The plateau of hospitality : life on the plateau Vivarais-Lignon / Christine E. van der Zanden.
From 1940–1944, the residents of the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon sheltered thousands of Jews and other refugees. Their efforts, supported by local leaders and by representatives from various French, Jewish, and international organizations, were effective. How was rescue work carried out? How were Jewish refugees hidden on the Plateau, and what strategies did the rescuers develop to maintain secrecy in the region? Moreover, what was life like for Jewish refugees in hiding on the Plateau? How did they learn about the safety the region offered, and what did they do once they were there?To analyze clandestine activity on the Plateau, I explored the historical, geographic, and economic context for rescue during World War II. I also examined the relationship and the cooperation between various groups who actively rescued on the Plateau, including local leaders, the residents, and representatives from various outside philanthropic organizations. I relied heavily on oral histories, testimony, diaries, and memoirs to uncover the history of daily life for Jewish refugees and to analyze patterns of experience that may have held true for most Jewish refugees in hiding on the Plateau.The Plateau Vivarais-Lignon boasts a long tradition of hospitality; it has served as a politico-religious refuge, a health refuge, and a center for educational enrichment. The rescue and resistance work of the Plateau, a region inhabited by descendants of Huguenots and traditionally identified with the oppressed, illustrates how community-based action effectively countered the menace of the Nazi and Vichy regimes. During World War II, several factors converged to create a hospitable environment for Jews and other refugees. The rescuers worked together to develop strategies that would protect Jewish refugees, and they strove to create a healthy, supportive living environment. Yet, the history of daily life on the Plateau for Jewish refugees is also complex. Underpinning every experience on the Plateau in hiding, however positive, were the harrowing circumstances of the Holocaust.Most Jewish refugees sheltered on the Plateau escaped the expansive murderous plans of the Nazis. Rescue on the Plateau was a remarkable, collective affirmation of life in an unprecedented time of overriding murder and death.
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