Today in History, June 10, 1944:
Oradour-sur-Glane, France. Elements of the Nazi SS, acting on belief that one of their officers had been captured by members of the French Resistance, rounded up every citizen of the town and 6 hapless passersby. They locked all of the women and children in a church, then took all of the men to barns, where machine gun nests were already set up. The men were intentionally shot in the legs so that they would die more slowly…once they were all unable to move, the Nazis poured gasoline over them and set the barns afire.
They then returned to the church, where they set off an incendiary device inside. As the church burned, women and children tried to climb out of windows…where they were machine-gunned. 642 innocent civilians were slaughtered.
1944 – Distomo, Greece. In retaliation for a partisan attack, German SS troops go house to house in the village (whose residents had nothing to do with the attack), killing every man woman and child, totaling 218 dead in the end. They disemboweled one infant in front of his family and committed numerous other atrocities before burning the village.
Today in History, June 3: 1937 – British Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII marries American double divorcee Wallis Simpson Warfield in France. In what is usually described as the ultimate romantic tale, the King had abdicated the throne in 1936 so that he could marry the American woman. However…the rest of the story. She had already married and divorced an American Naval pilot, and carried on her affair with Edward during her second marriage. Once she obtained her divorce and married the now former king (his family wanted nothing to do with her), they settled in France. The only Parliament member that had supported Edward, Winston Churchill, soon became Prime Minister. Now he had to “handle” the problem of the Duke and his spouse, who had, in the interim, become Nazi sympathizers. In the mixed up politics of Europe in thirties, this was not necessarily as odd as it seems. Nonetheless, the Duke and his wife were now a dangerous embarrassment to the crown. A saddened Churchill convinced Edward to sneak out of Spain and accept a post as Governor of the Bahamas…what amounted to banishment. He accepted and spent the war years talking badly about his own country from a distance. Not quite the romantic figure portayed.