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Oradour-sur-Glane, France

By Mark Waldie 
Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: March 12, 2009 
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France is a pretty country full of pretty little villages. But Oradour-sur-Glane is not pretty.

On June 10, 1944, the 2nd Waffen SS Panzer Division Das Reich, 1st Battalion, stormed this village in the Limousin region of southwestern France, sealed off every exit, and then systematically dragged every man, woman, and child to the village square for what they termed an "identity check." They separated the men from the women and children, shooting anyone who resisted. Then they killed the women and children in the church by asphyxiating them with a smoke bomb. Those who did not die quickly enough were shot. In other buildings, they mowed down the men with machine guns. The Nazi troops trampled over the prostrate bodies, shooting at close range any who moved; then they burned the buildings and bodies. Oradour-sur-Glane had been wiped out.

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Wiped out, but not forgotten. Just a few months later, France was liberated, and when Gen. Charles de Gaulle visited the site he declared that Oradour-sur-Glane should be left as it was. The ruined village remains unreconstructed today, its burned buildings and rusted automobile remnants serving as a memorial to the victims.

Though Oradour-sur-Glane is well known among the French, not many tourists are aware of it. You'll find few American honeymooners there; nor will you see the typical youth hostel crowd. What I did see were busloads of French students, for whom a visit to Oradour is a rite of passage. Like them, I started my visit at the Centre de la Mémoire, a museum featuring displays on the rise of Nazism and a short film. Most of the information is in French but some of it, including the film, is translated into English.

The museum is informative, but the destroyed village speaks for itself. A large sign reading "Silence" greets visitors at the entrance to the town. Even the nervous French students obey this command; we are too shocked by what we see to talk.
The streets of Oradour-sur-Glane are lined with building after burned-down building. There are roofless stone structures with broken-down walls, wires hanging limply from leaning telephone poles. Charred car remains, their metal frames twisted, tires burned off, and insides burned out, litter the ground.

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3 Responses to “Oradour-sur-Glane, France”


  1. 1
    Müller says:

    Nice story…..

    Todays french partisans are Taliban, they are killing NATO soldiers with hidden bombs…

    and the NATO is fighting back. Killed civilians are called colateral damages and US-troops just changed from very brutal to a nicer behavior.

  2. 2
    Abris says:

    Nice comment Muller-,… But STUPID! As the little Nazi said.

    Now why don't you take your political rant somewhere else?

    War is war; big scale or little scale it's all the same. US Soldiers call it Hell; the Taliban call their war 'the work of Allah'.

    Frankly I don't care what a bunch of 10th century backwards thinking/living pretenders to Islam think as long as I don't have to see their shaggy muttonheaded results. However if I do have to clean up the mess they make flinging crap around from where they are murdering innocents and protesters of their so-called social-religious system. Because they are bringing it into my country and my country's forigen policy then they deserve to get their asses handed to their arisol sprayed remains. If that responce kills children or women I remember that war has been declared on MY women and children too by them and since my country doesn't murder innocents as a matter of course as we wage war then I have the moral high ground.

    Let the Taliban be damned and beware.

    Oradour-sur-Glane was destroyed because some waffen SS junior officer was hopped up too high on meth to be makeing such a decission about the disbursing of possible civilian-combatants because the dumb assed 3rd Reich had made enimies of anyone who would supply them coffee to their front line soldiers and occupying forces. Meth induced paranoia got alot of those "Master -Race" folks; They also thought the world was a better place a thousand years before and wanted to go back to living there too.

    I'll bet they have opened up a brand new subdivision of Hell right next to the Natzi Suburb

  3. 3
    Jane g Taylor says:

    Nothing compares to the ghastly tactics of the nazi reich. I just found this town in an old dusty book and checked the Internet.a madman sociopath in command saw prisoners as an unnecessary expense and burden to the economy and gave the directive.
    peace keeping by NATO and securing the worlds oil may be wrong —–like all occupations, but it is all we can do right now.
    The more the population surges over 7 billion,the more we will vie for resources



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