Yesterday I visited Oradour-sur-Glane where on that date the village was completely surrounded by the SS, it’s inhabitants rounded up and 642 men, (but mainly) women and children were brutally killed. First they were machine gunned and then the village and bodies were set on fire, unfortunately at this point not all the victims had yet died. Only 5 men and one woman escaped the massacre.
Months later, on visiting the ruins, General Charles de Gaulle announced that the ruins would be left as a memorial to the victims of this and other similar atrocities committed by the Nazis during WW2.
Lidice 476, Marzabotto 1836, Distomon 239 and Maille 124.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to go, I knew it would not be a pleasant experience. My 3 beloved older brothers, then small boys, would have been of an age with the younger children slaughtered. I’ve seen photos of my brothers in 1944 and they were dressed similarly, the same hair cuts and innocent expressions as the dead children in the class photographs from a year earlier. Perhaps one reason the visit affected me so deeply; another that the victim numbers are easily visually imagined.
The ruins are maintained exactly as the SS left them, there is no litter, visitors of all ages talk quietly, walk slowly, thoughtfully and look with respect.
And here respectfully for victims of atrocities past, present and, I’m sad to say, future, my images …
And finally the irony of this notice from the electricity company which pre-dates the massacre …