Le Chambon-sur-Lignon

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon (French pronunciation: ​[lə ʃɑ̃bɔ̃ syʁ liɲɔ̃]; Auvergnat: Lo Chambon) is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.

Residents have been primarily Huguenot or Protestant since the 17th century. During World War II these Huguenot residents made the commune a haven for Jewish people fleeing from the Nazis. They hid them both within the town and countryside, and helped them flee to neutral Switzerland. In 1990 the town was one of two collectively honored as the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in Israel for saving Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. The other awardee was the Dutch village of Nieuwlande.

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
The town hall in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
The town hall in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Coat of arms of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon

Coat of arms
Location of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is located in France
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Coordinates: 45°03′42″N 4°18′11″E / 45.0617°N 4.3031°ECoordinates: 45°03′42″N 4°18′11″E / 45.0617°N 4.3031°E
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Eliane Wauquiez-Motte
41.71 km2 (16.10 sq mi)
 • Density61/km2 (160/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
43051 /43400
Elevation874–1,139 m (2,867–3,737 ft)
(avg. 1,000 m or 3,300 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

World War II

During World War II, throughout France, the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy regime were rounding up Jews and sending them to the death camps.

Under the remarkable leadership of local Protestant minister Pastor André Trocmé, and his deputy pastor Edouard Theis, the citizens of the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon risked their lives to rescue and hide Jews from being rounded up. They hid the Jews in private homes, on farms in the area, as well as in public institutions. Whenever the Nazi patrols came searching, the Jews were hidden in the mountainous countryside.

After the war, one of the villagers recalled: "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 situation took a more tense turn when the Germans invaded the South Zone in 1942. Local people continued to protect the Jews in open defiance of the authorities. For instance, they gave Vichy Youth Minister Georges Lamirand a petition against the deportation of the Jews when he visited the village in 1942.[2]

In addition to providing shelter, the citizens of the town obtained forged identification and ration cards for Jews to use. They helped them cross the border to the safety of neutral Switzerland. Some of the residents were arrested by the Gestapo such as Rev. Trocmé's cousin, Daniel Trocmé, who was sent to Maidanek concentration camp, where he was murdered.

It was estimated that the people of the area of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon had saved between 3,000-5,000 Jews from certain death. However, more recent estimates lower the figures to between 800 and 1000,[3] though this remains disputed.[4]

Present day

The ethos and practice of sheltering refugees continues, with migrants coming from many war zones, including Congo, Libya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Kosovo and Chechnya.[5]


  • In 1981 the entire town was awarded an honorary degree by Haverford College in Pennsylvania in recognition of its humanitarian efforts.
  • In 1982, documentary filmmaker Pierre Sauvage—who was born and sheltered in Le Chambon—returned there to film Weapons of the Spirit[6] (1989).
  • In 1990, for risking their lives to rescue Jews, the entire town was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations". A small garden and plaque on the grounds of the Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust in Israel was dedicated to the people of Chambon-sur-Lignon.
  • In 2004 French President Jacques Chirac officially recognized the heroism of the town.[7][8]
  • Chateau.pont.de.mars.1
    The Pont-de-Mars Castle in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
    In January 2007 they were honored along with the other French Righteous Among the Nations in a ceremony at the Panthéon in Paris.[7]
The Pont-de-Mars Castle in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon


The town of Chambon-sur-Lignon is home to Le Collège-Lycée Cévenol International, a private boarding school founded in 1938 by local Protestant ministers André Trocmé and Edouard Theis.

Alexander Grothendieck, a central figure of 20th century mathematics, was among the Jewish children sheltered during the war.

Malcolm Gladwell uses Chambon-sur-Lignon in his book David and Goliath as an example of how the rebellious origin of its people influenced their actions when protecting Jewish people during the Second World War. [9]


The town lies in the middle of the commune, on the right bank of the Lignon du Velay, which flows north-northwestward through the commune and forms part of its north-western border.

Twin towns


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. ^ Mordecai Paldiel, Churches and the Holocaust: Unholy Teaching, Good Samaritans, and Reconciliation, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2006, ISBN 9780881259087,443 pages, p.116
  3. ^ Sémelin 2013, p. 736.
  4. ^ Sauvage, Pierre (October 31, 2014). "5,000 Jews?". Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  5. ^ Joshua Levine, "The Dispossessed," Smithsonian, & July-August 2018, p. 76.
  6. ^ Weapons of the Spirit
  7. ^ a b Jacques Chirac Honors French World War II Saviors, European Jewish Congress, 11 April 2007.
  8. ^ Sauvage, Pierre (October 8, 2004). "Among the Villagers of Le Chambon". The Forward. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  9. ^ Gladwell 2013, pp. 270-296.


  • Gladwell, Malcolm (2013). David and Goliath : underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-20436-6.
  • Grose, Peter (2015). A Good Place to Hide: How One French Community Saved Thousands Of Lives During World War II. New York: Pegasus Books LLC. ISBN 978-1-60598-692-0.
  • Hallie, Philip P (1979). Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-011701-X.
  • Sauvage, Pierre (1989). Weapons of the Spirit (Les armes de l'esprit) (Documentary). USA/France: Chambon Foundation. Aired in the United States by the PBS.
  • Matas, Carol (April 1, 1998). Greater Than Angels. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-689-81353-8. A book for youngsters.
  • Moorehead, Caroline (2014). Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France. New York, NY: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-06-220247-5.
  • Sémelin, Jacques (2013). Persécutions et entraides dans la France occupée : comment 75 % des juifs de France ont échappé à la mort (in French). Paris: Seuil Arènes. ISBN 978-2-35204-235-8.

External links


Allègre is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.

André and Magda Trocmé

André Trocmé (April 7, 1901, Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont – June 5, 1971, Geneva) and his wife Magda (née Grilli di Cortona, November 2, 1901, Florence, Italy – October 10, 1996, Paris) are a French couple designated Righteous Among the Nations. For 15 years, André served as a pastor in the French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon on the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon in south-central France. He had been sent to this rather remote parish because of his pacifist positions which were not well received by the French Protestant Church. In his preaching, he spoke out against discrimination as the Nazis were gaining power in neighboring Germany and urged his Protestant Huguenot congregation to hide Jewish refugees from the Holocaust of the Second World War. He became a wealthy man later on.


Arlempdes (Occitan: Arlempde) is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.

Arrondissement of Yssingeaux

The arrondissement of Yssingeaux is an arrondissement of France in the Haute-Loire departement in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It has 44 communes.

Chambon (disambiguation)

Chambon may refer to:

A chambon, a training device used on horses

Emile Chambon (1905–1993), a Swiss painter

Nicolas Chambon (1748-1826), a French politician who served as Mayor of Paris from 1792 to 1793.

Pierre Chambon, a French biochemist and a genetist

Venerable Marie Martha Chambon, a French Roman Catholic nun


Dunières is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.

Georges Vajda

Georges Vajda (1908 - 1981) was a French Arabist and Hebraist, scholar of Islam, and historian of medieval Jewish thought.

Jean-Pierre Schneider

Jean-Pierre Schneider (24 July 1946, Paris) is a French painter and scenographer. A graduate from the École des beaux-arts de Lille, he has been exhibiting since 1969 in Paris, in the province and abroad.

Jean Hatzfeld

Jean Hatzfeld (born 1949) is a French writer and war correspondent. He grew up in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a small village in Auvergne.

Jean Hatzfeld began his career as a journalist in 1976 at the French daily Libération. He also wrote for other newspapers and made documentaries for television. He covered the Middle-Eastern conflict, the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and the demise of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.

He became a long term war correspondent in the Lebanon, at the eve of the 80's. He reported from the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s (where he was seriously injured) and he also spents months in Lebanon, Israel and Iraq, then else countries. In 1994, Jean Hatzfeld went to east Africa to report on the Rwandan genocide for Liberation. Dedicating himself to genocide research, he eventually published a book on the genocide called Dans le nu de la vie (2000). Primarily the stories of Tutsi survivors, the book won numerous awards: the Prix Culture 2000, the Prix Pierre Mille and the Prix France Culture. Hatzfeld followed up with a volume of stories by Hutu killers; this book Une Saison de machettes won the Prix Femina in 2003 and the Prix Jossef Kessel in 2004. A third volume on the genocide La stratégie des antilopes won the Prix Médicis and the Prix Ryszard-Kapuściński. Then came Englebert des Collines (2013) and Un Papa de sang (2015).

He also wrote five novels. Several books have been translated into several languages, among them into English translated by Joshua David Jordan and by Linda Coverdale who won the Scott-Moncrieff Prize for her work on Machete Season.


Langeac is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France. Inhabitants are called Langeadois and Langeadoises.

It is located around 30 km west of Le Puy-en-Velay, and around 100 km south-west of Lyon.

Le Chambon, Ardèche

Le Chambon is a commune in the Ardèche department in southern France.

Le Collège-Lycée Cévenol International

The Collège Cévenol—later known as Le Collège-Lycée Cévenol International—was a unique and historic international secondary school located in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, in the département of Haute-Loire, France. It enrolled day students from the local area, along with a substantial body of regional, national, and international students from around the world who boarded at the school. The last President of its governing board (the AUCC) was Claude Le Vu; the last director was Patrick Sellier.

The Collège Cévenol was founded in 1938 by local Protestant activists and pacifists, and had been shaped from its beginnings by the area’s long-standing traditions of resistance to political and religious oppression. From the beginning, the Collège promoted education linked to principles of nonviolence and the development of mutual understanding and solidarity in a socially and ethnically diverse society. The school’s founders were also key organizers of the now-famous community effort, in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, to shelter and save Jewish refugees during the Second World War. Thus an important part of the school’s early development was linked to this much discussed episode.

During its early years, from 1938 to 1971, the school was entirely private, and was associated with the Protestant Reformed Church of France, although it welcomed students regardless of their religious or non-religious orientation. From 1971 on, it was part of the French national education system and was secular. It was organized as an “établissement privé sous contrat d'association” (a private school associated by contract with the state), a category of French schools that are privately managed, but bound to the national system by contracts which provide basic funding and teacher's salaries, and require adherence to national curricula and other standards.

On February 9, 2014, President Andre Gast announced that the College would be closing its doors at the end of the school year, faced with mounting financial difficulties and declining enrollment.


Loudes is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.


Mazet-Saint-Voy is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.


For the drowned village in Zeeland, see Nieuwlande.Nieuwlande (Dutch Low Saxon: Neilaande) is a small Dutch village. The population, as of 1 January 2004, is 1,250. It is located in the north-eastern province of Drenthe. In the Drents dialect, the town is called Neilande. The town is situated in the municipality of Hoogeveen. It is one of only two villages in the world that collectively received Righteous Among the Nations award for all 117 inhabitants of the village for saving Jews during World War II, the other being the French Le Chambon-sur-Lignon.

Nieuwlande is on peat land in the south of Drenthe. It arose where five municipalities meet: Oosterhesselen (by far the largest part), Dalen, Coevorden, Hardenberg, and Hoogeveen. For this reason a book about Nieuwlande's history of the village had the catching title "Nieuwlande, village with five burgomasters". This situation obstructed to a great extent the extension possibilities and an efficient governing board: for many municipalities it was but an unimportant peripheral area. Therefore, at the municipal division of Drenthe on 1 January 1998 it was decided for the village to be in one municipality, by moving over to the municipality border of Hoogeveen about 1.5 kilometre to the east. The small part in the municipality of Hardenberg (province Overijssel) was, however, not affected by this; and also beyond the new municipality border some inhabitants of Nieuwlande still lived in the new fusion municipality Coevorden. The border now, however, no longer goes straight through the village

Nieuwlande has a new Dutch Reformed church, a Reformed church from 1913, and a church of the meeting of the believers. It also has sport fields; a public and Protestant primary school; a hypermarket with mail agency; children's playgrounds under its jurisdiction, other companies and public places. Rural areas are characterised by agriculture (peat diggings) and some nature reserves - scrub and heathland or peat.

Pierre Sauvage

Pierre Sauvage is a French/American documentary filmmaker and lecturer, who was a child survivor of the Holocaust and a child of Holocaust survivors. Described by Tablet Magazine in 2012 as "a filmmaker of rare moral perception", Sauvage is the President of the Chambon Foundation, which he founded in 1982. A 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity, the Chambon Foundation was the first educational foundation committed to "exploring and communicating the necessary and challenging lessons of hope intertwined with the Holocaust's unavoidable lessons of despair." In 2005, the Varian Fry Institute was established as a division of the Chambon Foundation; its specific focus is on America and the Holocaust.


Thoras is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.


Vieille-Brioude is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.

Communes of the Haute-Loire department
Nazi occupation and organizations
Vichy France
Witness testimony
Righteous Among the Nations

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