Germaine Ribière was a young student who lived with her parents in Limoges (Haute-Vienne). During the German occupation, she abandoned her studies, left home, and devoted herself to saving Jewish children. Ribière, a devout Catholic, joined the rescue networks in which clergymen such as Father Roger Braun, Father Pierre Chaillet and Bishop Jules Saliège were involved. Ribière made contact with Jewish families living in France and, after getting their permission, arranged hiding places for their children with non-Jewish families and in convents. The children owed their survival to her actions. In 1940, Ribière escorted the two Domb children who lived in Paris over the Demarcation Line into the Vichy zone, where she found a Christian institution willing to hide them until the end of the occupation.
Ribière was an activist in the Amitié Chrétienne, which was established in Lyons in 1941 to help Jewish and other victims of the Vichy and occupation decrees. On January 27, 1943, Ribière attended this organization’s emergency board meeting in the home of the Protestant minister Roland de Pury in Lyons. The meeting planned how to warn Jews coming to collect prepared forged papers at the organization’s offices on Ste.-Catherine Street not to enter the office; the Gestapo had planted a trap which would snare anyone who entered. It was decided that early the next morning, Ribière would dress up as a cleaning woman and spend the day scrubbing the stairs and other parts of the building. This afforded her an opportunity to warn every Jew who arrived; the operation succeeded beyond all expectations. When the Allied forces liberated the concentration camps in Germany, Ribière joined a team led by Yves Farge, the High Commissioner of the Republic in Lyons, and spent several months aiding the survivors. After this, Ribière completed her studies and was certified as a social worker. As part of her work and because of the trust she had earned among French Jewry, Ribière volunteered in 1953 to rescue Robert and Gérald Finaly, two Jewish orphans who had been smuggled into Spain and hidden in a convent there. Ribière traveled to Spain, located the children, brought them back to France, and delivered them to relatives who had survived the war. Ribière was a special individual—a believing Catholic and French patriot who devoted all her strengths and talents to the supreme mission of rescuing Jews.
On July 18, 1967, Yad Vashem recognized Germaine Ribière as Righteous Among the Nations.