In october 2019 I visited the "Village Martyr", Oradour sur Glane, near Limoges in central France, with a group of friends. The weather was fine, not too hot with good light for photography. We spent around 2 hours in the ruined village itself, then left for the new village for lunch and sober reflection.
For anyone who is not familiar with the history, here is a translated extract from the town's web site :
Oradour sur Glane, which formerly was a quiet but dynamic village with its tramway and many shops and businesses, was destined to be subjected to an unimaginable horror on the 10th June 1944. In the early afternoon around 200 german troops of the division « Das Reich » surrounded the village and assembled the population in the market square under the pretext of an identity check. The men were then split into 6 groups and taken to various barns while the women and children were taken to the church. In just a few minutes the men were gunned down and the bodies burned and then it was the turn of the women and children who were burned, many alive, in the church.
In one day Oradour was wiped out, the horrible massacre claimed 642 innocent victims.
Since 1946, the ruins of the Village Martyr have been classed as an historic monument and a museum and information centre was opened in 1999.
Bizarrely, many of the ruined houses have a sewing machine - it seems the old machines are among the few objects to have survived the fire and then 75 years in the open air. For me, these sewing machines are a sort of bizarre and terrible icon for the village...
Oradour sur Glane