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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.

13 Comments

  1. The last couple of minutes of Episode 26 of The World at War remain for me – even after all these years – the most moving moments of television I have ever seen. The reprise of the martyrdom of Oradour-sur-Glane is a masterpiece that shows so poignantly the human face of this senseless act and succeeds so finely in achieving its goal : to ensure we remember.

    Comment by Peter — August 17, 2017 @ 5:11 am

  2. A Former Resistance Fighter told me the true reason for the massacre was a reprisal for a Resistance ambush that intercepted a lone German Truck filled with gold bars the German General who knew the war was finished and wanted to smuggle himself and the gold into Switzerland. When his gold went missing he ordered without notice a reprisal on the Village. Usually, the Germans never executed anybody without notifying the locals the why and wherefore, necessary for future intimidation.

    Comment by Christopher Buonanno — June 30, 2016 @ 5:40 pm

  3. What a fucking rotter you are, trying to justify this because those nasty resistance had upset their Nazi oppressors. The ppl who perpetrated this atrocity knew the war was over for them and that Germany had lost, they did it for no good reason apart from pure petulance. You are scum my friend, I am half German BTW, just to give my comment some context.

    Comment by andy mac — February 20, 2016 @ 9:44 am

    • You wrote: “What a fucking rotter you are…” and “I am half German”.

      The other half of you must be British. Rotter is a British insult. Check back in a little while and you will find that you have been put on the list of people who are not allowed to comment on my blog.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 20, 2016 @ 10:22 am

  4. This is an example of the kind of ridiculous crap that is floating around the internet today. Anything that tries to justify a massacre like this is hideous. To claim that :

    “The woman and children in the church were killed by the explosion of ammunition hidden in the tower of the church by the Communist resistance”

    is just ridiculous.

    Who has ever heard of an ‘accidental’ explosion that just happens to efficiently kill EVERY SINGLE WOMAN AND CHILD in a village except for the one woman who miraculously escaped. She was the only surviving eye witness to the massacre except for the German perpetrators and her testimony basically confirmed the account given in the BBC documentary. The fact that some of the lower ranking German soldiers who participated in this massacre where not convicted at trial after the war is just another example of the injustice of the war crimes trials. Few war crime perpetrators below the rank of Colonel where convicted or even prosecuted because the prosecutors didn’t know how to handle the excuse of “I was just following orders” for lower ranks.

    I wish these guys had met the fate of the German assholes described in this story:

    I know a man who was taken prisoner by the Germans at the Dieppe raid in 1942 and spent the rest of the war as a POW. They marched (yes marched on foot) the prisoners to a POW camp in the Ukraine. Then as the Russians started pushing the Germans back they marched them again and again on foot further and further back until they ultimately ended in Austria.

    Some of the German Prison guards where ok but many where psychopaths. Assholes who killed prisoners for very little reason.

    As the war was coming to an end, the German prison guards where very worried about who was going to take THEM prisoner – the Russians or the Americans. One morning the POWs woke up and all the German prison guards had piled up their weapons in the middle of the camp and where standing at attention in a row. In the distance was a line of tanks but they couldn’t tell if they where American or Russian. As a soldier approached all the German prison guards breathed a sigh of relief when they saw he was American.

    The American soldier came to the POWs and said:

    “I’m with the army. Very soon the Military Police will take responsibility for these German Prisoners and everything will be by the book. In the meantime we’ve seen some examples of great brutality by the Germans so I ask you if any of these prison guards was particularly brutal?”

    The answer from the allied POWs was of course “Yes, there are a few real Assholes in this group”. The American soldier then handed the prisoners his sidearm and said “Here’s my .45 – do what you have to do”. At which point the ex-POWs tapped the Assholes on the shoulder and said “come with us behind the outhouse”.

    If that had not happened those psychopaths would have gotten away with their crimes and enjoyed a long life after the war just like the surviving perpetrators of this horrendous massacre.

    Comment by Robert Long — November 14, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

  5. Nazi SS pigs — keep on justifying the inexcusable if you like. I guess that is what hell is for you….

    Comment by Nick Humpenklower — January 8, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

    • Hooray for the French Resistance, which fought against the Nazi pigs. You can read more about their heroic deeds on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Natzweiler/History/FrenchResistance.html

      It was a crime for the Nazi pigs to try to stop the heroes of the Resistance with a legal reprisal. They should have allowed the Resistance heroes to continue their atrocities against German soldiers. Long live the French Resistance — they should continue to burn German people alive, even though there is no war going on in Europe now.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 4, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

  6. sarah farmer has brought about the first difinitive book based on the martyred village. instead on focusing on the rather well known facts of the horrific massmacre, she gives great insight and back ground to the events leading up and following the massacre. as well as giving a personal insight to it, using her own photography, she gives a great narrative and all round factually based book which gives alot of hard to get material. for those who have visited the site or simply an enthusiast, you need not look further than this compelling, easy to read book.

    Comment by Andrea T. Holloway — August 1, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

  7. I remember seeing that series The World at War back in the 1980’s. If I remember correctly it said nothing about the Katyn massacre of Polish officers by the Soviet NKVD. http://www.katyn.org.au Has anyone else seen this series more recently and can you notify if they mentioned the Katyn massacre. If not then the show is simply peddling red army propaganda.

    Comment by Les — July 30, 2013 @ 7:12 am

  8. I have published the article about Tulle/Oradour-sur-Glane events in a Russian patriotic website.
    Almost all materials used, were borrowed from this website, with the permission of Further Glory, who got the full credits for information.

    http://www.battlefield.ru/tulle-oradour-sur-glane.html

    Comment by Gasan — July 29, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  9. The World at War series appeared in 1974 and was basically a repetition of all the allied WW2 propaganda, purporting to be an objective analysis.It therefore confirmed in the collective conscience all the lies which justified the sacrifices of their youth.
    As for Oradour Vincent Reynouard explains in this video how the official version is a tissue of lies. The woman and children in the church were killed by the explosion of ammunition hidden in the tower of the church by the Communist resistance. (The video is in French but it would be worth someone adding subtitles in English). Mr Reynouard went to prison for a year for doubting the official version.

    Comment by peter — July 27, 2013 @ 5:18 pm


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