Village of Secrets
Defying the Nazis in Vichy France
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Random House of Canada
From the author of the runaway bestseller A Train in Winter comes the extraordinary story of a French village that helped save thousands, including many Jewish children, who were pursued by the Gestapo during World War II.
High up in the mountains of the Ardèche in France lies a tiny, remote village with a huge history. During the Nazi occupation, the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon saved over 3,500 people from the concentration camps. There were no informers, no denunciations, and no one broke ranks. Together, the villagers held their silence, and kept persecuted people--resisters, freemasons, communists, downed allied airmen and above all Jews, many of them children and babies--from danger. During raids, the children would hide in the woods, their packs on their backs, waiting to hear the farmers' song which told them it was safe to return. This village did what no other community in France did throughout the years of occupation, and after the war Le Chambon became one of only two places in the world to be honoured by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among Nations.
Just why and how Le Chambon and its outlying parishes came to save so many people has never been fully told. But several of the remarkable architects of the mission are still alive, as are a number of those they saved. Caroline Moorehead travelled across the world to interview these people, and searched archives that few have seen, to bring us the unforgettable testimonies of many of those involved in this extraordinary account. It is a story of courage and determination, of a small number of heroic individuals who risked their lives to save others, and of what can be done when people come together to oppose dictatorship.