We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

Man’s Inhumanity to Man: Oradour-sur-Glane
19 March 2011, 09:52
Filed under: WWII | Tags: , , ,

I’d never heard of Oradour-sur-Glane before, but it was apparently an idyllic little town in the Limousin region of France, roughly in betwen the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. There is another similarly named town, Oradour-sur-Vayres, about 36km away. Just as I sometimes have trouble finding the right town in France, it seems that the Germans occupying France in 1944 had the same trouble. Unfortunately, the consequences of this confusion were disastrous for the townspeople.

On the 10th of June, 1944, the first battalion of the 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Das Reich was moving to the fighting in Normandy. They received a report from the Milice that Helmut Kampfe, who commanded the 3rd battalion and who had been captured by the Maquis, was being held in Oradour-sur-Vayres and would be executed.

Sturmbahnfuhrer Adolf Diekmann ordered his men to round up all the people in Oradour-sur-Glane. The women and children were moved into the church, while the men were taken to barns and sheds around town. Then, the SS troops set off an explosion in the church, killing the women and children. The men were apparently machine-gunned mostly in the legs so that they couldn’t move, then the entire town was put to the torch, burning them alive.

Diekmann didn’t survive the war (Kampfe was executed by the Resistance on the 10th), but a number of his men were tried for the war crime. Some of the men were in East Germany or the British zone in West Germany at the time and not extradited. A number were Alsatians, who were French citizens before and after the war, but not while Alsace was “reunited” with Germany during the war. Those Alsatians received an amnesty shortly after their conviction.

The town has been kept as it was after the massacre, as a monument to man’s inhumanity to man.

This was first blogged by baworldtraveler and I am grateful for the eye-opener.

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I like your site and added it to my blog’s blogroll. 🙂

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