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Posted on Aug 17, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Oradour sur Glane

Armchair General



Oradour sur Glane was once a small, charming village in the picturesque Limousin region of central France. Life there was quiet, uncomplicated and prosperous and even during the dark days of occupation by Nazi Germany in World War II, the people of the village were content to live in the shadow of the spire of their 16th century stone church.

This all ended on the tenth of June, 1944 at around 14:00, when two hundred men from the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich entered the town, ostensibly searching for weapons being stored by the French Resistance. Working to a clearly defined plan, they rounded up all of the inhabitants, separated the women and children and locked the latter inside the Church. Later, the men were separated into different groups and marched off to separate areas within the village.


At 16:00, a small explosion was heard, probably a signal to the troops to begin their "work", whereupon the groups of men were murderously machine-gunned to death. Simultaneously, the Church was set alight and the women and children were either burned or choked to death in the conflagration.

By the end of the massacre, six hundred and forty-two people had been ruthlessly exterminated in the most brutal fashion, two hundred and forty-seven of them were children. Three hundred and twenty-eight buildings had been looted, set on fire and destroyed.

Oradour sur Glane had been wiped out.

On an overcast and rainy day, I paid a visit to Oradour to see the ruins for myself. The town is still there, the remains preserved on the order of General Charles De Gaulle himself as an example to all of the brutality of war and Nazi Germany in particular. His wish was that such massacres should never happen again in the future, and so the village has become a shrine to the martyrs who died on that day.

Here I am just outside the Centre de la mémoire with my ACG. You can see a part of the ruins in the background.


You will find the following links of interest:

Centre de la mémoire

Oradour sur Glane 10th June 1944

This report covers the following:

1) The Centre de la mémoire.

2) The Village.

3) The Church.

4) The Cemetery.

5) The Memorial.

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images.

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1 Comment

  1. I heard a rumour that the real reason for the massacre was that there was a great deal of gold bullion that had to be removed very quickly and the massacre was an excuse or cover up for those wishing to hide the fact that they were there to take the gold, and that a day before a crack team of special forces people arrived to oversee the shipment wondering if you could shed any light on this, it was something i learned at school years ago back in the seventies
    best regards
    Sean Schofield