Cover image for Village of secrets : defying the Nazis in Vichy France
Village of secrets : defying the Nazis in Vichy France
Moorehead, Caroline, author.
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2014]
Physical Description:
374 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Relates the story of Le Cambon-sur-Lignon, a small, remote mountain village whose inhabitants banded together to save thousands from the Gestapo during World War II.
General Note:
"Originally published in Great Britain in 2014 by Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Random House Group Ltd."--Title-page verso.
Escaping. Mea culpa ; The camps of shame ; Deportation fever ; A national disgrace -- Arriving. Walking near the Lord ; A pure spirit ; On Vichy's map ; Rats in a trap ; An open pen of chickens ; A lethal year ; An unknown and unknowable oblivion ; Crossing the border ; Living on a volcano ; Whatever else we do, we must save the children ; Perfect Maquis country ; Today, I have nothing to say ; Memory wars.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Clarence Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Clarence Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Clearfield Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Crane Branch Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Elma Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
City of Tonawanda Library DS135.F85 L456 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the absorbing story of a French village that helped save thousands hunted by the Gestapo during World War II--told in full for the first time.

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ard#65533;che, one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France. During the Second World War, the inhabitants of this tiny mountain village and its parishes saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, OSS and SOE agents, and Jews. Many of those they protected were orphaned children and babies whose parents had been deported to concentration camps.

With unprecedented access to newly opened archives in France, Britain, and Germany, and interviews with some of the villagers from the period who are still alive, Caroline Moorehead paints an inspiring portrait of courage and determination: of what was accomplished when a small group of people banded together to oppose their Nazi occupiers. A thrilling and atmospheric tale of silence and complicity, Village of Secrets reveals how every one of the inhabitants of Chambon remained silent in a country infamous for collaboration. Yet it is also a story about mythmaking, and the fallibility of memory.

A major contribution to WWII history, illustrated with black-and-white photos, Village of Secrets sets the record straight about the events in Chambon, and pays tribute to a group of heroic individuals, most of them women, for whom saving others became more important than their own lives.

Author Notes

Caroline Moorehead is the biographer of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark, Iris Origo and Martha Gellhorn. Her books include Human Cargo: A Journey among Refugees, Dancing to the Precipice, A Train in Winter, and Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Moorehead, A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France, traverses similar territory in her latest examination of an extraordinary pocket of people who selflessly risked their personal safety in order to do the right thing. Inspired in part by fiery Protestant pastor André Trocmé, the citizens of Le Chambon-sur Lignon, a tiny village ensconced in the mountains of eastern France, saved scores of Communists, Freemasons, resistance members, and Jews from deportation to concentration camps between the invasion, in 1940, and the liberation of France, in 1944. The inhabitants of this town and its environs banded together to form a network of nonviolent resisters in what was, according to the author, a remarkable adventure in imagination and cooperation. Moorehead not only recounts the heroics but also the everyday ordinariness of those involved, busting the embellished mythology while emphasizing the essential humanity of the entire operation.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

British historian and biographer Moorehead (A Train in Winter) offers an informative, comprehensive, and nuanced account of why and how the French village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon hid hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. Moorehead addresses the agonies mothers suffered at the French internment camps of Gurs and Rivesaltes when they gave up their children to be hidden; the fact that, as early as the fall of 1942, flyers in Paris concerning the deportation of Jews "spoke of the gassing of the weak and elderly"¿; and the role of the Darbyists, an austere, evangelical Protestant sect, in the hiding of Jews. Moorehead introduces readers to courageous rescuers both in Le Chambon and the surrounding region: Protestant pastor Andre Trocme; master document-forger Oscar Rosowsky; and Moussa Abadi, a Syrian Jew who befriended the bishop of Nice (from whom he obtained an office to forge life-saving documents). She also covers the German capture of key individuals such as Madeleine Dreyfus, who helped Jewish children find refuge, and examines the ambiguous role played figures such as Major Schmahling, who commanded the local German garrison. Moorehead's deeply researched, crisply written, and well-paced work will stand as the definitive account of a heroic, hazardous, and uplifting initiative during the German occupation. B&w photos (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. For the small village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, World War II was both a terrifying and exhilarating time. Living in the remote mountainous region of eastern France, the village's historically Huguenot population was not unfamiliar with religious persecution. When the dispossessed of Europe-including Jewish refugees and orphans, as well as escaping prisoners of war and French Resistance fighters-began, in 1942, to find their way to Le Chambon and its environs, they found protection and safety from Nazi capture. Protestant pastors and villagers provided fugitives with shelter, schooling, food, false identities, secure hiding places, and occasional escape to Switzerland. Because of its extraordinary bravery, the village is recognized by Yad Vashem, the World Center for Holocaust Research, as one of their "Righteous Among Nations." Based on interviews with survivors and relatives and extensive archival research, activist Morehead (A Train in Winter) skillfully describes both the "felicitous combination of timing, place and people" in addition to the myth that has grown up around the events that took place there. VERDICT An exciting history of nearly forgotten individual and group courage. Highly recommended.-Linda Frederiksen, Washington State Univ. Lib., Vancouver (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Principal charactersp. 1
Chronologyp. 3
Mapsp. 7
Forewordp. 9
Part 1 Escaping
Chapter 1 Mea culpap. 15
Chapter 2 The camps of shamep. 35
Chapter 3 Deportation feverp. 59
Chapter 4 A national disgracep. 75
Part 2 Arriving
Chapter 5 Walking near the Lordp. 93
Chapter 6 A pure spiritp. 112
Chapter 7 On Vichy's mapp. 129
Chapter 8 Rats in a trapp. 151
Chapter 9 An open pen of chickensp. 171
Chapter 10 A lethal yearp. 190
Chapter 11 An unknown and unknowable oblivionp. 207
Chapter 12 Crossing the borderp. 222
Chapter 13 Living on a volcanop. 235
Chapter 14 Whatever else we do, we must save the childrenp. 251
Chapter 15 Perfect Maquis countryp. 274
Chapter 16 Today, I have nothing to sayp. 293
Chapter 17 Memory warsp. 315
Afterwordp. 331
List of Illustrationsp. 341
Bibliographyp. 343
Source notesp. 351
Acknowledgementsp. 357
Indexp. 359

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