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  • People Category

    28th Feb

    In August 1945, the Dutch ambassador in Paris received a letter from a man in The Hague who was looking for his son. The 21 year-old had left the Netherlands on 2 March 1942 intending to leave Occupied Europe to fight the Japanese (he had been born in the Netherlands Indies). He wrote his parents […]

    19th Jan

    Part-time Hero

    Although we tend to think of Resistance as intense flashes of danger like we see in the movies, it’s important to remember that the Occupation ground on for years. In between the exciting parts, the heroes and heroines still needed to get their shoes fixed and take care of their families.  They all had great […]

    11th Oct

    Wartime Management Woes

    Like all organizations, resistance networks were faced with occasional turnovers in their management positions, although not always for the usual reasons. Take the Committee affiliated with Dutch-Paris in Brussels. It began in the spring of 1942 as the work of three men: a Dutch (Protestant) pastor we’ll call the Dominee, a Dutch (Jewish) businessman we’ll […]

    2nd Aug

    It’s not hard to come up with a long list of hazards involved in rescuing fugitives from the Nazis.  The Germans themselves and their collaborators in all their many manifestations take the top of the list, followed by the usual problems of living in a warzone, such as bombardments.   Sometimes, however, the fugitives’ fear put […]

    29th Jan

    They Stayed Behind

    There isn’t much mystery about why people went to Switzerland or Spain via Dutch-Paris. They were fleeing from the lethal Nazi persecution of the Jews. Or they had been involved in the Resistance but the Gestapo had found their trail. Or they were members of the Allied military, or wanted to fight the Germans alongside […]

    27th Jul

    What to Call the Opposition?

    While reading through all these documents in the Netherlands, Belgium and France, I’ve noticed something about the way that resisters referred to themselves during and immediately after the war. It wasn’t the same in all three countries. In France, clandestine opposition to the German occupation was always known as la Résistance, the heroic efforts of […]

    27th May

    Resister or Collaborator?

    Here’s an intriguing turn of events. I’ve come across the name of a Belgian man, we’ll call him Legrand, in a few reports in a couple of archives. The first is a long and detailed account written by an enthusiastic member of Dutch-Paris in Brussels, known as the Comité. Legrand makes a brief appearance as […]

    17th May

    But Where Is Nestor?

    Few people today appreciate the chaotic disaster of Germany in 1945 or of the millions of non-German Displaced Persons liberated there by the Allies. It would take a number of books to understand it. But I can give you one example of the confusion that also explains the richness of the archives of the Dutch Red […]

    19th Feb

    Who’s to Say What He Did?

    At the Nationaal Archief today I asked for a file regarding the repayment of loans made to Dutch-Paris during the war. The file belonged to the records of the Dutch Embassy in Belgium and I had to read it in the section of the archives with extra surveillance. A guard sits at the top of […]

    17th Jan

    There were all sorts of ways to join the Resistance. For some, it was just another, more dynamic, way of hiding. Threatened with deportation to “the east” (i.e. the extermination camps) in 1942 like all other Jewish persons in the Netherlands, the “van Caneghem” family found a hiding place in July 1942. The parents, their daughter […]