This is one of the most moving places we have been to so far.
On the 10th June 1944, 6days after the Normandy invasion and with general retreat of German forces across the Normandie Region one of WWII greatest civilian atrocities was carried out.
This area was home to the French Resistance and as for a lot of southern France hadn’t accepted German occupation and rule. However the area had escaped the devastation of the war so common through the rest of France.
As the Germans were retreating the remnants of several Waffin SS brigades regrouped and came under pressure from resistance fighters. A couple of senior ranking officers subsequently were captured.
In retribution for these acts and to “essentially make a statement” a plan was undertaken to teach the local resistance a lesson.
The subsequent massacre of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane with the murder of over 600 villagers (400 of them burnt in the church alone) and the village burnt out to hide the evidence.
The village has been kept preserved in that state since as a “Martyr’s Memorial”.
The war crimes tribunal post WWII could not reach a conviction on the surviving SS officer in charge due to lack of actual evidence from survivors. The other confusing factor was the fact that there seemed to be several “conscripted French Nationals” involved on the wrong side of this.
As with any of these sites through Europe it was an incredibly moving experience, and combined with the museum that portrayed how Hitler actually came to power is a real wake up call to how things can go so wrong so quickly with those who abuse absolute power.