01/06/10 My brother Tim gave me the 11 DVD set of The World At War for Christmas. Fantastic gift! If you haven’t seen it, this is one of the finest documentaries ever produced. Narrated by Lawrence Olivier, using hundreds of hours of original footage and dozens of interviews with key figures – even the title credits are riveting. I remember watching it as a boy on WETA. I stuck the first DVD in last night to see the opening chapter. Here it is. The program begins by telling the story of what happened at Oradour-sur-Glane, a small French village close to the city of Limoges, in 1944 and uses the incident as an allegory for the barbarity of the 2nd World War.

642 inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane were brutally murdered and the town was set ablaze by the Waffen-SS on June 10th 1944. The French decided to leave the town exactly as it was that day. I’ve been there and it’s haunting. It is something like being in Pompeii but instead of capturing the calamity of a natural disaster, the collapsing town is an accusing finger pointing at evil.

Here are some photos I took of the town on 02/18/92. No kidding. 1992. I keep good records. I was 10 at the time.*

* This is a deliberate falsehood.

[Entrance to the village. Note sign with time-line of the massacre at left.]

[Main street – the houses have been left to crumble.]

[This is the rear of the church which the women and children were herded into before being murdered.]

[Altar in the church.]

[Rusted hulk of a Citreön left exactly where it was that day.]

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