Trip Start Nov 14, 2011
131Trip End Feb 28, 2013
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Our drive back from Paris to Gite Couleau took us past Versailles – the centre of political power in France in the late 16oos until 1789 when Louis XVI was forced to give up his throne at the start of the French Revolution. It is a symbol of a time that will never again return to France – monarchy rule or what is referred to as the Ancien Régime. Today these gardens and palace are enjoyed by many for its grandeur and beauty. I had visited these gardens and palace many years ago but France has done a magnificent job in restoring and cleaning up its monuments. It was an overcast day with grey skies but the Versailles palace was aglow with its golden rooftops reflecting a brilliance that stood out in the distance. As we had a 6 hour ride back to Gite Couleau, we couldn't stay to visit the palace – something to do the next time we’re back in this area.
Another stop that we did make was to visit the Martyr town of Oradour. This town is a permanent exhibit of how the town was left when the Nazis came on June 10th, 1944, rounded up the people of the town and then shot and killed everyone. They then pillaged the town and set fire to the buildings making sure that no one was left alive to bear witness to the atrocities that occurred that day. Over 640 people (women, children and men) lost their lives without any clear indication as to why this obscure town in the Limousin region was targeted. The townspeople who were not there on that fateful day came back to find their town destroyed and the burnt remains of their family members, neighbours and friends. The remains of the victims have been buried at a memorial gravesite located at the town cemetery. Jeff and I walked around the remains of this once bustling town taking note of where its boulangeries, garage, seamstress, doctor, dentist, wine shop, pharmacy and other businesses previously existed. It was sad to go through these streets and think about the extreme loss of these families. This loss however horrific was not something unique that only occurred in Oradour as this type of terror and loss was prevalent throughout Europe and Asia during World War II. One only has to think about the millions of Jewish families that perished in Auschwitz, Treblinka and other concentration camps, the complete destruction and bombing of cities such as Warsaw, Dresden and Hiroshima. It would be nice to think that we have learned something from history and these acts will never be repeated again where innocent lives are lost. However if we did, we would not have other memorials and events to commemorate the victims of Srebrenica, Rwanda, Cambodia and Kurdistan to name just a few. I can only hope that with each generation having access to more education and knowledge that shows the fruitlessness of such destruction, these events will decrease. For now, Jeff and I came, we saw and we will remember. Lest we forget.