Around France

Oradour-Sur-Glane: A Journey Back in Time

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane, June 10, 1944.

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane


I’m going to take a giant leap into a place I don’t take you very often. My “real” life and passions. 

Since becoming the “Barefoot Blogger,” it seems I’ve created a fantasy person. Sometimes I don’t recognize her myself. Here in Barefoot Blogger’s world,  life is beautiful. Travel, fun, and friends. Yes, that’s all true. What isn’t revealed, though, is the fact that living in Europe has opened my heart and mind in more ways imaginable: empathy, love, and fear. Having never lived in a country that, for centuries, was under siege of war, I now see the ravages of war around me. I hear the stories. I acknowledge the pain. While I feel quite safe and content in my little “tower” in Uzes, I’m connected to the world through the same means of communication as you are. Along with the many good things, awful things are happening around us. Unimaginable things. Visit Oradour-sur-Glane with me.

Oradour-sur-Glane is a village that won’t appear in travel magazines — but it is important. I stopped there on the way back from the Loire Valley. By writing this post about Oradour, I want to remind myself and you, my friends, that history seems to repeat itself … if we allow it.

Back in time

On June 6, 1944, Operation Neptune, known as the “D-Day,” took place on the French beaches of Normandy, beginning the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe. While the Allies had a foothold in Europe that would lead to the end of the War, the invasion set madness into motion in other parts of France. Oradour-sur-Glane, a small town near Limoges, suffered one of the worse examples of the brutality of the German Army.

Here is an account of the events:

“On 10 June, Diekmann’s battalion sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered all the 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 there 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 men then 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 men next 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 sacristy window, followed by a young woman and child.[3] All three were shot, two of them fatally. 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.”

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane


Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane, June 10, 1944.

General Charles de Gaulle visited the ruined village of Oradour after the war. He declared the village — the site of one of the largest massacres in France during World War II —  a memorial to the cruelty of the German occupation and deemed that it never should be rebuilt. A new village carrying the name was built after the war northwest of the site. Today a memorial museum stands at the entrance to the martyred village, dedicated by French president Jacques Chirac in 1999.




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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, a community which had lived for a thousand years … was dead.

Excerpt from the British documentary, The World at War, narrated by Laurence Olivier

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane, June 10, 1944.

Personal revelation

I literally wept when I reached the ruins of the children’s school and read the names — “Binet” — so similar to my own. Farther down the road, my spirits lifted as I saw a young family in the distance.

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane


Seeing them from behind, I found myself running up to stop them in the road. It was a sunny holiday weekend. Here was a family visiting Oradour-sur-Glane when others would be at Disneyland. I had to find out why they were there. The lovely young woman told me her family had been among those who died during the massacre. Her grandmother brought her to Oradour when she was the age of her children. She wanted them to see the same, to feel the same, to remember the past.

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane


Remember Oradour-sur-Glane


iRemember Oradour-sur-Glane




19 replies »

    • Yes, you may. I hope that your project will be an inspiration for others to learn about the tragedy of War and prejudice. Best regards.

  1. This place needs to be visited and the events remembered. Thank you. So many people don’t even know about it.

    It’s such a powerful place to visit, as moving as Auschwitz and Tyne Cot.

    • I agree with you! How can we prevent bad things from happening again if we don’t look back at the past. It was an emotional and important visit. Thank you for your comment.. and for remembering.

  2. Just fantastic and truly something that needs to be remembered!!!! I do not know why it does not get a little more press and attention as a tourist visit or mention.

  3. I read of this last night. It was the first time I had heard of this. I could not believe the evil horror of this event. I feel so much sadness for these innocent people. I appreciate you sharing their story. I appreciate that they are not forgotten. My tender heart weeps for these precious life’s that were destroyed and the horror they endured.

    • I hope that we can share this with others and with our children. It’s the least we can do. Thank you for your thoughtful note. I really appreciate it.

  4. Debby, thanks for sharing this important story. Friends are visiting us here at the beach and we were discussing how history is not being taught in many schools now. I see a quote from Churchill here, “A nation that forgets it’s past had no future”. Thanks for connecting us to this awful event in our past, in this beautiful French village, with hope that in remembering, there will be no chance of repeating what happened here.

    • I will never spend a June 10th without thinking of this village and these people who suffered so innocently. You’ love the book I recently read based on the story–a historical fiction by Lisa Perret– Wolfsangel. Thanks for your note. Bises

  5. Near us, we have a similar story of the Nazis taking the village of Allemagne-en-Provence and hanging all the villagers from the trees….Horrific stories that are truly unimaginable.

    • I have a hard time imagining the atrocities that happened in France and throughout Europe, especially seeing the beautiful people and countryside today. The resilience of the French–and others in Europe who suffered and lost–is a testament to strength and persistence. Thank you for telling me of this, another tale we must not forget.

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