(all photographs by J. Gerencher)
Oradour-sur-Glane was a suburban village along the trolley line 20 kilometers
(14 miles) from Limoges, France. Located on the Glane River, Oradour was a
quiet market town that was relatively isolated from the war and the occupation
by German troops. On 10 June 1944, only 4 days after the allied invasion
of Normandy, the village was suddenly surrounded by German troops who gathered
together all the residents and separated the men from the women and children,
whom they placed into the church. They machine gunned all the
men. They then threw dynamite sticks into the church and burned its
occupants to death, shooting any that tried to escape from windows or
doorways. In a few hours they killed 642 villagers, including five people
who happened to bicycle into the village before the carnage began. Only
one person from the church survived and one child survived by hiding when
he saw the soldiers start to surround the town. After the murder of
all the occupants, the German troops burned all the buildings in the town.
Nobody knows why these people were killed or why this village was chosen. Some think that the Germans intended to liquidate the village of Oradour-sur-Vayres, because there had been some resistance movement in that region of France. The pillaged village of Oradour-sur-Glane has been left in the condition in which it was found when the German troops left, except that the dead have been buried and the streets have been cleaned of debris. The village has been maintained as a memorial by the French government.
Main street with trolley tracks from city of Limoges.
A car rusts in front of burned-out buildings.
Two cars rust in the remains of a garage.
Church interior where women and children died.
Roof was burned away.
Fireplace at home interior.
Rusty bicycles still hang on house wall.