Since I've visited Auschwitz, I've got even more interrested in the World Wars, especially WW II. I like to read books and watch movies about these wars and I like to get cards too. I've never heard about this french town, twenty kilometers north-west of Limoges, but this card sent by Damien let me know a dark and very sad episode in the french history.
France’s free zone had by then been occupied by the Germans since 1942 and on June 10, 1944, when Oradour-sur-Glane became a martyr village.
Editions du Lys
On June 10, members of the Milice, a paramilitary force created on January 30, 1943 by the Vichy Regime, informed the SS that the Sturmbannfhürer Helmut Kämpfe, the commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion, had been captured by maquisarts the previous night near Nieul, a village in the vicinity of Oradour-sur-Glane. The maquisarts executed Kämpfe on June 10, triggering the tragic reprisals that led to the massacre of the inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane!
Two armoured columns commanded by the Sturmbannführer Adolf Diekmann left Saint-Junien around 1.30pm and progressed towards Oradour-sur-Glane.
At 1.45pm the village was fully surrounded by the SS and the villagers were gathered on the fairground.
Those possessing weapons were ordered to make themselves known. In the absence of reaction, the mayor was ordered to designate 30 hostages, but refused as there was no hidden weapon in Oradour-sur-Glane!
Around 3pm the women and children were locked in the church, and the men gathered in six buildings scattered in the village. The massacre began around 4.pm.
The SS had already installed machine guns, and shot the men in the legs before setting fire to the stacked bodies. They set fire to the church and fired on all those who tried to escape through the windows and doors.
247 women and 205 children were burned alive in the church of Oradour-sur-Glane. Only one woman, 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche, managed to escape and hid in a row of peas located at the back of the church, where she stayed crouched overnight.
Only 6 out of the 180 men survived this tragedy. Some 30 inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane managed to hide during the massacre or were able to escape before the arrival of the SS.
A total of 642 inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane were massacred on June 10, 1944.
The Germans looted and burned the village to the ground, and according to outside eyewitnesses, by 6pm Oradour-sur-Glane was a huge inferno.
The SS didn’t leave the village before 10.30pm.
A few days later, the survivors were permitted to bury the dead.
Diekmann and most of his men were killed in action in the weeks that followed.
The memory of the people of Oradour-sur-Glane who died in such atrocious conditions on June 10, 1944 had to be kept alive! General de Gaulle ruled that the martyr village shouldn’t be rebuild, but turned into a place of memory, an open-air memorial to the dead.
A new village was rebuilt after the war to the northwest of the site. - in: http://www.travelfranceonline.com/oradour-sur-glane-massacre-wwii-limousin/