WAR FOR AN AFTERNOON by Jens Kruuse

WAR FOR AN AFTERNOON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane, population 650, a village in southwestern France, had barely seen a soldier during the war. But on June 10, 1944, the retreating SS entered the town, burned it, and massacred nearly the entire population. Professor Kruuse, a critic and travel writer who was active in the Danish Resistance, bases his swift survey on the accounts of survivors, the courtroom transcripts, and books on the incident published in France. He fails to individualize the villagers or to effectively dramatize the mass murder. But the final third of his book, which is devoted to trials for war crimes held more than eight years after the event, does evoke the lingering hatred felt by the survivors, and their particular dismay to learn that most of the accused were Alsatians. When the Chamber of Deputies commuted the majority of the sentences--which the survivors considered too lenient anyway--Oradour-sur-Glane erected placards to infamy naming the deputies who had voted for pardon and the Germans and Alsatians who had perpetrated the massacre. But the town was rebuilt by the government, and the placards were removed in 1966. Oradour, the author says, appears to have recovered. But his account is sketchy, distant. Only the conclusion is suggestive: Oradour has stripped off its bandages; it cannot remove the scars.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1968
Publisher: Pantheon