French President Emmanuel Macron condemned as “unspeakable” the degradation of a memorial on the site of one of the worst atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis in France during World War II.
The images of an inscription on the site of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane show the word “martyr” in the text “village martyr” replaced by “liar”.
The village was destroyed by SS troops in 1944, with 642 residents killed.
The ruins of the old village are preserved as they were after the massacre.
Philippe Lacroix, mayor of the new village, said he was shocked, adding: “We know what happened here but obviously there are always people trying to tell lies. ”
Mr Macron said everything would be done to find and punish those responsible for the vandalism.
The act has been widely condemned by French officials.
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Prime Minister Jean Castex said he felt “anger” when he heard about the incident. “To smear this place… is also to defile the memory of our martyrs,” he said.
“Shame on those who did that,” tweeted Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described the vandalism as “spitting on the memory of our martyrs”.
What happened to the village?
On June 10, 1944, a detachment of SS troops surrounded the small hamlet of Oradour-sur-Glane in Limousin in south-central France.
Some believe the troops were seeking revenge for the kidnapping of a German soldier, but some say the resistance fighters were based in another nearby village.
Most of the victims were women and children. Many of them were herded into a local church where hand grenades were thrown before it was set on fire.
The men were locked in a barn. The machine gunners shot at their legs, then sprayed them with gasoline and set them on fire.
An investigation years later saw some 60 soldiers brought to justice in the 1950s. Twenty of them were convicted but all were subsequently released.