The Oradour-sur-Glane Experience: a Nazi Massacre

Oui. Je me souviens.

Oradour sur-Glane 10 June 1944

Each year on this day I repost this article as a Memorial to the Dead of Oradure sur-Glane, on a warm June day in 1944...

Two events among many from Second World War have become infamous for Nazis atrocities perpetrated by the SS. Both happened on the same day two years apart. The massacre of Lidice in Bohemia, and Oradour sur-Glane. Although Lidice is remembered by the renaming of towns across the world, Oradour-sur-Glane is only remembered by the French and by we too few historians...

Around 2 p.m. on 10 June 1944, four days after the Allied invasion of Normandy, approximately 150 Waffen-SS soldiers entered the tranquil village of Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limosin region of south central France. For no apparent reason, Hitler's elite troops destroyed every building in this peaceful village and brutally murdered a total of 642 innocent men, women and children, an unexplained tragedy which has gone down in history as one of the worst war crimes committed by the German army in World War II.

On that beautiful Summer day, the defenseless inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane were rudely dragged out of their homes, including the sick and the elderly, and ordered to assemble on the Fairgrounds on the pretext of checking their identity papers. After all had been assembled, they were forced to wait in suspense with machine guns pointed at them. Then the women were separated from the men and marched a short distance to the small Catholic Church, carrying infants in their arms or pushing them in baby carriages.

The men were then ordered to line up in three rows and face a wall that bordered on the Fairgrounds. A short time later, they were randomly divided into groups and herded into six buildings: barns, garages, a smithy, and a wine storehouse. Around 4 p.m., a loud explosion was heard which was interpreted by the men to be a signal for the SS soldiers to begin firing their machine guns. Most of the men were wounded in the legs and then burned alive when every building in the village was set on fire at around 5 p.m. By some miracle, 6 of the men managed to escape from one of the burning barns and 5 of them survived. They testified in court about this completely unjustified German barbarity against blameless French civilians.

The Oradour church only had a seating capacity of 350 persons, but 245 frightened women and 207 sobbing children were forced inside at gunpoint while the men were still sitting on the grass of the Fairgrounds, awaiting their fate. The women and children were locked inside the church while the SS soldiers systematically looted all the homes in this prosperous farming village. Then around 4 p.m. a couple of SS soldiers carried a gas bomb inside this holy place and set it off, filling the church with a cloud of noxious black smoke. Their intention had been to asphyxiate the women and children in the House of God, but their plan failed.

As the women and children pressed against the doors, trying to escape and struggling to breathe, SS soldiers then entered the crowded, smoke-filled church and fired hundreds of shots at the hapless victims, while other SS men stood outside ready to machine-gun anyone who attempted to escape. The soldiers fired low inside the church in order to hit the small children. Babies in their prams were blown up by hand grenades, filled with gas, that were tossed into the church. Then brushwood and straw was carried into the stone church and piled on top of the writhing bodies of those that were not yet dead. The church was then set on fire, burning alive the women and babies who had only been wounded by the shots and the grenades. The clamour coming from the church could be heard for a distance of two kilometers, according the Bishop's office report.

The fire inside the church was so intense that the flames leaped up into the bell tower; the bronze church bells melted from the heat of the flames and fell down onto the floor of the church. One SS soldier was accidentally killed by falling debris when the roof of the church steeple collapsed.

Only one woman, a 47-year-old grandmother, escaped from the church. Taking advantage of a cloud of smoke, she hid behind the main altar where she found a ladder that had been left there for the purpose of lighting the candles on the altar. Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, the lone survivor of the massacre in the church, managed to escape by using the ladder to climb up to a broken window behind the altar, then leaping out of the window, which was 9 feet from the ground. Although hit by machine gun fire and wounded 4 times in the legs and once in the shoulder, she was able to crawl to the garden behind the presbytery where she hid among the rows of peas until she was rescued, 24 hours later, at 5 p.m. the next day, and taken to the hospital in Limoges where she was admitted under an assumed name. It took a full year for her to recover from her wounds. In 1953, she testified before a French military tribunal in Bordeaux about the massacre of the women and children in the church.

After the war, the village received a citation from the Nation of France, which reads as follows:

"The methodical rounding up, the deliberate massacre of these 700 men, women and children, the systematic destruction of these 328 buildings, is the archetypal example of a French community that suffered under barbarism. A motiveless crime, an unthinking cruelty which did nothing but lift the patriotic fervour of the French people, stiffen their desire for liberation, and add to, if possible, the dishonour of Germany and the disgust it engendered."

The "fateful day" of the massacre was a Saturday. The villagers were looking forward to the Sunday Mass the next day, which was to be the First Communion day for some of the children. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article the 10th of June was also the date of the German destruction of the town of Lidice, two years earlier, in what is now the Czech Republic. At the trial of the perpetrators in 1953, the survivors of Lidice were invited to witness the proceedings, along with the survivors of Oradour-sur-Glane.

Oui, je me souviens...

Other photographs of Oradour sur-Glane may be found here...

"A wound in the history of France

Louis XVII of France was the King of France upon his Father's murder, from the 21st of January 1792, to about the 8th of June 1795. He is considered king though he never reigned, as he was imprisoned in the temple. His is a sad story of neglect and child abuse that would never be considered as acceptable in this day and age.

In our time we are used to children being aborted, starved, murdered by their parents, murdered by governments, forced into the guerrilla armies of Liberia and of Cambodia. We can put them out of our mind by a flick of the remote. Perhaps that is what satan wants. A humanity devoid of all humanity, and although the death of a child was not new, this murder was conducted with a physical and mental violence that would have received accolades from the nazis.

On the night of July 3, 1793, commissioners arrived at Temple Prison and went to the royal family's cell with instructions to separate Marie Antoinette's son from the rest of his family. He had been proclaimed Louis XVII by exiled royalists after his father's death. His mother Queen Marie-Antoinette, sister Madame Royale, and aunt Princess Elizabeth, first action upon receiving the news of Louis XVI's death was to pay the Child King homage. The republican government had therefore decided to imprison the eight-year-old child in solitary confinement. Louis flung himself into his mother's arms crying hysterically, and Marie Antoinette shielded him with her body, refusing to give him up. When the commissioners threatened to kill her if she did not hand the child over, she still refused to move. It was only when they threatened to kill her daughter, Marie Thérèse, and then her, that she came to realise how hopeless the situation was. Two hours after the commissioners had entered her room, the former Queen relinquished her son to them. Louis was carried away screaming and crying, while begging his mother to save him. From that moment on his fate was sealed.

In order to insult him further he was referred to and addressed only as Louis Capet. Since royalty do not use a surname this was a deliberate attempt to show the young child that he was simply a citizen of the French Republic.

Antoine Simon was sent by the convention to assist as jailer of the royal family. he forced young Louis to drink alcohol, swear, and blaspheme. He was force to dress like a sans-cullotte and sing the bloodthirsty song of the mob, the Marsaillaise.He was told lies, such as, he was abandoned by his family, and that he would be killed by the guillotine. He was left to starve in his unlit cell, where sores and tumors attacked his young body, and the lack of sanitation left him in such a filthy state so as to be barely recognizable. His hair matted to his head. His clothes were never replaced so that they were nothing more than rags.

If he were taken past his mother cell he would pause at the door, or leave a flower there, hoping she would get them. He never knew that she and his aunt had met their fates at the guillotine.

When Simon was replaced, Louis was isolated in his cell for six months. From time to time the gaurds would walk him at odd hours to simply deprive him of sleep.

His condition declined, and at the end he was nursed somewhat but he was too far gone to survive. Louis', his body, covered in tumors and scabies died. An autopsy was performed and the doctor surreptitiously removed his heart, and kept it as a couriosity.

Never in the history of a supposedly civilized nation had anything been done so heinously to a child. In the land of the supposed liberty, egalite, and fraternite, was a child whose only crime was to be the son of a King and then King himself allowed to die such a horrible death.

Remarkably there are some today who dismiss this as a necessary death in the beginning of the republic, I regard it only as a wound in the history of France.

The glorious history of France deserves better.

God, our Father, we pray that you will protect our children.
Keep them safe from harm and help them to grow healthy in mind, body and faith in you.

Vive le Roi,


Venerable Therese of St. Augustine

In the world Mother Therese of St. Augustine was Princess Louise Marie of France, daughter of King Louis XV and Queen Maria Leczinska. She was born in Versailles on July 15, 1737. When she was still very young she had an accident and almost died. The nuns from a nearby convent made a vow to Our Lady asking that her life be spared, and she was miraculously cured. She never forgot this, and religion marked her deeply. She was known for being extremely generous to the poor.

She also had a very strong character. One day she was hunting in Compiègne and her horse, meeting a racing carriage that was careening out of control, reared and threw Louise from the saddle to the ground. She hit the carriage, and could easily have been killed or badly hurt, but her life was spared and she was unharmed. Her companions suggested that she return to the castle in a carriage. She laughed, jumped back on her horse, brought the nervous animal under control, and continued her ride. Upon her return, she went to thank the Holy Virgin for what she called the second saving of her life.

Later, deciding to become a Carmelite, she began to study the rule and distance herself from the luxury of court life. When she was considered ready, she asked permission of her father, the King of France, and entered the Carmelite Convent of Saint-Denis in February 1770. All of France admired this example. Pope Clement XIV wrote a letter to compliment her for such a gesture.

In the convent she strove to not be treated as the daughter of the King. She also strove to say her prayers kneeling, which was very difficult for her, given a defect of one leg caused by the childhood accident. With the veil, she received her new name in religion – Therese of St. Augustine.

After many years of sacrifice, always embraced with joy, she was elected Superior of her convent. In this role she distinguished herself for the charity she showed to her religious daughters and the severity with which she treated herself, as well as for a great fidelity to the spirit of the religious rule.

She took advantage of her social situation to benefit religion and the salvation of souls. It was her influence that convinced King Louis XVI to open France to many Austrian Carmelites persecuted by Emperor Joseph II. She constantly prayed for the King, for France, and for the French people. To end her good influence over Louis XVI, the enemies of religion determined to kill her. It is almost certain that she was poisoned. In November 1787 she felt terrible stomach pains that gradually became worse. They ended soon with her death. These were her last words: "Au paradis! Vite! Au grand galop!" ("To heaven! Quickly! At the gallop!")
It was December 23, 1787.

During the French Revolution the mob ransacked her grave and dispersed her relics. But she continued to work a great number of miracles. For this reason her cause for sainthood was introduced at the Vatican. Pius IX declared her Venerable on June 19, 1873.

Dieu, notre Père,
Tu as établi Roi des nations ton Fils bien-aimé, le Christ Jésus ; à la prière de sa mère la Vierge Marie, Reine et beauté du Carmel accorde à ton Eglise de recevoir comme modèle la vénérable Thérèse de Saint-Augustin, Madame Louise de France, en confirmant la sainteté de sa vie. Par son intercession et dans la communion de l’Esprit Saint, enseigne-nous la pratique de l’Evangile dans le contexte social du quotidien ; fais que les responsables politiques œuvrent pour le bien des peuples et travaillent au mieux être des plus démunis ; développe en nous le zèle ecclésial dans le combat contre les forces du mal ; donne-nous l’amour de la vie religieuse qui est recherche de Dieu et service fraternel.

The link to the cause is in French.

On this page you will find an email to send your prayers and support for the cause.


The Carthusians in Newgate Begin to Die

Henry VIII closed the monastaries, removed the gold and claimed the lands which hitherto had belonged to the monks. Anyone who did not sign the Act of Supremacy was jailed as were these Carthusians about whom Stephanie Mann writes today...

...And so the good fathers and brothers died together in that dark and fetid place, one by one in prayerful silence, abandoned by Man but not by God. Greenwood, then Davy, then Salt; Peerson and Green upon the same day, mid-June; Scryven and Reding some days later. Somehow, Richard Bere (the nephew of a former Abbot of Glastonbury) survived until August 9th. Astonishingly, Thomas Johnson was still alive by September 20th, some sixteen weeks after his incarceration. He was removed to the Tower of London where he languished for a further two-and-a-half years before being martyred at Tyburn in the company of St Thomas More's son-in-law, Giles Heron, on 4th August 1540. These are all accounted Blessed by the Church. May they all pray for us who are unworthy of them... more...


The Seattle Catholic.


English money system before 1971

My first trip to Britain was in 1974, 3 years after decimalization. I was happy that the money had changed to something close to what I was used to. The down side was that the money was divided up so close to the American system I occasionally thought in US dollars and not English pounds. There is a significant difference in Pounds and Dollars which fortunately I realized before it was too late.

When reading old manuscripts we sometimes come across refereces to monies. Unfortunately today the money has been devalued and no fair representation will give a conversion, since money is now based on a countries economy instead of gold. As the costs of products rise, people clamor for higher wages, when wages are raised the cost of products rises and so the cycle is never ending.

I would try and determine what the cost of bread, the stapel of life was worth then and is now and draw that comparison. Otherwise the larger the sum, the more money it was.

After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the pound was divided into twenty shillings or 240pennies. It remained so until decimalization on 15 February 1971.

Old money was divided into:

•pounds.........(£ or l )
•shillings......(s. or /-)

There were twenty (20) shillings per pound.

The shilling was subdivided into twelve (12) pennies.

The penny was further sub-divided into two halfpennies or four farthings

2 farthings =1 halfpenny
2 halfpence =1 penny (1d)
3 pence = 1 thruppence (3d)
6 pence = 1 sixpence (a 'tanner') (6d)
12 pence = 1 shilling (a bob) (1s)
2 shillings = 1 florin ( a 'two bob bit') (2s)
2 shillings and 6 pence = 1 half crown (2s 6d or simply 2 and 6)
5 shillings = 1 Crown (5s)
1 guinea = £1-1s-0d ( £1/1/- ) = one pound and one shilling = 21 shillings
1 guinea could be written as '1g' or '1gn'.

A guinea was considered a more gentlemanly amount than £1. You paid tradesmen, such as a carpenter, in pounds but gentlemen, such as an artist, in guineas.

A third of a guinea equalled exactly seven shillings.

Why guinea? Because the Guinea coast was fabled for its gold, and its name became attached to other things like guinea fowl, and New Guinea.

So why is the £ sign used? £ represents libra pondo the title for pound weight hence a pound is £. We use a similar system when we use lb for weight.

One last thing, during the reign of Henry VIII, a pin maker (straight pins were a necessity for clothes) wages were 8 pence a day. This wage was set by the king and the work was strickly regulated. 8 pence was the price of a loaf of bread. ...and the price of bread is now...?



Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, June 4

"Who could foresee that with the great historical figures of African martyrs and confessors like Cyprian, Felicity and Perpetua and the outstanding Augustine, we should one day list the beloved names of Charles Lwanga, Matthias Mulumba Kalemba and their twenty companions?" (Paul VI, Homily on the occasion of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs, 18 October 1964).

The blood of martyrs nourishes the seed bed of the Chruch.


Thanks to Charles Lwanga and his companions my parish s graced by two Holy Priests from Uganda, Fr John and Fr Charles.


Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee 1952-2012


Elena Maria has an insight on this day here...