The year is 1944, and it is June 10, a Saturday. It is idyllic and serene in Oradour-sur-Glane, or it would be, if the threat of war had not cast its shadow over the small town’s residents. In an instance of cruelty and despicable nature that seems only befitting to the Nazi party of Germany, the small town was completely obliterated by soldiers of the Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division Das Reich. The Nazi soldiers proceeded to burn the town to the ground and kill a total of 642 citizens, including men, women, and children. To this day, there is no clear explanation as to why the soldiers did this. A grisly and harrowing in-depth analysis of the time leading up to the attack and the events of the attack itself can be found here.
The remains of the town have been left as-is, as a testament to the horrors of the past, ordered to “bear witness” to it by Charles de Gaulle. The site is now considered a martyr-town, and recives around 300,000 tourists and visitors every year. The site has been the cause of some panic recently, with the remains crumbling and decaying as time goes. Officials have been working to keep the site up and suitable for tours and testement, especially in light of their latest visitor.
On Wednesday, September 4th, the first German leader to ever set foot at the site arrived at the charred remains, where he held hands and hugged with the French leader in a solemn, heart-wrenching testament to the horrors of the past. German President Joachim Gauck and France’s leader Francois Hollande took a tour of the area in spirit of the ongoing effort to reconcile French and German post-war relations.
On the topic of the reason for the atrocity still not being known, Guack was quoted as saying, “When I look today into the eyes of those who have been marked by this crime, I can say I share your bitterness over the fact that the murderers have not been brought to justice — that the most serious of crimes has gone unpunished.”
An ongoing investigation of soldiers from that day is still taking place in Germany. Hopefully, answers may come soon. For now, this writer wishes peace to the people of both Germany and France as they dwell on this continuing reconciliation, as well as hope that, someday, justice may be served to them.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons.