The aftermath of Oradour’s War

Mike Grist France, Ghost Towns, Museums, Statues / Monuments, World Ruins 2 Comments

Oradour-sur-Glane is a village in west-central France. The original village was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company. A new village was built after the war on a nearby site and the original has been maintained as a memorial.

Photo by Ramos Andrade.

In addition to the residents of the village, the SS also apprehended six people who did not live there but had the misfortune of riding their bikes through the village when the Germans arrived. 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-gun nests 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. Only six men escaped; one of them was later seen walking down a road heading to the cemetery and was shot dead. In all, 190 men perished.

The soldiers proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device there. After it was ignited, women and children tried to flee through the doors and windows of the church, but they were met with machine-gun fire. A total of 247 women and 205 children died in the carnage.


“We set up the machine guns in the barn, weighing their tripod legs down with heavy chunks of firewood. When the men were shepherded in they saw the black gun muzzles and began to panic, shouting out warnings to their fellows in back. We answered with soft words, hushed voices, our hands on our pistols. “Only the sympathizers”, we soothed. “You’re free to go if you’re not a sympathizer. Are you a sympathizer?” They shook their heads and filed in.

We took to the guns and shot them all in the legs. The muzzle-flashes lit the glum barn like a lightning storm, the torrential explosion of munitions its own rolling wave of thunder. Afterwards was a moment of silence, then the moaning began. None of us wanted to venture into that tangle of thrashing limbs, so we tossed buckets of gasoline over the bucking creatures nearest to us, followed by a sparking flare. The place flamed to life like Dante’s Inferno. We didn’t even wait for the screaming to stop before heading off to blow up their families.”

Photo by S. Jon

Photo by Human Decoy.

Photo by Human Decoy.

Photo by Nwardez.

Photo by Pumpkin Longshanks.

Photo by Nwardez.

Photo by Nat du Nord.

Photo by Jon.

If you’d like to see more, here’s an excellent video walkthrough of Oradour, made by a French film-maker / composer pair, with all original shots and music:

Text Sources- Wikipedia

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Comments 2

  1. My father’s village was suffered a simliar fate. Dad was from a small village in Greece, in the mountains of the Peloponnesus above Corinth, but he had immigrated to the U.S. years earlier. After the war he tried to reach his relatives and discovered what the Nazis had done. He died of a broken heart 2 months later.

    There is one major difference between the two stories. The women, children and elderly had been locked into the school building. Apparently it was considered fairly “escape proof” so only one young soldier was stationed by the door after incendiary devices were ignited around the outside. When smoke began to seep into the building the occupants panicked. Some women tried to push their youngest children out of the small windows. Then something happened to the guard – he suddenly unlocked the door and ran off allowing the people to escape, mostly unharmed.

    Of course they then discovered that their homes had been ransacked and burned and that all of the men in the village had been machine gunned. Only 13 or so men survived (buried under the bodies of their friends). About 700 were murdered.

    The women and children also suffered because thier homes had been looted and burned, it was winter and there was no food or clothing. The Germans had even taken some 2000 cattle and sheep. One acccount I read described how the women had to drag the bodies of their loved ones back to the area of the village, but the ground was frozen, so many weren’t buried for days or weeks.

    You can find several sites that talk about “the holocaust of Kalavryta” but this one the MUNICIPAL MUSEUM OF THE KALAVRITAN HOLOCAUST” is fairly recent, it even has before & after photos of Kalavryta.

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