French, German presidents to visit village martyred by Nazis 80 years ago

French President Emmanuel Macron and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier will on Monday visit the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, where Nazi troops murdered more than 600 civilians in 1944. The village in central France has remained untouched ever since as a reminder of wartime cruelty.

The French and German presidents will together mark the 80th anniversary of the massacre, which saw SS soldiers kill 643 people and reduce most of the village to ruins.

Possibly as punishment for the killing by French Resistance of a high-ranking SS officer, German troops rounded up everyone they could find. They shot or burned alive men, women and children, then laid waste to most of the village.

Steinmeier will be the second German head of state to visit Oradour, after a landmark trip by his predecessor Joachim Gauck in 2013.

Macron has already been to the site three times, most recently in January 2022.

Most post-war French presidents have paid their respects at Oradour, which remains a powerful symbol of the Nazis' atrocities.

Charles de Gaulle said the "martyred village" should never be rebuilt, but instead kept as a permanent reminder of the horrors of the Nazi occupation for later generations.

But 80 years on, the ruined buildings are crumbling beyond recognition and calls have multiplied for a major conservation effort.

"All the survivors are gone, the only witnesses of the massacre are these stones," said Agathe Hébras, whose grandfather was one of only six people to escape the massacre.

Since 1946, the state has allocated the equivalent of €200,000 annually for maintenance.

Read more on RFI English

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