Oradour-sur-Glane, France.

Images of Oradour-sur-Glane can be viewed here.

On 10 June, the 2nd SS Panzer division ‘Das Reich’ sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered 642 inhabitants – and anyone who happened to be in or near the town – to assemble in the village square to have their identity papers examined.  The SS also arrested six people who did not live in the village but merely happened to be riding their bicycles through when the SS unit arrived. 

The women and children were locked in the church and the village was looted. The men were led to six barns and sheds, where machine guns were already in place.

According to a survivor’s account, the SS began shooting, aiming for their legs.  When victims were unable to move, the Nazis covered them with fuel and set the barns on fire. Only six men managed to escape. One of them was later seen walking down a road and was shot dead.  In all, 190 Frenchmen died. 

The SS then proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the brutal attack. 

The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite  Rouffanche.  She escaped through a rear window, followed by a young woman and child. All three were shot, two of them fatally. Mdme Rouffanche crawled to some pea bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. About twenty villagers had fled Oradour-sur-Glane as soon as the SS unit had appeared. 

That night, the village was partially razed.

Several days later, the survivors were allowed to bury the 642 dead inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane who had been killed in just a few hours.

Adolf Diekmann said the atrocity was in retaliation for the partisan activity in nearby Tulle and the kidnapping of Helmut Kämpfe.

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