Today in history: The Protestant family that saved Polish Jews during WWII

On December 21, 2009, Yad Vashem recognized Pastor Marcel Ducommun and his wife Hélène Marthe as Righteous Among the Nations.

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December 21, 2016 10:19
2 minute read.
Pastor Ducommun ya vashem

Dr. Lucien Lazare, member of the Jewish resistance in France and member of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, shows the Bible he received from Pastor Ducommun after liberation, Yad Vashem, 27 April 2010. (photo credit: YAD VASHEM)

The Second World War and the Nazi regime couldn’t get in the way of Pastor Marcel and Helene Marthe Ducommun’s faith. They were committed to helping out no matter what the situation.

“My parents never hesitated to help anyone, regardless of religion, race or social background,” their daughter Evelyne Jacobson said about them at the Yad Vashem ceremony recognizing them as Righteous Among the Nations. “They were committed to their faith and guided by it.”

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In the course of their lifetime, the number of people the couple helped out may have reached the hundreds if not thousands. But they are remembered in particular for the rescue during the Second World War of the Jewish family Grubstein, at a point in time where the forces of evil were attempting to rid the world of God’s chosen people, and where any of those blessing and supporting the Jewish People were faced with the same fate.

After the Grubsteins, who moved to France from Poland in 1932, escaped to the southern part of the country in 1940, they were referred to a local pastor to find a hiding place. The Ducommons didn’t hesitate for a moment, and immediately took in the five members of the family.

In Le Pont de Senegats, Tarn, no one revealed the secret that they were hiding a Jewish family. The Grubsteins blended in with the villagers, their children studying in the local school, and they even were able to plant a vegetable garden next to the church compound, where they were hiding. Ducommond, a member of the French resistance, would also warn the family of any pending arrests and send the family to hide in coal miners’ huts outside Le Pont de Senegats.

Dr. Lucien Lazare, a member of the France’s Jewish resistance, who was in contact with the Ducommons during the war, wasn’t surprised that this was how the couple rescued the Jewish family, given the following anecdote he told at a ceremony at Yad Vashem.

“I sat in his presence many times and witnessed the help which he dispensed to all”, said Lazare. “In addition, he sometimes came to visit our camp in the hills. He would come on a Shabbat and take part in the reading of the weekly portion of the Bible.
“At one period the Germans destroyed our camp and desecrated volumes of the Bible. I found my own copy covered with feces. Some two years later, after the war, when I was already a student, I one day received a parcel from Pastor Ducommun. He had sent me a Bible to replace the one that had been desecrated.

“He wrote that he felt himself responsible, since he had received the same education as the persons who had desecrated my Bible.”

On December 21, 2009, Yad Vashem recognized Pastor Marcel Ducommun and his wife Hélène Marthe as Righteous Among the Nations.

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