Last week marked the seventieth anniversary of D-Day; I'm sure you heard about it. Another 70th anniversary that probably didn't get much publicity outside of France took place four days later in a little village in the Limousin. The opening paragraph of Sarah Farmer's book, Martyred Village, tells the brief yet complete story of what happened:
Among German crimes of the Second World War, the massacre of 642 women, children and men of Oradour-sur-Glane by SS soldiers on June 10, 1944 is one of the most notorious. On that Saturday afternoon, four days after the Allied landings on Normandy, SS troops encircled the town of Oradour in the rolling farm country of the Limousin and rounded up its inhabitants. In the marketplace they divided the men from the women and children. The men were marched off to nearby barns and shot. The soldiers locked the women and children in the church, shot them, and set the building (and then the rest of the town) on fire. Those residents of Oradour who had been away for the day, or had managed to escape the roundup, returned to a blackened scene of horror, carnage, and devastation.