Main Altar in Church

The photo above shows the main altar in the Catholic church in Oradour-sur-Glane. As you can see, the altar suffered very little damage during the massacre of the women and children with machine guns and grenades, and the destruction of the church by fire and bombs. The top of the altar on the left side is missing, but it is otherwise still intact.

Typically, the main altar in a Catholic church would have had steps up to it in the front, so that the priest could have access to the door to the tabernacle, which is located in the center on top of the altar. The flat surface of the altar, which is decorated with flowers in this photo, is about five and a half feet from the floor. The priest would have needed steps and a space to stand on in order to perform the ceremonies of the Mass. Before the Sunday Mass, the altar boys normally would have walked up the steps in order to light the candles set upon the flat surface of the altar, and a step ladder would not have been necessary to reach the candles.

The photo below shows a close-up of the tabernacle of the main altar. Part of the altar is missing on the left side, but it is mostly undamaged. Behind the altar in the photo below is the window from which Madame Rouffanche escaped. On the day of the massacre, the altar of the church had been lavishly decorated for the next day, which was a special Sunday when the 7-year-old children in the village would be taking their First Communion, a big event in the lives of devout Catholics.

According to the Official Publication of the survivors, the next day after the massacre, the SS soldiers returned to the church and stole the consecrated communion hosts from the tabernacle of the main altar, the most grievous crime imaginable. The Bishop reported this monstrous act to an officer in the Wehrmacht, the regular German army, who immediately extended an official apology.

The photo below shows the side panel of the main altar which appears to have two bullet holes near the bottom. The second photo below shows the wall that is opposite the main altar on the right side. The church is very small and there is not much space between the altar and the side wall, but apparently an SS soldier was standing with his back against the wall and firing at the side of the altar, perhaps to kill children who were huddled there. There is no other possible explanation for these bullet holes.

The photo above shows the main altar and a brick wall to the right. The doorway in the wall has pieces of the communion rail stored there, along with pieces of the broken altar. In the new church in the new town of Oradour-sur-Glane, there is a little room in this space; the new church is modeled after the old one. It appears that there is a room behind the brick wall, but the access to it was closed off when I visited.

The photo below shows the center panel of the front of the altar. It appears to have one bullet hole in the center and one on each side. According to the official story, SS soldiers entered the church and fired hundreds of bullets, aiming low so as to hit the children.

Side Altars

Confessional box

Exterior of Church

Interior of Church

Doors & Sacistry

Melted Church Bells

Window used to escape