Lea Bardone was born in Italy in 1916 and grew up in Brignoud, France. During the war, Lea and her husband ran a café, which became the headquarters for underground activities saving countless Jewish people. Identity and work papers were forged in one of the café’s back rooms.
Lea established a great reputation for staying calm and cool under stress. In 1944, Lea’s husband was arrested. Lea feared reprisals and fled with her children to the mountainous region of Dauphiné. Relying on her steady composure and quick wit, she undertook dangerous missions while in hiding, including smuggling small arms and munitions.
After the war, Leon Poliakov testified that ”[Lea’s] merits were great in warding off any danger, facing questions of neighbors or occasional police who were sometimes intrigued by the presence of strangers in her establishment, and to whom she always managed to furnish proper explanations. The courage and presence of mind of Lea Bardone, especially during the months when her husband was held by the Gestapo in Nice, were beyond any praise.”