Saturday, 10 January 2015
I started this over Christmas, not the most festive choice of reading but fascinating. It tells the story of a cluster of remote villages, on an inaccessible plateau of the Massif Central, that saved hundreds of Jewish children from deportation during the Nazi occupation. It was a heavily Protestant area, with a long tradition of discretion and silence. It was also, since long before the war, well known for its children's homes and pensions catering for needy and abandoned children in the clean mountain air.
The beginning chapters are particularly shocking, chronicling the appalling collaboration of the Vichy regime; more than collaboration, it was wholehearted participation that went over and beyond the demands of the Germans. This is the story - a story with many grey areas, of course - of ordinary, decent, courageous people who wanted no part of it.