Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Horror of War - What are Humans Capable of?

Yesterday (April 10th) after attending Sophie's evangelical church in Bergerac, Sue, Sophie and I travelled to the Loire valley.  On the way we visited Oradour sur Glane which was the scene of a massacre on 10 June 1944.  The allies had landed at Normandy on 6th June (D-Day), and the Nazi command must have realised that their days were numbered.  On 10th June, 200 Waffen SS went into Oradour and massacred 642 people, including 193 women and children.  There seems to have been no clear reason for the slaughter.  One possibility is that they got the wrong village, intending to go into another Oradour.  After shooting people, they burned them and the town, except for the hotel with the best wine which they stayed at to drink into the night.

After the war, French President Charles de Gaulle ordered that the town be left just as it is and it to be maintained as a permanent memorial and museum.  It was a sobering walk.  As a pastor I felt especially sad when I walked into the church where women and children tried to shelter from the massacre.  It didn't save them.  The priest was killed first, then the women and children.
Burnt out car and destroyed buildings

Sue walking down a street in Oradour

There were years of war crimes after the end of hostilities, but I was left wrestling with what could make SS behave that way.  It highlighted the depths of evil in the human heart.  We are all capable of evil.  I think we frequently underestimate how serious sin is and how deeply we are all affected. Romans 3 explores the seriousness and all pervasive nature of sin: "There is no one righteous not even one...Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know."

It also inspires me to continue to work at making the good news of Jesus Christ known.  Only Christ can change human hearts as the Holy Spirit works in us.  May you know his transforming work each day, so that we may do good things out of the goodness God has placed in us. Luke 6:45.


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