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  • Memory Category

    28th Oct

    The Panier Fleuri was a small inn on the outskirts of Toulouse that has enjoyed a modicum of postwar fame as the place where Dutch-Paris hid evaders before they left for the Pyrenees. Over the years, it’s been confused with other places, perhaps because it had name for people to remember (see previous post). This […]

    14th Oct

    No matter how obsessive an historian is about her research, no matter how many archives she visits or how many thousands of documents she reads, some details will be lost or confused. That’s an obvious thing to say about something that happened in, say, the 1700’s, but it is also true for events that happened […]

    5th Aug

    The rue Yankee

    During the war the grocer in a small town outside Paris organized most of the other notables of the village into an escape line for Allied aviators. They gathered up survivors of USAAF or RAF crashes from across northern France and sent them on to Spain through another escape line. German counter-espionage agents rolled up […]

    13th May

    During the Second World War, as always, there were people who were looking out only for themselves. They didn’t have any particular political ideals, but they intended to be where the money and the winners were. During most of the Occupation, that meant being where the Germans were. This didn’t require anything extreme like joining […]

    11th Jun

    The Eleventh Man

    Like detectives, historians try never to rely on only one witness to an event. Everyone sees things from their own perspective, and very few people ever have all the information. So we look for as many documents as possible and piece together the story as best we can. In the case of Dutch-Paris, the documents […]

    7th Mar

    Although, as an historian, I remain astounded by the vast amount of documentation about Dutch-Paris now available in various archives, a lay person could be forgiven for thinking that rather a lot of the details have been lost. For example, the details of how, exactly, the pastor recruited a café owner to act as a […]

    5th Dec

    Sometimes when I’m humming along in my research, thinking that I’m looking for innocuous facts like date of birth, I suddenly fall into a bog of accusations and counter-accusations, of activities that look very bad from one point of view but reasonable enough from another. It’s not unusual; the Second World War was custom made […]

    16th Jun

    1967 Documentary on Dutch-Paris

    In 1967 a Dutch journalist named Dick Verkijk made a documentary about Dutch-Paris called Weg naar de Vrijheid [Way to Freedom]. Fortunately for all of us, it’s now available on YouTube, subtitled in English by Maarten Eliasar. I highly recommend it. For one thing, you can see John Weidner and some of his resistance colleagues […]

    28th May

    This story doesn’t involve anyone from Dutch-Paris, but it illustrates the problems of researching the history of Dutch-Paris or any other Resistance organization.* During the war in the Basque country, in the western edge of the Pyrenees, there was a young woman of seventeen who worked as a secretary to the village mayor, who happened […]

    29th Mar

    The Courier’s Demeanor

    Every time a resistance courier escorted a fugitive to a new place, the courier put his or her life at the risk of the fugitive’s ability to follow directions, act discretely and avoid being caught. How did they do that? We get a glimpse of it from a eulogy that a former Engelandvaarder, whom we’ll […]