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The Horrific World War 2 Massacre at Oradour-Sur-Glance

The quiet rural village that was destroyed in France

By Sam H ArnoldPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

Oradour-sur-glance is a shrine to the victims that were killed there. The decision was made at the close of World War II not to rebuild the village but to leave it to the people that were murdered there. The bullet holes remain in the church walls.

The massacre essentially went unnoticed by the world. The joy of the Normandy landings meant that the papers were filled with better news than a village massacre. No one knows the exact number that died that day, but it is thought it could be as many as one thousand souls.


Four days after D-day, the morning of 10th June 1944 started relatively normal in the quiet rural community. The 2nd company of the SS Panzer Division, known as Das Reich, marched towards the village.

Between 120 and 200 soldiers encircled the town, blocking all the entrances and exits and started rounding the inhabitants up.

The villagers were told to assemble in the market square. Those that were out in the fields were gathered by armoured car.

The soldiers then separated the men, women and children. The women and children were sent to the church, and the 197 men were separated between several barns.

According to one survivor, the SS soldiers began shooting at the victim's legs. Once the captives could not move, they covered them in fuel and lit the barns.

The 240 women and 205 children were forced into the village church. The doors were locked, and the troops threw in grenades. Panic started, and as the women tried to flee, the SS set light to the building, shooting anyone who tried to escape.

Once finished, the soldiers went from house to house, shooting those stuck in their beds or attempting to hide. No one escaped. Corpses were set alight or dropped down the wells.


Within the village, a handful of locals survived. One boy from Lorraine fled the village before the SS arrived. Five men escaped the massacre at Laudy's Barn, wounded they crawled from the burning barn hiding until the next day. All of them had suffered horrific injuries.

Madame Marguerite Rouffanche was the sole survivor of the church. She escaped the church through the window. She had to play dead beside the corpse of her child before the soldiers left. It took her a year to recover from her injuries.

Why Ordour

One of the common explanations for the massacre was that company received word that the villagers were assisting the resistance by aiding in the kidnap of SS Major Helmut Kämpfe. The French Resistance had assassinated Kämpfe.

Throughout the war, German occupation authorities in France dealt with any concern with brutality, especially when German soldiers had come under attack.

The SS was convinced that after the D-day landings, the resistance would double its efforts to disrupt German communication and supply lines.

On 8th June 1944, the German Commander Chief, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt Had issued orders to crush the resistance swiftly and ruthlessly. The massacre at Ordour was in direct compliance with this order.

However, this was not the story that the soldiers told. Instead, they were told if asked that, they should say that insurgents attacked the division in the village the villagers were killed in battle.

The men died during the fight, which the villagers initiated. The women who took refuge in the church were killed due to an explosion from a nearby ammunition dump.

No Justice

Politics, secret deals and diplomacy meant that one of the most horrific facts of this massacre was that most of those responsible were never held accountable.

British allies captured the General who gave the order to attack the village. General Lammerding, who was the commanding officer on the 9th June, gave the massacre order

The British refused to extradite him to France; instead, he was sent back to Germany to live the rest of his life in comfort. He died in 1971.

Out of the 642 victims, only 53 corpses were ever identified, the torture they had received obliterating their identity.

Never any justice

This is not a unique story where war is concerned. The same happened in Yugoslavia, with many of those never facing justice. But then, how many atrocities have been committed by the 'good guys' all committed in the name of war?

The real criminals in war are not the young soldiers who follow orders but those higher up that issue these orders.

This is not to say that no one was ever held responsible for the massacre at Oradour-sur-glance. In January 1953, in Bordeaux, sixty-five men faced charges for the massacre. Out of these sixty-five, only twenty-one appeared at the trial, seven Germans and fourteen French.

None of those on trial was of officer rank; everyone found guilty left a free man due to a special act of amnesty passed.

In May 1983, in East Berlin, a trial was held charging a Lieutenant in Das Reich. He admitted everything and was sentenced to life in prison. He was, however, released in 1997.

On 11th February 2023, aged ninety-seven, the last known survivor from the massacre passed away. He was eighteen at the time of the attack.

Today people can visit the town of Oradour and look at the crumbling walls, cars and other household items that have remained untouched for seventy-four years.

As of June 96, it was reported that approximately twelve thousand volunteers to Waffen SS are still receiving pension payments from the French government, leaving many to conclude that there is no justice regarding war.


About the Creator

Sam H Arnold

History and True Crime stories from all eras and all countries. Fiction stories with a twist.

For more of my crime article then join my True Crime magazine at

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