Oradour-Sur-Glane, The Martyred Village

oradour-sur-glane the martyred village

80 Years ago on 10 June 1944 Oradour-Sur-Glane the martyred village, once an ordinary commune near Limoges, was the scene of a brutal atrocity where, tragically, 642 men, women and children were killed in a massacre carried out by the Waffen-SS. 

Resistance activities in the area reportedly triggered the retaliation. Only six survivors managed to hide or escape. Shocked by the scale and horror of this act, the French authorities decided to preserve the ruins exactly as they stood after the attack to honour those who were lost.

Today, the site serves as a powerful memorial and museum, inviting visitors to walk through the preserved ruins and bear witness to the impacts of war and violence.

We visited for the first time in December, it was a beautifully crisp and sunny winters day and one we won’t forget.

Why Visit Oradour-sur-Glane, the Martyred Village?

A visit to Oradour -Sur-Glane, the martyred village, is certainly a sobering experience. The village itself is open from 7am until 9pm throughout the summer months.  We would recommend starting your visit at the Visitor Centre as this sets the scene, laying out the context and many details of the events leading up to the atrocity and the grim acts of the day itself. 

While what happened there is unimaginable and so very tough to contemplate, it is also a place of hope.  It’s a place where visitors can pay respects and reflect. The village serves not only as a reminder of the atrocities of war but also of the strength and endurance of communities in the face of unimaginable adversity.  This is most evident with the new village of Oradour-sur-Glane, rebuilt nearby; clearly telling the story of resilience and recovery, as it thrives alongside the memorial of its past.

Connections to Argenton-sur-Creuse

Unfortunately, the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane is not an isolated event in the history of World War II atrocities in this part of France. Similar tragic events unfolded a day earlier at Argenton-sur-Creuse (just 45 minutes from La Prairie Étoilée). Here 66 men women and children were also victims of Nazi aggression. This event in Argenton-Sur-Creuse is often referred to as the “forgotten massacre”, as it was overshadowed by events in Correze, also on 9 June, where 99 people were hanged and of course, the larger bloody massacre in Oradour.   

Perhaps the Argenton massacre doesn’t get recounted as often but it is far from forgotten, there is a memorial in Argenton-Sur-Creuse, honouring all those who lost their lives that day.

Planning Your Visit to Oradour-Sur-Glane the Martyred Village

If you are staying at La Prairie Étoilée, Oradour-sur-Glane, the martyred village is 1.5 hours away, a valuable addition to any itinerary but a must see for anyone with a keen interest in World War II history.  While the subject matter is undoubtedly somber, the visit is framed by the beautiful landscapes of the Limousin region.  We’d suggest combining this visit with a morning and lunch in Limoges and recommend allocating the whole afternoon/early evening for this visit, as it allows for ample time to explore both the memorial centre and the martyred village. Water, comfortable walking shoes and a reflective mindset are advised, as the experience is both physical and emotional!

If you are planning your stay, in the area download Your Guide To Secret France here for more interesting places to visit and things to do.

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