' (1988)