Protection of the Jews in France By the PBCC During Nazi Occupation – Part 2/4

Continued from

Plymouth Brethren - Le Chambon

Le Chambon

One day, the pastor asked another PBCC member –Mr. Gustave PELISSIER- if he would shelter a Jewish couple.

They arrived at PELISSIERs at 3:00am, and were given a room where they stayed for three weeks. They were afraid that as a young schoolboy, Mr PELISSIER’s son Léon would give them away, but he had been warned not to say anything to anybody about them – he knew how dangerous it would be not only for the Jews but also for those who were sheltering them.

Charles Pélissier – Maison

The couple hidden by the PELISSIERS had a devoted non-Jewish servant, who followed them at a distance. After three weeks, she came to fetch them. Léon remembers her saying, “Get up; we must go, we are counting on God’s protection”. They took only the clothes they wore. A few days later, the PELISSIERs received word that they had been taken at the Swiss border, and sent away to a concentration camp. Remarkably, a few months later the servant sent another letter saying that the Lord had preserved their lives.

Plymouth Brethren Le Chambon

Jewish remembrance

Paul RUSSIER’s family hid a Jewish family for over a year at their farm near Le Chambon. The couple, with their two children, lived in three rooms at the back of the barn never coming out during the day. The father had been a doctor in Austria, and although the neighbours knew that a doctor was hidden somewhere in the area, they did not know where. With the help of trustworthy accomplices, he was able to visit patients at night.

 Justes - Photo LA SUCHERE - PAUL RUSSIER

Justes – Photo LA SUCHERE – PAUL RUSSIER

 

In August 1942, the police organised a roundup, which greatly affected the village. There were twenty-four thousand inhabitants on the Plateau so it was relatively easy for the five thousand Jews sheltered there to remain clandestine; they went by night from one farm to another, hiding in the valleys and wooded hills. If there was an alert, they dispersed. The police knew there were Jews being hidden but could not root out the “Jews’ nest in Huguenot country”, as they called it.

Plymouth Brethren Le Chambon

River Lignon near Le Chambon

Marcel PELISSIER remembers how his family hid some Jews in their house. An eleven year old boy at the time, Marcel used to listen to them singing hymns in a language he didn’t understand. Samuel & Léonie PELISSIER (Marcel’s parents) were awarded the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ medal for their efforts – Samuel had constructed a box which, placed under the mattress on the bed, could effectively hide two people. One day the Gestapo came right into the yard of the PELISSIER house, but didn’t actually enter and never returned. Marcel’s simple explanation is “God protected us.”

Plymouth Brethren Le Chambon

River Loire

Eventually the masterminds and co-ordinators of the whole effort – two pastors and the headmaster of the Le Chambon public school – were arrested. The Vichy policeman who orchestrated their arrest was moved to tears by the solidarity of the village; the villagers, lined the street singing ‘A Mighty Fortress is our God’ as one pastor was escorted to the police van. Thankfully all three were released from prison later.

If all the French people had been as hospitable as those in Le Chambon, one million European Jews could have been saved.

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief Team

Rescue on the Plateau

Continue to part 3

 

13 thoughts on “Protection of the Jews in France By the PBCC During Nazi Occupation – Part 2/4”

  1. Vaciee Morisson says:

    I never knew that the PBCC was involved either. These stories are amazing and thank you for sharing them! 🙂

  2. Nanna says:

    Can we have an interpretation of the Jewish Remembrance plaque?

    1. LOOT says:

      Very roughly, it is hard to work out where the punctuation is…:
      The remembrance of the just shall remain for ever. (Psalm 112 vs 6)
      Tribute.
      Has the Protestant community of this earth and l’Elze has all those. Driven by his example believers of all faiths and non-believers. During the war 1939-1945 forming a bloc against the tops Nazis. At the risk of their lives. Under the occupation. Kosher. Protected, saved by thousands all the persecuted.
      The Jews refugees at Chambon Sur Lignon and in the nearby municipalities

  3. > says:

    Absolutely breathtaking, how could you do it without the faith! I’m assured that it just wouldn’t be possible. Thank you for all you are doing and have done, PBCC.

  4. Steffie says:

    How amazing these stories are! I am looking forward to the next parts. I visited le Chambon years ago and never realised that all this went on there during the war years. I hope that these accounts are being written down somewhere for my and future generations to learn from.

  5. Fred & Liz says:

    What courage and faith persons had at this time! Their conscious knowledge of God’s protection – both the Jews and those who risked their lives to protect such see Romans 8 v 35-37. How resolute they were – very interesting reading.

  6. CF says:

    INCREDIBLE

  7. A45 says:

    What an incredible work has been carried out in this small community. We were in Le Chambon recently, and saw the Lieu de Memoire Museum. I believe there were some PBCC members were included at the opening ceremony, could someone confirm?

  8. DavidM says:

    It is amazing that the whole village of Le Chambon should have worked
    together to save the Jews. God will bless them. It is a tribute to the work of
    J N Darby. Have you ever read Travels on a Donkey by R L Stephenson? He
    met a PBCC brother in this area and was most impressed with his kindness.

  9. Granny says:

    We are very interested in these posts, as we have read the book “Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed” a number of times. It is about Le Chambon and how they helped the Jews. We have also read “For Zion’s Sake” which clearly explains Mr J N Darby’s theology regarding the Jews. He was more or less alone among churchmen as to this, but so clearly correct. It is a great privilege to belong to the Brethren, whose members in Le Chambon did these heroic things, supporting the other local Protestant believers who were organizing the hiding. Were any Brethren ever arrested?

  10. B'DOS says:

    Thanks very much for these posts. I didn’t know this community had been so involved during the war. Glad for the photos as well. Now I want to visit!

  11. jane b says:

    Incredible. I believe that only God-given strength and an Almighty protective Hand could have seen all these people through such a time.
    Thank you so much for sharing – we need to keep alive the remembrance of these times.

  12. BH Calcutta says:

    I don’t normally admit to this sort of thing but earlier this morning while listening to ‘I was here’ (get up another page and look at ‘Sydney RRT Supports Parramatta Mission’) I came across this new article – while reading it I couldn’t help my tears.
    You do it – it’s incredible – and so are these people

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