Oradour Sur Glane

World War 2

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A new village was built after the war on a nearby site but on the orders of the then French president, Charles de Gaulle, the original has been maintained as a permanent memorial and museum.

In February 1944, 2nd SS Panzer Division (“Das Reich”) was stationed in the Southern French town of Valence-d’Agen, north of Toulouse, waiting to be resupplied with new equipment and freshly trained troops. After the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the division was ordered to make its way across the country to stop the Allied advance. One of the division’s units was the 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment (“Der Führer”). Its staff included Standartenführer Sylvester Stadler as regimental commander, Sturmbannführer Adolf Diekmann as commander of the regiment’s 1st Battalion and Sturmbannführer Otto Weidinger, who was designated Stadler’s successor as regimental commander and was with the regiment for familiarisation purposes. Command of “Der Führer” passed from Stadler to Weidinger on 14 June.

Early on the morning of 10 June 1944, Diekmann informed Weidinger at regimental headquarters that he had been approached by two members of the Milice; a paramilitary force belonging to the Vichy Regime. They claimed that a Waffen SS officer was being held by the Resistance in Oradour-sur-Vayres, a nearby village. The captured German was alleged to be Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion (another unit of the “Das Reich” division), who may have been captured by the Maquis du Limousin the day before.

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