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September 26, 2021 6:24 pm

Police Chief From Small Town in France to Be Named ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ by Yad Vashem for Saving Jews During the Holocaust

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The town of Vabre, France. Photo: T2fr-nieme/Wikimedia.

A Nazi-era police chief from a rural Protestant town in France is to be declared a “righteous among the nations” by Yad Vashem due to his efforts to save Jews targeted by collaborationist forces during World War II.

At the time, France had been conquered by Nazi Germany, and was ruled by the pro-Nazi puppet Vichy regime, which aided the Germans in rounding up Jews and sending them to their deaths.

As the BBC reported Saturday, the small town of Vabre proved an exception to the general atmosphere of collaboration and antisemitism. Led by town pastor Robert Cook, it united against the Vichy regime and became a center of Resistance activity. In addition, the town had long had business ties with Jews in the Paris garment industry, many of whom found sanctuary there.

Partly because of the memory of their ancestors’ own persecution as Protestant Huguenots in the 1600s, the town citizens sympathized with Jews hunted by the Germans and their collaborators, a phenomenon that reached its peak in 1942.

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Police Chief Hubert Landes took the lead. After his men participated in a mass arrest of Jews in another town, Landes decided never to allow such a thing to happen again.

A year later, when another roundup was on the way, Landes warned the targeted Jews, and many of them went into hiding or joined the Resistance — including a Jewish Resistance group in the area, called the Compagnie Marc Haguenau.

In 2015, Vabre itself was named a “Town of the Righteous” by Yad Vashem. Now Landes himself will be named a righteous among the nations, joining Pastor Cook, who has already been recognized as such.

The BBC stated that Vabre has gone to great lengths to preserve the memory of its resistance. Town citizen Catherine Vieu-Charier is described as having a Hebrew tattoo, and she and her late companion Henri Malberg assiduously advocated a successful campaign to memorialize the names of Jewish children from Paris who were murdered in the Holocaust.

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