Time stands still

Monday 26/11/12

In the Limousin district we came across Oradour a deserted town preserved in memory of those who lost their lives here in World War II. Its sad history tells of 200 SS Nazi troops entering the town on the afternoon of 10th June 1944 rounding up all the inhabitants killing 642 in total, of which 193 were children.

The town has been preserved sympathetically with no commercial influence. There are a few family shrines and a number of plain signs indicating the type of trade operated from the buildings, of which only the shells remain today,  and the name of the business owner. Walking around it appears to have been a wealthy town with a church, school, doctors surgery, a number of garages, cafĂ©’s, hairdressers, bakeries, pharmacies and a large post office. The thoroughfares are wide and open with a tram network running the length of the main street. It is eerily quiet with few visitors, strangely in the distance you can here children in the school playground of the new town Oradour-sur-Glane, sounding almost like a soundtrack to a bygone day.

After killing the inhabitants the troops set fire to the town and destroyed much of the fabric and contents of the buildings. What remains today in amongst the rubble are a number of large metal objects including pots, scales, tools, sewing machines and cars that survived the fires. As they slowly rust away they remind you that these streets and houses were once alive with people going about their daily business before their lives were so cruelly taken away from them. 

Visiting the town is free and the entrance is through a smart visitor centre which also houses a library and exhibition. On the far side of the large 5km site, near the graveyard, is another building, almost unnoticeable. Here smaller exhibits and belongings are displayed and the names of all who lost their lives are engraved onto plaques on the walls. Everyday objects including spectacles, watches, jewellery, ink pots and coins have been collected from the houses and bodies of those who lost their lives. Poignantly the watches of the men stopped during their final hours. Time really has stood still here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment