On June 10,1944, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane was destroyed, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a Nazi SS company. A new village was built nearby after the war, but President Charles de Gaulle ordered the original maintained as a permanent memorial and museum.
On that day, all the townspeople were herded into the main square. Men were put in two separate garages; women and children were pushed into the church. And then the killing began. After the shooting, the soldiers burned the bodies to hinder any identification.
Five men and one woman escaped.
And then the little town was looted and burned.
This is a sacred place, and walking through its ruins is a chilling experience. It is difficult to understand how so many people were able to “just follow orders” that destroyed lives and countries and go on living with themselves as the war ended. Impossible for us to comprehend.