During the Second World War the Dutch colony in Geneva grew substantially with the influx of refugees who arrived from the Netherlands through various routes, including Dutch-Paris. After the Swiss authorities allowed them into the country, the Dutch embassy in Bern took responsibility for them. It organized refugee camps in hotels for families, for example, and made regular loans so that Dutch citizens would meet the Swiss requirements for financial independence. Although this has been a subject of controversy in recent years, during the war the embassy received a number of complaints that Dutch refugees had better accommodations and more spending money than refugees from other nations.

Dutch refugees in and around Geneva had a lot of time on their hands because the Swiss did not allow refugees to hold any job that might be taken away from a Swiss citizen. This didn’t stop a number of them from finding jobs under the table, of course, but legally they were not supposed to work. This allowed a few refugees to act as a reception committee for Dutch-Paris. These were people who had become friends with John Weidner in France while they waited for Dutch-Paris to arrange their escape into Switzerland.
Dutch-Paris arranged for refugee permits to remain in Switzerland for their proteges, showed them over the border and directed them to give themselves up to the first Swiss gendarme they found. If things did not go as planned, they contacted the reception committee.

For example, in January 1944, Dutch-Paris arranged for a couple and their grown daughter to go to Switzerland. But they must not have followed their instructions exactly because Dutch-Paris lost track of them. At that point the resister in France called her mother, who lived outside Geneva. Her mother called one of Weidner’s refugee friends who lived in a hotel in Geneva. We’ll call him Nico. He immediately went to the café where the mother had asked him to meet her. After she explained the situation, Nico searched every cinema in Geneva until he found another Dutch refugee who happened to be the fiancé of the grown daughter.

The fiancé launched a full-scale search, probably with the help of whoever had gone to the movie with him. They found the missing family in a Swiss refugee center and filled out the paperwork to expedite their release. Two days later Nico paid a visit to the fiancée’s mother, who was a school friend of his own mother. The Dutch refugees in Geneva may have been in a foreign land, but they were not surrounded by strangers.