Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
In early March 1944, Weidner asked one of his lieutenants, whom we’ll call Jacques, to take his sister from Paris to Switzerland. Because most of their Dutch-Paris colleagues in Paris had been arrested in the previous few days Jacques had to assume that the police had his description and that every address along the usual route was compromised. So he disguised himself and took the young woman along a more difficult route, known only to him, Weidner and one other colleague.
The news of the arrests that he had to report in Switzerland was so monumental, that Jacques did not bother to describe his own flight from Paris. But he did record his expenses.
Spectacles – 330 French francs
Shower and haircu – 120 French francs
Dry cleaning for his suit – 90 French francs
Timbres fiscaux (official stamps) – 150 French francs
Train tickets to a village on the Swiss border – 1,500 French francs, plus 10 French francs surtax
Tip – 100 French francs
“Gift” – 5,000 French francs
From this we can deduce that Jacques changed his own appearance with a new haircut and glasses he didn’t need. Because he cleaned himself and his suit up, he appears to have disguised himself as a respectable middle-age man. The price of the train tickets, the surtax and the tip suggest that he and Weidner’s sister took a sleeping car in an overnight train or traveled first class the way respectable people with nothing to hide did.
The timbres fiscaux would have been the sort of stamps that you purchased to pay for some sort of official document. In this case the document was probably a false identity card given some authenticity by the presence of a wholly legitimate official stamp. He may have had a new false identity card made up for Weidner’s sister as well, possibly so that they both shared a false last name to make the story of their respectable travel more believable. However, 150 frs would have bought enough stamps to pay for more than a dozen identity cards, so perhaps he bought them both a whole set of false documents.
As for the “gift,” which really meant a bribe, it could have been used for so many things. Jacques probably did not use it for the trip between Paris and the Alpine village because he traveled that path many times without a bribe. He might have used it on the Swiss border to pay a professional guide to take them over the border somewhere different than any of the usual Dutch-Paris crossings. Indeed, they skied over the border along a route that was so difficult that Miss Weidner arrived in Switzerland in a state of exhaustion. The most physical exertion required by the usual Dutch-Paris routes was a fair bit of walking and a brief sprint up a small hill, but that had never worn out even the oldest or youngest fugitives.
Jacques might also have paid the bribe before he left Paris in order to find out information about his colleagues who had been imprisoned or to somehow ameliorate their situation by sending them food or the like.
These were extraordinary expenses in that it was the only time that Jacques escorted Weidner’s sister to Switzerland, but except for the bribe, they were nothing out of the ordinary. Resistance was expensive, especially for a network that covered so much territory.