Friday, January 20, 2012

Refugees in Ambeyrac

Translation: tribute/recognition of the Belgian refugees of the population of Ambeyrac and Camboulan.
July 21, 1940

This plaque is on an exterior wall of the Ambeyrac church. Partially obscured by a big old bush, it was hard to photograph it as I had to pull the bush out of the way with one hand and take the photo with the other. Lucie isn't tall enough to help. I can't help but link this clue with the Croix des Belges a few kilometers away on the top of the causse. As I attempted to do online research about Belgian refugees during WWII, I came across a very interesting blog entry here at First Vine. It's a touching story of a man's father who re-connected last year with a small village in SW France where his family took refuge during WWII. Austrian Jews, they fled Vienna when Hitler took over Austria and went to Belgium thinking they would be safe there. Despite a non-agression treaty with Belgium, Hitler invaded that country in May 1940. Thousands of Belgian citizens and Jewish refugees from other countries fled Belgium for France where they thought they would once again be safe. A Paris re-settlement office sent this family to Herault, a small village in the Languedoc which is only a couple hours drive from here. The blog's author, Tom Natan, reported that researching his father's story was very difficult as there is almost no information available regarding this area during WWII.

I took a chance that Mr. Natan would be nice enough to respond and sent him an email asking for any resources he might point me to that might provide additional information about Belgian refugees in my area. I reeived an immediate response which I'll share with you in my next post. In the meantime, I'd urge you to click on the First Vine link above and read the Natan family story.

The Ambeyrac church is on the right. The plaque is behind that big green bush!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Evelyn, for your kind words. Researching this time period is difficult, but it's getting easier. After traveling with my father we went to Salon de Provence and learned there is a new museum about World War Two located there. Next time we're back we'll have to visit it. (You can read about that part of our trip here:

    As I mentioned in our e-mail exchange, I'll be writing another post about the trip, I'm just waiting for some photos. I was able to find the daughter of the woman who made false identity papers for my father and his family to leave Herault.

    I've been near where you're living now, visiting one of our wine producers in Gaillac. Your blog has given me a lot of ideas for future trips!