24 hours with Robert Hébras, the last survivor of the Oradour massacre

Published on 26 June 2018 - 14:28

Oradour-sur-Glane. In this small village near Limoges (France), 642 men, women and children were massacred by the Das Reich Division on 10th June 1944. On 21st June 2018, the last of the six survivors of the drama, Robert Hébras, came to Lourdes to testify as part of the 16th pilgrimage-meeting of veterans. We followed him for 24 hours, from his home to the Grotto of Lourdes. Video.

“The truth is what I lived”

In Oradour-sur-Glane, on 10th June 1944, 642 people, most of them women and children, lost their lives under German fire. Robert Hebras is the last voice of the survivors (5 men in the barns and 1 woman in the church). His story of the drama, told in the first person, is the only truth about Oradour. We should always use his words and the peaceful way in which he delivers them, as a starting point from which to continue the slow, patient and courageous work of remembering Oradour. “The truth is what I lived,” recalls Robert Hebras, who was 19 when soldiers from the Das Reich division set fire to his village. In Lourdes, Robert Hebras gave his testimony at the opening celebration of the 16th pilgrimage-meeting of veterans, on 22nd June 2018, in the Basilica of St. Pius X. That same day, he also told his story at the Palais des Congrès in Lourdes. The most moving part was the closing vigil of the veterans’ pilgrimage on Rosary Square in the Sanctuary: after a rendition of the song Oradour composed especially for the occasion by David Olaïzola, Robert Hebras took the floor to say that, from Heaven, his mother and two sisters, who died at Oradour during the massacre, “would be happy” to see them here in Lourdes paying such a “fine tribute to the 642 of Oradour”, the 642 victims. On this evening of 25th June 2018, we witnessed a page of the History of Lourdes being written.