City of Refuge

This 10-part series from Waging Nonviolence explores a little-known WWII rescue story, showing what happens when ordinary people won’t ignore the horrors surrounding them.

The French villages that rescued thousands during WWII continue to welcome refugees

Wanting to study a place that specialized in peace, anthropologist Maggie Paxson came to Le Chambon — only to discover that its good deeds aren’t just in the past.

May 15, 2020

Albert Camus’ ‘The Plague’ and the art of living during times of catastrophe

Influenced by the nonviolent resistance and rescue Camus witnessed during World War II, “The Plague” insists that solidarity, compassion and saving lives is the only way forward.

April 14, 2020

‘The only way out of Libya is by sea’ — How migrant rescuers are making history in the Mediterranean

While governments fail to meet basic humanitarian requirements, rescue organizations like Sea-Watch are taking life-saving action on the frontlines of the European migrant crisis.

March 5, 2020

Part 10: The key is never to turn away

Armies may have ultimately defeated Hitler, but nonviolent rescuers, like those in Le Chambon, were often the only people to effectively resist the Nazi’s genocidal agenda. What lessons can we carry forward today?

December 17, 2019

Part 9: I cannot accept such an award

After the war, the Trocmés wrote and spoke about the rescue operation in Le Chambon often, yet the tale eluded widespread attention for decades. This is the story of the story — how the plateau’s nonviolent resistance came to be recognized and the impact that has had on those involved.

December 10, 2019

Part 8: Why didn’t you destroy us?

As the war came to an end, André Trocmé took on the unpopular task of ministering to German POW soldiers and engaging in reconciliation efforts to prevent further death and destruction. Through this process he came to find out why the Nazis didn’t wipe out Le Chambon and its surrounding villages, like they did to so many others who opposed them.

December 3, 2019

Part 7: These coming tests will tell us who we are

As Germany began to lose the war, France’s armed resistance movement swelled in ranks, threatening not just the Nazis but also the nonviolent spirit of Le Chambon and the refugee haven the area had become. Facing pressure from all sides, André Trocmé had to make a crucial decision regarding both his safety and that of the plateau region.

November 26, 2019

Part 6: That’s it, I’m under arrest!

For the first couple years of the war, Le Chambon was able to protect itself and the refugees it was sheltering from roundups and other reprisals. But in 1943, the dangerous work of resisting Nazism finally caught up with the people on the plateau, including the Trocmés.

November 19, 2019

Part 5: Are you hiding any Jews?

As Le Chambon’s refugee population increased, so too did unsettling visits to the community by Vichy police. Meanwhile, raids and roundups were becoming a growing threat throughout unoccupied France. All this meant that escape to Switzerland became a necessary — and daring — part of the rescue operation.

November 12, 2019

Part 4: She loved me enough to let me go

Who were the refugees that came be sheltered in Le Chambon and its surrounding communities, and how did they get there? Hear from a few of the people who managed to escape persecution and imprisonment to arrive in a real life city of refuge.

November 5, 2019
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