Scrapbookpages Blog

July 27, 2013

World at War TV series misconstrues the Oradour-sur-Glane reprisal

Filed under: Germany, TV shows, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 3:29 pm
Entrance into the ruined village of Oradour-sur-Glane which is now a memorial site

Entrance into the ruined village of Oradour-sur-Glane which is now a memorial site

I wrote a previous blog post about Oradour-Glane, a French village that is shown in the British TV series entitled World at War.  At that time, I had not actually seen the World at War episode that starts with a speech by Sir Lawrence Olivier, which I quoted in my previous blog post. I also blogged about the tragedy at Oradour-sur-Glane on this blog post.

Today, I watched several World at War episodes, and I learned that the one which starts and ends with Oradour-sur-Glane is the very last episode.  The Oradour-sur-Glane reprisal, which was done by the Germans in an attempt to stop the war crimes perpetrated by the French Resistance, is purported to be the way that Germany fought World War II, attacking villages and killing civilians for no reason.  Instead of reporting the truth, that Oradour-sur-Glane was a reprisal action, the false portrayal of the destruction of this French village is used to demonize the German Army and the German people.

A series of photos of Oradour-sur-Glane is shown in the last World at War episode, as Sir Lawrence Olivier intones these words:

“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….”

The photo below shows the church, which is mentioned in the World of War, as the place where women and children were killed …. by German soldiers.

The ruined church at Oradour-sur-Glane

The ruined church at Oradour-sur-Glane

After the opening scenes in the World at War episode, which shows Oradour-sur-Glane, there is a photo of the ruined church, much like my photo above. Then a photo of the altar in the church is shown, and a photo of the windows in the church.

The photos below show the road, down which the soldiers came, on a summer day in 1944.  What summer day was it, exactly?  June 10, 1944.  The date should have been mentioned in the World at War, because the destruction of the village took place FOUR DAYS after the Normandy invasion.

Ruins along the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Ruins along the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Ruins on the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Ruins along the road into Oradour-sur-Glane

Why did German soldiers take time out to go to a remote village and kill innocent women and children in a Church, of all places?  The World at War documentary doesn’t tell us, so we are left to conclude that the Germans were intent upon killing innocent civilians, not winning the war.

What does the evidence show about the atrocity at Oradour-sur-Glane?  This issue was not addressed in the World at War episode.  I previously blogged about the evidence, as shown in the photos that I took when I visited Oradour-sur-Glane.

You can read about another reprisal action in France, which I wrote about on this blog post.  French civilians fought throughout World War II as terrorists, aka illegal combatants.  You can read about the French Resistance on my website here.

My photo below shows the entrance road, early on a foggy morning, before the arrival of the many tour groups which stop here.  The entrance road comes to a dead end where it intersects with the main street, called Rue de Emile Desourteaux, which is shown in the fog in the background.

The photos of the road into Oradour-sur-Glane were very dark on the show World at War

The photos of the road into Oradour-sur-Glane were very dark on the show World at War, much like my photo taken in 2001

The entrance road, on the left, ends at the fairgrounds

The entrance road, on the left, ends at the fairgrounds in the center of the village

Well on the Fairgrouds at Oradour-sur-Glane was shown in The World at War

Well on the Fairgrounds at Oradour-sur-Glane was shown in the World at War

My photo immediately above shows a well, which is at the edge of the Fairgrounds in Oradour-sur-Glane. A photo similar to this one was shown in the TV series World at War.

Why this photo?  It has nothing to do with the tragedy at Oradour-sur-Glane.  However, the photo below does have something to do with why the Germans did a reprisal at the village.

The "tragic well" is shown on the right

The “tragic well” is shown on the right

One of the first sights on the entrance road is the “Tragic Well,” where dead bodies that had been thrown into the well were found. The photo above was taken inside the enclosure of an old farmstead near the entrance into the town. It shows an old well with a wooden cross placed beside it.  The cross was put up by the Germans.

According to defense testimony at the Nuremberg IMT, the SS claimed to have found a number of bodies of German soldiers who had been executed in Oradour-sur-Glane.  Some of these bodies were found in the “Tragic Well.”

According to Philip Beck, who wrote a book about Oradour-sur-Glane, entitled Oradour, Village of the Dead, the names of the victims whose bodies were found in the well are unknown. Out of the 642 people allegedly murdered in the village by the SS soldiers, the bodies of only 52 were ever identified.

The entrance street into the ruined village is the former road to St. Junien, a town that is 13 kilometers southwest of Oradour-sur-Glane. The Waffen-SS soldiers who destroyed this peaceful village on 10 June 1944 were coming from St. Junien, but they didn’t use the present entrance road to enter the village. Instead, they traveled south and entered the village at the southern end, which is now closed off. Originally, tourists were allowed to enter the ruined village from three gated entrances, including the present entrance, which is currently the only entrance.

A new town has been built right next to the ruined village.  The photo below shows the church in the new town.

Church in the new town of Oradour-sur-Glane

Church in the new town of Oradour-sur-Glane

You can see photos of the ruined Oradour-sur-Glane church on my website here.  Each side has it’s own version about what happened at Oradour-sur-Glane. You can read all the different versions of the story on my website here.