Trocmé: God, the devil, and stupidity

Over the next couple weeks I will post quotes and short reflections on passages from Philip Hallie’s book, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, which is the moving and profound story about André Trocmé and the village people of Le Chambon who together saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children during World War II.

This first quote from the book comes after Trocmé is brought to a police station on the way to a concentration camp. At the station he encounters some guards who simply assume “that anybody who had been arrested was not only guilty of a crime but beneath contempt” (29). When the guards find out that they have helping Jews, they respond with furious statements like, “Oh—that’s lovely. ... You’re part of their conspiracy, eh? We all know that they’re the ones who have brought France down into the abyss.” I quote what follows:
This was a moment Trocmé would never forget. In fact, his overnight stay in the police station in Limoges changed his view of mankind. He discovered people like the captain—patriotic, sincere, but above all, severely limited. These people were capable of repeating hate-ridden clichés without any concern for evidence or for the pain of others. Before he entered that police station in Limoges, he thought the world was a scene where two forces were struggling for power: God and the Devil. From then on, he knew that there was a third force seeking hegemony over this world: stupidity. God, the Devil, and halfwits of mind and heart were all struggling with each other to take over the reins. (30)