Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Hidden on the Mountain: Stories of children sheltered from the Nazis in Le Chamb

Hidden on the Mountain: Stories of children sheltered from the Nazis in Le Chamb

Deborah Durland DeSaix, Karen Gray Ruelle
For ages 12 and up
Holiday House, 2007   ISBN: 978-0823419289

Not long after the French government surrendered to Germany, the Germans began to impose their anti-Jewish laws on Jews living in France. The French Vichy government, which had control of the southern part of France, readily cooperated with the Nazis and set about rounding up Jews and putting them in internment camps. The camps were horrific and unfortunately this was only the beginning because many of the Jews were then sent on to the Nazi death camps, created as part of Hilter's "Final Solution for the Jews." Most of the Jews who were rounded up by the Germans and French were never seen again.

There were some in France who were appalled by what was going on. Secretly they found ways to hide Jews, especially children, from the Nazis and their cronies. One region in particular made a point of finding temporary homes for as many Jews as they could. The area is called Le Montange Prostestante and it was used by Huguenot Protestants seeking refuge from the Catholic purges hundreds of years ago.

The mayor of one of the villages in this area, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, was dedicated to giving a safe haven to refugees fleeing Hitler's soldiers, and one of the pastors in the village offered his village as a place where Jewish children could safely hide. Aid groups and others worked with the locals to find the refugees places to stay. Several special homes were even built for the parentless children. The rest were taken in by farmers and village people who did everything they could to keep their guests safe from harm.

This was not easy because French police officers made regular raids on the region and on occasion they did manage to find a few of the refugees, who were then sent to death camps. It was a terrifying time for everyone but the people of Le Montange Prostestante did not give up and they kept on taking in those who needed help.

In this powerful and moving book the authors not only tell the story of what took place in the villages on Le Montange Protestante, but they also tell, in first person, the stories of a few of the children who were sent to the region. Readers will also get to "meet" the people who sheltered the children; the pastors, the farmers, the aid organizations, resistance fighters, and others.

The combination of the stories will give readers a vivid picture of what it was like to be a refugee in war torn Europe and how special the people of Le Montange Protestante were to these displaced men, women, and children. In all these brave people saved about five thousand lives.