Six hundred and forty-two. The figure gives the chills. At Oradour-sur-Glane, it is infamous for being associated with the number of innocent people who perished in the massacre perpetrated by the nazis sixty-five years. The State is preparing to start work on the consolidation of the church of the martyred village of Haute-Vienne, and the walls crack.

“It is necessary to avoid the collapse of some walls of the church. It is a little complicated because it is necessary to preserve, without distorting the scene. Here, the time has done its work, the ruins have lost height during the past 75 years”, explained to AFP the mayor of the village Philippe Lacroix.

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The village martyr, classified as historical Monuments, where the division SS Das Reich” killed 642 villagers on June 10, 1944, is visited each year by 250,000 to 300,000 people. As all of the 10 June, a ceremony “sober and enduring”, according to the mayor, will be Monday, dozens of people, including many elected officials, with a procession, a minute of silence and deposit of sheaf in the village left in the state by the will of the general de Gaulle, so that the following generations will remember.

burn marks

In the village, the church burned down by the Germans is still standing but needs to be consolidated. A first phase of diagnosis allowed us to target precisely the “pathologies of the church and determine the work to be undertaken,” said Lætitia Morellet, architect of buildings of France, in charge of the monitoring of the work. “Nothing but the symbol, what it represents, it is a unique place. The church is a beacon, a symbol of the village as a martyr and as a place of torment of a large number of people, its preservation is of paramount importance. The burn marks on the walls, the oxidation of the stone bear witness to this day”, she adds.

The total amount of work that will be launched in a few months and should end in 2021, is estimated at 400,000 euros. The architect acknowledges that “working in a place like this one is taking. The place is iconic, very loaded”. On June 10, 1944, la division SS Das Reich had gathered the men in the barns of the village and had to be shot. The Germans had herded women and children into the church before setting fire to it.