Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
In the last post I described how a teacher at the Seventh-day Adventist seminary in Collonges-sous-Salève used to ride his bicycle across the Franco-Swiss border to attend graduate class in Geneva. He often carried messages and documents across the border with him, usually without any trouble at all.
There was one day, though, that he almost found himself in a lot of trouble. As he was waiting in line at the border to show his special pass and cross, one of the usual customs guards came over to talk to him. The guard asked him in a low voice if he had anything with him. Our man showed the guard a packet of envelopes. The friendly guard shook his head, whispered “pauvre monsieur” (poor man) and indicated that there were German customs agents ahead. They were going through everyone’s belongings. If they found that packet of documents, our man wouldn’t be likely to see his wife again.
So he stepped out of the line, walked a few yards back into Switzerland and dumped the incriminating evidence in a Swiss mail box. The mail box is still there, just before the border station at Croix de Rozon. Our man then got back in line, passed through the German search, and rode his bicycle back home.
It is probably fair to say that the Dutch-Paris agent owed his life to that customs officer. The customs agent was not a member of Dutch-Paris. He may well have belonged to a different resistance group. Or he may simply have been looking out for another local man who he suspected might be involved in something dangerous. Dutch-Paris and indeed all the Resistance relied on such spontaneous help from bystanders and passersby. Without it, they could never have survived.