Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
One of the most dangerous and most exposed jobs in the Resistance was that of courier. Because the German and collaborationist authorities were not as immediately suspicious of women as they were of men, the job of carrying incriminating documents or escorting incriminating fugitives was often given to young women. Just about anything could go wrong on a mission.
Here’s the story of one trip taken by a young Corsican woman living in Paris during the war. She gave up a good secretarial job to work for Dutch-Paris full time. On this particular day in early 1944, Marie-France as she called herself, took the light rail from the center of Paris to a farm owned by a Dutch farmer about 30km southwest of the city. She took the 1:30 train back to Paris with eight Allied aviators. The air raid claxon rang when they got to the Gare Montparnasse, so they had to wait to take the metro. As soon as the all clear sounded, she led her group through the underground tunnels of the metro to the platform they needed.
Standing on the metro platform, she counted her flock. There were only seven aviators. Perhaps she had made a mistake because of the crowds. No, only seven. First she spoke quietly to one of the aviators who spoke a little French. He told the others to wait where they were. Then Marie-France retraced their steps, scrutinizing the face of everyone she passed. No aviator. But then she had an idea and went back to where they had waited during the air raid. Sure enough, there was her missing aviator with a discreet smile for her. The entire group took the metro across the city for a rendez-vous with another Dutch-Paris agent at a metro station. Their contact, however, told them that there had been a police raid at their destination.
Marie-France could hardly walk around the streets of Paris for the next four and a half hours with eight Allied aviators. So she bought them all tickets to the movies at a cinema and told them to meet her at the entrance at 6:00. All eight airmen were waiting for her. She led them to the Gare d’Austerlitz, bought their tickets to Toulouse and went with them on the train. Everything went as expected on the overnight journey. They arrived in Toulouse with only a three hour delay, not bad at a time when sabotage and bombing raids regularly upset the train system.
After breakfast at the usual black market restaurant, Marie-France returned to the station to buy her aviators tickets to a town in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The men left Toulouse at 3:00 pm that same day. She herself took the 7:00 pm train back to Paris. Another Resistance mission accomplished.