Oradour-sur-Glane “War for an Afternoon” by Jens Kruuse
by Richard E. Noble
Oradour is a very small town in southwestern France. It is the scene of a World War II atrocity. The German SS in an act of reprisal against acts of ‘terrorism” wiped out the whole village.
Shirtless bakers and farmers in rolled up work sleeves, women, and a young school teacher with her whole class of little children in their little wooden shoes were paced off to a horrible death. Approximately 680 men, women and children were executed.
The males were separated from the females and children. With the women and children safely sequestered in the local church, the men were then brought to their knees with machine guns. They were shot in the legs, so as not to die immediately. The SS soldiers then covered all of the victims with brush and straw and set them on fire. Their screams could be heard far and wide.
Next the SS soldiers went to the church where a similar execution was repeated with the women and children. Low machine gun fire cutting them to their knees, followed by incineration of the moaning, crying, pleading victims. By one miracle or another several of the town’s people escaped. They told their stories of brutal German soldiers murdering their loved ones. Shooting old woman and men, who were too sick to rise, in their beds; busting open heads with their gun butts, booting and kicking women and children who were moving too slow or protesting, and in several instances the soldiers were laughing and joking while in the act.
After the war an attempt was made to round up the German SS who participated in that slaughter and bring them to justice. Twenty-one German soldiers were apprehended. All pee-ons, no officers or generals could be found or apprehended. The authorities had sixty-five names. Of the sixty-five, fourteen were actually Frenchmen who were fighting on the side of the Germans. Only seven Germans were caught, the rest were acknowledged to be in hiding.
The first challenge was to the court itself. The laws dealing with international war were limited. Was this court illegal and attempting to enforce laws made “after the fact”? Second, could any soldier on either side be charged with a crime for simply doing his duty?
In all countries, including our own, a soldier’s duty is to do or die, not to reason why. A soldier is given an order by a superior.
He must obey, or suffer consequences ranging from death to imprisonment. He must obey even if this law be criminal in nature. He can lodge a protest later. The soldiers further claimed that their sensitivity towards murder and/or killing and the morality of individual conscience was drummed out of them as a matter of course in their military basic training. Military officers make the same claim - only doubly true. They must be the example to their men. In effect, all officers and soldiers are free in time of war by the catch 22 of the code of military structures all over the world. As soldiers bound to duty they are charged to operate without conscience. They are no longer morally or legally responsible for their actions. An officer may be responsible for giving the order but he is relieved of the burden of his decision by the law in many countries and the Declaration on Human Rights made by the United Nations that no person can be punished for a crime that he, himself, did not commit. At Nuremberg a new international standard was attempted under the charge of “Crimes Committed against Humanity”.
Whether this new standard of humanitarianism was actually achieved or not is still debated.
The French soldiers further contended that when their country surrendered to the Germans, they in effect, abandoned them and the lives of their families to the enemy, and that this new French government had no claim to be punishing anybody. All of the consequences were initiated, first of all, by the French government’s own treason or cowardice.
Many of the French defendants had fought on both sides during the War. A good many were from the Alsace or Lorraine area and were impressed into the German military as young teenagers after their area was occupied. They claimed that their lives and the lives of their families back home were under constant threat of death from the German regulars and authorities. This trial was tearing the French public apart, but it continued.
Finally the government declared an amnesty for all soldiers who fought in the war on either side. But the judge refused to release any of the prisoners, most of whom had now been under custody awaiting trail for eight years or more. He said that this case had nothing to do with Military Law or any codes dealing with collective guilt. This was a “good old penal code” violation. Certain individuals had been accused of killing over six hundred individuals and burning down an entire town. The trial would continue and the defendants would be judged on an individual basis.
The opposition to the arguments of the defendants was clear and simple. Thousands upon thousands of honorable brave Frenchmen had stood up to this exact challenge by the occupying enemy and been executed. Many of their families were also
executed. Many of these people were tortured and then executed. The soldiers who committed the atrocities at Oradour were nothing more than cowardly traitors to themselves and their country. They did have a choice, no matter what they claim. They could have stood up to the German Terrorists and died in front of a firing squad, rather than becoming cowardly terrorists themselves.
The trail continued and decisions were made. The verdicts ranged from the death penalty to two years in prison. But this did not stem the public upheaval. Each side was outraged by the decisions. One side claiming that the penalties were too severe and the other saying that all of the traitors should have been shot. The streets all over France were erupting in violence, the legislature stepped in. In a very heated debate it was decided to let the verdict stand as declared, but the penalties not enforced. All of the defendants were secreted out of town and back to their individual communities.
The mayor of Oradour removed the Croix de guerre that had been awarded by the state from the town hall and personally handed it back to the representative of the state.
The Legion d’honneur given to the families of the victims was returned in a similar manner.
A monument that had been built to honor the victims and provide a place for their bodies was left empty, and is still empty today.
Two new monuments were erected at the town of Oradour. One exhibiting the names and addresses of the Alsatian SS men. On the other the names of the 319 deputies who had voted for their amnesty. By 1966 these monuments had also been removed.
“War for an Afternoon” by Jens Kruuse is the book describing this story. It is quite a read; a real life adventure in the morality and ethics of everyday war.
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Don't Laugh - This Could Have Been Your Life
Funny stories and some strange characters.
Monkey Dishes and Cocktail Fawks
My Harrowing days in the restaurant business. Great Read.
It's a Long Story
Long Short Fiction - Great stories!
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Talking To Myself
This is my third book of poetry.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Come On-A My House
This is # 4 in my Lawrence Hometown series.The old homested at 32 Chelmsford ST is pictured on the cover..
Down By The Old Mill Stream
# 5 in the Lawrence My Hometown series.
Standing on the Corner is # 6 in the lawrence My Hometown series.
The old Howard Playstead on Lawrence St.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
# 7 in the Lawrence my Hometown series.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
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