|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Eliane Wauquiez|
|• Land1||41.71 km2 (16.10 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||63/km2 (160/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||43051 / 43400|
|Elevation||874–1,139 m (2,867–3,737 ft)
(avg. 1,000 m or 3,300 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Primarily a Huguenot town, it became a haven for Jews fleeing from the Nazis during World War II. The town was one of two collectively being awarded the Righteous Among the Nations-award from Yad Vashem for saving Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, the other being the Dutch village of Nieuwlande.
World War II
With the leadership of local minister André Trocmé and his deputy pastor Edouard Theis, the citizens of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon risked their lives to hide Jews who were being rounded up by the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy regime and sent to the death camps. They were hidden in private homes, on farms in the area, as well as in public institutions. Whenever the Nazi patrols came searching, they were hidden in the countryside. After the war, one of the villagers recalled: "As soon as the soldiers left, we would go into the forest and sing a song. When they heard that song, the Jews knew it was safe to come home." The situation took a more tense turn when the Germans invaded the South Zone in 1942. However the activities were pursued in open defiance of the authorities. Vichy Youth Minister Georges Lamirand was for instance handed a petition against the deportation of the Jews when he visited the village in 1942.
In addition to providing shelter, the citizens of the town obtained forged identification and ration cards for Jews to use and then helped them cross the border to the safety of neutral Switzerland. Some of the residents were arrested by the Gestapo such as Rev. Trocmé's cousin, Daniel Trocmé, who was sent to Maidanek concentration camp where he was murdered.
It is estimated that the people of the area of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon saved between 3,000-5,000 Jews from certain death. In 1981 the entire town was awarded an honorary degree by Haverford College in Pennsylvania in recognition of its humanitarian efforts. In 1982, documentary filmmaker Pierre Sauvage—himself born and sheltered in Le Chambon—returned there to film Weapons of the Spirit, which was released in 1989. In 1990, for their humanitarianism and bravery under extreme danger, the entire town was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations". A small garden and plaque on the grounds of the Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust in Israel was dedicated to the people of Chambon-sur-Lignon. In 2004 French President Jacques Chirac officially recognized the heroism of the town, and in January 2007 they were honored along with the other French Righteous Among the Nations in a ceremony at the Panthéon in Paris.
Alexander Grothendieck, a central figure of 20th century mathematics, was among the Jewish children sheltered during the war.
The town lies in the middle of the commune, on the right bank of the Lignon du Velay, which flows north-northwestward through the commune and forms part of its north-western border.
- Hallie, Philip P (1979). Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-011701-X.
- Sauvage, Pierre (1989). Weapons of the Spirit (Les armes de l'esprit) (Documentary). USA/France: Chambon Foundation. Aired in the USA by the PBS.
- Matas, Carol (April 1, 1998). Greater Than Angels. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-689-81353-8. A book for youngsters.
- Chambon Foundation
- Monument to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon at Yad Vashem site.
- Weapons of the Spirit at the Internet Movie Database
- College-Lycee International Cevenol