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The inevitable sadness of Oradour-sur-Glane

The inevitable sadness of Oradour-sur-Glane

Jun 20th, 2014, 05:31 AM
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Quote Gretchen: "I believe the soldiers who carried out that massacre were then called to the Normandy front and many are buried in the German cemetery there."

Many of the soldiers were in fact Frenchmen - Alsatians who had been drafted into the Wehrmacht since Alsace & Lorraine were not part of "Occupied France" but fully integrated back into the German Reich (as they had been between 1871 and 1918). Such conscripts were known as "les malgré-nous" (Against Our Will).

Their subsequent trial caused a whole new level of furore - from Alsace and the Occupied North and they were eventually found guilty. Alsace then put pressure on the French government to pardon all malgré-nous and eventually an amnesty was proclaimed.

The Limousin was in turn outraged and forbade any French State involvement in the memorials and preservation - that is why you essentially have the two museums, one on site and the new one, only opened in 1999 slightly to one side - it took 50 years for the arguments to settle.

In many ways its a microcosm of the issues France continues to struggle with regarding WW2 - whilst all French would like to present a De Gaulle the hero/Resistance/Free French narrative they know it's a deal more complicated than that; what's often overlooked is just how broken France was in 1945, and how close to disintegrating as communists and Gaullists practically waged a civil war in the newly liberated territories.

Whilst the story of the massacre of Oradour is indeed heartbreaking - the subsequent story is equally powerful and moving, illustrating as it does the struggle of a nation to reconnect with its soul and accommodate 5 years of anguish.

Dr D.
Dr_DoGood is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 05:34 AM
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What is not always remembered, except by people who live in the area, is that Oradour was not the only atrocity committed by the SS Das Reich division. On their way to Oradour they stopped in Rouffillac, 2 km from where I live, and killed 18 people, only 2 of whom were resistants (and several who were children.) I took a few photos of the most recent memorial ceremony http://cettesemaineacarlux.blogspot....ouffillac.html. Very moving to be with people who lost family that day, and even some who were there at the time. In fact when the monument was installed, there were strong feelings expressed regarding what could be inscribed - e.g., forgetting vs forgiving.

They then went on to Tulle, where 99 people were killed.
Carlux is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 06:39 AM
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... killed and hanged from the balconies and lampposts of the city.

(I covered all of that in my report if anyone wants to go beyond looking at the photos.)
kerouac is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 08:32 AM
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Not only were 99 men killed, another 149 were sent to Dachau, where 101 of them were murdered - all the hands of the same monsters who carried out the massacre in Oradour a day later.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 20th, 2014, 10:05 AM
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If I am ever again in the Limousin area, Oradour is definitely at the top of the list. Right now I am on Nazi overload here in Warsaw. Polish history is just so sad. They are always in the middle of warring parties. I have to say that in Poland I have met some of the nicest people I have ever met. It is like 30-40 years ago with people always offering their seats to older people on the bus, etc. They are just so polite and welcoming. Despite all the horrible history, the Polish people are very resilient!
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 11:23 AM
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Kerouac, I put a link on the site where I write, so more readers will see it. Hope you don't mind.

MmePerdu is online now  
Jun 20th, 2014, 11:29 AM
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Wow, thank you for sharing that. Agree with a previous poster that anything else I might say seems banal.
ducinaltum is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 12:05 PM
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MmePerdu, any way to share this information is important.

Too many people forget how easy it would be for such a thing to happen again, as much as we would like to think that it is no longer possible in our part of the world. Irrational hatred is everywhere.
kerouac is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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Oh, and thank you very much for your comments.
kerouac is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 12:45 PM
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Kerouac, I know you'd be very welcome on Travel Gumbo, if you'd like to expand your influence. I'm not the only one there who appreciates your work. Please join and join in, if it appeals. The site is still relatively new so as individuals we're more visible there than on bigger ones. It's a very congenial group and includes several Francophiles, including me.

aka PortMoresby
MmePerdu is online now  
Jun 21st, 2014, 03:24 AM
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Thank you, kerouac, for your continual postings that have added so much to our travels. We leave in 3 months for our 10th visit to Paris and other parts of France, and I've never heard of this spot. Unfortunately, we can't fit the diversion in our road travels on this trip, but will add it to the next for sure.
We were in Spain for almost a month 2 springs ago, and went to Guenika, which had my husband in tears. The people were so lovely - we seemed to be the only Americans on a very ordinary Tuesday, and several people tried to chat with us and thank us for visiting. We can tell that this spot will have an equal impact on us, and a reminder of the deliberate impacts of war on the non-combat residents, which are still ongoing.
jo_ann is offline  
Jun 25th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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another great this time sobering photo shoot!
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 03:20 PM
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I had wondered why Oradour had not received many comments on this forum. I'd been twice and they were both harrowing and tearful visits. Just now reading a book THE DAUGHTERS'S TALE by Armando Lucas Correa. Bring one to tears, with the entire story and the chapter on Oradour.

Amazon Amazon

ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 07:40 PM
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Kerouac, thank you for this update plus the link. *Here's the ultimate kicker: according to the memoirs of a French-born American spy who worked with the resistance, the Das Reich got the wrong town. Apparently it was another 'Oradour' that they originally intended to massacre. The spy was the first Allied rep to visit poor Oradour after the atrocity. He arrived if memory serves, 2 or 3 days after the Nazis departed and spoke with survivors. The spy's unpublished memoirs were combined with research done by his now-aged son, resulting in the recently-released 'Scholars of Mayhem'. It is an excellent book.
Btw, the spy-in-question worked very closely with the famed spy heroine Violette Szabo.

Those interested in learning 'just who knew what and when' about Auschwitz, may want to read the equally new book 'The Volunteer', by Jack Fairweather. Whereas filmic depictions of Allied ground forces chancing across death camps and being shocked during their liberation are accurate (the soldiers knew nothing about the camps), there is absolutely no doubt that early on, senior officials in Poland, Britain, Switzerland, France and America had knowledge about Auschwitz-Berkanau that grew with each passing year. Give the Poles credit---their leadership did everything within their power to try to convince the Brits and the Americans to act (i.e. to bomb the camp or to attempt a liberating attack).

Incidentally, the recent French TV series 'Un Village Francais' did a great job of depicting war-time France and the grey areas between the maquis and collaborators.
I am done. Respect.

Last edited by zebec; Jul 20th, 2019 at 07:42 PM.
zebec is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 06:37 AM
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As a child, this is how I learned about WW2. In late 1970s many of the individuals involved in the war, with first hand experience were still alive.

“The World at War” series provides a chilling recount of the build up and events of WW2. The narration by Sir Lawrence Olivier provides a tone which compounds the effect. TV
production which records and in itself becomes history. Herodotus for the 20th Century.

Episode One sets the scene for the whole series with its opening passage, telling the story of Oradour-sur-Glane.

As a species, we don’t seem to develop social empathy. In 1946 when the events of WW2 was pieced together, the collective reaction was “it should never happen again”.

It did.

It is.

it will.

We are still hell bent as a species on promoting our ology, our ism, our self.

The problem being, now there are too many of us on the planet.

BritishCaicos is online now  
Jul 21st, 2019, 09:55 AM
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Le Vieux Fusil is the cinematographic monument for Oradour.


An unforgettable and horrific movie.
menachem is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 10:12 AM
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Thanks for posting this. I hadn't heard of this particular atrocity before either. My SO and I have been watching the series A French Village for the past couple of months there's so much I didn't know about occupied France.
outwest is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 01:12 PM
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Outwest---our gestionaire (property manager) lady last year in Lourmarin had the same same surname as that TV series' main doctor character! When she introduced herself, we wondered whether she was taking the piss.
I am done. Respect.
zebec is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 01:16 PM
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Menachem, thank you for the movie link. The film's real-life location, Bruniqel, will be familiar with some travelers.
I am done. Respect.
zebec is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 02:02 PM
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We visited Orador sur Glane in 2009. It was extremely sobering. What really drove home the fact of the horror that transpired were the headstones in the cemetery with the same date of death engraved on nearly all of them: a very stark reminder of the loss of life that date. My husband and I both commented during our visit that there were no birds to be seen or heard in the town. Very eerie.
michele_d is offline  

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