Exterior of Oradour-sur-Glane
The photo above shows the exterior of
the church. The small building on the right is the house where
people that were hiding heard bombs detonating and women and
children screaming in terror. The steps in the lower right corner
are what is left of the market hall. To the right, but out of
camera range, is the Milord barn where Madame Lang heard the
machine-gun fire when the men were killed.
The old church in Oradour-sur-Glane is
the site of one of the worst atrocities committed by the German
Waffen-SS army in World War II. It was here that 245 women and
207 children, the youngest only a week old, were ruthlessly murdered
by young soldiers, a third of whom were Frenchmen from Alsace
who had been drafted into the German Army after the defeat of
France in 1940.
Today, the church is only an empty shell
with no roof. The steeple, that once topped the tower, burned
when the Waffen-SS soldiers set fire to the church, burning alive
some of the victims. The photo above shows the front entrance
to the church, which faces east.
The photo above shows an iron cross in
a corner of the church, just inside the front door.
The next two photos below show the back
side of the church tower. The church was built in the 15th century
and the tower was added in the 16th century. Oradour-sur-Glane
was a spot at a crossroads in the days when the territory that
is now France was part of the Roman Empire. A "lantern for
the dead" in the cemetery dates back to Roman times. A staff
member at the Center of Memory told me that the church was first
built in the 12th century.
The photo below shows the metal cross
on the wall of the front of the church. The English translation
of the sign behind it reads: "Silence. The hundreds of women
and children here were massacred by the Nazis. You that pass
collect yourselves and who that believe make a prayer for the
victims and their families. In the town remaining in lonely ruins
outside the Cross of Christ. Bernadette our Lady of Lourdes.
Come to me you that suffer says the Christ, do that he tells
you says the Virgin. Requiescat in pace. That they rest in peace.
Because they are living in eternity."
The exterior view of the church in the
photo below shows the front door on the right side, beneath the
rectangular part of the tower. In the lower right hand corner
is the spot where the open air market once stood, covered by
a roof that collapsed. Notice the open drainage ditch leading
down from the church steps to the street below.
The second photo below shows the new
church in the new town of Oradour-sur-Glane, which is a modern
replica of the old church. Notice the similarity in the design
of the two churches.
The new church is approximately the same
size and has the same interior layout as the old church. It is
located on a hill at the southern entrance to the new town of
Oradour-sur-Glane. Some writers are critical of the design of
the new church, but to me, this classic design is beautiful.
Personally, I like the old church better without the steeple.