The most poignant of the NARA helper files I’ve read concerns a young Dutch woman who was a student at the Sorbonne when the Germans invaded in 1940. We’ll use her nom de guerre, Anne-Marie. In the normal course of affairs, she met a man who worked at the Dutch embassy in Paris. As a member of Dutch-Paris, he was busy helping Dutch citizens get to England (via Spain) and Switzerland, so she helped him help her landgenoten (fellow countrymen).

In 1943 other friends of hers from the university were asked if they could help some allied pilots get out of France. Anne-Marie asked John Henry Weidner if the pilots could take the same route as the Dutch nationals. Weidner said they could, and so Dutch-Paris began helping pilots.

At first Anne-Marie walked to homes around Versailles where Americans or Brits were hiding, took their shoe sizes, noted down what else they needed in the way of clothing and organized false documents for them. Later, whole groups of about 10 downed airmen came from Brussels at a time. She helped hide them in Paris or escorted them to Toulouse.

In February 1944 an important courier for the Line and Dutch-Paris’s man at the Gare du Nord railway station were arrested in Paris. Anne-Marie wanted to disappear for a month, but her money had been cut off when the Germans occupied France and she couldn’t afford to take a holiday from her (unspecified) job.

When it comes to money, even altruistic heroes can loose sight of the big picture. The Gestapo arrested her within days and eventually sent her to the notorious women’s concentration camp of Ravensbrück.

Only a few days after she returned to Paris in the summer of 1945, Anne-Marie took her report to the British. The British sergeant escorted her over to the American MIS-X offices so that she could share it with them. She wrote it herself in clear, if grammatically imperfect, English. The last lines read:

The Gestapo sent me to the concentration camp Ravensbruck where I stayed exactly one year. Everything I saw in the camp made me very glad to have worked against them.”

That certainty that she was fighting the good fight undoubtedly helped her withstand a concentration camp in which only 40,000 of the 130,000 prisoners survived.