Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
The last post described how the Germans found more than they expected when they arrested a woman involved in Dutch-Paris. At least in the case of Dutch-Paris, however, it happened more often that the Germans never realized that they had arrested someone important.
In March and June 1944, for example, German police arrested two young Dutch-Paris couriers on the streets of Brussels, locked them up and deported them to the Third Reich as forced laborers with trainloads of other men whose identity cards had appeared suspicious. Neither of these men was ever questioned. The only thing that mattered was that they looked healthy enough to work in a factory, even though one had a pronounced limp. The Germans never discovered that the men were Jewish, let alone that one of them knew the entire Dutch-Paris route in Belgium and France and the other had been running the daily operations in Brussels for a month.
Those men were arrested as part of indiscriminate manhunts looking for labor. But the Germans sometimes managed to overlook Dutch-Paris leaders even when they had been arrested with other resisters. In November 1943, for example, German police raided an apartment in Brussels as part of a round-up of a separate escape line. The man in charge of Dutch-Paris’s daily operations in the city just happened to be in the apartment at that time. That man knew where hundreds of Jews were hiding and how to find dozens of resisters who were helping them. But the Germans paid almost no attention to him and sentenced him, essentially, for being in bad company.
Something similar happened in Paris in March 1944 to a resister who had been intimately involved in rescues and resistance in Brussels and had left Belgium because there was a price on his head. He had come to Paris to take over the Dutch-Paris station there, but was arrested at the home of a Dutch expatriate. The Germans raided that apartment because they found the address among the papers of a fugitive they arrested. Naturally, our man with the price on his head had a false ID. The Germans never discovered his true identity or his connection to Dutch-Paris or his rescue work in Brussels. In fact, they deported him to the concentration camps under his false name. He was most likely deported for being in bad company.
If the Germans had paid more attention to questions of guilt and innocence they might have discovered the treasure troves of information they had stumbled upon. But as it was, they arrested and deported so many people for so many reasons, without any necessity of establishing any legal guilt, that they missed opportunities.
Obviously, no resister wanted to be arrested for any reason. One of the Dutch-Paris leaders disappeared in the concentration camps. But at least he did so without having been tortured and without having unwillingly given up any information about his resistance colleagues.