Posted By : HHLifestyleTravel
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The town of Oradour sur Glane in France was the scene of one of World War II’s most senseless atrocities. Oradour was ransacked by a German Waffen-SS company in June of 1944 – they killed all 642 of the town’s inhabitants. Rather than rebuild the town in the same location, the new Oradour
was built a couple of kilometres up the road. The ruined town was kept as a reminder and a memorial. We took a sombre visit to Oradour sur Glane in the summer of 2014 – it was a stark reminder of the inhumanity of war, and the fragility of human life.
It is a stark and poignant reminder of a savage moment in history. The old cars and buildings remain, albeit with some modern stabilisation to preserve the structures. With everything left exactly where it was after the massacre, it adds to the eeriness of the place – it’s very post-apocalyptic!
You can see the bullet marks in the walls of the church – where women and children went to hide, but were brutally shot in this place of worship. The church was one of the most moving places in the town for me – the sombre juxtaposition between this holy place and the bullet marks was very overwhelming.
Walking along the still-intact streets, looking through shop windows (although the glass is gone!), you can still see every day items lying around. Singer sewing machines in the tailor shop; cars in the garage; and school gates ready to receive children, no longer in residence. I don’t think words can even begin to cover how this site leaves you feeling.
They have built a memorial on the site which sensitively displays the smaller possessions of the inhabitants, and also lists each and every name – lest we forget these 642 poor souls. The boning from the women’s corsetry, little toy figurines belonging to the children, and men’s belt buckles. When a person’s existence is reduced to these artefacts it definitely puts things into perspective.
Amongst the deeply saddening ruins, there is a reverence and beauty to Oradour. The care and respect to keep it as a memorial, and therefore the soul that remains in the walls of this town is palpable – there is beauty in these streets.
There is an exhibition in the visitor centre, which gives you more background and information – it is well worth paying for this extra context before entering the town itself. You can get more information about visiting Oradour sur Glane at the official tourist website
You can read more about our visit to the Limousin and Poitou-Charentes here
All photos & content © Hannah Henderson and may not be used without permission (sharing this blog post is fine, though!). Images shot with a Canon DSLR T3i Rebel + Canon EF 35-80mm f/4-5.6 III; and an iPhone5.