GERMAN president Joachim Gauck has visited the site of the 1944 Oradour-sur-Glane massacre with President Hollande and honoured the 642 men, women and children killed there by SS troops.
He was the first senior German dignatory to visit the Limousin site and shook the hand of one of the three remaining survivors, Robert Hébras, 88.
Mr Hébras was in his teens when his family died in the massacre and he and Mr Gluck chatted for a few moments before Mr Gluck and Mr Hollande put their arms round his shoulders as they walked out of the ruined church where nearly 400 women and children died.
Mr Gluck said: “If I look in the eyes of those who bear the imprint of this crime, I share your bitterness at the fact that the murderers were not held to account; your bitterness is mine, I carry it back to Germany with me and I will remain not remain silent.”
The village ruins have been preserved as they were left by the German troops who set fire to buildings containing the village’s men and the church containing the women and children.
Mr Hollande praised Mr Gluck’s “dignity” in visiting the site and his ability to “look in the face of the barbarity of the Nazis” and said his visit had confirmed the friendship between the countries and was an example to the rest of the world.
Speaking of the present crisis over Syria and the deaths of 1,400 people in a chemical weapons attack, he added that the visit was more than a symbol, it was a “promise to defend the rights of man each time they are violated”.
Photo: Elysée Twitter