Oasis of Peace

This is the nickname that was given to the French village of Dieuleufit in the Drôme during WWII when it served as a haven for fleeing refugees, most of them Jews.

The OSE, a French Jewish humanitarian organization, sent dozens of children to this village where they were hidden by Marguerite Soubeyran, the head mistress of the Beauvallon school, or by local people. As in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, most of these people were Protestants.

We stopped in this village on our way to the South of France yesterday. It is a very picturesque place and as the weather was beautiful we spent some time walking through the village. The Protestant community there is still quite strong. I read their church notice and it was quite interesting to see that they have links with the Jewish community in Valence and that they have Hebrew lessons at different levels for their parishioners.

A number of the villagers were declared Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

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12 thoughts on “Oasis of Peace

  1. I’m wondering about how you mention that they were Protestants… were Protestants more likely to be sympathetic to Jews, as they could at least somewhat relate to being a minority?

    Thank you for reporting about these righteous gentiles.

    Aside: I read (0r rather, skimmed) Joan Nathan’s cookbook Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France – it was a great on the Jewish history of France. I didn’t realize the Jews have lived there as long as there has been a “France” – actually, longer, as the Romans called it Gaul and sent Jews to settle there. In terms of the cooking, I unfortunately wanted to tag too many of the recipes as unhealthy or worse, carcinogenic (like the ones that call for gobs of margarine to make a recipe pareve). She wrote about the history of kugel, which is from Alsace Lorraine and was imported to Germany and Poland.

  2. You are right; French Protestants were persecuted for about two centuries in France . Besides they are a really small minority in France – most are Calvinists (John Calvin was French).

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  4. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    A number of the villagers were declared Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
    I wonder how common it was to have a cluster of Righteous individuals living in one place? In other words, did more of the Righteous come from places where their neighbors also saved Jews? Or were most Righteous individuals the only ones in their areas helping Jews?

  5. I like this picture and your story. That’s quite cool by still have Hebrew lessons there. And that they were deemed righteous Gentiles by Yad Vashem. I’ll have to look them up next time I’m there.

  6. What a stunningly beautiful photograph.

    I read the book “Lest Innocent Blood be Shed, by Phillip Halie a while back which details Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and those who helped Jews.

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