“What’s that? Wednesday” – Week 6
In the spirit of the holiday season, this week’s “What’s that? Wednesday” is a photograph of children from the L’Abric children’s home receiving sweets and other presents from the Swiss Red Cross. Cirlène (Zinger) Liberman, the young girl with the white ribbon, can be seen pictured next to August Bohny.
Cirlène was just eight years old when she began to live at L’Abric. Her mother, the cook at La Guespy, and her brother, Victor Lucien, were also sheltered on the Plateau. Despite being in hiding, many activities were organized for the children. In the summer, refugees would swim in the Lignon River and in the winter, children often played together in the snow. Roger Darcissac and August Bohny did everything in their power to keep young refugees occupied to convey a sense of normalcy throughout the war.
Aid organizations, such as the Swiss Red Cross, often helped to get children transferred out of the camps. As an aid worker, August Bohny was in charge of the Swiss Red Cross homes in Le Chambon, including La Guespy, L’Abric, Faïdoli, and others. Bohny was known as the master of good cheer, by organizing all sorts of fun activities for the children and playing his accordion. With the help of his wife, Friedel Bohny-Reiter, the two were able to transfer hundreds of children out of the camps and into children’s homes on the Plateau. In 1990, August Bohny and Friedel Bohny-Reiter were both recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations for saving the lives of many children.