Visit Chambon-sur-Lignon by Mouse
We don't remember exactly when it was that we heard about Le Chambon-sur-Lignon (Web site), a tiny town (pop. 2834 in 1999) in the Haut-Loire region of France. But we do remember that it was in a documentary movie about the town called Weapons of the Spirit aired on PBS. This documentary told the story of how the people in this town provided safe haven to refugee Jews and saved between 3000 and 5000 jews between 1942 and the end of WWII. The whole town risked great personal danger from Nazi patrols and orders from theVichy government to stop. This was a Huguenot town led by a German-born pacifist Pastor Andre Trocme and his wife Magda. Pastor Trocme's cousin, Daniel Trocme, was caught, taken to a concentration camp where he was killed.
On our 2002 trip, when we were leaving the Pont du Gard near Nimes in the south of France we noticed that we could take a side trip to see this town which was nestled in high hills somewhat west of our intended route toward Lyon. When we finally arrived in the late afternoon on a Friday, the campground in the town proved to be closed because it was too early in the season. We pulled into a school parking lot and were trying to figure our what we should do when a man in a car pulled in alongside of us. He said in French that the ecole (school) was closed until Lundi (Monday) and made us understand that we could stay right where we were until Monday and that we would not be bothered. We stayed there overnight and in the morning Ron took a walk around, bought a fresh, crispy baguette, and came back to the RV for breakfast. After breakfast we walked to the church which was the main thing we wanted to see. We videotaped that and a commemorative placque placed across the street by grateful Jews. It was a very cold morning. Walking through the town required climbing up and going down steep inclines. One of Adelle's knees was painful--it was before it was replaced--and she did not feel up to it. So, regretfully, we left to continue on our way. We had seen what we came to see, and paid as much respect as we could to the heroic and caring people of that town, albeit in a very silent way. We were very moved when we saw the admonition carved into the stone lintel above the church entrance: "Aimez-vous les uns et les autres". We translated it simply as "Love one another" . We wrote a letter about our visit here.
Pastor Trocme's church
Church lintel
Commemorative plaque
(more legible version)
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