Northern Illinois University Press

Massacre at Oradour, France, 1944

Coming to Grips with Terror

Jean-Jacques Fouché

Translated by David Sices and James B. Atkinson

Introduction by Jay Winter

"Fundamentally excellent history, with an unusual style and a mastery of telling detail. Fouché's work carries a sense of immediacy, of real people struggling with fateful events."—Harvey Smith, Northern Illinois University

"A remarkable achievement.... A very readable and gripping account of the most infamous German atrocity committed on French soil."—David Allen Harvey, author of Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace

"A most valuable contribution to truth."—The European Legacy

Near the end of World War II, four days after Allied armies landed at Normandy, a unit of Waffen SS troops en route to that front surrounded the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane and, without warning, systematically massacred its citizens. The Nazi soldiers herded women and children into the village church, machine-gunned them, and set the church on fire while some were still alive. The men were taken to barns in groups, where they were shot. Afterward, the Nazis plundered the village and burned it to the ground. Altogether, more than 640 men, women, and children died in Oradour that day.

Jean-Jacques Fouché explores the massacre from several points of view—religious or ethnic differences, the background and training of the Nazi soldiers, and German suspicions that villagers sheltered Jewish and Spanish anti-fascist refugees. Probing the most shocking massacre in World War II France, he shows how memory affects our understanding of the past.

(2004) 287 pp., notes, bibliography, index
ISBN: 978-0-87580-601-3
paper $27.00

Jean-Jacques Fouché, the first director of the Centre de la Mémoire d'Oradour, recently completed a new book on Oradour and justice. Currently he is working on radio and television documentatires on the tragedy of Oradour and memory.

Table of Contents

Translators' Note
1. What is Known about the Massacre?
2. The War Culture of the Waffen SS
3. The SS Das Reich Division in France
4. A Hot Spot: The Massif Central
5. Was Oradour Just an Ordinary Village?
6. Account of the Massacre
7. The Victims
8. Conflicting Accounts
9. Souviens-Toi-Remember
Afterword--Oradour-Sur-Glane, July 16, 1999-Opening Ceremony
Glossary of Abbreviations and Foreign Terms

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-601-3
paper $27.00