A Saturday in Summer

Michael Biddiss on the tale of a French village massacred by the SS in June 1944.

Over the coming holiday season thousands of British and other tourists will be passing through central France on their way to such destinations as the Dordogne, the Pyrenees, or the Mediterranean coast. Those with an interest in history may well have plotted itineraries rich in churches, cathedrals, chateaux, and museums. However, even within their ranks, few are likely to have given much thought to sites in the largely undramatic Limousin. Fewer still will have considered a detour to visit, twenty-five kilometres northwest of Limoges, one of the province's ruins that dates not from prehistoric or medieval times but emphatically from our own century.

Oradour-sur-Glane is two villages. The new one is, in itself, unremarkable. But a few hundred metres away there stand the material remnants of the old – a community which died on a single summer afternoon in 1944.

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