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Hello,

Today’s post isn’t going to be happy or fun. But it is a post of respect. I had the privilege to visit Oradour-sur-Glane while I was in France this year.

Known as the martyr village, it was a place where pure evil happened.

I will try to explain the circumstances surrounding the massacre and the aftermath, as they were explained to me at the museum.

Oradour-sur-glance

 

The Martyr Village

Entrance to the village is free, but for the museum you have to pay for the upkeep. I would recommend 100% to go to the museum otherwise the importance of the massacre is not as clear.

The prices are –

7,50 for adults

5,20 for students

 

It wasn’t super clear on the prices, but was worth it.

Audio tours are 2 euros, but I’m glad we didn’t have those as it was emotional enough. I feel I would have been crying the whole way around.

Oradour-sur-glance

 

The village

The village was a very busy place, with lots of shops and places to socialise. Many of the men had been drafted into the army and after 1940, the village was in the ‘Free Zone of France’.

I knew about the occupation of France during the war, but wasn’t entirely aware of the free zone. There was timelines that explained the rise of Nazi Germany and the impact that was had on France.

Oradour had an influx of refugees from the annexed areas of Alsace and Lorraine. The village also took in refugees from northern Spain who were escaping the Spanish Civil war or were enemies of Franco.

 

oradour sur glance

The events that led to the massacre

 

There was a few battalions of SS stationed near to Toulouse from February 1944. Once the allied Invasion of the DD landings happened in June 1944, this battalion was ordered to go north and prevent further invasion.

One of its units was the 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment (“Der Führer”). Its staff included regimental commander  Sylvester Stadler and Adolf Diekmann commanding the 1st Battalion and Otto Weidinger who was Stadler’s successor.

Early on the morning of 10 June 1944, Diekmann informed Weidinger that he had been approached by two members of the Milice, who claimed that a Waffen-SS officer was being held prisoner by the Resistance in Oradour-sur-Vayres.

Stadler ordered Diekmann to have the mayor choose thirty people to be hostages in exchange for Kämpfe the SS Officer being held hostage.

 

The Massacre

Diekmann’s battalion sealed off the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane and ordered everyone to assemble in the village square with their papers. This included 6 people who were passing through the village or visiting friends.

They rounded up all the women and children and put them in the church. All men were led to 6 barns with machine guns already in place.

The SS shot at the men’s legs, rendering them unable to escape and pour fuel over them and set the place alight. With the women and children, they placed an incendiary device inside and machine gunned down everyone who tried to escape out the windows and doors.

In total 190 men died, only 5 escaped. 247 women and 205 children died, with only one woman escaping the church.

oradour sur glance

The whole village was looted and destroyed, the fires were hot enough to melt glass and to this day only 10% of the bodies were ever formally identified.

 

The aftermath

 

The 6 survivors and 20 people who escaped when the Nazis arrived were allowed to bury the dead a few days later. A temporary village was made nearby, and the area was in mourning.

SS Officer Stadler believed that Diekmann overstepped his orders and a inquest was put into place, although Diekmann died at the battle of Normandy later that year.

In 1950 Charles De Gaulle announced that the village would be sealed off and become and memorial site and museum for the massacre.

 

oradour sur glance

Ordaour-sur-Glane

 

I will enclose some pictures I took of the village. I tried to experience it properly and only took a few photographs so I could share the museum and its history with you.

The whole place was very eerie and unnerving. We all agreed it was uncomfortable and we should stay in silence.

There was some fellow Brits who were being very disrespectful and taking a group photo smiling. So I told them to have some respect. Otherwise everyone else was very respectful.

While we were there a thunderstorm rolled in and the cracks of thunder really made it feel harrowing.

oradour sur glance

I did find it really wrong that you could walk into the church. This was the place that 453 people had died (in a space that was about 15m square) and yet we could walk all over it. My mum couldn’t step inside and I really struggled with the overwhelming feeling that kept washing over me.

This is the church

The train lines, the half fixed cars and sewing machines really got me. I ended up crying a little bit, mainly angry at the evil that happened. How someone could round up so many innocent people and just brutally murder them.

There is even reports of a baby being crucified, but even before that news it was such an evil event.

 

The New Village

 

This seemed really strange to me that they built a new village. It was for those who survived, but only 25 people did so it seemed odd. Everything was made to be dark and in mourning until the 21st century when they were finally allowed to paint their shutters in true French style. It just seemed odd to me that people would choose to live there, in the new village just down the road from the martyr village.

Every year there is still a memorial service, which is conducted in silence.

They have tried to trace photographs of all those who died in the massacre.

 

I am very glad I got to come to Oradour. It was an emotional, harrowing and error experience. However, I feel I get to share some light on a very horrible massacre in France. It is not something that was mentioned during my history A level  on World war two. It was also different from the Holocaust as it wasn’t systematic ethnic cleansing.

In this instance, they rounded up 642 members of a village and killed every single one. Regardless of religion, profession, sexuality or race.

It was evil.

 

Until next time,

The Great Ambini

 

If you were as shocked as I was. Please pin it.

A horrible massacre took place in Oradour on 10th June 1944, this is my post explaining what happened and why we should respect it. #oradour #france #worldwar #ww2 A horrible massacre took place in Oradour on 10th June 1944, this is my post explaining what happened and why we should respect it. #oradour #france #worldwar #ww2

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12 thoughts on “Oradour-sur-glane

  1. This is the first time I am hearing about Oradour-sur-Glane and what happened there. So sad! That sounds really evil and you’re so brave to have visited there. I can only imagine how you felt during your visit there…

  2. once again, an example of pointless evil and horror that forever lives on in the memory of families. Thank you for sharing as it is important that people know about this massacre. I also appreciate the fact you were respectful and told others to be as well. I hated it at Auschwitz when people were smiling or taking selfies. Just why?! Or at the holocaust memorial in Berlin kids were jumping and running around, why were the parents not stopping them!? Well written and thank you for the photos as they do add to the sheer sorrow as to what happened here.

  3. I have not heard of this location and from the pictures I can see how eerie it must have felt being there. It almost reminded me of the time I visited Hiroshima. So much destruction, but a important reminder that we must not let things like this ever repeat.

  4. Sometimes I wonder how much evil we, humans, are capable of. It’s terrifying.

    It’s heartbreaking to read about the massacre at Oradour-sur-glane. I hope we learn from history and strive to be better humans.

  5. What a horrific story that is! Just reading it gave me goosebumps. I cannot imagine what I would feel standing on those deserted streets. Places like these are really saddening.

  6. The horrors of Second World War. As much as difficult it was for the people that survived to stay in the new village, I admire their strength, spite and the will to keep on living in the place they’ve called home and that unfortunately witnessed such sadness.

  7. I had heard of similar atrocities, but was not aware of this massacre of so many people in Oradour-sur-Glane. It’s very difficult but important to keep the town as it is and for people like you to tell the story. We must remember. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. How horrible.. war crimes have a similar effect on me. In a way I’m glad you got to experience this so you could tell us who may never go there. It’s important to talk about things like that. I can’t believe the smiling group photo people though! Glad you said something!

  9. I am a huge history person and I found this so interesting about Martye Village and errie at the same time for sure. More to the fact that I am ashamed to say I did not know about Oradour-sur-Glane and what happened there in regards to the massacre, especially as I spend so much time in France . As much as it is sad we are now aware of the terrible things even more of the past. now. As for the church I completely understand why your nan did not want to go in there.

  10. What happened to the villagers is horrible. It made me cry reading the story of Oradour-sur-Glane. I couldn’t have visited this place ever and you even have stepped into the church is being quite bold. I pray for all those who lost their lives.

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