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Oradour-sur-Glane massacre

Saturday, June 10, 1944, just days after the Allied landings in Normandy. Major Diekmann and his Waffen SS men marched into the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane shortly after noon.

Diekmann wanted revenge . Revenge, because one of his comrades had died a few days earlier in a firefight with the French. He set his sights on Oradour-sur-Glane, a sleepy village nearby. Why? That answer has disappeared along with the dead.


However, the village was not known as a hotbed of resistance. Still, the SS surrounded Oradour-sur-Glane and dragged everyone from their house. Women and children were separated from the men and directed to the church.

They wanted to know from the men where the ammunition and weapons were hidden. A question that no one could answer. The mayor assured the soldiers that such a warehouse was out of the question in his modest village.


An answer that the Germans were not satisfied with. 180 men and young people were mercilessly executed and the barns were set on fire and riddled with bullets.


While the rattle of automatic machine guns rang out for several minutes, women and children sat like rats trapped in the church. The Germans blew up the church and threw a load of grenades inside.

No weapons

The massacre claimed the lives of 642 residents—an outright war crime. Any trace of weapons or ammunition was never found. Diekmann himself never had to answer for his war crimes: he died a few weeks later in the fighting with the Allies.

Time has stood still in the streets of Oradour-sur-Glane—a ghost village. After the war, Charles De Gaulle decided that the town should remain in that state.

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