The “Massacre Oradour” is one of the lesser known tragedies of World War II. But for the French, the remains of the small town flattened by the Third Reich stand forever to “bear witness,” as Charles de Gaulle said, to the horrors of the conflict.
On June 10, 1944, the picturesque French town of Oradour-sur-Glane was completely destroyed by soldiers of the Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division Das Reich, reports The Guardian. The Nazi soldiers passing through set fire the buildings and killed 642 people: Men, women and children.
To this day, historians are stumped as to why the soldiers did this.
Ever since then, the ruins of the Massacre Oradour have remained. It’s now a historical site, boasting around 300,000 tourists each year. Though the years are taking their toll on the crumbling ruins, French officials have long fought to preserve what’s left of the once-idyllic town.
And that’s for the best, because they had a very special visitor recently.
On September 4, the site was visited by the very first German leader ever to set foot at the site. German President Joachim Gauck and France’s leader Francois Hollande took an emotional tour of the site in an effort to build and strengthen French and German relations post-WWII (it’s still a really big deal over there).
But the atrocity is still not well-known. This doesn’t sit well with Gauck, who said: “When I look today into the eyes of those who have been marked by this crime, I can say I share your bitterness over the fact that the murderers have not been brought to justice — that the most serious of crimes has gone unpunished.”
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]