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New York Times 2008


Oradour-sur-Glane Journal; Where 642 Died, a Wound Too Deep for Time to Heal


Sixty years ago, just days after Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, a German convoy rolled into this sleepy town, rounded up its residents and gunned them to the ground before setting the buildings and the piles of still writhing bodies on fire.


Six hundred and forty-two people died. Six survived. It was the worst Nazi atrocity in France.


The massacre became a symbol not only of German brutality toward France but of betrayal by collaborators, in particular those from Alsace, the long-contested region between the two countries.


It was not until Thursday that representatives from the region, including the mayor of Strasbourg and 50 schoolchildren, attended a ceremony marking the massacre.


The incident, and the experience of occupation in general, continue to shape France profoundly. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin presided over Thursday's ceremony, declaring that Oradour ''is the justification for the politics of memory, resolute and innovative, that we follow.''


Robert Hébras and Marcel Darthout, the only two remaining massacre survivors, stood in the shade of a tree on the edge of the square where the townspeople were assembled and recounted to Mr. Raffarin how the Germans had separated the men from the women and children.


The women were taken to the church, where they were later raked with gunfire before the church was set on fire. Only one survived. The men were taken in groups to barns and garages and held at gunpoint.


''Until the last moment, we didn't believe that they were going to shoot,'' Mr. Darthout told Mr. Raffarin. When the shooting began, he said, ''it was hell.''


Mr. Hébras and Mr. Darthout were among the first to fall in the fusillade and were quickly buried beneath the bodies of their dying neighbors. Mr. Darthout felt the man on top of him die after a soldier clambering over the pile shot him in the head. He and Mr. Hébras escaped with three other men when the barn was set on fire. They have said many men were alive when the fire engulfed them.


Mr. Raffarin held both men by their forearms and thanked them ''for keeping the memory alive.''


After the war, the state bought the ruins, rearranged some of the rusting artifacts -- burnt-out sedans, sewing machines and bullet-riddled baby carriages -- and turned the town into an eerie memorial, marked by stark signs reading ''Silence'' or ''Remember'' or telling how many people died at one place or another.


The sharp edges of the horror have softened with time. A reporter who visited 25 years ago returned to see the same rusting meat hooks in the butcher shop, the same rusting bread pans in the bakery, the same rusting automobiles in the garages, but their link to the events seemed weaker.


A sleek new visitors' center and a crisp asphalt expanse for tour buses have given the town the air of a national monument to a remote, unreachable past. Gone is the sense of discovering, almost by accident, the exposed bones of a town whose life was cut short one midafternoon.


But if recollections fade, reconciliation still comes slowly.


The Germans were carrying out reprisals for ''terrorist'' attacks after the Normandy invasion and the Allies' exhortation to the French Resistance to rise up.


Among the soldiers who carried out the killing were 14 Alsatians who had been French citizens until the war. All but one were conscripts, though witnesses to the massacre said none showed any reluctance to carry out their chilling orders.


The 14 were finally convicted for their roles at a trial in 1953, but the verdicts created such an uproar in Alsace that the French government, fearing a separatist backlash, granted them amnesty the next day.


Oradour was outraged. The mayor sent back the Legion of Honor award the government had bestowed on the town, and the remaining townspeople, ignoring the state-built memorial, used private funds to erect a monument to hold the bones and ashes of the victims. National officials were not invited again to the annual commemoration for nearly 20 years.


Gradually, the town and state reconciled. But the rift with Alsace was much deeper.


''Today, we have evidence that it's officially finished, that everyone is reconciled,'' said Gilles de Lacaussade, counselor for memory in the French Veterans' Administration.


Reconciliation has been in the air. The German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, has been talking about Oradour. He told French television last week that the town had fallen victim to ''the immoral and inhuman Waffen-SS,'' Hitler's elite shock troops. ''I feel ashamed,'' he said.


But one elderly Alsatian who had fought on behalf of the Nazis on the Eastern Front stood at the back of the crowd, uneasy about mingling and unwilling to talk to the assembled relatives of the victims.



just spotted this really interesting we are off there in August hoping to fit on the Aire if not we will have to travell else where really looking forward to taking in this and paying our respects.

Anyone else been and what did you think of it .

Is there anything else worth seeing whilst there anything we should not miss.

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There is an Aire near the Stadium that holds about 12 with a borne and toilets. There is also the large carpark at the Memorial Centre where quite a few motorhomes park.


You have to go into the Memorial Centre to get into the village, there are quite a few steps but there is also a lift to take you down to the tunnel that goes under the road and then takes you into the village. That is the only way to access the village itself. The Memorial centre also has a library where a lot of the leaflets and books are in English and there is also an ongoing exhibition. You can also put 2 € into a machine and get a commemorative coin in return.


The village is a lot larger than I imagined and dependant on your interest could take a couple of hours plus to walk round.


The new village is quite large and is alongside the old one.


Orodour is about 9 kms from Limoges where you can visit the Potteries.

Have a look on the Limoges website and there should be different attractions advertised.

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Very moving Michele - I had never heard of it before but we will add Orador to our list of places to see in France.


Millions of very good people paid a very heavy price in their today for the many freedoms of our today.


Lest we ever forget.

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LIMOGES is not a city that calls for a long stay, but it's worth a look for a magnificent train station and the craft industries that made the city a household name: enamel in the Middle Ages and, since the eighteenth century, china, including some of the finest ever produced. If these appeal, then the city's unique museum collections – and its Gothic cathedral – will reward a visit. But it has to be said that the industry today seems a spent tradition, hard hit by recession and changing tastes among the rich. The local kaolin (china clay) mines that gave Limoges china its special quality are exhausted, and the workshops survive mainly on the tourist trade.


Thanks for the above perhaps we should also go and see what pottery or china we can purchase.

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potts it is the right name but as Sylvia & Martin say there are 6 oradors in France . i seem to be not able to see it on the website at the moment I will keep looking and post it for you all to see as soon as I find it .


meantime have a look at this it all makes interesting reading .


This document is the one that featured in the French television documentary: Oradour, Retour sur un Massacre which was broadcast on 29th May 2004 by France 3 and was claimed to show a clear, unambiguous order to destroy Oradour. It was intended to show that there was no mystery concerning the attack on the town, it was all a deliberate, cynical plan to crush the French Resistance and 'blood' the SS-Troops, that had been instituted from within the highest levels of Das Reich. It was also intended to absolve the Resistance from any responsibility for the massacre by suggesting that the abduction of Sturmbannführer Kämpfe had nothing at all to do with the affair.


As will be realised on reading Kahn's full statement below in conjunction with the transcript of the video (Oradour, Retour sur un Massacre), the program makers were being very selective in what they showed and claimed in their presentation. The claim that the massacre was carried out to orders by Lammerding (or Stadler) is not supported by Kahn at all, in fact he repeatedly says that Diekmann only claimed that the order came, "from the Regiment" and that he (Kahn) subsequently never saw or heard any supporting evidence for this claim.


The statement is reproduced in full, in English translation below and there are some points to bear in mind when reading it:


1) Unusually (in my personal experience) the original document is riddled with spelling mistakes and various typographical errors, all these errors have been corrected in the translation and only a few of the more significant ones left in, such as the consistent misspelling of Diekmann's name as Dieckmann. Remember that Kahn knew Diekmann personally and signed this statement as being correct, so it does seem odd that he let such an obvious error go uncorrected.


2) Kahn was giving this statement to help old comrades, principally Heinz Lammerding, the commander of Das Reich at the time of the attack on Oradour and by implication the reputations of Sylvester Stadler and the Waffen-SS in general and not for his own personal benefit.


3) The statement reads poorly, it is not great prose, it is the words of a man answering questions on events from his past, perhaps events that he wished had not happened. It is very obvious in certain parts of his statement that Kahn wishes to show himself in a good light and having acted in a virtuous manner.


4) There are several surviving witness statements from the trial at Bordeaux in 1953 that show Kahn to be fully involved with the killings and acting in a brutal manner. It is noteworthy that in several places in this statement, Kahn mentions that witnesses to his acts have gone missing in action, so the only evidence to his actions is his own testimony.


5) I have not yet been able to locate any other witness statements from the same era as this one, but they must exist and I will keep looking.


Read the statement and make up you own mind as to its reliability and value; my comments below are in italics.



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Potts Found it


Charly-Oradour, in Department 57, Moselle. About 700km to the north-east of Oradour-sur-Glane. The connection between the two towns is that 44 inhabitants of Charly were moved to Oradour-sur-Glane in late 1940 and died there on 10th June 1944. On the 12th August 1950 Charly was re-named, Charly-Oradour in memory of the dead. Roger Godfrin, the youngest survivor of 10th June and his family, originally came from Charly: see the list of their names and a photograph of the memorial to them in Charly-Oradour.





Department 57




2) Oradour, in Department 15, Cantal. This town is a little smaller and is rather more compact than Oradour-sur-Glane. It lies about 170km to the south-east of Oradour-sur-Glane itself and is thus far too remote to have ever been confused with it in June 1944. It is very rural in character and sits in a wooded hollow surrounded by low hills: see entrance to the village and from the viewpoint.





Department 15




3) Oradour, in Department 16, Charente. It is tiny on the map and in reality it consists of no more than a church and a Town Hall. It is in fact a somewhat odd place, as there are no other properties in the immediate vicinity. This hamlet lies about 90km due west of Oradour-sur-Glane and is thus both too small and too remote to have ever been confused with it: see entrance to the hamlet and memorial to the Normands.





Department 16




4) Oradour-Fanais, in Department 16, Charente. This town is about the same size as, but of somewhat different layout to Oradour-sur-Glane, it lies about 28km to the north-west of it. However unlikely, if we are looking at the risk of confusion, there is the possibility that the two towns could have been muddled in 1944. There are some similarities in layout, for example in both cases the church is on the left of the road at the town entrance: see view looking west and view looking east.





Department 16




5) Oradour-Saint-Genest, in Department 87, Haute-Vienne. This village is much smaller than Oradour-sur-Glane, scarcely more than a hamlet (but with the inevitable church on the left of the entrance). It lies about 34km due north of Oradour-sur-Glane: see view looking south and view looking north.





Department 87





6) Oradour-sur-Glane, in Department 87, Haute-Vienne. The subject of this website and thought to have been a site of habitation for over 1000 years. See the Home Page for access to all details and How to get there and places to stay, for travel and accommodation information.





Department 87




7) Oradour-sur-Vayres, in Department 87, Haute-Vienne. About 28km to the south-south-east of Oradour-sur-Glane. In 1944 this Oradour also had a tram service from Limoges as did Oradour-sur-Glane. As is explained in the narrative of this website and especially in Chapter 7 of In a Ruined State, there is the real possibility that this Oradour could have been confused with Oradour-sur-Glane on 10th June 1944. See the pictures of Oradour-sur-Vayres.





Department 87





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It all makes fantastic reading very moving and very sad . just close your eye's and think .


This interrogation report has been included, not because it shows much by way of new insight into the happenings at Oradour-sur-Glane, but because it gives a feel for the times. There was clearly an attempt being made (by the British in this instance) to gather eyewitness statements concerning atrocities, presumably with a view to settling scores once the fighting was over. As can be read, although Ehlev implies he was not at Oradour, he knew about it. He also knew, or had eyewitness experience of other criminal behaviour carried out by members of his Division.


There are some interesting points to be seen in the report: 1) The consistent spelling of Führer as "Fuehrer", this was not due to ignorance, but simply because English language typewriters of WWII vintage did not have any umlauted keys and so "ü" could not be shown, for more detail see: Dates, commonly misspelled words and accents. 2) Fritz Ehlev is described as a "Sturmann", this seems to have been a misspelling of "Sturmmann", the rank roughly equivalent to a lance-corporal in the British army. 3) Note the remark that two of the men mentioned by Ehlev are described as, "rabid Nazis" 4) Ehlev himself claims to have been conscripted into the SS and whilst this is certainly possible, it seems to have been a very common assertion to have made following capture. 5) Note the assertion that he was on anti-partisan patrol in June 1944 in the Limoges area, which again illustrates the use of the Das Reich Division for a purpose for which they were wholly unsuited.





Report No. PWIS(H)/LDC/406 SECRET

Report on interrogation of PW (Prisoner of War)

KP 104909 SS-Sturmann Fritz EHLEV


Unit: 12/Pz GR 4 "DER FUEHRER" (2 SS Pz Div "DAS REICH")


Captured: 15 Sep 44 HECKUSCHEID (Germany)


Preamble: PW, a 19 year old farm labourer is not very intelligent. He claims to have been compulsorily enrolled in the SS. He hails from INSTERBURG (East Prussia).




11 Jan 43 Conscripted to 3/SS Div Totenkopf at WARSAW


14 Apr 43 Posted to 9/SS Pz GR 4 "Der Fuehrer"


Oct 43 Wounded


Jan 44 Posted to 9/SS Pz GR 4 "Der Fuehrer", SAUTERNE (S France)


Mar 44 Transferred to 12 Coy


Jun 44 III Bn/SS PGR 4 detailed to combat partisans in area LIMOGES


7 Jul 44 Unit to Normandy




PW is rather vague on dates and places but appears willing to co-operate.



Although the PW is not certain of the name of the place, he has heard of this massacre. His informant was Rottenfuehrer DUDRE, section leader in a mortar PL of 12 Coy. He added that 4 Coy was involved in the massacre. A Rumanian, Sturmann HINZ of 12 Coy also confirmed the story.


b) YURET (S France)

PW witnessed Rottenfuehrer BUDRE shooting two French civilians on sight because they were carrying machine pistols. This happened about the 20 Jun 44 at YURET


c) Shooting of Partisans:

During Jun 44 PW was told by Uscharf ULM, a section leader in 12 Coy, that captured partisans who would not talk, were taken away and shot by members of the 12 Coy. This was ordered by Hptstuf HEDRE, O.C. 12 Coy. Sturmann FERL in 12 Coy shot a French civilian for waving to US tanks and indicating their O.P. This was seen by PW at about 20 Aug 44.


d) Rape:

In June 44 Uscharf WUST of 12 Coy was observed raping two young French girls in a small village nr YURET (S France).




O.C. 12/SS Pz GR 4 "Der Fuehrer" Hptstuf HEDRE

Age: approx 35 years

Height: 175 cm

Hair: Fair Eyes: Blue

Face: Long Complexion: Normal


Sec Leader in Mortar PL 12 Coy: Rottenfuehrer BUDRE

Age: Approx 22 years

Height: Approx 165cm

Hair: fair

Eyes: Blue

Face & Complexion: Normal

Hails from Westphalia. A rabid Nazi


In 12 Coy: Sturmann FERL

Age: Approx 19 years

Height Approx 170cm

Hair: Fair

Eyes: Blue

Face: Oval

Hails from DRESDEN. A rabid Nazi


In 12 Coy: Uschaf WUST

Age: Approx 24 years

Height Approx 170cm

Hair: Fair

Eyes: Blue

Face: Oval

Hails from DRESDEN



London District Cage: H.K. Kettler, Capt

11 Oct 44: P.W.I.S. (H)


Distribution: M.I. 15 File 2



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I don't know whether this has already been covered or not but the tramline ran from Limoges straight to Oradour-Sur-Glane and through the village, it is still there today with the Terminus at the top end of the village. Some of the people that were killed had arrived on the tram to visit friends and relatives and were herded into the village and shot.


Just as a bye, there are still trams running in Limoges, it made a very strange and memorable sight when we were there a few weeks ago. It brought back memories of trams in the centre of Manchester.

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michele - 2008-04-22 8:12 PM






Have you all tried the You tube link its very sad.



Yes Michelle, have seen the link.

One thing that struck me when walking around the ruins was the fact that some of the buildings, like the surgery, still had name plates on the doors, and it just showed how 'ordinary' these people were, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just supports my view that 'civilisation' is a very thin veneer.







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It doesn't matter which SS Division it was, whether it was a mstake to raze this village or what "reasons" the propaganda people at the time gave, it was a totally inhumane act. Sadly it wasn't the only one. Every division of the SS did this sort of thing in towns and villages in every country the Germans occupied.


And for those that think these acts were isolated times in history the killing has still not stopped. Darfur, Tibet, Iraq, Kosova, Croatia, Turkey, Israel, Somalia and countless others still harbour secrets like these. And just as then the people who order these terrible things get away with it. They may put on trial a corporal or such like but the leaders invariable get away with it because of some political machination with other countries leaders.


Anyone thinking of supporting a right wing party in the coming elections should remember that people in these parties idolise and hero worship the SS and their leaders. They come up with catchy sounding slogans and soundbites, but beneath it there is the same hatred and bullying tactics.

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Just to set the record straight, there are seven, not six places in France that have the name 'Oradour', either as a one-word name, or as part of their title.


Without wishing to nit-pick in any way, the title of this thread is not spelled correctly and it should read 'Oradour-sur-Glane' (with hyphens).


See: http://www.oradour.info/appendix/oradours.htm for details of all the Oradours and:


http://www.oradour.info/ for full details of the story of Oradour-sur-Glane.


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spospe - 2008-04-26 11:55 PM


Just to set the record straight, there are seven, not six places in France that have the name 'Oradour', either as a one-word name, or as part of their title.


Without wishing to nit-pick in any way, the title of this thread is not spelled correctly and it should read 'Oradour-sur-Glane' (with hyphens).


See: http://www.oradour.info/appendix/oradours.htm for details of all the Oradours and:


http://www.oradour.info/ for full details of the story of Oradour-sur-Glane.


If you don't want to nitpick why point it out in the first place. Everybody knows what is being talked about.

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we are certainly up for this one David . will try to do as you suggest hopefully the weather will be good . Mind you as of yesterday the little one may be back sooner than we think we had not planned to have her in tow so we will have tos ee what happens now ..


Still I cant have it both ways can I :D

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To see a photo of the Aire at Oradour and some more information about it, including a map of how to get there see:












Although the spaces in the Aire are quite wide, they are for the most part on a bit of a slope, apart from a few near the toilets. To maximise your chances of a good spot, arrive by midday. It is only about a 20 minute walk along level pavements to the Centre de la Mémore from the Aire.


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