Here is the narration by Sir Lawrence Olivier in the first Episode of the British documentary “The Word at War” which was first shown on TV in 1973:
“Down this road, on a summer day in 1944. . . The soldiers came. Nobody lives here now. They stayed only a few hours. When they had gone, the community which had lived for a thousand years. . . was dead. This is Oradour-sur-Glane, in France. The day the soldiers came, the people were gathered together. The men were taken to garages and barns, the women and children were led down this road . . . and they were driven. . . into this church. Here, they heard the firing as their men were shot. Then. . . they were killed too. A few weeks later, many of those who had done the killing were themselves dead, in battle. They never rebuilt Oradour. Its ruins are a memorial. Its martyrdom stands for thousands upon thousands of other martyrdoms in Poland, in Russia, in Burma, in China, in a World at War…”
The Official Publication about the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre states that “the Nazis had no valid reason to attack this peaceful town.”
The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane happened on June 10, 1944, four days after the Allied invasion at Normandy on June 6, 1944. WHOA! Wait a minute! Did German soldiers actually take time out from fighting the Allied invaders, so that they could go to a remote French village and burn 245 women and 207 innocent children alive inside a Catholic church for no reason at all?
By beginning the documentary “The World at War” with this story, the British proved right up front that the Germans were indeed heartless barbarians who were solely responsible for a world-wide war. The German soldiers cared more about burning innocent babies alive in a church than they cared about defending their country. Why else would they have taken time out to commit such an atrocity at Oradour-sur-Glane, a peaceful village where the people had nothing whatsoever to do with the war? Or is there something that the British are not telling us?
Here is a quote from the Forward of the Official Publication about the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane:
“A traveler in June 1944 leaving Limoges for Angouleme would have been captivated by the charming balance of the surrounding countryside. How easily he would have stepped aside from the main road to take some more intimate by-way to discover to his delight, above the meandering river Glane, between two rows of willows and poplars, the church of the town going by the melodic name of Oradour.
“A few days later, nothing was left of this village apart from ruins and embers, the blackened sections of walls grasping the sky like stumps, and the charred remains of its inhabitants. The Huns had been that way, killing, pillaging, destroying, burning and annihilating animate beings and inanimate alike with method and refinement, for in the art of killing they are masters par excellence.”
“The Huns” is the pejorative name for Germans soldiers that was used by the British in World War I. The British told fantastic lies about alleged atrocities committed by German soldiers during World War I. The most famous British lie was about German soldiers “cutting the hands off babies in Belgium.” Of course, the British government apologized later and admitted that it was all lies, but the damage had been done.
Another quote from the Official Publication:
“… unleashing of such monstrous instincts and the obsession with atrocities such as these has no name in any language – except however in the German language, where the term ‘Schadenfreude’ has been created and which may be translated as ‘pleasure in doing evil.’ How edifying it is when we find that in Germany such a brutal state of mind, heart and spirit should be so natural, normal and usual that it should be necessary to create a special word to designate this!”
Wow! I’ll never use the word Shadenfreude again. I had no idea that Shadenfreude means German “pleasure in doing evil.” I thought it meant taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.
According to the Official Publication, while the women were awaiting their fate in the church and the men were sitting in rows of three on the Market Square, the SS began carrying out a systematic pillage of the town, searching each house and emptying it of its contents.
The Official Publication claims that this was not a search for weapons, but rather a search for valuables that the SS wanted to steal. “The village was rich and theft was bound to be lucrative: silver, linen, provisions, precious objects, everything was there.”
So that’s why the German soldiers took time out from getting to Normandy to fight the Allied invaders? They wanted to steal everything from the rich people in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane. How were they going to carry all this stuff with them into battle? Maybe they were going to bury it and come and get it later, after Germany had won the war. In fact, there is a book, written by a guy named Robert Mackness, entitled “Massacre at Oradour” in which he tells about two SS officers stealing gold for years, and then transporting it to Oradour-sur-Glane, along with military records. On June 10th, the SS officers went to Oradour-sur-Glane to retrieve their gold, and when they didn’t find it, they took revenge on the innocent people in the village. Don’t laugh; some people actually believe this story.
The 200 German SS soldiers spent the night of June 10th in the home of Monsieur Dupic, a fabric merchant who managed to escape when he saw the Germans enter the town. His house was located at the north end of the main street. The SS soldiers did not leave Oradour-Sur-Glane until the following day at about 11 a.m. They set fire to the Dupic house just before they left. The next day, the remains of 20 to 25 Champagne bottles were found in the ruins.
According to the Official Publication:
“Without doubt, during the night, the most atrocious orgies occurred in this house. [...] They drank and binged in the Teutonic fashion, whilst other discoveries indicate clearly enough the monstrous nature of the scenes that these sadistic brutes gave themselves over to in the light of the fading glow of the fires.”
Well that’s one side of the story. The German SS men have a different version of what happened. You can read it here on my web site scrapbookpages.com. The story of Oradour-sur-Glane, as told by SS officer Otto Weidinger can be read here. You can also read more about the Official version of the story here.
Oradour-sur-Glane is a really big deal in France. The ruins have been preserved just as they were left on June 11, 1944 when the German SS soldiers left the town. To see the ruins, visitors have to go inside the Center of Memory and then go through a tunnel which leads to the ruined town.
The town cemetery has a sickening display of bones found in the ruins of the town.
The French were defeated by the Germans in World War II after only five weeks of fighting. They have nothing to be proud of except the French Resistance, so they glorify the French people who fought as illegal combatants after France signed an Armistice and promised to stop fighting. At the same time, they deny that the people in the town of Oradour-sur-Glane had anything to do with the French Resistance.
Madame Rouffanche allegedly jumped out of a window in the church and survived, even though she was allegedly shot five times by the SS soldiers. She was found at 5 p.m. the next day, hiding between the rows of peas in a garden behind the church. As the only witness to allegedly survive the atrocity in the church, Madame Rouffanche testified at the trial of the SS men in 1953.
Madame Rouffanche’s final words to the court, at the trial of the SS men, were “I ask that justice be done with God’s help. I came out alive from the crematory oven; I am the sacred witness from the church. I am a mother who has lost everything.” The term “crematory oven,” which was evocative of the Holocaust, was a reference to the burning of the women and children in the church.
I don’t believe that Madame Rouffanche was even in the church, much less that she jumped out of a window in the church.
The three photos above clearly show what really happened inside the church at Oradour-sur-Glane. The old black and white photo shows body parts with unburned clothing, which indicates that there was an explosion inside the church. Could the French Resistance have stored weapons inside the church which exploded? You can see more photos of the church here.
Curiously, the president of France, Charles de Gaulle, ordered the records of the trial to be sealed for 100 years, which means we will not know what really happened at Oradour-sur-Glane until 2053. Is there something that the French don’t want us to know about the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre?
I can’t say any more because it is a crime in France to tell the truth about what happened at Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944.