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June 22, 2015

Madame Rouffanche, the “lone survivor” of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:27 am
Altar in the ruins of the Oradour-sur-Glane church

Altar in the ruins of the Oradour-sur-Glane church with 3 windows behind it

This year, I let the June 10th anniversary of the Oradour-sur-Glane tragedy go by without blogging about it. Now I am going to answer a comment made on one of my previous blog posts.

The following comment was made by Anthony Godly:

Was Mme Roufanche ever in the church? After escaping through that church window She hid in a garden (in daylight?). Miraculously, the younger woman with a child was shot and killed whilst trying to escape from the church through that same window, only seconds before Mme Roufanche – a much older Woman – manage to climb up to that window. Did Mme Roufanche have any burn marks, cuts or bruises?

Here is my answer to Mr. Godly’s question:

We don’t  know if Madame Roufanche had any “markes,  cuts or bruises” because she checked into a hospital under an assumed name, and no one was ever allowed to see any of her “burn marks, cuts or bruises.” She stayed in hiding in the hospital for more than a year.

Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, the lone survivor of the massacre in the church, had allegedly managed to escape from the burning church in Oradour-sur-Glane by using a ladder to climb up to a broken window behind the main altar in the church, then allegedly leaping out of a window, which was 9 feet from the ground.

Madame Rouffanche allegedly leaped through this window behind the altar in a church

Madame Rouffanche allegedly leaped through this window behind the altar in a church

Although allegedly hit by machine gun fire from German soldiers, and wounded 4 times in the legs and once in the shoulder, this 50-something, overweight woman was able to crawl to the garden behind the presbytery where she hid among the rows of peas until she was rescued, 24 hours later, at 5 p.m. the next day, and taken to the hospital in Limoges where she was admitted under an assumed name. It took a full year for her to recover from her wounds.

In 1953, she testified before a French military tribunal in Bordeaux about the massacre of the women and children in the church.

The window on the left is the middle window in the church

The window on the left is the middle window in the Oradour-sur-Glane church

Madame Rouffchance had to first climb up this ramp to get to the window

Madame Rouffchance had to first climb up this ramp to get to the window in the Oradour-sur-Glane church

Madame Rouffanche jumped out of the middle window, rolled down the embankment and then stuck the landing

Madame Rouffanche jumped out of the middle window, rolled down the embankment and then stuck the landing

The German attack on the village of Oradour-sur-Glane was prompted by the kidnapping of Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, the battalion commander of the 3rd Battalion of Das Reich Division, on the night of 9 June 1944. Representatives of the French resistance had sent a ransom note to the “Der Führer” battalion command post on the morning of the 10th of June.

Acting on this information, Sturmbannführer Otto Diekmann, a close personal friend of Kämpfe, took two platoons from 3rd Company/1st Battalion/Regiment “Der Führer” to Oradour-sur-Glane to search for him.

On the search for this “beloved officer,” Diekmann’s men had discovered a burned-out German ambulance that had been set on fire, apparently by the French partisans, near the southern entrance to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

The driver of the ambulance had been tied to the steering wheel with wire. He had been burned alive, along with the man sitting next to him in the passenger seat, and four wounded soldiers inside the ambulance.

Before entering Oradour-sur-Glane, the SS rounded up the residents of the hamlets on the south side of the village, because this was the vicinity where the burned out ambulance was found. By coincidence, the one woman who allegedly survived the massacre, Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, lived in a hamlet on the south side of the village.

I believe that Madame Rouffanche was a partisan, who was fighting in World War II as a resistance fighter, aka an illegal combatant.

The destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane had the desired effect because, immediately after the massacre, the Communist partisans, who had been wreaking havoc in the Limosin area, gave the order to stop fighting.

The order was intercepted by the Germans and this immediately lifted their morale. The reprisal had worked; this was basically the reason why reprisals were allowed at that time, although such bestial cruelty as the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane is, understandably, no longer legal under international law.

In a rambling autobiography entitled “SS Panzergrenadier,” former Waffen-SS soldier Hans Schmidt, with whom I have personally spoken, wrote about the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre from the SS point of view. In a footnote on page 377 of his book, Schmidt debunks the official story that the villagers were innocent.

They were illegal combatants who were stopped by a legal reprisal.