Leaders of France and Germany pay homage to lives lost during Nazi massacre
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The presidents of France and Germany went hand-in-hand to the town church in Oradour-sur-Glane on Wednesday, in a symbolic gesture over recognition of the French town’s Nazi past. A massacre there in June 1944 killed over 600 people.
The ceremony between French President François Hollande and Germany’s President Joachim Gauck is a step forward in French-German relations. It is the first trip by a German president to France’s central Limousin area since the events of 10 June 1944.
Hollande said Gauck’s visit was “a symbol of looking history straight in the eye, of a truth that must be spoken, proclaimed and recognised.”
Several survivors and family members were present at the ceremony.
Gauck, who was in France for a three-day state visit, has paid homage to several sites around Europe since becoming president, to recognize Nazi-related activities during World War II.
In March of this year, he was in Tuscany to seek forgiveness for atrocities committed by Germany’s Hitler regime. In October 2012, he visited Lidice near Prague in the Czech Republic.
During a radio interview on France’s Europe 1 on Wednesday morning, Gauck said, “I wanted to hold the hand of the victims and tell them: I’m on your side.”
On 10 June 1944, a Nazi-led massacre in Oradour left 642 people dead, including 205 children.