Today is the anniversary of the single worst atrocity committed by German troops on French soil in the Second World War. On 10 June 1944, four days after the Normandy landings, the village of Oradour sur Glane in Haute Vienne was destroyed by fire and explosives and virtually all its inhabitants killed. No one has ever explained what the trigger for this terrible act was. To make the twist of fate even more bitter, a significant number of the residents were incomers, having fled the Spanish Civil War in the previous decade.
The site is a memorial now, with a striking looking visitor centre and a shocking and deeply moving museum detailing the events. There is a new village of Oradour, situated a short distance away.
You cannot visit this place and remain unaffected. The tragedy is obvious even without seeing the video in the museum and reading the testimonies of the few survivors. Please visit sometime and honour the memory of the dead. Souviens-toi.
Read the full story on these websites:
- The official Centre de la Mémoire website
- A very comprehensive and informative site by Michael Williams.
- A well-written visitor review on Epinions.com
- An article in the New York Times by Gillian Tindall, written before the visitor centre was built.