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  • Routes Category

    27th Aug

    One of the more intriguing mysteries about escape lines is how the fugitives and the helpers found each other. After all, you could hardly look up “clandestine border crossing” in the yellow pages and make a reservation. There were a few places where Dutch-Paris helpers found fugitives and offered to help: the Dutch consulate in […]

    17th Aug

    Dutch-Paris couriers always traveled with a particular mission in mind: deliver a microfilm to a particular café in Louvain (Belgium) on a particular date or escort so-and-so from point A to point B. But they also kept alert for two other possibilities: to gather information about German activities and to help any Dutch people in […]

    26th Jun

    These don’t give you the same sense of the wartime atmosphere or aesthetic as the 1967 documentary about Dutch-Paris that I mentioned in my last post, but here are some photos from my most recent research trip to Europe in May 2012. Like most of the Engelandvaarders and Allied aviators who traveled with Dutch-Paris, I […]

    8th Apr

    Maintain Your Sense of Humor

    Putting yourself in the hands of an escape line certainly increased your odds of getting to Switzerland or Spain, but it didn’t guarantee it. Things went wrong for everyone, and everyone – guides and fugitives alike – needed to be flexible and maintain their sense of humor. On 24 November 1943, a young Engelandvaarder we’ll […]

    8th Feb

    Muddling Through

    Very few resisters were professional spies or criminals, so they had to figure out how to forge papers, evade the police, and smuggle people and goods as they went along. Sometimes they did this by diving down into the underworld and finding a criminal to mentor them. Sometimes they found a professional spy to give […]

    9th Jan

    The End of an Evasion Service

    There was an evasion service (service d’évasion) that took convoys of 10 to 15 Dutchmen, Belgians, Frenchmen and Allied aviators from Toulouse to Spain every week from November 1942 to December 1943. They smuggled 400 people over the Pyrenees to Spain without mishap until it all ended because of one jumpy Belgian. On the 19th […]

    30th Dec

    The Kindess of How Many Strangers?

    Dutch-Paris helped all sorts of people to escape from the Germans during the war. Some of them were much more obvious candidates for evasion than others. The trained military personnel who had bailed out of Allied aircraft had, one presumes, the field skills, discipline and health for the task. The young Dutch Engelandvaarders also had […]

    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 […]

    13th Jul

    This Saturday morning, 16 July, the cyclists of the Tour de France will be pedaling past a lieu de mémoire (memory site) of Dutch-Paris: the Col de Portet d’Aspet.    This 1,069 m pass is part of the St. Gaudens stage of the race.  Sixty-seven years ago it was a stopping place on the route that […]

    3rd Jul

    After a few days of meetings at the Dutch embassy in Bern, the Swiss secret service escorted Weidner and Felix back to the French border.*  At a certain place the Swiss helped hold up the barbed wire so that Weidner, Felix and an unknown woman who apparently belonged to the Swiss Intelligence Service could crawl […]