My Photography: Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Highlighting a tragic event happening during WWII
With the war raging on in Ukraine, I often think of the stories my grandparents and my great-grandmother used to tell me about World War II.
In eighth grade, our history teacher recounted how her grandparents had died in concentration camps. (I think it was Auschwitz...) I can still hear the emotion (and justified anger) in her voice as soon as she mentioned the topic. And yet, during that school year, most of our time was spent studying the movie Schindler's List, and researching information on camps and places like Oradour-sur-Glane.
With my parents, that teacher was instrumental in triggering my insatiable desire for learning. She also taught me the value of resilience.
If you have never lived in France or Europe, chances are that the name “Oradour-sur-Glane” will not ring a bell. And yet, what happened there on June 10th, 1944, is too important to be ignored.
On that day, a 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich gathered all the inhabitants of the village without any explanation. The soldiers led the men to barns and sheds, shot them in the legs, then set the buildings on fire.
Their next order was to burn the church where the women and children had been locked. Those who tried to escape were met with machine-gun fire. Afterwards, the village was looted.
In total, 642 people died.
After the war, French President Charles de Gaulle had a new village built nearby. It serves as a memorial and museum.
Oradour-sur-Glane is located in the department of Haute-Vienne, 25 kilometres west of Limoges. Visiting it will force you to confront the savagery and pointlessness of war. It is a necessary and haunting experience!
I took the photos below in December 2016, during my last trip to France. I was there in the early afternoon, which explains the harsh lighting. Further, the sun was high in the sky and right in front of me. That is the reason why you can see blown highlights in a few images. I could have underexposed the photos more than I did, but there were many tourists around and I did not want to hog the space. Also, since Oradour-sur-Glane is a very important place of memory in France, my focus was on documenting rather than perfection.
(Perfection does not exist, anyway.)
NB: Before using any of my photos on social media, please contact me at [email protected]
This is the entrance of Oradou-sur-Glane.
It is said that when you are in the church, you can almost hear the screams of the women and children who were burnt alive there. I can attest to it. I did hear something, and I think other visitors did too. Even kids were stopped in their tracks. Nobody dared make a sound.
This is one of my favorite photos of the bunch. To me, it captures the whole tragedy of that day.
I also created a video, which you can watch below.
That's it for today!
Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts about this article with me on Twitter. I'm @haiku_shack.
Interested in seeing more of my photography? Check out the stories I have published on Vocal:
- My Visit to Syria in 2009
- The Essence of Photography
- Toulouse, France: A Video
- Toulouse, France (Part 1)
- Toulouse, France (Part 2)
- Toulouse, France (Part 3)
- Toulouse, France (Part 4)
- Toulouse, France (Part 5)
- Prince Edward Island, Canada
More photos are also available on my website.
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This post was originally published on my blog.
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