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  • Occupation Category

    9th Jul

    The Cost of Cigarettes

    One of the items to show up on the expense reports of two of the Dutch-Paris couriers is “cigarettes.” For example, on 30 June 1944 a couriers spent 1,000 French francs on ten packets of cigarettes. On first glance, it’s hardly surprising that anyone smoked during the Second World War, let alone men traveling through […]

    15th Dec

    Gestapo Arrests Swiss Official

    On 21 July 1943, the Italian civil affairs officer for Haute-Savoie (France) called the head of the Swiss visa bureau in Annemasse (France) into his office to warn the 63 year-old Swiss citizen that he had been denounced by an Italian Fascist living in Geneva. We’ll call the Swiss bureaucrat Mr. S. The Italian Fascist […]

    15th Nov

    Convoys of evaders walking over the Pyrenees to Spain worked on the same principle as convoys of ships crossing the Atlantic: it was safer to take one large group than many smaller groups. So Dutch, French, Belgian and Polish men wanting to join the Allied armies and downed aviators crossed in large groups of up […]

    6th Sep

    The Price of a Radio Show

    It’s hard for many of us to imagine the atmosphere and circumstances in which Dutch-Paris operated. It’s hard to comprehend the emotional and physical difficulties of recruiting people into a life of clandestine danger for an unknown period because so many of us take our freedoms and ease (plenty of food, heat, clothing) for granted. […]

    6th Jun

    D-Day on the Swiss Border

    We think of the sixth of June as D-Day, the first day of the Normandy Landings that led to the Allied victory and the end of the Second World War. And although many men lost their lives that day, on balance we think of it as a day of hope and triumph. But consider the […]

    29th Jan

    During the war, the Occupation authorities rearranged the social and political units of western Europe into individual boxes then threw up barbed wire barricades and a wall of regulations and police authorities to keep people and information from going from one box to another. It wasn’t impossible to get out of, say, the Netherlands and […]

    23rd Jul

    France fell apart under the onslaught of the Normandy Landings. Communications and transportation lines were broken throughout the country as the Resistance did its best to sabotage the German response to the invasion. Although some parts of the country passed the summer of 1944 peacefully enough, the region of the Alps along the Swiss border […]

    19th Jan

    Wartime Trip Planning

    One of the realities of Occupied Europe that’s hard to appreciate from our current perspective is how hard it was to come by information. I’m not talking about reliable news, which was censored. You had to engage in the criminal activity of listening to the BBC or reading the clandestine press for that. I mean […]

    3rd Apr

    In France, I’ve been looking through the regional and departmental archives for the Rhone (Lyon) and Haute-Savoie (Annecy) for records regarding Dutch-Paris. Given that I have the names of several people, including civil servants and police agents, who worked for the line in those cities and even the dates that a few of them were […]

    25th Jan

    The Sounds of Occupation

    I found myself standing by a canal in the heart of Amsterdam while twilight darkened the city and night fell. Ice skimmed the water and snow brightened the sidewalks. It was beautiful, but what struck me most was how quiet it was despite being a metropolis at rush hour. The occasional car rolled slowly by. […]