During WWII, Josephine and Gaston Champagne lived at Le Chateau, Place Chapelle, Saint Servais, Namur, Belgium. They were Catholic and raised a family of ten children.
Five of them were still at home when they gave shelter to Nicole Schneider (nowadays, Nicole David), a small Jewish child, aged 6 at the time. Nicole was taken, by members of the Belgian Resistance, to the Champagne family on 7 October 1942, the day her mother was arrested by the Germans.
Nicole’s mother, Chawa Matzner, had, a few months earlier befriended one of the family Champagne’s older sons, Carlos, and asked him if he could suggest a family who would be prepared to take the child, as danger of deportation
of Jews was ever present.
The Champagne family always treated Nicole as one of their own children, and took care of all her needs without asking nor expecting any financial compensation, despite the enormous risk they took upon themselves.
While leading a double life, posing to the outer world as a Catholic young child and going to church daily with the family, the Champagnes never tried to talk her into converting. On the contrary, they were always reminding Nicole not to ”forget her Jewish prayers”. To this day Nicole is in touch with the six surviving Champagne children, all in their seventies and eighties, and with some of the grand-children.