Protection of the Jews in France By the PBCC During Nazi Occupation – Part 4/4
The brethren in French cities also helped to hide Jews. Louis DÉAUX was living in Lyon. His children Samuel, Hélène and Charles were taught German at school by a German Jewess prior to the War. Her family owned a shop selling household linen and curtains, in Lyon.
One day the owner came to see Mr DEAUX and said, “Last night my brother and sister-in-law were taken away to Germany and they have left their little boy with us. My sisters and I are going to be taken soon, please can you do something?”
Mr DEAUX found a remote house, which he rented in his own name in the Monts du Lyonnais, about 30km from Lyon, and accommodated the Jews there. Throughout the war, he brought provisions to them once a week. To avoid notice, he sometimes went by train, sometimes by car, and sometimes he left his car somewhere and finished the journey on foot. He acted as go-between and passed on the messages and business directions from the owner to the employee looking after the shop. The profits were entrusted to Mr DEAUX and he deposited them in the bank under his own name. At the end of the war, he withdrew the money and gave it to the family. The enemy never found them.
A final story from Le Chambon tells of how the BLACHON family had a visit from some Jews at their house at “Les Gardes”, and for safety, took them upstairs. Suddenly, two men appeared supposedly selling knitting needles. The BLACHONs guessed the real purpose of their visit; to find evidence that they were hiding Jews. They realised they had been denounced by a traitor and were on the suspect list. There were others, including other brethren, also on this list. But the list never made it into the hands of the authorities. The resistance fighters in the region found the note and destroyed it. So in the end, all those who hid the Jews were spared.
After the war, it was many years before tongues were loosed and facts pieced together. The people of Le Chambon reject any labelling of their behaviour as heroic. About 40 people from Le Chambon and the surrounding area, have received the title as ‘Righteous among the Nations’, as related in the ‘Time’ magazine article from 1990 (a copy is at the end of this article).
Many thanks to all those who contributed stories and images to this 4-part article