The residents of an entire village were rounded up and and locked into a church and several barns. Then they were shot and set on fire – whilst many of them were still alive.
It was 10th June 1944, when 200 Waffen SS nazi soldiers surrounded the French town of Oradour-sur-Glane and committed this atrocity. This act of terror. This mass murder of 642 people (including 193 children). The men were wounded by gunfire that was deliberately aimed low and then they were burned. The women and kids were murdered inside the church – at first an improvised gas bomb was detonated inside the church, then it was set on fire whilst soldiers shot into the building and at anyone trying to escape.
Further information on this war-crime can be found at this link
Following the massacre, the village remained uninhabited and in ruins. It is now an historical site that serves to remind the world of the horrors committed there.
We visited the site today and wandered around the streets, peering into the ruins of old buildings. As we walked around, we were struck by the size of the village. We saw buildings that housed butchers and bakers shops, schools, garages, a dentistry, a hotel, a restaurant and more. And the church, with the twisted remains of its bell, melted by the heat of the fire. Overhead electrical lines run above overgrown tram rails, showing the route of the trams that previously served the residents. We saw rusted cars, bicycles and sewing machines that sit where they were abandoned. This was a sizable, thriving community. Yet it was suddenly snuffed out by the barbaric actions of soldiers, apparently acting upon direct orders.
Admission is free to visit the village. The tourist centre also has an optional exhibit area that has an admission fee of €9 per adult.