2 special events – the American Friends of the Chambon Memorial

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By Emily Waugh, Graphic Designer

Last week featured two very special events, hosted by the American Friends of the Chambon Memorial and organized by Faircom New York.

The Chambon Memorial commemorates one of the greatest stories of citizen bravery and humanitarian compassion from the 20th century. Amidst the prejudice, hate and murder of World War II, the population of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and the surrounding villages risked their lives to save Jewish refugees from the occupying Nazi forces. They sheltered children as if they were their own family, ultimately saving the lives of thousands. This incredible act led to the entire village being recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1990, and, in 2004, French President Jacques Chirac officially honored the heroism of the village.

Today, the Chambon Memorial and its American Friends spread the story of the Righteous and raise funds in the US and elsewhere to support the French memorial, Lieu de Mémoire. They seek to expand the museum, promoting cultural and educational experiences and exhibits, and to strengthen the relationship between France and America.

On Wednesday, May 4th at the National Arts Club in Manhattan, the American Friends of the Chambon Memorial hosted an exclusive screening of the remastered 25th anniversary edition of Weapons of the Spirit. The film, written, produced and directed by Pierre Sauvage, is a highly acclaimed feature documentary that relays the story of the haven provided by the residents of the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, as told by Sauvage who was sheltered there himself. Guests arrived early to enjoy refreshments and the stunning atmosphere of the club, and soon all seats were taken. Special guests included Eliane Wauquiez-Motte, Mayor of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, Denise Vallat, Deputy Mayor in charge of cultural affairs of Le Chambon-sur Lignon, Nelly Trocmé-Hewett, daughter of Magda and Pastor André Trocmé who were leaders of the humanitarian movement in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, and other visiting dignitaries connected to the story.

The evening began with Pierre Sauvage’s passionate introduction to the film, complete with an account of his very early life living in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. The documentary uses archival footage and interviews with residents of the village, who describe their actions as nothing out of the ordinary. Sauvage seeks to explore the goodness and selfless actions of these people during the dark years of the war. After the film, Sauvage answered questions from the audience, clearly moved by their experience, and a few words were also spoken by Eliane Wauquiez-Motte and Nelly Trocmé-Hewett.

On Thursday, May 5th, a book signing and panel discussion were held at Albertine, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Patrick Cabanel, author of La Montagne Refuge, and Peter Grose, author of A Good Place to Hide, led the panel, which was moderated by Paul Kutner. Special guest speakers included Eliane Wauquiez-Motte and Nelly Trocmé-Hewett, along with other child survivors Hanne and Max Liebmann, and Renée Kann Silver. François Delattre, the Ambassador of France to the United Nations, made an appearance as a guest. The evening was a huge success with every chair taken and many more people standing along the wall and spilling out into the hallway.

Credit: Jean Lebreton

View the livestream of the event here.

View another video here (Credit: Martin Loper).

It is with great pride that we partnered with the American Friends of the Chambon Memorial to carry out these events, and we congratulate them on the success of both evenings, as well as their continued incredible contributions to society.

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