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Thread: Oradour Sur Glane, scene of a 1944 SS massacre in France

  1. #1

    Oradour Sur Glane, scene of a 1944 SS massacre in France

    Miles off topic, but thought it worth mentioning.

    Just came home from a summer holiday in France last night.

    Went to a place that I'd always wanted to visit called 'Oradour Sur Glane'. Here's some history:

    While i was walking around looking at the ruin of what must have been a typically pretty French village, i saw on my map the village forge. I thought it would be too much to expect, but to my surprise the anvil was still sat where the village blacksmith had left it all those years ago and it still had whatever hardie tool he had last been using in place. The heat of the fire when the SS torched the place must have been intense, the hardie tool appeared to have melted a bit. There was no visible sign of the actual forge, i can only assume it was destroyed when the roof came down.

    This is how i saw it:

    The church:

    where 452 of the women and children were killed was also burnt down, and the heat in there must also have been intense, as this is what remains of the bell:

    Note the bullet holes inside the church walls:

    High and low hits, women and kids height.....

    From what you can see there now, it would be hard to imagine what it would have been like if you've never seen anything like it before. I saw similar scenes on a smaller scale in Kosovo, so i could picture how it might have looked quite graphically in my minds eye. Pictures only show so much, you don't get the smells that come from burnt flesh and decay.

    The museum/memorial is excellent. It displays artefacts from the rubble in a sort of tomb setting near the graveyard. Plaques from very many different people/organisations hang around the memorial expressing their condolences and thoughts of remembrance. Here's a shot of a typical display in the museum, note the cigarette case with the glancing bullet strike of what i gauged to be a 9mm, possibly from an MP40 or even a Luger:

    I like to think that the spirits of the innocents are kicking around the souls of the SS barstewards in whatever afterlife that waits for us. In particular, i hope that young Jean-Paul Haas (who was only 2 months old when the heroes of Hitlers elite decided he was a threat) is providing the SS with an eternity of diarrhoea drenched nappies infused with the essence of the strongest garlic and whatever that superglue like substance that baby dung consists of to bathe in:

    Was this his little pram up near the alter?:

    If anybody on here ever gets out to France, it's well worth a look. It was left as it was for people to see, so it's not disrespectfull to visit.
    Last edited by digger9523; 28-07-2012 at 23:12.
    Owning a gun or knife and not using it, is akin to not sleeping with your girlfriend to keep her neat and tidy for the next bloke.

  2. #2
    There are many thought provoking historical sites to visit in Europe, some raise the hairs on the back of your neck when you read and see what man can do to man!! Thanks for sharing your visit.
    PS the link to wiki should be :-

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by downwind View Post
    There are many thought provoking historical sites to visit in Europe, some raise the hairs on the back of your neck when you read and see what man can do to man!! Thanks for sharing your visit.
    PS the link to wiki should be :-
    Owning a gun or knife and not using it, is akin to not sleeping with your girlfriend to keep her neat and tidy for the next bloke.

  4. #4
    I visited Dachau concentration camp a couple of times when passing through the area many years ago. Extremely sobering experience...

    What struck me was the contrast of what went on there, in a camp situated in one of the most beautiful areas of Germany, Bavaria.

  5. #5
    Part of my school life I spent in Germany. In that time we had to visit concentration camps.
    Apart from Dachau we vsited a camp close to Prag and whilst in the army we had to look at
    Bergen Belsen. Very sobering.
    During the war my Grandmother who had an English passport and lived in Germany was arrested and almost thrown
    into concentration camp because she burst out laughing when a SS officer held a speech....
    luckily she had enough friends to get out of it.
    Those who survived seemed to have been lucky several times.


  6. #6
    The massacre at Oradour has an entire extra level of horror associated with it, as many of the SS privates there were guys from Alsace conscripted by force after 1940 when the Germans re-annexed the region. Needless to say that some pretty unpleasant methods of coercion were used to make these poor b@st@rds do this. Quite clever really: once they'd done this, you can't go back. I'm from Alsace, and my great uncle was one of these "malgre-nous" ("despite ourselves"), although he was sent to the Russian front. He turned himself over with his friends to the Russians, but they weren't too interested in the subtleties, so he stayed in Siberia until 1947.Not to say that the men at Oradour didn't do an unforgivable thing, but it wasn't exactly a free choice. You hear of very similar stories with child soldiers in Africa. These guys are all damned either way.

  7. #7
    Whilst on a holiday to France we visited Caen, we visited the DD museum, a very interesting place, but what moved me to tears as a father of two girls who were in their teens, a photographic display detailing the sentence given to a sixteen year old girl, caught carrying a message for the french resistance, the display shows her standing smiling, albeit awkwardly, to the camera with her hands tied up by wire, then climbing into the back of a lorry with a canvas top over a frame, then standing with a fat german solder in the back of a truck surrounded by townsfolk and armed solders. The final picture is of her hanging from the frame at the rear of the truck by a wire noose. That diorama has moved me more than any other pictures of atrocities man has carried out, you followed this poor girl to her death, surrounded by the inhabitants of her village. War is evil and mans inhumanity to man knows no boundaries. We must not forget our unsavoury past, a previous post spoke of concentration camps, the British invented the idea of concentration camps during the Boar war, Boar families where taken off the family farms, the crops and farms burnt, and the families were concentrated into camps, where many thousands died from diseases. This was to deny the commando's food and resupplies, we too have a dark side to our history. God forbid our children have to go through another world war, there are few winners, just survivers. deerwarden.

  8. #8
    Having seen Oradour Sur Glane years ago on "The World at War" I'd always wanted to go there, a couple of years ago I managed it when touring around on the bike with my wife. A very moving place and exactly as the film showed it. The French school system seems to encourage visits to the village by school groups to remind them of mans capacity for inhumanity. Oradour, along with the battlefield sites of the two world wars should be high on the list of must-sees for anyone who thinks warfare is fun or a video game!

  9. #9
    Paraphrasing something I heard years ago - ' the language of war is violence... moderation in war is the mark of an imbecile...' only really made full sense to me when balanced by ' in war, everyone loses'.

    Poignant pictures indeed.
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  10. #10
    Never been to any of these places as I think I would find it to upsetting. What mankind has done to each other since we learned to walk upright on two feet is staggering to me, and usually in the name of religeon or politics.

    We must never forget all those that sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom and humanity.
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