1.0 out of 5 stars SCANDAL, October 28, 2014
This book is a scandal; it pretends to be a chronicle of history, which it is emphatically NOT. contains so many errors that it should not have been published at all in its present form.
We Hanne (Hirsch) and Max Liebmann are featured in this book as survivors of the only deportation from Germany to France , prisoners of Camp de Gurs French internment camp as well as having been sheltered in Le Chambon sur Lignon. As we have told the publisher and author, we protest the misleading information about ourselves as well as our families and the general misinformation about this particular time period. People not familiar with the event of 1933 - 1945 will get a totally wrong impression. That such a book should even be considered for a literary book award in Britain is totally ludicrous.
Just to cite a few of the many errors :
Chapter 2; Moorehead states that in Camp de Gurs we ate dogs, cats and rats. There was not a single dog or cat in camp. Plenty of rats, but nobody ate them.
Throughout the book Moorehead maligns Pasteur Trocme, a person of the highest moral and ethical integrity. recognized by Yad Vashem as "Righteous Gentile" In addition she denounces Prof. Hallie who with his book "Lest innocent blood be shed" put le Chambon on the map for the world
Hanne and Max Liebmann .
1.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly inaccurate, October 28, 2014
My parents were among the Jews who found shelter in the area of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France, during the Holocaust--the subject of this astonishingly inaccurate book--and I had the good fortune to be born there at that time. I thus care deeply about the remarkable rescue mission that profoundly affected my life.
It is thus dismaying that this account of those events preposterously asserts that the French Protestant (Huguenot) dimension of the rescue effort has been inflated into a myth, that the village's remarkable pastor can be plausibly charged with being a self-aggrandizing pathological liar, that nonviolence was only a small part of the story, that unnamed atheists and agnostics played an equal role in providing shelter, that indeed the religious beliefs of the rescuers deserve only passing mention... Incidentally, among the many dozens of misrepresentations and errors in this sloppy book are the very photograph on the cover: the reader has no way of knowing that the "Village of Secrets" portrayed is not Le Chambon!
Furthermore, in the author's eagerness to be able to claim that she is, at last, setting "the record straight" and describing for the first time "what actually took place" in and around Le Chambon, she feels it necessary to go out of her way to malign the late Philip Hallie and me--who have told the story before her. In my case, she goes so far as to fabricate the utterly false allegation that key figures in Le Chambon's wartime events branded my well-received feature documentary on the subject, "Weapons of the Spirit," as nothing less than a "mutilation of historical truth." This is very mean-spirited fiction indeed!
For more information, please see: http://tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/186652/moorehead-le-chambon
President, Chambon Foundation
1.0 out of 5 stars A total disappointment., November 7, 2014
Caroline Moorehead is an excellent writer whose book "A train in Winter" was highly praised. I read it with great interest.
However with her new book "Village of Secrets", Moorehead seriously damages her reputation as a reliable writer. To start with, her title should have been "Villages of Secrets"!
Where is her historical scholarship? Who helped her with fact-checking for even simple details like the correct spelling of people she mentions? The text is loaded with egregious errors and personal sarcastic judgments. Her distortions go from some historical facts to the most trivial little stories.
Yes ,Moorehead writes very well and her research is extensive judging by the unusually large list of books in her bibliography...Yes, she honors deserving people like Pastor Daniel Curtet or Simone Mairesse. Strangely enough, one wonders whether she has a special contact with the world of the dead when she thanks for their interview Leon Eyraud who died in 1953 and Madame Marguerite Roussel who passed in 1996.
There are always several sides to a story. It is regrettable and sad that Moorehead fell under the spell of a disgruntled crowd and even of some jealous people. The 12 Plateau Vivairais-Lignon villages and all the different types of rescuers, the nonviolent resistance and the armed resistance have not been forgotten in the small WW II museum that opened in LE Chambon - sur - Lignon in 2013. Yet this crowd refused to join the project and did everything possible to kill it.. They even convinced Moorehead that the very capable Mayor Eliane WAuquiez-Motte who raised the funds and organized the professional planning deserved to be demeaned.!
You don't have to read Village of secrets: go straight to the Foreword and Afterword to get a general impression of the tone of the book. If Moorehead is absolutely right in praising important people such as Charles Guillon, Oscar Rozowsky and Marc Boegner, she did not need to thrash other important people such as the ethicist ( and not the historian) Philip Hallie who in 1979 put Le Chambon -sur-Lignon on the map, or the excellent documentary producer Pierre Sauvage who describes his personal story and the reason why he was allowed to live as a Jewish baby born during the Holocaust., and finally two of the several idealists and catalists of the effective nonviolent resistance, Pastors Edouard Theis and Andre Trocme.
I ought to know: I am Trocme's daughter and I grew up In Le Chambon during WW II .I also had Caroline Moorehead as my house guest in the United States and I gladly let her interview me. She was friendly.
I now understand better why total silence followed her visit...
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT WHAT IT PRETENDS TO BE, November 14, 2014
One needs specific, detailed knowledge of the history and scholarship of the village in question, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, to understand why Caroline Moorehead's book is not what it pretends to be. Despite the book's ludicrous claim that this story "has never been fully told," nothing here is new. All of it has been openly discussed and debated since the three-day October 1990 colloquium held in the village and the publication of the 700-page proceedings in 1992: the number of villages, pastors, Protestants, Catholics, and non-religious people involved in the rescue mission as well as the number of those rescued. It was the children themselves who came back in 1979 to install a plaque which states that "believers of all faiths and nonbelievers" took part in their rescue. Many of the books in Moorehead's bibliography make all these facts abundantly clear. In addition, the text is riddled with dozens of other factual errors and questionable character evaluations. Finally, there is the dismissal of Pierre Sauvage's original and inspirational 93-minute film, Weapons of the Spirit, because of a 40-second segment which "asks" whether the head German officer in the area might have occasionally looked the other way.
Patrick Henry, author of We Only Know Men. The Rescue of Jews in France during the Holocaust (The Catholic University of America Press, 2007); French edition: La Montagne des Justes (Editions Privat, 2010).
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