Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
If you read the story about the two friendly Miliciens in the last post, you may be wondering if Weidner also wrote a character testimonial for the older of the two paramilitary collaborators after the war. He did not.
Weidner gained the friendship of the younger man by discussing the Bible with him. He cultivated the older man’s good will by signing over his car to him. Weidner had stored his personal automobile in a garage in Toulouse early in the occupation in 1940. When the Miliciens found a receipt from the garage, Weidner signed the Chevrolet over to the older man with all the formalities. He figured that it was a small investment in their liberty and, in any case, the Milice could simply take the car if they wanted it.
Even so, Weidner might have helped the older man if he had survived the war. After Weidner and his colleague escaped from the Milice prison, Weidner sent a letter from Switzerland to the Milice chief to thank him for his “correct” attitude (ie not torturing him) and to take full blame for the escape. The chief nevertheless blamed the older man for the loss of the prestigious prisoners. After all, the Germans had put a price on Weidner’s head. In punishment, the chief had the older Milicien deported to the concentration camps. The vast majority of prisoners in the concentration camps (not the extermination camps) were resisters, political prisoners, hostages or others whom the Nazis wanted to be rid of for ideological reasons, but the Germans did send collaborators whom they’d tired of or black marketeers who had gone too far to the camps as well.
This man was sent as a prisoner to Buchenwald. Other French prisoners there recognized him as a Milicien. They held a kangaroo court and hanged him for his actions against French resisters. There is very little doubt that he committed the crimes of which he was accused. If he had stayed in France and been arrested at the liberation, he would surely have been sentenced to death with the other Miliciens from Toulouse. He also probably would have benefited from the legal appeal process and the cooling of the passions of the war and not been executed.
So Weidner did not have a chance to write a character testimonial for this Milicien. He had received the rough justice of combatants in a civil war who have no recourse to formal legality or even prisons to remove a man from the opportunity of doing further harm. Whether that counts as vengeance or justice is another discussion.