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Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  867 ratings  ·  124 reviews
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 div ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published April 8th 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published 1979)
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Lewis Weinstein
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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."
Roy Lotz
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, ethics, history
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 sh ...more
Elizabeth Theiss
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
Alan  Marr
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
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 themselve ...more
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: egrets

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 sev
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
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. ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 re ...more
Rachel B
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, rat
Mar 13, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
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 stro ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Humbling story of a French Huguenot village in the Haute-Loire that almost to a person resisted the Nazis non-violently and saved so many Jewish lives. Led by their Protestant pastor they somehow survive the evil all around. A moving story indeed and a challenge to do not just think when something is wrong. Persevere through the first few pages of the author’s reflections and get to the real story. It’s remarkable!
Mar 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii, 2018
This book differs from so many other books about WW2 because instead of focusing on HOW the events unfolded- who was involved, when it happened etc- it focused on WHY the people reacted in the ways that they did.
It's a interesting read but prepare to ponder the ethics of those involved rather than gathering a clear picture of the timeline of events in Le Chambon.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Another one of my to read books that I didn’t get very far. It’s a very interesting sounding story of Morals and kindness. It was the French Village of La Chambon in the mountains helping to save many Jewish families and children during World War II. I was intrigued by the story but I couldn’t get into the writing of the book. It was non-fiction
Dec 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Abandoned at p. 84 because the writer meanders so aimlessly between history and philosophy, I kept losing my way until there seemed to be no reason to continue. Too bad because the story of a devout Protestant pastor inspiring everyone in his obscure French village to hide Jews from Nazis seems like a can’t miss story. Maybe I’ll find a better written book about it.
David Hindman
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Wow- he needed an editor. So repetitive and poorly written. An interesting story- I will probably read the new book about this same town’s openness to refugees. But I slogged my way through it but lost hope after a while that it would get better.
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book - challenging example of creative maladjustment to society.
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Compelling story of ordinary people doing the extraordinary through ordinary acts of hospitality in spite of great risk.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent deep look into the ethics of religion and resistance wrapped up in a gripping and human story.
Maddy Barone
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A powerful book that makes me wonder what I would have done if I'd lived in Europe during the the Second World War. ...more
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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

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