French ‘martyr village’ destroyed in WW2 receives €1 million donation

The ‘symbolic gift’ will help ensure the site survives for future generations

Part of the ruins of Oradour-sur-glane near Limoges
The village has been preserved as a permanent memorial to the atrocity

A village near Limoges (Haute-Vienne) that was destroyed by the Nazis in World War Two and kept as a memorial to the atrocity has received a “symbolic gift” of €1 million from a leading French aerospace company.

Oradour-Sur-Glane was destroyed on June 10, 1944 in a brutal retaliation for Resistance activity in the area. 

So abhorrent was the massacre and wanton destruction of the village that the Nazis themselves, including Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and the German commander in Limoges both protested about it to their High Command.

Following the liberation of France, General Charles de Gaulle ordered that the entire village be left the way it was as a permanent memorial to the atrocity.

“Oradour-sur-Glane is a symbol of our country’s pain. We must keep it in our memory, for never must something so awful happen again,” he announced on March 5, 1945.

‘A symbolic gift’

The €1 million gift to the foundation that manages the ruined village comes from the Dassault Group, which owns Dassault Aviation, one of France's leading aerospace companies.

The sum was handed over to the Fondation du patrimoine on Monday (April 29) in a ceremony attended by Culture Minister Rachida Dati, with the stipulation that the funds go towards the restoration works and protection of the Oradour-sur-Glane site.

“[The donation] is a symbolic gift,” said Agathe Hébras, granddaughter of Robert Hébras, who was the last living survivor of the massacre before his death in 2023.

Read more: Last survivor of French war massacre village Oradour-sur-Glane dies

“Marcel Dassault [founder of the Dassault company] suffered the horrors of World War Two. He was deported… He worked hard for his country, and today his children and grandchildren are looking to Oradour,” she added.

Restoration works needed in village

The funds will go towards preserving the village’s walls, as well as the remnants of shops, signs, buildings, and vehicles that were present at the time of the massacre.

A five-year restoration project is planned to help protect the area against damage from the elements, including rust and natural decay.

Although the €1 million donation will go some way towards funding this, more is required to help maintain the site.

Read more: Families launch appeal to save French WW2 massacre ruins

Marie-Hélène Dassault, who handed over the funds on behalf of the group,  said that the site represents French roots, identity and shared history.

“Oradour must be passed on to future generations of all countries,” she said.