Favorable or otherwise, rumors have long lives. They usually creep along insidiously, showing up in quiet comments, in snubs at parties, in jobs inexplicably withheld, but sometimes cropping up in courts of law. Given the necessary lack of transparency in the Resistance and the brutal effects of its activities, it was and still is fertile ground for rumors.

Dutch-Paris is no exception. Not surprisingly, the rumors tend to center around the wave of arrests in February and March 1944. Because the Germans never said how they got the information that swept a hundred or so people into the concentration camps and many of those into their graves, the survivors were left to puzzle out their own explanations.

A highly placed member of the réseau who truly did suffer terribly at the hands of the Germans, returned from Buchenwald, Dora and Bergen-Belsen convinced that a certain individual whom we’ll call Max had betrayed the group to the Germans. His proof was that Max had not been arrested.

Actually Max had been arrested, but the Germans had run out of hand-cuffs at the “mousetrap” in Paris that he and another Dutchman had fallen into. When a guard was walking the two of them down the street, Max took off running in one direction, the other man in the other. The other man was recaptured; Max escaped.

After the liberation of France, John Henry Weidner was commissioned as a captain in the Dutch Army and put in charge of the Dutch Security Services in Paris. It was his job to vet all Dutch nationals in France for collaboration before issuing them passports to return to the Netherlands. He was, quite frankly, in a position to investigate anyone’s wartime activities and he took the matter of the betrayal of his Resistance group personally. He defended Max against his colleague’s accusations to the point of arranging for the colleague to publicly retract his accusations based on the signed confession of a young woman who acknowledged that she had given the names and addresses of most members of Dutch-Paris under Gestapo interrogation.

It took a few months for the dust to settle and one or two more official letters from Weidner, but Max’s name was cleared in 1947, officially at least.

Then in 1990 Weidner received a letter from a Dutch Engelandvaarder who had been arrested at 6:00 am on December 31, 1943, on his way to England in a hotel in Toulouse that was used by Dutch-Paris and other escape lines. The Dutchman, we’ll call him C, was convinced that an unknown man who had appeared at the hotel on the evening of the 30th had betrayed them all to the Germans. He claimed that he had met that man by accident in April 1990 in the Netherlands and that the man was Max. C had written a formal complaint to the Dutch office for the prosecution of war crimes accusing Max of betraying his fellow Dutchmen. C sent a copy of it to Weidner for his approval because he claimed that Weidner accused Max of causing the arrests in Paris in February 1944.

Weidner’s response was short: you have completely inverted what I said. Max was in no way responsible for those arrests. But in January 1991, Weidner received a letter from the Dutch prosecutor for war crimes asking about the arrests in Toulouse on December 31 1943.

This time Weidner answered more fully, explaining that he had investigated the arrests in Toulouse when he was in charge of the Dutch Security Services in France and concluded that a Belgian had betrayed the three Dutchmen, two Belgians and one Irish RAF officer at the hotel that last morning of 1943. He also defended Max from any blame in Toulouse or Paris and suggested various places where the prosecutor could find the files from the 1940s.

The paper trail ends there. I don’t know whether Max was called in for questioning or whether C launched a less official campaign against him. In any case, it couldn’t have been easy to have that rumor following him for fifty years and more.