23 June 2009

Musings from Back of Beyond

During one of my (many) tidying up sessions, I re-found a book sent over by my brother about Oradour Sur Glane... The village has been left to stand testament to the suffering inflicted on the villages during the war and it set me thinking. Though some of the buildings now are being protected by metal bands to stop them falling down.

It seemed to be an act of almost petty spite, foiled at finding the real Resistance which had attacked the German garrisons at Tulle and Guéret as well as the kidnapping of Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, Adolf Diekmann, Commander of the Der Führer regiment of Das Reich ordered the systematic killing of the inhabitants of Oradour Sur Glane on 10th June 1944.

Some 642 villagers, including children attending the schools from outlying hamlets were shot by machine gun, set fire on in the church and in barns and some of the bodies pushed down a well.

It is a moving place to visit, but I wonder, if in the heat of the moment whether any of the soldiers under the command of Diekmann felt that this act was so wrong but were afraid of the consequences if they were to refuse the commands.

Zeltus and I took a brief tour of the village when I was on my way back to the UK, and it struck me then that sometimes we push our consciences aside in the heat of the moment even when we know something is so inherently wrong, but appears to be a lesser risk to personal safety.

We had a conversation, yes siblings even talk to each other sometimes, when is the right time to let the grass grow over the old ruins? to heal the rifts of time and anger.. It is on the same lines as Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, when do we recognise that it is time to let go of the anger for fear of just perpetuating the hatred?

What do you guys think?


Joanne said...

You have written a very thought provoking post today Sage..... unfortunately as much as I would love to think that the world is becoming a more tolerant and caring place, there will always be those certain few that would agree with all that has gone on in the past and condone it.
Why is it necessary for so much hatred in the World, and yes, as you say, how many of those involved in the past were just following orders through fear for their own lives.... I think this is and ongoing and perpetual question that will never really be answered.....!?

A. said...

You make an interesting point. Before I saw Oradour, I would have said there are more than enough of these memorials, but when I was there I found it brought the reality and enormity home to me in a way that no amount of reading could. At the same time, having been born in Ireland, I am very aware of the "historic" memories that prevail. The resentment of the Irish over the potato famines and so on - isn't it time that people got over that? Similarly the Scots who resent the English because of things that happened ages ago.

I don't know what the answer is. How do you keep people aware of the dreadful things that can happen, without fostering and encouraging continued hatred? Nearly impossible.

A. said...

Have you ever read The Book Thief? The story of an ordinary German family during WWII. It looks at some of the questions you raise about the consciences of people who were involved. Quite a light book but thought provoking.

dickiebo said...

We were talking recently about our miners' strike. Whether to forgive each other and forget. I guess it's OK for us to say that, unfortunately those who were killed don't have any such choice.