French, German leaders to make landmark visit to WWII massacre site
ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE, France (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande and German counterpart Joachim Gauck will make a historic visit on Wednesday to a ghost village in west-central France where 642 people were massacred by Nazi soldiers in one of the worst atrocities during World War II.
President Gauck is the first German leader to visit Oradour-sur-Glane, where ruins from the war have been preserved as a memorial to the dead. They include a church where women and children were locked in, before toxic gas was released and the building set on fire.
Some 205 children aged under 15 were among victims of the June 10, 1944 atrocity which left deep scars in France.
After the war, French General Charles de Gaulle, who later became president, decided that the village should not be rebuilt but remain a memorial to the barbarity of Nazi occupation. A new village was built nearby.