Friday, July 3, 2009

Madness at Oradour Sur Glane (2nd part of 2)

Christine and I learned as we walked the empty streets and read the literature that in 1944 Oradour was unmistakable from other nearby French villages and it was known for its pleasant surroundings and its prosperous Limousin market. Residents would have heard within a day about the June 6th Allied landing in Normandy but those beaches were distant and Oradour was calm. Then the Panzer division arrived. German units throughout France were on high alert as soon as the Allies landed on the Normandy beaches. German mobile units advanced north to stop the Allied advance into France. French Resistance groups stepped up activity to thwart the Germans. On June 7th to slow the Panzer division, Resistance partisans blew up a railway bridge at Saint-Julien 10 kms from Oradour and several soldiers were killed. Das Reich ignored St. Julien and marched to Oradour, perhaps because it was non threatening.

As the armoured vehicles and troops entered the village, the people were curious but unalarmed, so when the village drum was sounded, all inhabitants calmly made their way to the village green, ostensibly to have their identity cards verified. Once there, they were divided into groups, men in one, women and children in the other. Fear developed now. Women and children were herded to the church and secluded there. The men were divided and led into three barns, two garages and one hangar. Women heard machine gun fire as the men were massacred in these buildings. Soldiers covered the bodies with combustibles and ignited the piles of corpses. Remarkably several men under the bodies, Mathieu Borie, Clement Broussaudier, Marcel Darthout, Robert Hebras and Yvan Roby survived the bullets and fled into the bushes.

Several hours later, soldiers entered the church to light fuses to a large container near the altar which upon their departure exploded, filling the church with suffocating smoke. As the women pushed through a sacristy door, soldiers cut them down with gunfire, entered the church killing everyone and then set the church on fire. One woman known as Madame Rouffanche survived by jumping from a window was wounded by gunfire but lay motionless in the church garden.

After killing all the townspeople that they could find, the soldiers set the town on fire and early the next day, laden with booty stolen from the houses, they left. The soldiers journeyed to Normandy and joined the rest the German army divisions attempting to throw the allied invasion back into the sea. They failed.

Yesterday I speculated that God may again be disappointed with the humanity that populates our planet. While he is the God of infinite attributes including mercy, are we approaching a moment when God will once more take decisive action of some kind? We must be grateful that after the universal flood recorded in Genesis, when God wiped out humanity because they were continuously and only evil, God made a promise never to repeat this universal aqua catastrophe.
Genesis 9Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.’" In view of human wickedness, God did something full of grace - sent his son to substitute himself in order to bear our punishment, from the worst of us to the best.

That's why good news (gospel) sounds like this. John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."

Can you tell that the evidence of madness I observed in Oradour affected me? I have merely repeated what the Bible tells me.

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