Maillé is a village in southern Indre-et-Loire, in Touraine, with 660 inhabitants. It is located 40 km south of Tours, along the Paris-Bordeaux rail line. The road connecting Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine and Nouâtre crosses the village. National Route 10, 3 km to the east, provides easy access. In 1940, when the Germans moved into Maillé and its environs, the commune had just over 500 inhabitants.
On August the 25th, 1944, as Paris was celebrating its Liberation, Maillé was nearly wiped off the map. At around 9 a.m. German troops surrounded the village, and thus began the first moments of a tragedy that cannot be justified by any military objective. At the same time that Parisians were joyfully celebrating their freedom from occupation, the inhabitants of Maillé were being hunted down and massacred in their fields, their homes, their gardens, their cellars… 124 persons, ranging in age from 3 months to 89 years, were brutally slaughtered. They included 37 men, 39 women, 48 children under the age of 15, 26 of whom were less than 5 years of age, and two new-born babies. The only ones who escaped death were those able to hide before the arrival of the Germans and those who were able to feign death as they lay amid the cadavers. Farm animals were not spared either. Anything that moved on that day was killed. At the conclusion of this Nazi atrocity, 52 houses were burnt. Only 8 out of 60 houses stood after nazis passed through the village.
The butchery lasted all morning, creating orphans who would be marked for life by the event. Indeed, how could they possibly forget? How could they possibly come to terms with grief over the event in the absence of “satisfaction” from seeing the perpetrators of this horrible crime brought to justice? Indeed, the Permanent Military Tribune of Bordeaux found only Second Lieutenant Gustav Shlueter responsible for willful homicide “conducted at the time under the pretext of a state of war, but without justification by law or by custom of war.” Unfortunately, he has never been found and the troops under his command on August 25th, 1944, have not yet been identified.
The inhabitants of Maillé have ever since that day been living with the memory of this barbarous act, and they have never joined the rest of France in celebrating the August 25th, 1944, Liberation of the Capital. August 25th is a time of joyful remembrance in Paris each year; while the rest of the country remains virtually unaware that in Maillé it is instead a time to pay respect to the dead and to remember the most unspeakable moment of the village’s history. Today, no physical trace of this bloody history remains, and Maillé suffers from the lack of national recognition. Despite the importance of this tragedy, the history of the village relating to the 25th of August, 1944, is still not widely known, even by people working on the history of World War II.
Two days following the 25th of August, the 124 who were slaughtered were buried in a common grave in the village cemetery. Mutual aid followed immediately, and there quickly followed numerous expressions of solidarity coming from individuals and groups, from local and from international institutions.