Oradour-sur-Glane

My 9th graders at Klässbols read Anne Frank’s Diary and I reread it and watched a BBC remake of the book.  It feels different over here, the war is still close, at skin level, on the surface and still painful if you push to hard.  In France, the French resistance blew up the bridge at LaVarache, our gite (living quarters) was used for resistance meetings, and Lori pointed out a house where the woman was taken by the Nazi’s for sheltering British soldiers.  Closer to home; members of the Norwegian Resistance fled to Sweden when it got to hot in Norway.  After watching the ending of Anne Frank, tastefully done with the family exiting the Secret Annexe with their fate stamped over the picture, one of my students turned to me and said, with tears in his eyes, “History doesn’t always have a happy ending, does it?”

Our visit to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane eerily made this point.  10 June 1944 the Nazi’s circled a small village in the Limousin area and systematically killed all who were in the village that day.  I bought a small heartbreaking little book written by one of the six survivors of the tragedy, a 19 year old man who pretended to be dead when the soldiers shot all the men in the barn, one of several killing sites where they had been herded.  The women and children were forced into the church and the church set on fire.  Anyone attempting to escape the burning church were shot.  One lone woman managed to climb out a window.  The book lays out in minute detail the life in the village, the people who lived there and the well conceived Nazi plan to annihilate the village.  After the killings, they looted the village and burnt all buildings except one home, well stocked with wine, that they saved to spend the night in.  They set this home on fire as they left the next day.

Family members and neighbors returned to search through the horror.  The Nazi’s returned the day after and dug two huge communal graves where they tried to conceal the extent of the massacre.

After the crime there were two inquiries, 1953 and 1983;  some were brought to trial and others escaped retribution.  The village is accessible only through the museum and a new village of Oradour-sur-Glane has been built next to the old. 

 

After the massacre it was decided that the village would be left as it was.  It is called the Martyr Village and there is a museum and memorial in addition to the village.

After the massacre it was decided that the village would be left as it was, for remembrance.

 

Ora  kitchen

 

Ora many cars

 

Ora street

 

It's difficult to convey feelings in pictures.  It's much larger then we thought and you walk and wander in silence.

It's difficult to convey feelings in pictures. It's much larger then we thought and you walk and wander in silence.

 

As women and children attempted to exit the burning church they were shot.  This plaque sits in the entry way to the church and bears bullet holes

As women and children attempted to exit the burning church they were shot. This plaque sits in the entry way to the church and bears bullet holes. Ironically, the plaque is in honor of those who fought in World War 1

 

The church

The church

 

One of the few remaining photos of the village before.

One of the few remaining photos of the village before.

Advertisements

One Response to “Oradour-sur-Glane”

  1. phyllis mead Says:

    We found WWII to be very present on our trips to Europe as well. It is so much more than the chapter in the history book and America’s role in it that we are familiar with. Talking with survivors (now the folks who were children during the war) is a real eye-opener. So happy that you are finding your way around that corner of the world! And looking forward to your return.

    Phyl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: