by Peter Grose - £9.99 Nicholas Brealey Publishing (2016)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781857886498 | ISBN 10: 1857886496
Nobody asked questions, nobody demanded money and everybody kept their mouths shut.
In the upper reaches of the Loire lies an isolated plateau and the secluded village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Their whole village was honoured not just by the French state, but with the extremely rare distinction of Righteous Among Nations by the people of Israel. How they earned this is one of the great modern stories of heroism and courage.
Right through the War the community pulled off the astonishing feat of saving the lives of 5000 men, women and children whose very existence was deemed to be unpalatable to the Nazi occupiers and their Vichy stooges. Of those saved approximately 3500 were of Jewish descent. They achieved this through a long-running battle of nerves keeping their heads down and pulling together. Predominantly Huguenot, the villagers held their own folk memories of centuries of persecution, and with open arms welcomed anyone whose background was frowned on by National Socialism.
All sorts of remarkable people came together, and they produced a miracle: pacifist pastor, and former employee of the Rockefellers, Andre Trocme who led the community to offer sanctuary to people who would otherwise have undoubtedly met their fate in the death camps.The 18 year old Oscar Rosowsky who, after his own daring escape across Europe, went on to become one of the most accomplished forgers of the war the impeccable documents he produced never betrayed the true identity of their beneficiaries. Pierre Piton, the 17-year-old Boy Scout who ran 20 mission smuggling Jews into Switzerland. Virginia Hall, the extraordinary SOE agent with a wooden leg who armed and trained the Resistance on the Plateau. Pierre Fayol, the Jewish leader of the Resistance on the Plateau, who eventually helped to drive out the occupying Nazis at the point of a gun. The peaceful Quakers who rescued hundreds and possibly thousands, of children.
Told with the full cooperation of many of the survivors, this is the story of WWII's greatest escape.
(Price & availability last checked: April 2016)