Edouard Vigneron, born in Nancy, joined the local police force in 1922 after five years in the French army, during which he saw action in World War I. Vigneron climbed the police ranks steadily; in 1939 he was named his station’s secretary-general, and about a year later he became the head of the “aliens section,” which monitored the actions and movements of non-naturalized immigrants. By the 1930s, there were already about four hundred alien Jews, most from Eastern Europe, in Nancy (département of Meurthe-et-Moselle) who had to register at the police station and occasionally returned to have their papers stamped. During the occupation, another official stamp was applied to the papers: “Juif.” Vigneron and his assistant, Pierre Marie, knew the Jews in their section and became friendly with several of them. In July 1942, a roundup of Jews was planned for Nancy after the great roundup in Paris. The Germans had decided to purge northern France of Jews, and the first to be deported were the aliens. The aliens section of the Nancy police station learned about the impending roundup on July 19 at dawn, when Vigneron was told that he and his staff had to round up all alien Jews in the town. He summoned his deputy and another five policemen under his command and ordered them to forewarn all 400 Jews scheduled for deportation the next day.
The policemen went from house to house; those few alien Jews who did not take the warning seriously were arrested and deported, never to return. On the morning of July 19, nearly 350 Jews were not at home and thus survived. Vigneron saved many families with forged identity cards bearing an authentic French stamp without the added word “Juif,” with which they could reach the Unoccupied Zone.
The Kobriniecs: mother, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, and aunt were saved in this way; M. Kobriniec had obtained forged papers from Vigneron before the roundup in Nancy and had fled to the south. Additional survivors were the Skorkas’ son and daughter, Mme Herzberg and her two children, the Balbins, and the Krischers with their two children. The failure of the roundup in Nancy aroused suspicion on Vigneron that had tipped off the Jewish community. He was arrested on August 19, 1942, exactly one month after the roundup, and was imprisoned in Nancy for three months. About six months later, he was arrested again, this time on charges of having issued forged papers to a French spy. Again he was imprisoned for three months, this time in the Fresnes facility in Paris. After the war, Vigneron returned to the police force and his name was cleared. In 1951, the French government awarded him the citation of the Legion of Honor. “His” Jews, who returned after the war to Nancy, did not forget him, and he remained a friend and a guest of honor at all festivities of the next generation, who had not experienced the occupation.
On May 3, 1982, Yad Vashem recognized Edouard Vigneron as Righteous Among the Nations.