May 23, 2022: Oradour-sur-Glade. Oradour-sur-Glane, Village of Martyrs, ranks among the most tragic places we have visited. On June 10, 1944, just four days after the D-Day invasion at Normandy, Nazis killed everyone in the village – 642 men, women, and children.
“…were it not for the intellectual pleasure of knowing and learning, one would almost be damaged by travel in these historic lands.” ― William T. Sherman
The Nazis believed the French resistance had captured and killed an SS officer in a nearby village, Oradour-sur-Vayres. They decided to extract revenge and intimidate any French from aiding the Allied invasion force to the north. Whether the Nazis confused the village names, or just didn’t care, we will never know.
The Oradour-sur-Glane Massacre
Under the guise of searching for weapons, Nazi gathered all villagers in the town square. Villagers did not resist; they had no weapons to hide. Then the Nazi herded the 248 women and 205 children into the Catholic Church. They divided the 198 men into six groups and took them to nearby barns.
First the Nazis shot the men and set the barns afire. Then they set the church aflame, and shot anyone trying to escape the blaze. Finally, every building in town was torched; only stone remained. One woman and five men escaped, 642 perished.
Village of Martyrs
After the war, President Charles de Gaulle declared the Village of Martyrs should stand as it was, an eternal reminder of the horrors of extremism and war. Today, visitors quietly walk the main street – the bakery, the barber shop, the trolley rails, concrete electrical poles, and the church – to remember.
Sherman said it right. “War is cruelty. You can’t refine it.”