A touching but little-known Holocaust story: Paris’ Grand Mosque rescued Jews from the Nazis by providing them with Muslim identities. It wasn’t a straightforward movement, the New York Times reports. Instead, Jews were helped case by case, and no one knows for sure how many were saved—figures range from dozens to 1,700. But a number of historical accounts confirm the story, and it’s the subject of a new French film.
Thousands of North African Jews lived in France in the 1940s, and their culture bore a range of similarities with Muslims’, the Times notes. They were able to enter the mosque, and during the Holocaust, mosque leaders provided them with paperwork suggesting they were Muslim. In one case, a mosque official went further: He had a tombstone engraved in a Muslim cemetery with the name of a popular Jewish singer’s grandfather. The film, called Les Hommes Libres, tells a fictionalized version of the story.