Destination List > Oradour-sur-Glane
Photo by b3tarev3
The original village was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a company of troops belonging to the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, a Waffen-SS unit of the military forces of Nazi Germany. A new village was built after the war on a nearby site, but on the orders of the then French president, Charles de Gaulle, the original has been maintained as a permanent memorial. The Centre de la mémoire d'Oradour museum is located beside the historic site.
On 10 June, the German 1st Battalion sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered everyone within to assemble in the village square to have their identity papers examined. This included six non-residents who happened to be bicycling through the village when the SS unit arrived. The women and children were locked in the church, and the village was looted. The men were led to six barns and sheds, where machine guns were already in place.
According to a survivor's account, the SS men then began shooting, aiming for their legs. When victims were unable to move, the SS men covered them with fuel and set the barns on fire. Only six men managed to escape. One of them was later seen walking down a road and was shot dead. In all, 190 Frenchmen died.
The SS men then proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the attack. The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She crawled to some bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. That night, the village was partially razed.
Several days later, the survivors were allowed to bury the 642 dead inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane. Adolf Diekmann, commander of 1st Battalion, said the atrocity was in retaliation for the partisan activity in nearby Tulle and the kidnapping of an SS commander, Helmut Kämpfe.