Oradour-sur-Glane Church windows
Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, the lone
survivor of the massacre of the women and children in the Oradour-sur-Glane
church, escaped by leaping from the middle window behind the
main altar. The photo above shows the window. The window had
already been broken before she climbed up to it. The photo below
shows the three windows behind the main altar.
Madame Rouffance said that she picked
the middle window for her leap to freedom because it was wider
than the other two; her photo shows that Madame
Rouffanche was not skinny. The height of the straight part
of the wall under the middle window is around six feet; there
is a narrow ledge at the top of the straight section and then
it is about three feet up the slanted section of the wall to
the bottom edge of the window.
The photo below shows the slanted section
of the wall under the window. Notice the narrow ledge, shown
at the bottom of the photo. Madame Rouffance was able to get
up to the ledge by using a stool placed under the window. From
there, it was easy to climb up the rest of the way. After the
massacre, the Bishop's Report stated that the bodies of 15 to
20 children were found behind the altar, under the window where
Madame Rouffanche had jumped.
Madame Rouffance testified that she did
not climb up to the window until after the church was set on
fire by the SS soldiers. By this time, most of the women in the
church were already dead. She had survived the gas bomb that
was set off in the church and the shots fired into the sacistry,
as well as the grenades tossed through the doors and windows
and she had not been wounded by the hundreds of shots fired inside
the church. Hiding behind a cloud of smoke, she went behind the
altar and found a stool that was used to light the candles.
The bars which are on the window today
were not there when Madame Rouffanche made the leap from the
window, according to a staff member at the Center of Memory.
The photo above shows the plaque on the wall, designating this
spot as the place where Madame Rouffance made her escape. The
photo below shows the exterior of the church; Madame Rouffanche
jumped from the center window in the row of three windows.
According to a staff member at the Center
of Memory, Madame Rouffanche was not injured when she jumped
from the window because shrubbery near the building broke her
fall. This might also have prevented her from rolling off the
ledge, since the ground under the window slants down to a retaining
wall which is about 10 feet high. Today this area has been closed
off and there is no access to the spot where she landed after
leaping from the window.
The bodies of 23-year-old Henriette Joyeaux
and her 7-month-old son, Rene, were identified after they were
found buried near the church. According to Madame Rouffance,
another woman climbed up to the window and called out to her
to catch her baby which she then threw out the window. The baby
fell to the ground and began crying, which alerted soldiers nearby,
and they began shooting. Madame Joyeaux and her baby were both
killed. Madame Joyeaux was from Soudanas, part of the commune
of Panazol; her maiden name was Hyvernaud. In her story, Madame
Rouffanche referred to the other woman as Madame Hyvernaud. Madame
Germaine-Marie Hyvernaud, a resident of Oradour-sur-Glane and
probably one of her relatives, was also among the 52 victims
whose remains were identified.