Interior of Oradour-sur-Glane Church

The photo above shows the inside of the church with the back wall of the tower in the center under the arch. According to an exhibit in the Center of Memory, "the upper rafters and the bell tower of the church were destroyed by fire but the arches above the nave were left." The roof over the nave collapsed after the fire and the main part of the church is now open to the sky. The front door into the church is on the right, but out of camera range. Above the arch in the center of the photo, you can see the outline of where the roof of the nave (the main part of the church) was attached to the tower.

The bronze church bells, which melted from the heat of the fire, are shown on the floor in the center of the photo above. According to a book entitled "Martyred Village," written by Sarah Farmer, this is the spot where the bells landed when they fell from the tower. However, the ceiling under the arch appears to be intact, as the photo below shows.

The photo above shows the ceiling above the melted bells. I did not see any way to enter the tower from inside the church. In the SS version of the story, the claim is made that a bomb had been stored inside the tower by people living in the village, who were allegedly supplying weapons to the French resistance, and when the bomb was detonated, this caused the bells to melt. However, there is very little damage that can be seen inside the church today and no damage to the tower, except that the steeple is gone.

The photo above shows the front of the church and the main altar. I was amazed by how small the church is on the inside. The roof is gone, but you can still see where it was attached to the wall. Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, the lone survivor of the church, escaped through the middle window above the altar, which is about 9 feet from the stone floor.

The photo above shows a view of the main altar with the door to the vestry, also called the sacistry, on the left side. This door was broken down by the women and a number of them, including Madame Rouffanche and her daughter, went through this door into the sacistry. Madame Rouffanche's daughter was killed by shots fired from outside the sacistry. Madame Rouffance survived by pretending to be dead; then she went back inside the church and made her escape through a window above the altar.

In the foreground of the photo above is what is left of the communion rail. In the center is a hole in the stone floor which might have been made by a grenade thrown into the church.

On the right side of the photo above is the rusted remains of a pram, or baby carriage. The pram seems to have disintegrated almost into dust. A close-up of it is shown in the photo below.

The Official Publication of the survivors quotes Madame Rouffanche as saying that a smoke bomb was placed near the choir which is no longer there, but it would have been in the back of the church. A circular stone staircase in the back of the church on the right side as you face the altar was probably the access to the choir loft, which is typically in the rear of a Catholic church.

Other books, such as "Oradour Village of the Dead," by Philip Beck quote Madame Rouffanche as saying that the bomb was placed near the communion railing. However, Madame Rouffance also said that after the "smoke bomb" went off, the women and children rushed to the part of the church where they could still breathe, which she said was the front of the church. They broke down the sacistry door in an attempt to escape from the smoke.

The photo above shows a closeup of the hole in the stone floor in the center of the communion railing. In the background, on the right, you can see the pram, or baby carriage, which is badly disintegrated. On the far right is what is left of the metal communion rail. This appears to be the spot where a bomb was placed or a grenade hit the floor. Other than this spot, the stone floor of the church is undamaged.

Interior of Church, continued

Doors & Sacistry

Main Altar

Side Altars

Confessional box

Melted Church Bells

Window used to escape


Exterior of Church