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While commemorations are flourishing in France in honor of the seventy years which marked the end of the Second World War and the events that crossed it, many literary and audiovisual productions are appearing at a time when the will is to invoke the memory and the duty of Memory of a dark period for the history of humanity. On June 10, 1944, the town ofOradour-sur-Glane is completely destroyed, the houses burnt, part of the population was massacred with no less than 642 victims, a massacre perpetrated by the division: Das Reich, an elite German unit.
This documentary entitled, Oradour, symbol of Nazi barbarism, was produced by Brandon Waret accompanied by his team. They were motivated by the desire to understand the route of a barbarian division: the Das Reich by studying the multitude of facts and causes that can explain that this event marked France by its violence, unprecedented in the West but which was much more frequent in the territories in Eastern Europe struggling between the Nazis and the Soviets. Above all, the documentary is punctuated by this nagging question: Why Oradour? Could it be the result of chance? Or, conversely, a deliberate and premeditated act of terror? Questions that reveal the gray areas of an event that still resonates seventy years after the facts.
The guiding thread of the events of the Oradour massacre
In 1944, France was occupied by the Nazi army and had units scattered throughout the country. In May of that same year, the division of the Waffen SS, Das Reich, was in Montauban, place where it reconstituted its forces after having carried out operations, which decimated it, in the East facing the Red Army. After the Allied landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, the Das Reich division undertook to carry out search operations against the resistance in the vicinity of Tulle and Limoges. It leaves behind “a trail of blood” through violence, looting, fires and massacres. Militiamen, supporters of the Vichy regime, participated in these abuses. On June 9 and 10, "an exemplary action" prepared for a few days is put in place and the village of Oradour is on the Saint-Junien-Nieul route, this town in which Nazi troops must be stationed. On June 10, the Waffen SS troop arrived in front of the village of Oradour which it surrounded. It brings the population together, separating men, women and children. It loots, burns and kills streets and houses at random. She massacres women and children within the village church. The division then proceeded to eliminate the corpses by fire and the mass grave to prevent any identification. A massacre which provoked terror by leaving in evidence and in plain view all traces of this massacre.
This documentary, the result of a crowdfunding project, is a very good quality production. The construction of the documentary is based on a very wide range of tools which make it possible to offer very precise work. From the use of archival funds to their operations and also to the use of period photographs. These documents which pass slowly and which allow us to appreciate these historical “traces” are commented in detail by historians, specialized in the fields of Nazism, but also of the massacre of Oradour sur Glane itself. It is a work which proposes to discover the causes of this massacre, using for that, a large number of disciplines such as psychoanalysis to try to penetrate the psychic mechanisms which led the Nazis to commit and to perpetrate this outburst of violence. A documentary that marks a clear and precise separation between History and Memory, two notions that should not be confused. History strives to retrace the facts and understand the sequences and logics of each event with the necessary hindsight so as not to get lost in the emotion, a feeling which further characterizes the notion of Memory, which tends to mark a will to remember so as not to forget a massacre like the one carried out in Oradour. This documentary fulfills this role just as much by endeavoring to present the testimonies of people who lived these events with the emotion that one can very well imagine in front of the resurgence of these memories. He also offers us an immersion in the ruins of Oradour and makes us discover a heavy atmosphere that still reigns in this place.
A documentary of great quality, which deserves to be seen to know and discover the ins and outs of the Oradour sur Glane massacre.
Oradour, Symbol of Nazi barbarism, by Brandon Warret. On DVD.