2. Oradour-sur-Glane, France – June 10, 1944
On June 10, a day after the Tulle massacre, anther one rapidly unfolded. The 2nd Panzer division had participated in the Tulle massacre wasted no time before heading north to Oradour-sur-Glane, a French village that is now a permanent memorial as a result of events that took place. When the SS arrived, they set up blockades, not allowing anyone in or out of the village. If a person happened to be passing through, it was unlucky for them. The Panzer division claimed their purpose for stopping by the village was linked to a story they heard about one of their troops being held captive there.
Like in Tulle, the SS kept the villagers calm by proclaiming they were there to conduct identity checks. Fewer than 1,000 people lived in Oradour-sur-Glane. And, so it was with ease that the Nazi troops gathered 642 residents together in the village center. It did not take long for the scene to dissolve into a disaster.
The church door was opened. Women and children were escorted in and the doors were locked. Meanwhile, the village’s men were forced into nearby barns and sheds normally reserved for farming. As there was no audience to watch, there was no point in taking time to set up a mass hanging. The SS instead used machine guns to rapidly unleash a succession of driving bullets. They purposely targeted the men’s legs. Unable to flee from the bullet wounds, the SS doused the nearly two hundred victims with fuel and lit them and the barns on fire.
When there was no way to further torture the men, the SS fixed their sights on the church. They lit it on fire. Then, with an explosive device, they blew an opening in one of the walls anticipating those trapped inside would collectively rush towards it in an attempt to escape. When the 247 woman and 205 children desperately did just that, the SS gunned them down with machine guns. The massacre took two hours. The village was destroyed and nearly all its residents were dead. The kidnapped SS soldier was not found. It was established later that he had been killed in combat some days before the attack on the village.