Oradour-sur-Glane A World War II Memorial and Visitor Centre in, Limousin, France

The haunting face of the village never to be forgotten
The haunting face of the village never to be forgotten | Source

Oradour-sur-Glane 70th Anniversary

In 2014 it is 70 anniversary of Oradour-sur-Glane - what better opportunity to visit this sad but powerful monument to the futility of war?

So many people are planning to make their pilgrimage to the village that was massacred by the NAZI regime that it will be a truly remarakable event. Can you afford to miss this moment?


Why not come and stay with us at Les Trois Chenes B&B? info@lestroischenes.com or take a look at our website www.lestroischenes.com

10 June 1944

On the 10th June 1944 a unit of the SS of the 'Das Reiche' division invaded the quiet village of Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France. They ordered the women and children into the church and gathered together the men. There they shot or burned 642 people. The people in France still remember the occupation of France, and still suffer.

Why?

The reason for the attack remains shrouded in mystery, although many theories abound and most of those propose errors mistakes. It's widely thought that it was a reprisal for the kidnap of Helmut Kämpfe who's body has never been found, or attacks on SS soldiers. There may have been confusion about the target and it is possible that they intended to burn the nearby village of Oradour-sur-Vayres. Read more in the links below.

Oradour has been preserved as a monument to the horrors of war. An impressive visitor centre has been built housing an impressive collection of educational material, explaining the historical background as well as the massacre itself. Sad, but a visit that must be made by everyone. A visit that you will never forget.

show route and directions
A markerVideix -
87600 Videix, France
[get directions]

Les Trois Chenes Bed and Breakfast and self-catering holiday cottage accommodation is about 40 minutes drive.

B markerOradour-sur-Glane -
87520 Oradour-sur-Glane, France
[get directions]

The village and Memorial Centre of Oradour-sur-Glane

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Historical Background

For a fuller accounts of the historical background to the martyrdom of Oradour, have a look at the following sites:

Oradour-sur-Glane - The Martyred Village

Oradour-sur-Glane Wilipedia

Oradour-sur-Glane 10 June 1944

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The Visitor Centre

You enter the village via the visitor centre which tells the story of the rise of Nazism and the targeting of Oradour through archives, pictures, witnesses, accounts, films and slide shows. It covers the years 1933 - 1953, the occupation of France by the Nazi's, the French resistance, the politics of terror and the days of the 8th, 9th and 10th June 1944 and the reflections on the event.

The Creation of the site

1989 : The project was suggested to President Mitterrand
1992 : The project was begun
1999: The centre was opened to the public 12th May and inaugurated 16th July by Jacques.Chirac, Président de la République and Catherine Trautmann, Ministre de la culture
2002 : More than 300 000 people vised the Centre.

Opening times

  • Open every day
  • 1st Feb - 28 Feb open 9 - 17h
  • 1st March - 15 May open 9 - 18h
  • 16 May - 15 Sept open
  • 16 Sept - 31 Oct 9 - 18h
  • 1st Nov - 15th Dec 9 - 17h
  • Closed 16th Dec- 31st Jan inclusive

Last access on hour before closing

Tariffs

  • Normal: 7.50 euros
  • Reductions: 5.20 euros (unemployed, students, under 18's and Ex-soldiers
  • Families: 21 euros (2 adults and 2 or more children)
  • Groups: 6 euros per person (min 20 people)
  • Guided group tours 8 euros per person (1 person free for every payee)
  • Free to all children under 10 years

Guided tours in English, German, Spanish and Italian. Reservations 05 55 43 04 39

Contact Information

Oradour Centre de la Mémoire

87520 Oradour-sur-Glane

Tel: +00(0)5 55 43 04 30

fax 05 55 43 04 31

www.oradour.org

The Village

From the darkness of the underground visitor centre and its artificial lights, it comes as a shock to walk out into the sunshine of the village. The day that I visited with my son, then aged 10, the sun shone; butterflies and dragonflies abounded. It was in stark contrast to the bitterness of the ruined village. You can walk along the streets, see the signs for the shops - so many hairdressers! In almost every burn-out building sits a Singer sewing machine. Cars have been left as well and these simple domestic objects that have survived the flames make the experience so much more real.

Remember

This site is there so that we remember. Not only the inhabitants of the village of Oradour tucked away in the gently rolling hills and green forests of Limousin, but also all the other victims of the war: an estimated 30 million civilians, the soldiers, the 6 million Jews. Genocide.

Our spacious new gite has 3 en-suite bedrooms and sleeps 7 adults.
Our spacious new gite has 3 en-suite bedrooms and sleeps 7 adults. | Source

© 2010 Les Trois Chenes

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6 comments

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 3 months ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Thanks for all this information, Alan. I must admit that this is an article mainly based on my visit to the site. The history is complex, massive and I admit I found it rather dry. Delighted that you have added depth to the page.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

The event is referred to in the opening to the famed TV series 'The World At War' narrated by Laurence Olivier. It was believed to have been a reciprocation for Maquis activity in support of 'Operation Overlord' (D-Day), and the deaths of SS members.

The various SS Divisions excelled in other acts that earned their commanders a place in the dock at Nuremberg, along with the Czech community of Lidice (now in the Czech Republic) in retaliation for the assassination of the Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. We might regard it now as the execution of a tyrant.

Other SS divisions murdered Allied servicemen during the retreat to Dunkirk in 1944 and in the Ardennes in 1944. It was their remit to 'protect' their Fuehrer, however. Of course they still thought they'd win the war even after Hitler committed suicide, and some went to the gallows. Most got off. Joachim Peiper, who had US prisoners executed, was sentenced to hang. His sentence was commuted to imprisonment on the orders of the US Senate (after McCarthy's involvement), the sentence reduced and he went to live in France. After about ten years living in total anonymity he was 'rumbled'. His villa was torched with him inside. End of. But as I said, most got away. They're all old men now, 90+ (some went straight from the Hitler Youth). Some, like Walter Groning who 'served' at Auschwitz switched uniforms and arrived in England with ordinary Wehrmacht personnel, went on tour with a choir, to be welcomed into people's homes. How long he'll serve depends on his medical condition. Some escaped to South America, like Eichmann, with the help of the Vatican (Pope Pius XII was found after his death to have been pro-Nazi, he had been the German Papal Legate before WWII).

Before long there won't be any of them left. Just a dark, indelible stain on their nation's record.


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Many thanks Nita and James. There is just so much to learn about the massacre. I felt that many experts have covered the history and background so well on the internet that I thought there was no point going over the same ground, but just wanted to say why I think it is such an important destination. It is sad but there is a ray of hope so long as we learn, understand and remember. For me that is the legacy of Oradour.


James Mark profile image

James Mark 6 years ago from York, England

Another very interesting hub; I remember the shock I felt when I first heard of this massacre. The Wikipedia article (in French) is very interesting and summarises well the controversy surrounding the indulgence of the courts, the protests from Alsace and the counter-protests from Limousin.

Just noticed that I have not deleted my inaccurate first comment!


James Mark profile image

James Mark 6 years ago from York, England

Another interesting hub. There are at least two striking things about this act of brutality:

- some of the SS soldiers were from Alsace, in the east of France, a territory reclaimed by Germany at the beginning of the war,

- no-one was ever brought to justice and apparently the issue was dropped by the authorities.

I must follow up your links, but work calls …


Nita 6 years ago

A terrible act of brutality and murder. A moving memorial, preserved for future generations to learn from.

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