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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.

April 3, 2010

Oradour-sur-Glane shown in the TV series “The World at War”

Filed under: Germany, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 4:54 pm

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 ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane, 1944

The Official Publication about the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre states that “the Nazis had no valid reason to attack this peaceful town.”

Women and children were allegedly burned alive in Oradour-sur-Glane church

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?

I also blogged about the people who were allegedly burned alive on this blog post:

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?

Oradour-sur-Glane as it looked in 1932

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.

Old car in the ruins of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane

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 fairgrounds where the men waited while the women were taken to the church

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 Dupic house where the SS soldiers had a drunken orgy

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 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 Center of Memory with the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane in the background

The town cemetery has a sickening display of bones found in the ruins of the town.

Bones of unidentified victims of Oradour-sur-Glane massacre

The French were defeated by the Germans in World War II after only six 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 survived the massacre

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 allegedly jumped from the middle window of the Oradour-sur-Glane church

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 side altar on the left side of the church is in pristine condition

The side altar on the right side is a pile of rubble

Body parts of women and children with unburned clothing

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.