Only a half hour away from Limoges, lies Oradour-sur-Glane. The village is – sadly enough – a breathtaking monument to the atrocities committed during the Second World War by the Nazis. The village and its villagers were almost totally destroyed by an SS unit crossing the area. Shortly after the war, De Gaulle visited Oradour and decided to leave the village in almost exactly the state it was when the Germans left it, to show future generations the atrocities of war and their consequences.
Before the Second World War, Oradour-sur-Glane was just your ordinary French countryside village. Nothing special, the villagers just living ordinary lives, just like my grandparents did at that time. It would never made the history books if the 2’nd SS Panzer Division ‘Das Reich’ did not surround the small village on Saturday afternoon, June 10, 1944 and locked it down completely as an act of revenge for an earlier action from The Resistance.
All residents were summoned from their homes, and the men were separated from the women. Not much later, the male inhabitants were shot in cold blood. The women and children were then locked up in the church, which was then blown up. If that wasn’t enough, the rest of the village was almost completely destroyed by ‘panzer’-fire, grenades and gunfire. The verdict: 642 people – men, women & children – found their deaths. Only six villagers managed to escape. A sad summary, isn’t it?
When you enter the village now, you immediately sense the eeriness of this place. I can’t explain how I felt, but I knew something terrible happened here, although I didn’t know what when I first visited. Christophe had been here before, but didn’t tell me what exactly happened. Something I discovered soon enough.
Small plaques on the houses indicate whether it was a store, a barber shop, a garage or whatever it was that was located inside, and what happened to its inhabitants. Everything is left as it was left by the Germans on that fatal day, including the remnants of the family doctor’s car, which still stands on the town’s main square.
A sad reminder of what people are capable of doing in times of war.. Not for sensitive souls, but a must-see when visiting the region.
More information about Oradour-sur-Glane
- Adress: L’auze, BP 12 – 87520 – Oradour-sur-Glane
- Opening Hours: Daily opening from 9h ’till 17h. Closed from 16th of December ’till 31th of january
- Price: €7,80 normal fee. Reductions available
- Other: No animals allowed, can be a ‘shocking’ experience for small children or sensitive people.
Oh, If you’d like to know what happened to the Germans who committed this awful crime, I suggest you read this article on Wikipedia