The Ghost Town of Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Hundreds of cities and towns across Europe was devastated by loss of life and destruction of property during World War II. The village of Oradour-sur-Glane in central France was no exception.
On June 10th 1944, only a few days after the Allied landings in Normandy, German troops entered the village of Oradour-sur-Glane and rounded up as many men, woman, and children that they could find. Within hours 642 of the villagers lay dead and dying. The men were massacred by machine gun fire in cattle sheds and the woman and children were locked in a church that was set on fire (picture 3 shows the remains of the church). After the massacre, the SS set fire to the rest of the village. Despite a trial at Bordeaux, the SS unit that massacred the town was never brought to justice.
After the war, the president of France, Charles De Gaulle, declared that the village of Oradour should be rebuilt next to where the town had previously stood. They wanted the burnt-out remains of the old village to be preserved and stand as a poignant reminder about the atrocities of war. In 1999 French president Jacques Chirac dedicated a memorial museum, the Centre de la mémoire d’Oradour, near the entrance to the Village Martyr (“martyred village”).