A Town of Righteous Gentiles

Stand for Israel  |  October 27, 2021

French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Photo: wikicommons/Havang(nl)

Last year, a Fellowship writer shared a personal story about his family’s connection to Pastor Andre and Magda Trocme, a Christian couple from the French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon who not only proved themselves to be heroes during the Holocaust, but who were named Righteous Gentiles.

Today, we want to tell you how the town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon earned the recognition of Righteous Among the Nations for all of its residents, only one of two locales Yad Vashem has so acknowledged.

As World War II raged and Germany invaded and occupied France, the Nazis and their collaborators began the extermination of French Jewry, rounding up God’s people and sending them to death camps. But in the town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, the people defied the Nazis. Instead these Christians stood with their Jewish brothers and sisters and helped them find safety.

Whether hidden in homes or barns or churches, the townspeople kept Jews hidden. When Nazi patrols came around looking for those in hiding, the town sent their Jewish friends into the countryside until the coast was clear. One resident recalled after war’s end, “As soon as the soldiers left, we would go into the forest and sing a song. When they heard that song, the Jews knew it was safe to come home.”

The town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon not only provided a home for Jews during the war, it provided other needs such as false identification cards and ration cards. Residents also helped Jews flee to neutral Switzerland when the opportunity arose. Sadly, not all of the town’s residents survived. Pastor Trocme’s cousin Daniel was one of those arrested by the Gestapo and murdered.

But despite the danger they faced, the people of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon showed their friendship to the Jewish people, saving between 3,000-5,000 lives during the Holocaust. And for this, the whole town was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.