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Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed

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During the most terrible years of World War II, when inhumanity and political insanity held most of the world in their grip and the Nazi domination of Europe seemed irrevocable and unchallenged, a miraculous event took place in a small Protestant town in southern France called Le Chambon. There, quietly, peacefully, and in full view of the Vichy government and a nearby division of the Nazi SS, Le Chambon's villagers and their clergy organized to save thousands of Jewish children and adults from certain death.

Author Biography:

Philip Hallie was Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University, where he taught for thirty-two years. He died in 1994, leaving this manuscript. That it can now be published is do to the devotion of his wife, Doris Ann Hallie, who contributed an afterword. The foreword by John Compton, fellow philosopher and longtime friend of the author, will help the reader to understand this unusual document in the context of Hallie's life and thought.

303 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1979

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About the author

Philip Paul Hallie

5 books4 followers
Philip Paul Hallie (1922-1994) was an author, philosopher and professor at Wesleyan University for 32 years. During World War II he served in the US Army. His degrees were from Harvard, Oxford (where he was a Rhodes Scholar at Jesus College from 1949 to 1951) and Grinnell College. He studied and wrote on the nature of cruelty.

His best-known book was "Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed" (1979), which told the story of the French Protestants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, who provided a haven and safe passage abroad to 2,500 Jews during World War II.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 140 reviews
Profile Image for Lewis Weinstein.
Author 9 books491 followers
November 8, 2018
The story of Chambon is incredibly moving ... my wife and I had the experience of visiting the village and feeling the powerful sense of "goodness" which still resides there. This town, in a remote part of France, led by the Huguenot pastor Andre Trocme, was the place of refuge for perhaps 2500 Jewish children, hidden and then moved on to safety.

NOTE: for more detail about Chambon, please see my review of Caroline Moorehead's "Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France."
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,123 followers
December 25, 2017
When you are a reader (and if you talk about book frequently enough to make sure other people know it), life has a funny way of throwing books in your path. You become the subject of everybody’s recommendations, an unwitting borrower of other people’s books, and the thankful recipient of literary gifts during the holidays. This book is a case in point: I would probably never have read it had it not been lent to me by a long-time friend.

Though Hallie was a philosopher of ethics, he seemed pretty uninterested in abstract theories. As in so many other books, what is left out of this work is just as important as what made it in: gone are any statements about the abstract nature of ‘goodness’ and ‘justice’. The big-time philosophical schools of ethics—deontology, consequentialism, virtue ethics—are only mentioned in passing. What Hallie writes about instead are real people doing real things.

What people doing what things? Hallie concentrates his attention on Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Huguenot village in southern France. It is a poor, predominantly Protestant village, where much of the economy depends on tourism, situated high up in the Auvergne-Rhone Alps. What sets this quotidian locale apart from its neighboring villages is the people: almost the entire village cooperated to rescue fleeing Jews during World War II. This was done at considerable risk to themselves; and, indeed, some residents paid the ultimate price for their efforts. But remarkably, miraculously, they largely succeeded: probably thousands of Jews were saved.

So the question Hallie asks is this: What set them apart? Why did these poor villagers risk their lives to help others, when so many others refused to help? In other words, what went on to make the entire community such a paragon of ethical behavior?

In lieu of an abstract answer, Hallie offers us a portrait of André Trocmé and his wife Magda, the two leaders of the town's rescue efforts. André is protestant pastor, cast in the mold of all the great spiritual leaders of the past—a man with unswerving commitment to an ethical idea and seemingly limitless fortitude. His commitment to the Christian ideal of behavior is extreme: he refuses to harm even enemy soldiers, and refuses to lie to the authorities about his subversive activities. Any time he was asked if he was harboring Jews, he simply said yes; and every opportunity he had of reducing bloodshed—be it of Jews or of German soldiers—he pursued. His wife Magda is much more secular in her outlook; she believes that one should help others simply because it’s the right thing to do. If people need help, and ask for it, it’s your duty to give your all to help them—no questions asked.

So that is Part One of Hallie’s answer: ethical behavior is personal; it depends on specific individuals who take it upon themselves to help. But, clearly, if it was André and Magda alone who were attempting to save Jews, they wouldn’t have gotten very far; they needed help. And this brings Hallie to Part Two of his answer: history and community.

The village of Le Chambon was founded by Huguenots. This, as Hallie points out, probably contributed to their willingness to help: they, too, were descendants of a persecuted people. In any case, the economic and historical conditions of Le Chambon combined to create a people willing to help. In houses throughout the town, residents risked their own lives harboring Jews, spreading their already meager resources thin to support the refugees. The Chambonnais responded to the Trocmés' ethical impetus in kind: the animating spirit of André and Magda inspired the people of the village.

In his book Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr. says “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted ‘order’ than to justice… .” Philip Hallie makes a similar point. The people who stood by, not wanting to make trouble, were of no help in the crisis. The village of Le Chambon was not populated by moderates but, in a very real sense, extremists. It took extremists for helpfulness to reduce the damage done by extremists for harmfulness; or, as MLK said: “the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?”

André Trocmé’s unswerving commitment to nonviolence can be truthfully called radical. In a very real sense he was just as much a radical as was Hitler. Now, I would define a ‘radical’ as somebody who could not possibly be convinced that he was wrong; someone who is so unshakably sure of his rectitude that no argument could dissuade him. Thus, Trocmé and Hitler were motivated by convictions, not arguments. Hallie makes this point when he says:
If you were to put those two eloquent men, André Trocmé and Adolf Hitler, in a comfortable room for any comfortable length of time to argue about the appropriate ethical judgment to lay upon the actions of the Chambonnais between 1940 and 1944, neither would persuade the other that his judgment was the final one; nor would they ever both acknowledge any court to decide conclusively between their conflicting judgments.

This is, I think, what is at the root of Hallie’s distrust of ethical theories. For an ethical theory is a theory which attempts, through logical reasoning, to set up an objective guideline for an ethical action; the aim is to unambiguously decide what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and come up with a test for judging a given action. This is the aim of both the categorical imperative and utilitarianism. Yet what use are these theories if they are not operative in the great ethical struggles of reality? If both Trocmé and Hitler, both the Chambonnais and the Nazis, were motivated, not by reason, but by a conviction, what use is the philosophy of ethics? In other words, the battleground of ethics is not in debate, but in action. Those who need convincing are those who sit by the sidelines.

According to Hallie, however, there is one simple test of ethical worth: do you consider life precious or not? Underneath all questions of duty, of virtue, of utility, of happiness, and of pleasure, this simple difference between those who want to help save lives and those who don’t is fundamental. But this conviction of the universal dignity of human life is not a proposition; it is a feeling, and, as a feeling, occupies a place in one’s psyche that is deeper than intellectual theories.

Hallie’s focus on personality, on culture, on history, on context, and on conviction leads him to write in a very different way than do most philosophers. For him, the proper way to write about ethics is not as Kant and Mill did—with theses that are proven with arguments—but as Dickens and Tolstoy did: with stories and characters. Most people simply don’t have time to play with ethical scenarios and with different theories; they need to act now, with limited information, and with limited means. And since we have to act now, our basic conviction—is human life precious?—is what determines the event.

This is exactly what the Trocmés and the Chambonnais did: they acted in the spur of the moment, with limited resources, solely on the conviction that all human lives are precious. Hallie would have us do the same.
Profile Image for Lisa.
Author 1 book29 followers
August 1, 2017
This is not your typical Holocaust-rescue adventure. It is written by an ethicist from that point of view, and so includes much discussion of how the individuals who led the refugee-rescue efforts in Le Chambon sur Lignon came to be the kind of people who are toujours prete a servir--always willing to serve, especially Pastor Andre Trocme and his wife, Magda. The willingness of the people of the village to house and care for Jewish and other refugees, at the risk of their lives and the lives of their families and loved ones, is amazing when one considers that other villages and groups who attempted the same thing were sometimes betrayed and destroyed. The story is not told chronologically or as a tale of one exciting moment after another, although there were exciting moments. The author's point of view differs from that of many chroniclers of attempted rescue in occupied France, and is of course a valuable addition to that literature.
Profile Image for Nick.
694 reviews89 followers
October 27, 2015
A lovely, memorable story of a French village that displayed an unprecedented ethic of hospitality to refugees (especially to Jewish people) during the Occupation years of WWII. The book is written by an ethics professor who was intrigued by what happened in this small mountain community (the author himself is Jewish and so it was personal for him). The book centers on the Protestant pastor of the village, Andre Trochme and his wife Magda, and their commitment to non-violence. Though I do not share all of author's or characters' views of ethics or religious perceptions, I respect what they did and wish that I too could have such an ethic of hospitality.
Profile Image for Joy Weiler.
13 reviews8 followers
February 3, 2023
“Naturally, come in, come in.”

“And Trocme had a practical belief, a belief that held out for him a promise of success: he believed that love-that feeling, thinking, and acting as if life is precious beyond all price-would manage to find a way to restrain what his notes call “diabolical forces like Nazism.”’

“[Trocme] believed that if you choose to resist evil, and you choose this firmly, then ways of carrying out that resistance will open up around you.”

“For them, human life had no price; it had only dignity.”
Profile Image for Esta Doutrich.
111 reviews40 followers
March 30, 2021
4.5 I loved the combination of inspiring story along with a professor-like discussion on ethics mixed in. A non-violent “kitchen” based resistance?—what could resonated with me more?
Profile Image for Elizabeth Theiss Smith.
295 reviews84 followers
July 16, 2020
During World War II a small French village saved thousands of refugees by hiding many in plain sight and conducting others to groups that could lead them across the Swiss border to safety. Hallie describes not only what the members of the village did but also explores why they did it. The leader of the effort was the Huguenot pastor, Andre Trocme, who through his sermons and charismatic presence called on villagers to be nonviolent resisters against the Nazis and the Vichy government t of France.

Hallie, a professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University, interviewed many of the principal characters years after the war with the aim of discovering what compelled them to risk their lives and those of family members to save people they had never met. Many said that their actions were nothing special, simply what one does. Hallie notes the profound respect for human-ness that these people displayed and credits this fundamental care for all humans that underlies the heroic events that took place in Le Chambon.

Well worth reading in these turbulent times for its focus on the moral response to the threat of harm to fellow humans.
Profile Image for David Hindman.
34 reviews
March 13, 2021
Tells the story of the Huguenot citizens of the French village of Le Chabon that came together under the leadership of Pastor Andre Trocme to save the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees during WW2 under the Vichy regime. Why others chose not to do so is tragic; their resilience and simple understanding of the mandates of the Christian gospel is inspiring.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,691 reviews1,479 followers
October 3, 2008
About violent non-viloence. One has to read the book to understand this phrase. Given the way this world is today, and hey it hasn't been that peaceful in past times either, I recommend this book to everyone. Is there an alternative to the current mess, something that will really work? Maybe so if we start working on it NOW. Nothing works instantly, and even André Trocmé agreed that WWII was necessary. It was too late, war was necessary. Not being terribly religious myself, I mostly admired and could understand Magda Trocmé, André's wife. But they did what they did together and with all the other villagers of Le Chambon. Sometimes the book gets a bit oo "philosophical/analytical" for my tastes. Just give me the facts, don't analyze them for me. I agree with Magda's simple philosophy - you do what you have to do. Analysis is superfluous. Everyone should read this because it shows there is hope out there, if people can just cut away all the crap. This is a bit of an emotional response. Everybody should read this book - quite an eye-opener for sceptic me!
1,211 reviews18 followers
April 12, 2009
At a seminar on evil, a man who called himself the Decent Murderer argued that if there had been a thousand villages like Le Chambon, Hitler would never have been stopped. I agree with this: if there had been a thousand villages like Le Chambon, Hitler would never have gotten started in the first place.

Hitler personally only killed three people, including himself (some people argue for a fourth, but it was never proved). The others were killed by people who did what Hitler and his followers told them to do (reluctantly, willingly, or otherwise). If people in general had decided to take personal responsibility for the results of their actions, a lot fewer of them would've gotten caught up in the Nazi horror.

One of the points of Hannah Arendt's The Banality of Evil (I gather--never been able to slog through the thing myself) is that one of the main functions of bureacracy is to prevent people from taking responsibility. The Chamboinnais found another way--but it's not necessarily the only other way.
Profile Image for Lobstergirl.
1,698 reviews1,226 followers
July 6, 2013

Two stars is generous; really, this book was kind of torture to read. It meanders; it claims to be a history but the author is not a historian (he's an ethicist, apparently) and it shows. Sample: "...under this tolerance many new Protestant sects flourished, the way blood rushes to a lacerated spot when a whipping has stopped."

While the book is a nice portrait of the Protestant pastor André Trocmé and his wife Magda, who risked their lives in a small French town during the Occupation to save several thousand Jewish refugees, particularly children, the actual facts are laid out much more clearly in other places.
Profile Image for Alan  Marr.
387 reviews10 followers
July 11, 2013
I did not know this story until I read about it recently in another book. It is the true story of the villagers of Le Chambon in France who rescued hundreds of Jews from certain death during WW2. It describes what can happen when people are courageous enough to act according to their conscience. The pastor was one of those annoying, uncompromising people who in normal circumstances would not be the easiest person to live and work with. His wife, who did not share his faith, shared his commitment to affirming the dignity of every human being and to non-violent living. She was my favourite character in the book.
All round a very inspiring read.
Profile Image for Annie.
158 reviews2 followers
August 14, 2022
Goodness, how do you review this one? It’s a tale of Goodness, of the faithful witness of a couple and their small village in France holding to a commitment of non-violence in the face of World War II. This should be included in pro-life readings. It’s a beautiful testimony.

There are little details that stir my personal passions—namely, the pastor’s “kitchen” ministry (going into congregant’s homes to know them personally) and the school he started to change a cold-hearted village into a generous hospitable one. Of course there are also difficult deaths, stories that made me gasp. But the Goodness shines brightly.
Profile Image for Saklani.
70 reviews1 follower
March 5, 2020
This is not quite the book I expected, but there's a lot of good to reading about brave people doing dangerous things to save the lives of the persecuted.
Profile Image for Lorelei.
459 reviews69 followers
February 21, 2013
First of all, I really love this book and would recommend it to anyone. However, it is a fascinating story made dull by philosophical musings that are repetitive and not terribly original. Not that it is bad philosophy, I just wish this story had been written by someone who was a story-teller first and a philosopher only when it adds to the experience. The entire population of a Protestant village in Vichy France steps up to save the lives of anyone who is threatened in WWII. They make themselves into a 'City of Refuge' and the numbers of people they succeed in saving is greater than the entire population. It is a marvelous story, and I only wish I hadn't often had to eke it out between the lines.
10 reviews
May 19, 2010
Part history, part philosophy, _Lest Innocent Blood be Shed_ studies one example of proactive non-violence and how such a stance fits into a moral hierarchy.

Essentially, a tiny village of French Protestants followed their pastor's lead and rescued a great many Jewish refugees (mostly children) while so many others stood idly by. Hallie explores the hows and whys of their bravery without pointing fingers at their less helpful neighbors.

Truth be told, this book has restored my faith in humanity. Now, when I hear additional evidence of "man's inhumanity to man" on the news and in history texts, I have this book to lean on. We all need something, yes?
119 reviews11 followers
March 29, 2021
Hallie does a brilliant psychological profile of a small French community that took it upon themselves to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Led by a Huguenot pastor, Protestants, atheists, and Catholics alike joined together to do the right thing. Years later, many of the people who acted were surprised when asked why they had done so. For them, it was just obviously the thing you had to do in the face of unspeakable evil. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Profile Image for Anne Hamilton.
Author 35 books145 followers
February 2, 2023
I first came across the story of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon towards the end of Unspeakable: Facing Up to the Challenge of Evil by Os Guinness. After discussing the enigma of a good God in a world of appalling evil, Guinness turns the tables and relates the story of historian Philip Hallie. Now, having read this account, I'm not sure Guinness entirely got the story right. It's a charge that journalist Peter Grose in A Good Place to Hide: How one French community saved thousands of lives in World War II levels in turn against Hallie, whom he claims has made many mistakes in this account.

Hallie describes the centuries of persecution suffered by the Huguenots. The royal galleys of 18th France were manned by slave rowers whose only crime was being Protestant. In the Tower of Constance near Marseilles the women were left to die of starvation and cold or heat. The pastors and people of Le Chambon had been arrested by the king's dragoons and hanged or burned in the village or in a one nearby. (p25)

Within two weeks of the armistice between France and Germany in 1940, all manner of propaganda was released inciting hatred of Jews, Communists, Freemasons and the English. (p89)

André Trocmé learned the important of making a choice at the right time, not in due time, but at the critical one. In 1921, he had been with the French Army in Morocco, assigned to map-making. To his surprise he was given a gun and cartridges but, committed to pacifism, he left them behind in the army depository. Out in the desert, the lieutenant in charge noticed his lack of weapon and asked the reason why. When Trocmé explained, the lieutenant took him into his tent and explained to him about timing. He should have refused at the beginning, before coming out into the desert. His action had the potential to endanger the lives of the company because they were weakened by his lack of firearms in the face of any attack by bandits or dissidents. What Trocmé learned was that the ethical commandment against killing had to be obeyed as early as possible to be effective. Nonviolence could in fact increase violence if not chosen at the right time in the right way. (p92f) By refusing blind obedience to the government, the people of Le Chambon discovered that the government was trying to steal their consciences under the mask of loyalty. (p93)

The government of old France did everything possible to make the Huguenots abjure their faith. They destroyed temples, levied crushing fines, took children from their parents, imprisoned, worked to death, killed adults all for the purpose of making the people abjure their faith and follow the national religion. (p97)

The Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) policy of the Nazis about the death camps was successful in portraying them as a Zionist state in Poland for Jews. (p104)

During the planting of a tree for André Trocmé in Israel, one of the speakers said, 'The righteous are not exempt from evil.' Meaning: the righteous must often pay a price for their righteousness. (p126)

The meaning of the Provencal word maestral is masterly wind.

At the beginning of the Occupation, "deportation" did not mean destruction in an extermination camp, but rather forced labour. The Quakers were trying to save parents from deportation at this stage by issuing medical exemptions. If they could not do so, they made provisions for the children but it became increasingly hard to find people to take the children in. (p135) Quakers were always willing to speak truth to power. (p168)

Madame Eyraude had a boardinghouse of 14 boys, not all Jewish. Some had turned up with nothing because they had returned home from a factory and found police waiting to take him to a forced labour camp. (p177)

Albert Camus wrote The Plague in 1942 in an old granite house not far from Le Chambon. (p249)

The Tartar Legion (Asiatic-Russian prisoners captured on the Russian Front and given SS uniforms and trained to murder civilians without mercy) were sent into the Haute-Loire region after the Normandy landings by the allies. (p250)

Both French and Germans were utterly convinced of their own innocence and of the guilt of their adversaries, which justified any killing of "those guys there". The end of the war in France (though some of the Germans will thought that Hitler would save them with a new Blitzkrieg) made no difference: people were bent on killing each other because of their own innocence and the others' guilt. (p261)

Profile Image for Jonelle.
485 reviews5 followers
October 11, 2014
Wonderful account of how a small village in France served as a place of refuge for thousands of Jews, especially children, during WWII. The author wasn't the greatest storyteller, but it would have been difficult not to find this story compelling.
Profile Image for  ManOfLaBook.com.
1,145 reviews71 followers
January 6, 2023
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: https://www.ManOfLaBook.com

Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Paul Hallie tells of Le Chambon, a small hamlet of Protestants in Vichy France who were helping Jewish refugees escape. Mr. Hallie is a professor of Philosophy, he left a manuscript of this book which was posthumously published.

The book tells of a small, but significant slice of history. The village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon became part of a wide network to rescue Jews from the Nazi killing machine. The movement, led by Huguenot pastor André Trocmé and his wife Magda is credited with saving at least 2,000 persons. This is the second book I’ve read about the Le Chambon, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead was the first.

In a moving narrative, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Paul Hallie shows the goodness that people are capable of, as well as the bravery it takes to act upon that calling. I wasn’t too thrilled to find out the author was a philosopher, as I’m more interested in the actions of real people as opposed to high-brow abstractions. Luckily, so was Mr. Hallie who mentioned abstract virtues in passing, while concentrating on the astounding story of a whole village (almost), cooperating to rescue Jews during World War II at much risk to themselves and everyone they know.

Why did poor villagers who barely had enough to eat risk everything to help others? This was at a time when many refused.
Why, and how does an entire community gather together to work for a common goal in great peril?

Pastor Trocmé and his wife led the rescue effort, sticking to their ethical ideology unwaveringly and with fortitude. The Huguenots, with their history of persecution, were more than willing to help.

Focusing on personality, history, and culture, the book brings context to the conviction of Le Chambon which many find difficult to understand. Ethics, for Mr. Hallie, is not about abstraction, but about how people act when they are called up in the present, and whether the call to action is answered.

The people of Le Chambon answered quietly and their stories deserved to be told. Both André and Magda Trocmé were honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations.
Profile Image for Valerie.
357 reviews11 followers
July 16, 2022
We live in chaotic, turbulent times: a diabolic war destroys the beauty of Ukraine and its people; greed in corporations and government sponsors block life-saving means to save a dying planet; drought and death on the African continent continues; children are separated from parents and put in cages along borders; random violence headlines on a daily basis; human rights and choices denied by authoritarian minorities; and then there are Big Lies. So much evil. What is the average human to think but that life indeed is meaningless and nothing can stop evil.

For four years in the south-western Protestant French village of Le Chambon, World War II raged, Vichy governments succumbed to betrayal; and thousands of desperate Jewish refugees fled the East, traveling by rail through this site which willingly opened doors to help, heal, hide, and save. How did it happen that a whole village acted as one in conscious good action to help the unjustly persecuted, to not kill and not betray? How did it happen that people in a life and death existence rose to practice by providing shelter, food, education, and an "underground railroad" approach for the good, for life, for non-violence? just because they believed every human life is precious?

Perhaps, one of the most inspiring books of what humans are capable of being that I have ever read. This true history will encourage and inspire all readers.
Profile Image for Christine.
175 reviews
October 5, 2017
I don't know where this book came from, I found it on my bookshelf and decided to read it. The basic description of the book: people in Europe who went out of their way, did all they could and more, to save refugees in Europe during WWII....that's right up my alley!

I would give it 2 stars for writing. The beginning was long and slow. The author really tried to write it from the perspectives of the pastors who led the people of Le Chambon, France to save Jewish refugees during WWII. The pastors felt what they did was no big deal and was just what anyone would have done. It becomes annoying to see their efforts and risks so trivialized. These people risked everything they had, including their lives to save people they did not know. The author is really more interested in the ethics and reasoning behind what happened in this town.

The actual events of Le Chambon were riveting and a story that everyone should hear. A true story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, simply because it was the right thing to do. We need more of that in the world we live in, and more stories such as these to show what humanity can be (both good and bad). I wish I had read this in college in my 20th century European History class, it would have been a great place to discuss all the philosophy thrown in!
Profile Image for Beth.
136 reviews15 followers
July 29, 2018
There were three places where the impossible or, at least, the unlikely, happened during WWII. Denmark, Bulgaria, and this little village in France showed evidence of humanity and a resistance to the evil the ran amok in Europe during the war. Unlike the books I've read about Denmark and Bulgaria, which were true histories, this one about Le Chambon is more of a treatise on non-violent Christianity and the work and beliefs of the spiritual leader in the village, Andre Trocme. I don't normally read books that delve into the interpretaion of Christiainity or examine ethics through a religious point of view but this book, maybe because it is able to show cause and effect, is different and very "digestible", for lack of a better word. The central question in this book, as I see it, is not so much "what happened in Le Chambon?" but "how was the interpretation and practice of Christianity so different there that a true Christian ethos could flower amidst WWII horrors when that was not the norm?". Of course, that begs the question that, if this shows evidence of a true Christian ethos, what of the rest of Christianity? There is a lot of "why?" and a little of "how?' on matters of faith, so that the history is just a construct that gives the questions framework.
Profile Image for Rachel B.
764 reviews39 followers
September 16, 2019
This book tells the story of the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in France who offered refuge to Jews fleeing in World War II.

The story and the people who are profiled are interesting... I found it curious that Pastor Trocme, who is described as a devout Christian, seems to lose his faith toward the end of the story, and that his wife Magda apparently was never a believer at all...?

The author is not a Christian, and as such, miracles were explained away with "good luck" or a belief in God, rather than the actual Person/Power of God.

It's written by an ethicist, not a historian, and the book itself becomes a bit repetitive and tedious.

"Whatever one's excuses for not taking a refugee in, from the point of view of that refugee, your closed door is an instrument of harmdoing, and your closing it does harm." p 124
Profile Image for John.
694 reviews
March 14, 2021
Well written and researched examination of the French Village of Le Chambon during WWII, where Jews and other undesirables were protected and saved from the Vichy and Gestapo authorities. Many were taken safely across the border to Switzerland. The village people were Protestants in a Catholic country descended from Huguenots who were familiar with hatred and persecution. Pastor Trocme provided leadership from the pulpit and in coordination with other like-minded leaders as well as the Quakers. The story is engaging and important as the reader learns another aspect of the war. Thousands were saved from the evil engulfing them.
Profile Image for John.
484 reviews3 followers
August 26, 2017
I had not heard of this story before reading this book's back cover, so picked it up. Its a fascinating tale of a town, its pastor, and the sociology behavior of all who came within the presence of this non-violence force of a pastor. One can make a difference. Its also a discussion of morality and ethics in general and specific. That is why I gave it a 3 and not 4 as the reading sometimes is more like a thesis by the author on those topics, and less on the story. But others may find that a strong point. I am glad I read it. Inspiring.
Profile Image for Allison.
431 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2019
This book tells about the tremendous people of Le Chambon, in southern France, and how they defied both the Germans and the Vichy government.

While the people were brave, it is their leader, Andre Trocme', who gave them the heart and will to fight without ever harming their enemy. They saved many Jewish souls, and yet refused to hold a gun, a knife, or any weapon of any kind.

This is definitely part of WWII that needs to be known.

Note: I gave it four stars for the writing style, not for the story itself.

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