Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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Oradour-sur-Glane: When The Nazis' Guns Fell Silent, This Is What Was Left (Photo Essay)

Ruins of Catholic Church in Oradour-sur-Glane

"Down this road, on a summer day in 1944 . . . The soldiers came. Nobody lives here now. They stayed only a few hours. When they had gone, the community which had lived for a thousand years . . . was dead.   This is Oradour-sur-Glane, in France. The day the soldiers came, the people were gathered together. The men were taken to garages and barns, the women and children were led down this road . . . and they were driven . . . into this church. Here, they heard the firing as their men were shot. Then . . . they were killed too. A few weeks later, many of those who had done the killing were themselves dead, in battle.  They never rebuilt Oradour. Its ruins are a memorial. Its martyrdom stands for thousands upon thousands of other martyrdoms in Poland, in Russia, in Burma, in China, in a World at War . . ."
 - Sir Laurence Olivier

The Catholic Church at Oradour-sur-Glane...BEFORE THE MASSACRE.

On 10 June 1944, four days after D-Day, the Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division Das Reich quartered in south-eastern France, is getting ready to leave for Normandy to fight the Allied landing. On orders of Sturmbannführer Adolf Diekmann, the 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment marched into a small village in the Limousin  region of France and slaughtered all of its 642 inhabitants, including women and children.

 Le Pont

A typical repast on the bank of a typical river in the oh-so-typical Oradour-sur-Glane...BEFORE THE MASSACRE.

A typical day on a typical street in the typical French village of Oradour-sur-Glane...BEFORE THE MASSACRE.
All the women and children were locked in the church while the village was looted. Meanwhile, the men were led to six barns and sheds where machine guns were already in place.

According to the account of a survivor, the soldiers began shooting at them, aiming for their legs so that they would die more slowly. Once the victims were no longer able to move, the soldiers covered their bodies with fuel and set the barns on fire.

Grange Laudy - 60 men died, 5 escaped

Bouchole barn in Oradour-sur-Glane 
Remants of the Grange Bouchoule, the most isolated of the killing sites in Oradour.

 Le Grange Milford:  Opposite the Milord hotel and is the closest of the execution sites to the church. The inscription on the plaque reads,"Here at this place of torment a group of men were massacred and burnt by Nazis. Collect your thoughts."

 Atelier Beaulieu -The site of 25 executions

The photo above shows two of the survivors searching for the remains of their loved ones in the Beaulieu garage and smithy, one of six locations where the men of the village were shot and their bodies burned.

Male corpses

Only six men escaped; one of them was later seen walking down a road heading for the cemetery and was shot dead. In all, 190 men perished.

Ecole de garçons et filles

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