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Chambon Institute

 

exploring the necessary and challenging lessons of hope
intertwined with the Holocaust's unavoidable lessons of despair

 

 

 

"Weapons of the Spirit"
Henri and Emma Héritier
of Le Chambon in 1944

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
(onetime possible Museum in foreground)


Inaguration of the June 2004
"Liberation Reunion" (photo Réforme)

Eva Héritier and Pierre Sauvage
Eva Héritier and
Pierre Sauvage in 1944

 

In and around the Huguenot mountain village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France, some 5,000 Jewsmany of  them childrenwere sheltered from the Nazis by some 5,000 Christians.

The Chambon Institute, a division of the Chambon Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)3 public charity named in honor of the village, seeks to explore and communicate such necessary and challenging lessons of hope intertwined with the Holocaust's unavoidable lessons of despair.
 

 

 

                    

       
 

 JMP04: maire Francis Valla et Pierre Sauvage / Mayor Francis Valla and Pierre Sauvage   JMP04: affiche / poster  JMP04 Inauguration    Le Chambon-sur-Lignon  future ferme expo ? / future Chambon Museum


               le carrefour (ca. 1900) / Le Chambon center (ca. 1900)                 Fondation Chambon (USA) au Chambon / Chambon Foundation in Le Chambon        le carrefour (3 sept. 1944) / Le Chambon center (Sept. 3, 1944)                      

                            JMP04: Dr. Robert O. Paxton                JMP04: Pierre Sauvage, Dr. Robert O. Paxton, Dr. Julian Jackson             JMP04: Deputy Mayor Gérard Bollon / Maire adjoint Gérard Bollon   

   JMP04: Hans Salomon, Tracy Strong                                  JMP04: Auguste Bohny, Hanne Liebmann                                                JMP04: Rudy Appel


 

JMP04: Auguste Bohny, Pierre Sauvage                     JMP04 : visite à presbytère / visit to presbytery                    JMP04 : pasteur André Bettex / pastor André Bettex                    JMP04: Jaap van Oosterdorp & Nieuwlande

Founded in 1982 (originally as Friends of Le Chambon) by Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Pierre Sauvage, himself born in Le Chambon in 1944 to parents who had found refuge there, the Chambon Foundation began by telling the story of this unique conspiracy of goodness in Sauvage's award-winning 1989 feature documentary Weapons of the Spirit, soon to be released in a new 25th-anniversary edition. The new version (92 min.) will also be available in a 37-minute Short Version) While continuing to specialize in original documentary explorations of the Nazi era (upcoming is the Varian Fry Institute and Sauvage's newest feature documentary And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry in Marseille), the Chambon Foundation is committed to ensuring that the memory of the righteous, notably in the area of Le Chambon, shall be everlasting.

JMP04: Pierre Sauvage, Dr. Robert O. Paxton, Dr. Julian JacksonIn June 2004, in partnership with the village of Le Chambon, the Chambon Foundation organized the well-attended and sometimes emotional "Liberation Reunion," the first reunion of former refugees in the area of Le Chambon since 1986 (the Chambon Foundation had played a key role in organizing the 1986 reunion).  Known in France as the "Journées Mémoires du Plateau" (in photo left, Pierre Sauvage speaks at the inauguration ceremony at the railroad station) the event included a conference featuring major participants from those times and such leading historians of the war years in France as Dr. Robert O. Paxton (in photo right, with historian Dr. Julian Jackson on right).

President Jacques Chirac of France had been invited to provided an audio-visual message to the Liberation Reunion.  He chose instead to come to Le Chambon personally a few weeks later.  On July 8, 2004, President Chirac made a major address there against racism and antisemitism (in photo left, making address, and in photo right visiting the village), hailing Le Chambon as the place where "the soul of the [French] nation manifested itself" and as "the embodiment of our country's conscience."  At right, Chirac walks through Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, with Mayor Francis Valla at his side.
 

It had been hoped that as a result of the French president's high praise and despite France's commitment to militant secularism, official French support will at last be forthcoming for the area's needed Chambon Museum; this did not happen.  However, as Chambon Foundation president Pierre Sauvage has underscored ("Le Chambon's Challenge Today"), any legitimate effort cannot ignore the religious sources of the area's conspiracy of goodness during the Holocaust and the determined particularism of French Huguenots at that time. An ideally situated rare old farmhouse in the heart of the village (photos left and right) had been acquired; after renovation, it could have served as headquarters for the museum complex.
 

In the meantime, with its sister nonprofit  organization in France, Amis du Chambon, for which Pierre Sauvage also serves as president, the Chambon Foundation for five years presented a temporary exhibit at l'Expo du Carrefour (photos left and right), our rented headquarters right at the "carrefour"--the main intersection in the village.  The continued existence of this locale has been made possible by American support, most notably through the determined efforts of Le Chambon survivor Rudy Appel.  Unfortunately, the exhibit area had to close its doors in 2005.  In 2006, the new Le Chambon-sur-Lignon tourist office will be opening across the street.

Other Chambon Foundation activities have included participation in conferences and university lecture series and the development of an ever-growing, specialized photographic and document archive on rescue during the Holocaust in France, as well as on the American experience during that time: the Chambon Foundation’s extensive Varian Fry Collection was a major lender to the opening Varian Fry exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in 1991; the "Assignment: Rescue" exhibit subsequently presented in New York City's Jewish Museum and at the Field Museum in Chicago.  The Chambon Foundation was also the major lender and the co-sponsor of the Varian Fry exhibit that was on display in Marseille, France, March-June 1999.  A new Le Chambon exhibit is being considered for the future.

Drawing on the experience of Weapons of the Spirit, the Chambon Foundation has also specialized in the production and distribution of motion picture and television documentaries dealing with other as yet uncharted and important aspects of the Nazi erain the last years when it is possible to make such documentaries with the participation of eyewitnesses to those events.  Among Chambon Foundation documentaries are Jacky and Lisa Comforty's award-winning 2002 The Optimists—The Story of the Rescue of the Bulgarian Jews From the Holocaust, and  Pierre Sauvage's upcoming And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry in Marseille.

Pierre Sauvage is a popular public speaker about Le Chambon, the Varian Fry mission, the Holocaust and their meaning for us today.  It was only at the age of 18 that Sauvage learned that he was Jewish and a child survivor of the Holocaust. His lecturing and public appearances, with or without Weapons of the Spirit are all under the Chambon Foundation’s auspices, and support the foundation’s activities.The Chambon Foundation also hopes to be involved in the production of a dramatic motion picture to be adapted from Mary Jayne Gold's memoir Crossroads Marseille 1940, to which Pierre Sauvage owns all rights.  Hopes for another dramatic motion picture to be based on Nathan Stoltzfus' Resistance of the Heartabout the historic Rosenstrasse protest in Berlinhave had to be set aside following the release of a German-language film on the same event.

The Chambon Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity (Federal I.D. #95-3803907), incorporated in the State of California.  Contributions to the Chambon Foundation are welcome and fully tax-deductible.

Historian Dr. Michael R. Marrus, scholar Dr. John K. Roth, Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, attorney Barbara M. Rubin, and Chambon Foundation president Pierre Sauvage serve on the foundation's Board of Directors.  Its Board of Advisers includes other leading scholars of the Holocaust as well as prominent and committed figures.

More about Le Chambon.

 

Chambon Institute   8033 Sunset Boulevard   Los Angeles, CA 90046   USA
website: www.chambon.org 
tel.: (323) 650-1774   fax: (323) 654-4689   email: sauvage@chambon.org

 


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