Continuing with the ways in which the history of Dutch-Paris illustrates Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, we come to Snyder’s lessons 15 and 16.

Lesson 15 is “Contribute to good causes. Be active in organizations, political or not, that express your own view of life.”

Dutch-Paris was an organization that believed in the dignity of the individual human being qua human being. It just so happened that in the context of the time, namely the Second World War, the authorities in power did not believe in human rights. The Nazis and their collaborators believed that people who came from certain ethnic groups were far superior than other people from other ethnic groups. They took that ideology to the extreme of genocide. In that context, expressing the view that all men are created equal meant disagreeing with rather violent authorities. That is why Dutch-Paris was an illegal organization, otherwise known as part of the resistance.  It is also why the men and women of Dutch-Paris who were caught were deported to the concentration camps. Fourteen of them died for being active in an organization that expressed their own view of human rights.

Lesson 16 is “Learn from peers in other countries.”

If the men and women of Dutch-Paris had not only learned from their peers in other countries but also banded together with them to cooperate in the rescue of fugitives, there would not have been a Dutch-Paris. The line began as separate groups of resisters in Lyon, Brussels and Paris who then joined together to form a network that stretched across western Europe from the Netherlands to Spain and to Switzerland. They were able to do far more to defend human rights and defeat the occupation authorities when they worked together across international borders than they ever could have had they restricted themselves to their home regions.