The Greatest Escape: How One French Community Saved by Peter Grose

By Peter Grose

The best get away is a dramatic, but nearly unknown, tale of the second one global struggle. It remained mystery for many years. it's the heroic story of ways the folks in a space of rural France fooled the Nazis on the top of the German profession, saving many millions of lives. in the course of international struggle II, the villagers round Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, on an remoted plateau within the top reaches of the Loire, pulled off an excellent feat. They stored the lives of 5,000 males, girls and youngsters (including 3,500 Jews) less than the noses of the Nazi occupiers and the Vichy gurus. Their tale positive aspects a rare forged of characters. They comprise the dependable pacifist pastor who was once provided the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette, the top order of that proud French army ornament; the glamorous woman SOE agent with a wood leg (which she referred to as 'Cuthbert'), who armed and organised the Resistance at the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon; the 18-year-old Latvian Jewish typewriter repairman who solid 5,000 units of faux papers, and whose basically ambition used to be to be a physician; the 15-year-old schoolgirl whose mom and dad attempted to maintain ehr out of harm's means in Le Chambon, and who risked her existence operating suitcases full of funds for the Resistance; and the 17-year-old Boy Scout who ran 20 missions escorting Jews to protection in Switzerland earlier than becoming a member of the Resistance. the best get away is advised utilizing first-hand tales from the various survivors of this awesome interval. the writer, Peter Grose, has drawn on eyewitness debts and face-to-face interviews with some of the individuals in France, that is now his domestic.

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Extra resources for The Greatest Escape: How One French Community Saved Thousands of Lives from the Nazis

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The commander said to me: ‘What on earth are you doing here? ’ He was outraged. ’ He said: ‘Well, listen carefully. It’s not complicated. ’ There were raids going on in the centre of Nice at the time, but Mont Faron was on the outskirts. It was full of Italian market gardeners. ‘You can work there,’ the commander said. ‘I’ll give you the papers. ’ That was it. I stayed with the Italians while the raids went on in Nice. I watered their vegetables and flowers. I didn’t have a ration card, but they gave me some bread, and I fed myself with fruit, some delicious figs.

Guillon accepted, and resigned as pastor of Le Chambon. The scholarly Roger Casalis replaced him. ) Guillon now moved to Geneva with his wife and children. However, if the UCJG was determined to have him back, the people of Le Chambon were equally determined not to lose him. On 1 December 1929 they elected him to serve on their municipal council, and on 10 May 1931 he was elected mayor of Le Chambon. One of Guillon’s conditions for accepting the role of mayor was that he be allowed to continue his work with the UCJG.

The ancient train reminded Oscar of those he had seen in Western movies. At this point it is worth standing back and considering the enormity of the decisions the pair had made. Ruben Rosowsky had been arrested, and neither his wife nor his son knew where he was. Mira and Oscar were foreign Jews, subject to instant deportation under Vichy law. They had already come to the attention of the authorities in Nice, so they could expect arrest at any moment. Now, on the say-so of a Boy Scout friend of Oscar’s, they were travelling to a place where they had no family or friends, trusting that the strangers at their destination would risk their lives by giving the Rosowskys shelter.

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