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  • Stories Category

    17th Jul

    International Gossip

    In August 1942, the corporal in charge of the Swiss border post of Biaufond sent his superior a report that was so interesting it made its way to Bern within days. It’s important to know that the border crossing of Biaufond/La Rasse lies on the Franco-Swiss border east and slightly south of Besançon. Because that […]

    18th Apr

    In 1939 a Catholic family from the Tilburg region left the Netherlands to buy a farm about 24 km outside of Paris. In 1940 they met a Dutch monk living in a monastery in Paris who had walked the 4 km from the nearest metro station to see if he could find some food for […]

    9th Mar

    Helping German Deserters in 1942

    Sometimes it seems like the whole of Europe was on the move during the Second World War. Most belonged to the obvious categories: soldiers, refugees from military actions or bombing, forced laborers, Jews. Resisters were also on the move, of course. They were a small minority, but their stories are surprisingly diverse. Take that of […]

    20th Dec

    Separated in Flight

    In February 1943 a Dutch man of Jewish descent showed up at a farm in the Jura Mountains of France that was owned by a Dutch couple. The man had probably been on the run for months and probably had no relation with the farmer other than a shared ability to speak Dutch. The farmer […]

    20th Nov

    It took a certain psychic fortitude and flexible attitude to survive as a rescuer.  Take just one story from a Dutch businessman who had been living outside Lyon since 1938 whom we’ll call Bernard.  He and some of his French friends in his village opened their homes to Dutch refugees, giving them shelter, buying them […]

    11th Sep

    Some people are just plain helpful.  Take the case of a young Dutch woman we’ll call Catherine [born 1919].  Because she was working for the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Paris when the war started, she naturally became involved in the effort to help Dutch refugees in 1940.  But, as she later said, she soon […]

    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 […]

    5th May

    A Determined Mother

    The war impelled all sorts of people to extraordinary acts, not least of them mothers. Take, for instance, the wife of the Dutch consul general in the Vichy zone of France. Madame, as we’ll call her, had four daughters but consistently refused opportunities to leave occupied Europe with them on the grounds that it was […]

    16th Mar

    How Not to Look Up the Relatives

    Here’s an interesting story from a German reader who is related by marriage to the chief of the Parisian section of Dutch-Paris. We’ll call him Felix. Felix worked in the Dutch consulate in Paris. His wife, who was also Dutch, had German relatives, one of whom tried to visit them at their home in Paris. […]

    20th Dec

    A silent night could be a night of peace or it could be a night of complicity. It could be the silence of not speaking out to help someone in need or the silence of not telling the police where the fugitive is hiding. You had both types of silence during the war, of course. […]