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Oradour-sur-Glane

 

On 10 June 1940, 642 inhabitants of a French village, from a new-born to a ninety year old, were executed by German SS troops. Four days previously, the Allies had launched the liberation of Europe with D-Day. And for the last few months, the French Resistance had stepped up its sabotage. German retaliation was brutal. During that time the sight of French bodies hung from trees and telegraph poles was not uncommon.

Despite the risks, the Resistance kidnap Helmut Kampfe, a Battalion commander on the evening of 9 June. He is the Resistance's highest ranking capture. The next morning, he is executed. That afternoon, SS troops enter the quiet village of Oradour-sur-Glane. Before that day, the only German soldiers visiting the village had been there for its cuisine. (Why the village was targeted is still debated. The commander in charge of the operation was dead himself before the month was out.)

Women and children were placed into the church. The men were separated into different buildings. All were then executed.

Under French orders, the village has never been rebuilt. And remains largely as it was the day its people were massacred.