The Greatest Escape : How One French Community Saved Thousands of Lives from the Nazis Hardback
by Peter Grose
A story resonant in our days, the age of refugees, and a grand narrative in its own right, all told with absorbing skill.
Peter Grose's tale of the astounding rescue village of Chambon is a tale of the practical deliverance of the hunted from the Nazis.
A book to cherish and recommend!' --Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's Ark THE GREATEST ESCAPE is a dramatic, yet virtually unknown, story of the Second World War.
It remained secret for decades. It is the heroic tale of how the people in an area of rural France fooled the Nazis at the height of the German occupation, saving many thousands of lives.
During World War II, the villagers around Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, on an isolated plateau in the upper reaches of the Loire, pulled off an astonishing feat.
They saved the lives of 5,000 men, women and children (including 3,500 Jews) under the noses of the Nazi occupiers and the Vichy authorities.
Their story features an extraordinary cast of characters. They include the unswerving pacifist pastor who was awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette, the highest order of that proud French military decoration; the glamorous female SOE agent with a wooden leg (which she called 'Cuthbert'), who armed and organised the Resistance on the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon; the 18-year-old Latvian Jewish typewriter repairman who forged 5,000 sets of fake papers, and whose only ambition was to be a doctor; the 15-year-old schoolgirl whose parents tried to keep ehr out of harm's way in Le Chambon, and who risked her life running suitcases stuffed with money for the Resistance; and the 17-year-old Boy Scout who ran 20 missions escorting Jews to safety in Switzerland before joining the Resistance.
THE GREATEST ESCAPE is told using first-hand testimonies from many of the survivors of this remarkable period.
The author, Peter Grose, has drawn on eyewitness accounts and face-to-face interviews with many of the participants in France, which is now his home.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 370 pages, 16pp B&W photographs
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 11/07/2014
- Category: European history
- ISBN: 9781857886269