Synopsis by Mark Deming
During World War II, the staff of a school in the small French village of Chabannes managed to save the lives of 400 children, Jewish refugees whom they took in and were able to hide from Nazi authorities; their brave and ingenious efforts are recounted in the documentary The Children of Chabannes. Located in the Creuse section of unoccupied France, the staff of the Chabannes School and members of the French child welfare group OSE took in Jewish children ages two through 12 from Germany, Poland, and other parts of Eastern Europe. They not only gave the children safe haven, but taught them to speak French so they could blend in with local children in order to resist capture, and gave them basic survival skills should they need to escape on their own. Through a combination of careful planning, deception, and luck, only six of the refugees that passed through the school were deported back to their homelands, and two of them survived to tell the tale. Director Lisa Gossels is the daughter of one of the Chabannes children; here she has collected interviews with the teachers who protected the children, their now-adult charges, and footage of a 1996 reunion of Chabannes students and faculty.
Holocaust, child, escape, survivor, France, Judaism, world-war, Nazism, refugee