French, German Presidents mark 80th anniversary of martyred village

Europe AP - Ludovic Marin
AP - Ludovic Marin

French President Emmanuel Macron and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the village of Oradour-sur-Glane on Monday, where Nazi troops murdered more than 600 civilians in 1944.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against the dangers of nationalism Monday, as he visited a World War II massacre site in France a day after European elections saw advances for the far right.

"I would like to express on behalf of Germany my dismay and my affliction at these inconceivable crimes, so cruel and inhuman, perpetrated here by Germans (...)", Steinmeier said at a commemoration ceremony for the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, where Nazi SS soldiers massacred civilians in 1944.

"And I would like to share with you the feeling of shame that inhabits me regarding the fact that assassins subsequently remained unpunished, that they did not atone for the most serious crimes. My country surrendered in this very way guilty again," he added.

Only six people escaped one of the worst massacres of civilians by the Nazis in Western Europe, which left 643 dead: men shot with machine guns by the Waffen SS, then some 450 women and children in the church, before the village of Oradour-sur-Glane was set on fire.

The German President also mentioned Sunday's European elections, marked by the progression of the far right, particularly in France and Germany.

"Let us never forget the damage done in Europe by nationalism and hate. Let us never forget the miracle of reconciliation the European Union has worked," he declared.

French President Emmanuel Macron responded by calling post-war Franco-German ties "the lifeblood of our European project".

"It is in this memory, in the ashes of Oradour, that we have to ensure the strength of this reconciliation is reborn."

Macron is facing a political upheaval since he called new national elections for France's parliament on Sunday night, after disastrous results for his Renaissance party in the European vote.

While Macron hopes to break the deadlock of a hung parliament that has dogged his second term since 2022, the far-right National Rally (RN) looks set to make significant gains from its current 88 lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Germany will not hold a snap election despite calls for Chancellor Olaf Scholz to step aside after his ruling coalition's dismal performance in the EU election, a spokesman said Monday.

Scholz's coalition suffered a stinging defeat, with all three parties in his government trailing the conservatives and the far right, preliminary results showed.

The chancellor's Social Democrats (SPD) scored their worst result ever at 14 percent, third behind the far-right AfD at around 16 percent, and well behind the conservative CDU-CSU bloc's 30 percent.

The Greens recorded 12 percent while the liberal FDP took five percent.

(with AFP)