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German president visits ghost village

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German president visits ghost village


The German president has joined his French counterpart for a highly symbolic visit to the scene of one of WWII’s most infamous atrocities.

Joachim Gauck is the first German leader to visit Oradour-sur-Glane where, in 1944, a Waffen SS column arrived for no apparent reason and massacred every single inhabitant they could find before burning it to the ground. 642 people, including 247 children died.

Robert Hebras, now 88, was one of a handful of survivors, and remembers how the war had all but passed the sleepy village by until that fateful day in June.

The village is unique in Europe in that others suffered similar fates but were rebuilt, or turned into monuments. Charles de Gaulle ordered it be left untouched and classed as a national monument, blackened timbers, burnt-out cars and all.

But the village is facing a present-day crisis, as 70 years of weather have taken their toll and urgent repairs are needed.

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