- Student Work
coming to Oradour, I already knew that it had been occupied by
the Germans, and I’d read some books that mentioned it. I
had no idea that the Germans would have done anything like
Oradour to France, I was under the impression that the Germans
didn’t really affect the French, and that they certainly
didn’t harm them, but then I was proved wrong. Before coming
to Oradour, the teachers had tried to explain what it was all
about, how it had happened, what we would see…but there was
no way they could have told us how we would feel when we
entered, so that came as a huge shock for everyone. The utter
silence, the absolute feeling of death, of life that had been
wiped out by pure hatred and brutality. I kept walking around
the town, and although I could see the burnt walls and bullet
holes, all I could think of were the people, the women who had
used those sewing machines, the man who had polished his car
so carefully, trying to outdo his neighbour. The girls
skipping down the street, on the way to the sweet shop…and
all those lives and hopes and dreams and ambitions just wiped
away by a group of animals. The cars made the most impression
on me. I could just look at them and think of the families who
had owned them, the outings that had been had in them, the
father so proud of his car, it was just so unfair. It was all
there, all that life, all those people living, but on top of
that there was the reality of crumbled houses, bullet holes,
rusted prams and charred beds. I walked around alone, and then
with a friend. I kept talking, to try and reassure myself I
think, to try and pretend that it was all a story, that it
hadn’t really happened. But it had, and both of us knew
that. We didn’t go into the cemetery, partly because it was
getting late, and if I saw it, I don’t think it should have
been a hurried visit, and also because I thought we’d
already seen the village and the cemetery wouldn’t show us
any more than we had seen.
don’t think they could have built over the village, it would
have been like a final blow to the memory of those people, it
would have been like trying to build over the past, to pretend
it didn’t happen, whereas what they did was show everyone,
to commemorate the lives of those people, so that although
they died, they could teach people in the future, they could
do something. It is so important that people know and
first walked into the village I thought what a mess the Nazis
have done. All of the houses were knocked down, you could see
old rusty cars and bikes and the church was a mess.
first thing I looked at when I went in was the houses they
were a mess you could see bikes, sowing machines and beds. I
wanted to know how they were smashed up. Then I read the
booklet and it said the Nazis burnt down what happened it and
they also shot machine guns as well.
second thing I looked at was cemetery there was so many
people, I looked at some of them and there was kids about
6,7,8 years old they died so early in there lives they’re
properly thinking life’s too short. Only five or six people
got away from the Nazis. It could have been eight because a
women and a baby tried to get away but they both got shot
that’s why there are lots of graves.
last thing I looked at was the church, people told me that
they grabbed every women and children and put them in the
church and lit it on fire. Some women and children managed to
escape but which people tried were to late.
the men they put them in a barn, lined them up and shot them
all. Some of them tried to hide underneath but they couldn’t
because they weren’t fast enough.
absolutely nothing about it then when I went to Oradour it
told me a lot that I didn’t know.
was walking through the ruins I felt very depressed but I
thought that I could see the people still there as they were
before the Nazis attacked I could see the men and women at
work then they were just wiped out.
church gave the greatest impression on me because you could
still see the bullet holes in the walls. I also remember all
of the rusty cars some even with a few bullet holes in them.
I think that they chose not to rebuild
over Oradour sur glan because they wanted to show and remember
what terrible things the Nazis had done to an innocent town. I
think it is important for people to know about Oradour sur
glaine because they should know what they have done even to
see what is still there just for remembrance of the people who
died on that day at Oradour sur Glane.
Before I went to Oradour I didn’t know
anything about it. I didn’t even know it existed. I knew a
little about the Second World War but not very much. My first
impressions on Oradour were that it was horrible. It was like
walking into an old film. Like it wasn’t real. It was so
horrible that it was like it was put there it was all fake, as
if someone had just put it there as a tourism attraction.
The ruin that made the biggest impression
on me was the church. When you went into the church you could
see bullet holes in the walls were people had been shot.
People had come here every Sunday for a normal church service
and then they were killed there. Also, the people’s houses
made a big impression on me. Through the windows you could see
the fireplaces, and normal every things like sewing machines.
58 years before they had been normal houses were normal people
lived, people that would have been just like us if it all had
I think they didn’t want to rebuild it
because they wanted people to remember what happened, and for
the few survivors to remember their old homes before it
happened. I think the French government chose to make it
historical monument because it’s part of French history and
the details of the Second World War. I think it’s very
important that people know about Oradour because it was part
of history but also because it’s happening today in France
with Le Pen. You would think that after all the horrible
things that happened in history people would have learned but
they haven’t because Le Pen is doing the same thing as the
people that came to Oradour, but the French are still voting
Another place that I think would be a bit
like Oradour is the concentration camps and Anne Franks house.
I’ve never been to any of them but I think it would be good
to go. Also the Twin Towers people just like us in a few years
time will probably visit them and it will be just a sad but we
were alive when it happened it so we’re just like the people
that lived when all the people were killed in Oradour.
Before I went to Oradour I knew nothing
of it. When we got there it was so depressing walking through
the streets, thinking what it would have been like. Trying
hard to imagine who some Germans could of even thought of
doing this! When all those people died even though you don’t
know them you still feel hurt, I mean what if some of those
people had planned to get married or what if some of the women
were pregnant, all of there plans were ruined. The lady who
did escape would probably have no family left. When I went to
Oradour I visited the graves and where they had lists of names
on plaques, it was really touching to be there. The most
touching thing at Oradour was probably seeing the peoples left
overs in the houses.
My first impression when I entered the
village was horrible I couldn’t imagine why someone would
want do such a thing. All I could think about was why did the
Germans do it, and how the people of Oradour would have felt,
being pushed out of their homes, jobs and schools, and every
thing they’d planed gone and they were innocent, why had the
Germans done it?
When I visited the cemetery it was very
sad when I red the names of those who had died, there were
babies the youngest I seen was 10 days old, I have never been
to a more depressing place in all my life. It was really
depressing when I saw the remains of the houses; toys, bikes,
sewing machines and other objects the people of Oradour would
have used all of them burnt.
When I went to the church it was very
sad, you could see the bullet marks in the walls, and it was
supposed to be a holy place. I thought what it must have been
like going into your church where you said yours prayers every
Sunday and then being killed horribly there.
I knew nothing about Oradour before I
visited it, apart from our teachers informing us of what had
happened. It wasn’t enough to prepare ourselves for what we
were about to see.
Walking through the exposition building
I felt disgusted at the pictures I was seeing. People being
shot, hung and burnt. Puzzled, scared, innocent faces of those
being killed for no apparent reason. Then after such a
torture, carcasses and some still alive were throne on a pile
of wood only to burn those innocent lives.
was time to leave the expedition building now and walk in the
village. The first thing that I noticed was a sign saying
(SILENCE), so walking in absolute silence we walked around the
village. It was very touching, looking at all those houses
burned down, there useless now, no one living in them, just
left to crumble into nothing.
Looking through the streets of Oradour, it was hard to
imagine all those innocent people who died, how the streets
had once been a place of work, busyness and laughter. Now
it’s just an abandoned old village, harsh memories and
silence, no one laughs here.
The church was very upsetting, seeing all of the bullet
marks in the walls, thinking of all of the people who were
burned here. A
n old burned down push chair lay in the corner, rusty and
tattered, not touched since the day in 1933.
Before I went to Oradour I knew nothing
about it. But I knew about the fact that the Germans took over
France during the world war, but I never realised that they
were so cruel to do a thing like that!
I felt upset but also at one point I felt
a little bit freaked out! When I was thinking that over 600
innocent people died there, I was, for some strange reason,
thinking of their ghosts walking around, I was thinking that
if this never happened, I wouldn’t be here right now, as it
would probably just be another usual French village.
The church made the greatest impression
on me, where hundreds of women and babies got killed, that was
the saddest part too. I particularly remember the rusty cars
and sewing machines. I think it’s because in the houses
there was just rubble, and the only other things there were
the sewing machines, cars, bikes e.g.
I think they chose not to build Oradour
in the same place because it is a huge historical event, and
to be rebuilt over would be such a stupid idea because less
people would know about the tragedy, and it may even be
it is important that people know about Oradour because people
should not forget this and let it happen again, if people know
about this, people won’t forget, so nothing like this will
cold air was still. It was silent except for the sound of our
soft breathing. You could of heard a pin drop. As we walked by
the once used, Cafés, Garages, Bakeries, and other such
places common in towns, gasps rung out.
imploded, were in garages, out in the streets, in places where
you would usually find cars. Someone tried opening one of the
doors. They were rusted shut.
be locked.” He joked.
might have been funny had it not be so serious.
there been anyone in the cars when the SS troops invaded?
About to go somewhere? A highly anticipated trip?
church was destroyed. I tried not to stay. I couldn’t stay.
It was worse than I was prepared for. It was almost like the
voices were there still. Crying out to anyone to listen.
Crying like they had for the last sixty years.
gravestone has a story. Every gravestone has a tale to tell.
If a picture says a thousand words, a gravestone can match it
word for word. Gravestones touch people. These gravestones
told me more than I ever wanted to know.
went through every row. Looked at every stone. Looked at every
picture. I found a massive grave. One for two. Husband and
Wife. Separated at death. One died in 1993, ten days before
the spouse died, years before. It stood out. How could you
live? When the one you love has died?
one. A grave for a family. All nine of them. They all died,
same day, separated. What had they done that merited such
behavior? Nothing. Oradour was a haven of peace for nearly the
whole of that awful war. If that was what caused the massacre
then a lot of things that are being outlawed should now be
made legal. It wasn’t right.
found, in the underground “Exhibit” a list of names. There
were around six tablets, all taller than me. All listing the
name and age. All numbers up to one hundred must have been
listed. Other things found in such a “Exhibit”? False
Teeth for one. Glasses. 1000 francs. Toys. Everything used
left then. I didn’t want to stay any longer. Why Oradour? I
doubt anyone knows. It’s a question I would like answering.
When I first heard of the massacre of Oradour in the
last history lesson before the trip, I didn’t really think
of the people who died and didn’t notice how many people
actually died. I had thought at first that at least a little
part of the buildings would have survived, but once I got
there I noticed that the first two buildings that we past had
no walls left at all. I then went off the main street and went
left to the cemetery and I could see the differences between
the rich people who died and the poorer people who died. This
surprised me because it seemed like a lot more people had nice
and big graves than those who barely had one. Then I went to
the end of the grave were there was a list of all the people
who died. The youngest child was 3 days old. It really shocked
me when I read that. After the graveyard I went to see the
shops like the butcher, the shoemaker, restaurants, the
dentist and the hairdresser. I also saw a broken down building
with around 20 rusted and broken cars, it looked like either a
car store or a garage. Then I went to the church. The church
was the place, which made me feel the saddest for the victims
because it was were the children and women were killed. When I
saw the bullet marks on the walls it felt weird because I had
just been were someone died around 60 years ago and it made me
feel happy that I wasn’t there with the rest f the people.
There was even a part of the church, which was were the bell
used to be, that had no more roof and we could see the bell on
the floor. Then after the church, on the way back on the main
street, I saw the barn were the men were shot. We couldn’t
actually go in the barn but we could still see some bullet
marks on the walls, which weren’t too destroyed.
But I still don’t understand why the Germans chose
to destroy Oradour instead of an other place which could have
been more important for them.
My first impressions were actually
thinking about the museum we had all seen before. The sheer
brutality of the event was just sinking in, and seeing the
burned and ruined houses just shocked me more. Of course it
was quiet, but it wasn’t an awkward quietness. It was a nice
day, the sun was shining, and nobody was saying anything but
we all knew what we were thinking; it was quiet reflection,
everyone was taking in it in his or her own way. Occasionally,
we would exchange comments about what we were seeing. We
walked around in small groups, and some people were just
walking around on their own, pausing sometimes to look in
greater detail at some shop or house. There were no roofs on
any of the houses, and a lot of it reminded me of Pompeii in
Italy, which I went to with my family about 2 years ago, just
rubble and stones. In some of the shops, you could still see
the tiles and decorations on the walls, and there was twisted
metal cars and bedsteads on the floor. I was completely
speechless about it. There were just no words for me to
describe it, everyone knew what we were all thinking, it was a
very peaceful atmosphere, no-one was expecting you to tell a
vivid account of your feelings about it, everyone could think
what they wanted. Sometimes I imagined I was walking down the
streets before the massacre, and I imagined Nazis just driving
in one afternoon, how I would feel. I imagined how the village
would have smelt, what it would have been like walking down
the streets on a sunny afternoon. But I felt somehow that by
doing this I was disturbing the memories, so most of the time
I just took in what I was seeing. I couldn’t believe the
destruction. The fact that there seemed to be no actual reason
to why it had happened made it worse. I just wished that I
could have helped in some way, but of course I couldn’t.
The part of the visit I really remember
is the garage. We saw sinks and some watering cans on the
floor, but I was still thinking, “Oh, this can’t be
real,” even though of course I knew it was, until I saw the
garage. There were still signs and advertisements of garage
companies and car companies, and twisted cars on the floor.
Some of the signs said Renault on them, and that just made it
all real for me, and it made a big impact on me because
Renault still exists nowadays. It was then that I realised
in my own way that it was all true and it actually happened.
I did not visit the cemetery because I
did not have enough time, although I really wish I had. I
expect that if I had seen it, I would have felt more of the
same; sadness, despair and helplessness at not being able to
help these people. When I explained my visit to my parents, my
dad said that this place wasn’t the only example of this
sort of thing happening, and worse still; he explained that
similar events still happen today in wars. Although there are
a lot of complications about events and causes of things like
this, which I don’t fully understand, (so maybe I should not
make valued judgements) I do know that the fact that such
barbarism could still continue to happen just makes me sick
and very angry. The underground memorial was very well done,
but I don’t think it really conveyed the idea about the sort
of cruelty that had happened, except the first part, which had
statistics and information about the Nazis, and about Oradour.
We saw the film that they showed in the special room, but I
don’t remember much of that except when the camera showed
the ruined houses and the rubble inside them. Nothing in the
museums shocked me or made me really think except the
statistics about the Nazis. I learnt a lot about them…and
they really interest me, but of course only in a historical
sense…! I haven’t really studied WWII in detail and I
would like to because there is so much information like this
and about the people who died, as did the inhabitants of
Oradour. I think it is important to know about events like
I think that the reason why they did not
rebuild Oradour in the same place was because I don’t think
many people would have liked to pull down the remains and
rebuild the place; because it would, in a way, be an insult to
the people who were killed. Destroying the village would maybe
suggest that they agreed with the Nazis, because the Nazis
destroyed the village in any way they could, and so taking
down the buildings would be a way of finishing off the
Nazis’ job, destroying the village completely and totally. I
think that they did not want the village to just rot and fall
into disrepair even more that it had already, so they
preserved it as a museum, to pay respect to all the people
that died there.
the French government chose to make the ruins an historical
monument because they wanted to create a real memorial to
remind people about the cruelty of the Nazis, but I think that
it is mostly because of what I referred to in Question 5, the
fact that letting it fall into disrepair would be an insult to
the peoples’ memories and that letting it be destroyed by
nature of anything else would be a way of assuring and
finishing the Nazis’ job. I had never known of any other
places or events like this being preserved, of course now I
do, but I have never been to any. I do think that people
should know and try to visit Oradour. It is a shocking and
standing reminder of something that should never have happened
and should never re-occur, and people can learn more than just
about what happened upon visiting it. It makes you think of
many things about yourself, about life in general. It made me
think about what keeps the human race going, if such barbaric
acts can happen. That is why I think that the restoration of
the village is a brilliant idea, because it is a symbol of
people recognising that it is wrong, and therefore,
essentially a symbol between the old, old enemies good and
evil. I don’t know how this sounds to the reader, whether it
sounds clichéd or stupid, but to me it is perfectly clear!
A personal response to
is a silence.
silence of thoughts that reigns through the roar of voices
silence that should never be broken
buildings are gone
shiver in a feeling from all of them,
aura of pensive reflection
from this, from which we can all learn
from this, into which we can all plunge, sense, experience,
are the cold, deep waters of death
the sunrise of sweet realisation
burned and ruined
is our tiny hearts that must bear
one small splinter of pain from the broken
feel in the midst of the village
small and sorry voice calling from the shadowed flames
says clear as the eyes that once shone there
feel their pain. Take their poison
never again be re-poisoned; finished is the spirit that stole
this grave. Forever.
I felt a great sadness and depression
when I was walking through the village, just to know that so
many lives had been slaughtered. I saw loads of ruined
buildings there were cars, bicycles, deformed in odd places
like on top of the walls or under rubble. I thought about the
people that were killed and the question of ‘why’ came
into my mind several times.
I think it must have been the church that
made the greatest impression for me, even though it wasn’t
the building that was destroyed the most, it was the fact that
so many lives had been taken. I particularly remember the burn
marks and the bullet holes on the walls and foor.
In the underground memorial I saw the
names on the walls of the people who died, I saw the
remainders of the personal belongings e.g. glasses, watches
etc… I felt mixed feelings of depression and sadness when I
saw the relics on display.
I think they chose not to rebuild the
town in the same place because, it would rid them of their
memory to the people who lost their lives.I think that the
French Government wanted to preserve the menories and to show
Before I visited Oradour sur Glane, I
knew nothing about it. Maybe I had heard some vague comment
about it here or there, but nothing significant that I
remembered. And if someone had asked me if France was occupied
during the Second World War, my answer would have been “I
think so…maybe…I’m not sure…”
My visit to Oradour changed that.
All of us 40 kids of the Loire Valley
trip had been told what to expect before we actually entered
the ruins of the town. We knew what it would look like, what
had happened there, and how to act.
My first impression when I walked into
the town was that I was walking into a graveyard. It had the
same feeling, the same aura. It seemed like a perfectly
peaceful and lovely town, except that now…it was dead. The
ruins on the outskirts seemed mostly like farmhouses, a lot
like any average ruin you visit, one that has been worn down
for centuries. Only these buildings were only 60 years old.
As I walked farther into the village, the
more depressing it became. It wasn’t a plastic tourist site,
it had once been a real civilization. The buildings still had
burn marks on them, and rubble was piled on the floor.
Although all of the furniture would have been burnt up, each
house had a few items in them made out of steel/copper that
hadn’t gone. Amongst the wreckage we could see rusted sewing
machines, pots and pans, broken beds with stretched out
springs. Rusted cars were parked on the road, and in the
remains of the hotel, half a jukebox sat against the wall. But
the fields and gardens were covered in green grass, buttercups
I walked around touching the building
walls, making sure that they were real, trying to understand
and comprehend that these were the same walls as they were 60
At first I wondered alone, then with my
friend. She looked around us as we walked, looking at the
silent road, the rusted remains of cars, the old shops and
houses, as she imagined this place when it was alive.
“I bet some young man saved up all his
money for that car, so proud when he bought it,” she said,
“see the sewing shop? Some girl would have dragged her
mother along to it, begging her to buy the pretty white dress
in the window with the flowers embroider on it. And the little
boys who owned those bicycles would have fished in that stream
on sunny days…” she continued, dreaming up a life for
everyone lost. I nodded and smiled along with her, but looking
around the ruins, I myself could not imagine the lives that
lived there. I could only think of the death. Something that
was certain. As I looked at the remains of cars, shops,
houses, I could only see what I knew, that the people had died
there. The burn marks on the buildings and the bullet holes in
the walls. I couldn’t see the village as it always should
have been seen, couldn’t even begin to picture it; with the
little boys fishing and the flower dress in the shop window.
But if I looked down the road and blurred my eyes, I could
easily see the nazi army trucks driving up the little street.
We visited the church but stopped outside
the cemetery. We didn’t feel the need to go in. Walking
around the town had already shown us all that the cemetery
Before entering the town, we visited the
underground memorial, to give us all the information about the
Second World War and Oradour we would need before we went into
the town itself. We watched a video with English subtitles
describing what had happened in Oradour. I remembered how when
the video had finished, for a single moment there was complete
silence as all us 40 kids stared at the blank screen in
disbelief to what we had just seen.
To France, Oradour sur Glane is a
significant historical monument of the suffering of the
millions of victims of the Second World War, and of the
occupation of France. I think they chose not to rebuild it so
it is always there as a constant reminder and constant proof
of the terrible things that happened.
It is important that people know about
Oradour because it is such a good teacher to show people today
what life was like back then, and to help them not to do the
same things again.
Going to Oradour was one of the most
depressing things I think I have ever seen. I wish we had
stayed longer there even though it was depressing. It was a
place that you didn’t want to leave it might if been a place
of destruction and massacre but it was a placing of thinking
and wondering not a place of future but a place in the past
and thought of why an organisation can be put together to
create such an group of fascists, racists and murderers.
Before I walked into the village I was imagining a much more
built city I did not realise that it would be as destroyed as
it was. What struck me most were the labels of where every
body lived the bakery the hardware store that really brought
the reality of this disaster to me. The church really brought
home the destruction to me. I could hear and sense the mass of
people that were killed right here. What I have brought back
from of that is a sense of hatred and disgust for a political
leader to become so powerful and believe that he has the right
to kill innocent people. I think that this was put up as a
monument to warn people of what destruction and suffering this
war caused and not wanting it to happen again to any nation or
One of the first
things that hit me about the village was the quiet, I remember
very clearly a bird squawking as it flew over and that noise
echoed off all of the ruins in the town. I think I remember
this so clearly is because as we walked along in silence we
were heading for the underground memorial and there were lots
of daisies out on the grass I thought of these as the only
living things left in the village.
memorial was one of the places in the village that really
‘hit home’ simply because you could look over the names of
the all-742 dead. Megan and I looked at the ages of the people
on the memorial plaques around the four and we found children
from the age of 3 weeks old, but there were children of our
ages and we shuddered to think what it must have been like to
stand there and know what was going to happen to you when the
first rounds sounded then watching the rest of the people drop
to the floor.
church was the thing that struck me most because you could
still see the holes in the walls where the rounds went in –
killing people as they went.
This is the poem I wrote after the trip
it is based on the quiet:
village where sound sleeps.
quiet draws breath,
the village lies dead,
in its state of rest.
dry ruins crumble and fall,
calm that shouldn’t be.
the church of massacre,
life rears a head of petals,
white crown and golden centre,
stare towards the sun.
of the first things that hits you in Oradour is the sound.
There is none, it is completely silent.
Walking through the untouched ruins makes you think.
On the 10th of June 1944, people would have
walked down the main street into the barns, churches etc with
not a care in the world, they didn’t know that they were
about to die. In
the video that we are currently watching in history there is a
home made film at the beginning.
A man is filming what seems to be his wife and baby
daughter and friends walking down the main road, along the
walked down that same road.
You look into some of the ruins and see pieces of
untouched furniture. A
sewing machine placed beside two small beds, cars left in the
garage, the remainders of what looks like a juke box in the
lobby of the hotel. It’s
kind of hard to get your head round the idea of going to a
peaceful village, rounding up everybody and then killing them.
From my point of view I think it’s inhuman, it’s
sick. There’s a
lot to take in whilst walking through the streets of Oradour
sur Glane. You
feel a lot of emotions all at once, sadness, anger,
helplessness, and hatred.
It’s hard for you to put them all down on paper.
Then you say to yourself, what the hell would I do if
something like this happened to me?
can remember walking past a house where a sewing machine was
sat next to two small, children sized beds.
I stood and looked at it for a while.
begin to picture scenes in your head.
Except, it’s not the people of Oradour that you can
see, it’s you and your family in their place.
It’s rather disturbing and frightening.
The first thing I thought
of was my mum, because she sews a lot then I thought of my two
little brothers. It
can make you want to cry.
I know that it’s silly because that was then and this
is now, but I imagined it being my mum sat next to my two
really do get some mad ideas in your head.
Well, maybe it was just me… It made me angry, if
something like that really had happened to my family I would
have wanted revenge, I probably would have wanted to shoot all
the nazis myself. It’s
really hard for one to put all their thoughts and emotions
down on paper. Then I watched a video in
history and there was an interview with the boy (now old man)
that had escaped from Oradour.
He no longer feels revenge.
It’s hard to understand.
where I cried. It’s
just really, really upsetting.
There are graves where the names and the ages of the
people that have been buried there have been engraved in the
are sometimes put onto plaques and placed beside the graves,
in memory of the person lying there.
At the far end of the cemetery there are glass-topped
coffins with remainders of bones.
In the underground memorial you see different relics on
children’s toys, cutlery, glasses, watches things like that
that had survived the fire.
They all used to belong to people… If I can remember
rightly there was a wall where all the names of the people
that had died were written.
do you think they chose not to rebuild Oradour in the same
place? I don’t
think that anybody could have had the heart to.
It was such a devastating ordeal that I think that many
people decided that to leave it in remembrance was the best
thing to do.
think that it is important that people, not just in France
know what happened in Oradour.
It shows the pain, and unfairness that France was put
through, and the cruelty of the nazis during World War II.
All because one man had so many extreme ideas, many
Stunned, I was scared, horrified, it was
sad and depressing, and had me in tears most of the time.
There was not much left of the houses, other than charred
bricks, burned cars, and bones of the dead. I do not
understand how people could have done that to each other, or
how they continue to kill each other.
It must have been the cathedral, as soon
as one walked in, not only the air, but the smell changed. It
was kind of sour, or stagnant. The bullet holes, the burnt
baby carriage, just made you imagine hundreds of screaming
women and children, and seeing them writhing in the flames,
knowing that they were about to die.
I did not visit the underground
memorial, but the cemetery left a mark. Seeing the bones and
names of the hundreds dead, some 2 week old babies, some 7
year old children, 80 year olds, and hundreds in between.
There are museums in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, Japan (where two of the atom bombs were dropped),
which I have heard and read about but not visited. I have
visited a concentration camp in the north of France. I think
it is important for people to know about Oradour so people
will think before they act, and not cause so much pain and
suffering to innocent people.
Before I visited Oradour, I knew next to
nothing about it and didn’t realise the tragedy that had
happened on 10th June 1944.
Prior to walking round Oradour, we went
to the underground memorial that was very interesting as it
explained, through text and videos, what had really happened
and why it was such an outrage.
I first walked through the ruins, it looked as if a bomb had
gone off because all the houses had their roofs missing. It
was extremely quiet. All you could hear was nature.
I thought about all the people that had died there, and
felt very sad but I don’t think you realise what the exact
feeling is until you go there. It had been preserved very well
and you could still see metal bedposts, sewing machines and
cars left there.
The church made the biggest impression on
me because many women and children had brutally died in there.
You can still see the bullet marks on the walls. It would have
also been the town’s heart and many people would have been
in and out of there.
I visited the cemetery and there were
graves for people who had died there. It was very emotional.
think they chose not to rebuild Oradour because, at the time,
it would have been a complete shock to everyone and so they
probably thought that if they didn’t build on it, and
preserved it, then others would learn about the terrible
massacre. I think it is basically a way of deterring people
and making them remember the dangers of war.
only other memorial I can think of is Coventry Cathedral. It
was bombed in the war, and although they have built a new
Cathedral beside it, the original was left for a memorial.
I think it is very important that people
visit Oradour because it gives them an idea of what it was
like in the war and a reminder of what wars do.
knew very little about Oradour-sur-Glane before visiting,
except that it was attacked by the Nazi soldiers, and hundreds
of villagers were killed.
It is hard for me to describe what I
felt in Oradour-sur-Glane and after leaving.
It was so horribly sad. A whole village in ruins,
blackened from fire, with rusted cars in the streets, and
bullet holes in the church walls.
The silence was the worst.
cannot find words to describe the way we felt while visiting
Oradour. Below is
a story, not really a story, but an account that tells both
the story of what happened at Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10th,
1940 and the impression it left on me:
was the last day of our Loire Valley trip and we had one final
stop, before we returned home.
night before, the teachers accompanying us on the trip had
told us vaguely what this town was like, and what had happened
there, but still, we had no idea how sad and horrible this
town would be for us.
one time Oradour-sur-Glane
was a lively, tiny village, known by only a
few outsiders. It
was a pretty village, inhabited by barely
700 people. Oradour-sur-Glane
was very different, hardly playing any part in French history. That is until the 10th of June, 1944.
Oradour-sur-Glane is now very much a part of French
arrived in the village before lunch.
We planned to visit the remains of the village and the
museum before we ate.
The museum started with a film, telling us, in
chronological order, exactly what happened on this tragic day,
June 10th, 1944.
It was beautiful,
sunny day. No one
would have expected anything bad to happen on such a
beautiful, warm summer day.
The bells of the church rang twice: it was 2 o’clock
in the afternoon. The
children had just come home from school; the adults rested
before returning to work.
The village was silent, except perhaps for the sound of
a child laughing occasionally, or the occasional cooing of a
was quiet. Everything
was at peace.
silence was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a car driving
up a street. Then another car followed, and another, and
were Germans, Nazis.
The Germans were parking in various places around the
town. These Nazis
were dressed in camouflaged uniforms, with black boots, green
helmets… but the villagers weren’t worried.
They hadn’t done anything wrong, and the Germans had
been there before.
We exited the room in which we had
watched the film and walked silently into the rest of the
museum, looking at horrible black and white pictures or the
catastrophe and others similar to this one.
None of us spoke while we walked slowly from picture to
couldn’t think of anything to say, it was too horrible.
Yet, this was not the worst.
We had yet to see the village.
A lot of the
villagers were now at their doorsteps, or hanging out the
windows, watching curiously as the Nazis walked around the
village, shouting orders to each other in german. No one even
thought of running away. Why should they? They
had no reason too. They
couldn’t see why they should fear the Germans.
In the distance, they heard the sound of the village
drum. It was
calling to them. It
was summoning them to the village square.
We were finished with our tour of the museum.
It was now time to visit the village, or at least what
was left of it. Slowly,
we walked to the gate at the edge of the village.
A wooden sign lay against a wall, with the word
“SILENCE” written across it, but it wasn’t needed.
None of us had anything to say.
The villagers slowly began to walk towards the
square, talking casually among themselves.
They didn’t think there was anything to worry about,
so what was this all about?
But soon, Nazi patrols began to push and shout at them.
The small children from the schools were in rows,
following their teachers without questioning.
But still, the villagers were not worried, and didn’t
suspect in the slightest that they were on their way to death.
Our teachers told us the time we had to be back at the
gate, then let us walk around the village on our own, or in
small groups. Hardly
anyone said anything. We
made our way slowly up the first street, stopping at various
ruins of old houses in a kind of stupor.
None had roofs. None had windows or doors, only holes in the walls where
doors and windows had once been.
All the houses had been severely damaged or burned.
The Nazi soldiers began to sort the people.
Women and children to one side, men to the other.
The women were taken to the church.
The villagers now started to fear. “What was
A new kind of silence had settled
over the village, this time not a peaceful silence, but a
tense, fearful silence.
An hour passed. The
Germans were shouting to each other, and at the villagers.
No one entering Oradour-sur-Glane that afternoon ever
came out again. None
of the neighbouring villages knew anything.
No one around Oradour suspected a thing.
The Villagers were now beginning to be very afraid.
I slowly ran my hand across a crumbling wall that had
once been the Pharmacy of the village.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
The inside of the Pharmacy, which was visible as most
of the wall had collapsed, was black from the fire that had
destroyed it. I
imagined the fear the villagers must have felt when they
finally realised what was happening to them.
I could almost see them, if I were to close my eyes,
walking slowly as the Nazi soldiers pushed them along.
The soldiers were now separating the frightened men
into smaller groups, and were leading them to barns, garages,
warehouse and hangars and lining them against the wall.
It was now around 4 o’clock.
An officer yelled some orders, and the soldiers began
to shoot at the men, killing as many as they could.
Once all the men had fallen, they covered the bodies
with straw and wood, before setting fire to them.
Many of the men were still alive before fire was set.
I made my way across the square and up a street towards
the church, where the women and children had been killed.
In various places on the streets, or on the ruins,
hung stone signs where the men had been killed.
Some of us stopped briefly at these places, but I made
my way slowly towards the church.
church was in ruin, like any other building in the village. Outside the door was an iron crucifix. Inside, rocks and broken bricks and stones lay on the floor.
There were several bullet holes in the walls and in the
alter. This was a
very little church. 500
hundred women and children, 58 years ago, had been crowded
The women and children were locked in the church for
hours on end. They
didn’t know what was happening outside, though they had
heard gunshots, and guessed that the men were dead.
Finally, after several hours of standing around and
waiting, the church door opened.
The women and children tried to get out, but it was
soon closed again. Two Nazi soldiers came in, and now were placing a large
container on a table. The container had come sort of cords
that came out the top. The
Nazis quickly lit these cords, then left the church, locking
the door behind them.
Deadly fumes were coming from the container, as the
women and children began to scream and cry.
The soldiers began shooting through the windows.
It was sheer panic within the church, but there was no
Only one women did escape.
She managed to crawl behind the altar and climbed a
stepladder before jumping out of a window above the altar.
Another women and her baby tried the same thing, though
they were shot as they climbed.
I soon left the church. I couldn’t stay with the screaming ghosts.
I began to make my way to the cemetery. As I walked
slowly among the graves, stopping at a few of them I read the
names. At the
back of the cemetery, there was a monument, in memory of those
that died on the 10th of June 1944.
Two small caskets were open but covered in glass.
Inside lay remains of bones of children that had been found.
Behind the caskets, was a wall, on which the names and
ages of the dead were inscribed.
One of the babies that died was only 12 days old.
the Nazi soldiers were finished with the killing, they had a
feast on the food that remained in the houses, and partied
late into the night. The
next morning, they set fire to the rest of the village, hoping
to destroy all traces of what they had done.
Some of the bodies of the dead were thrown into wells
or into deep pits that they dug.
They then fled.
Five men survived the shootings, and one woman escaped
from the church. There
were other survivors as well, such as people who had not come
when the drums had sounded.
A young boy, Roger Godfrin (8 years old) who had run
away after he first saw the Nazis.
Now, he had no home.
We made our way slowly to the gate, to the meeting
couldn’t believe how horribly sad this village was.
We were all quiet on our way back to the bus for our
lunch. We all
spoke very little at lunch.
There wasn’t much to say.
It was simply to horrible to believe.
A total of 642 men, women and children were killed on
the 10th of June, 1944, and many of them were
burned alive. Ultimately,
justice was served and the guilty were brought to court. A trial and the Nazis who were responsible for this massacre
were tried and convicted.
. However, not all of the guilty were punished.
A second trial was held for them 40 years after
the destruction and murder of the village, Oradour-sur-Glane.
understand why they did not rebuild Oradour-sur-Glane in the
same place. I am sure they believed that if they conserved these ruins,
it would stand as reminder for all of humanity about how awful
war is, and how cruel the human race can be.
It is a reminder for us to not let such a thing happen
That is what
the people hoped to achieve when they decided to preserve the
ruins of Oradour, yet the human race still has not learned
this important lesson about the horrors of war.
Things similar to this still happen today.
Look at September 11th, 2001.