A Good Place to Hide: How One French Village Saved Thousands of Lives in World War II
At first, there is an air of normalcy. In the early years of World War II, holidaymakers and children at the summer school relax in the small hotels on the plateau in eastern France. Gradually, forerunners of the tide of refugees infiltrate the peaceful villages, and a covey of men, women, and teenagers, including pacifist pastors, gather separately and together to defy the Nazi onslaught. They hide refugees and erstwhile soldiers, forge documents to change identities, and guide those needing to escape across the Swiss border. Despite the increasing Nazi presence, no resident of Chambon and the surrounding villages ever betrays those seeking asylum there.
To the cynic or disbeliever, this is the same old story. Why do we need to hear it again seventy years after the events took place? The answer lies in Peter Grose’s inspired writing, telling the tale with a glimmer of lightheartedness (though never humor), empathizing with the people he describes. His background as a journalist and publisher enables Grose to blend archival research with personal correspondence and meetings with survivors. A Good Place to Hide is uplifting, almost overshadowing tragedy.