Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
There was a shortage of accurate information during the war, especially among resisters who by necessity used layers of false names and subterfuge to protect themselves. Rumors abounded in the Resistance, nowhere more so, I suspect, than in the prisons and concentration camps where resisters tried to figure out what went wrong.
In the case of Dutch-Paris, there was a young Dutchman living in Paris during the war whom we’ll call Tony. Tony acted as a liaison of sorts between Dutch-Paris and another Dutch escape line and was one of those charmed resisters who had a knack for just missing being arrested. That happened again in February 1944 when so many members of Dutch-Paris did not escape arrest.
After the survivors returned from the concentration camps, a small group insisted that Tony had betrayed them even after another individual confessed to having given everyone’s names under torture.
Why did these survivors insist that Tony had betrayed them? Was it just that they didn’t believe in the coincidence of Tony not being arrested when they were? Was it because the most influential member of that group had never liked Tony in the first place? It might have been partly for these reasons, but it was undoubtedly also because of what happened a few nights before the big round-up.
Around 10:30pm, which was very late in blacked-out, curfew-restricted Paris, a tall Dutch looking man calling himself Tony rang the doorbell of a woman we’ll call Micheline, who fed and lodged fugitives for Dutch-Paris. He asked for another member of the group by name, and when Micheline acted surprised, the stranger rattled off a few more names of Dutch-Paris members.
Upset by this encounter, Micheline told one of the people “Tony” had asked for about it the next day. She replied that, because he was tall, sounded Dutch, and knew people’s names, it must have been the Tony who worked with Dutch-Paris. After they had all been arrested (except Tony and some others) a few days later, Micheline saw the stranger from walking freely around Gestapo headquarters. From this she deduced that Tony had betrayed them. It’s unlikely that she kept her suspicions to herself during the long months in Fresnes prison and Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Micheline survived to return to an empty apartment in the summer of 1945. She told John Weidner her suspicions. Weidner was one of the people who escaped the round-up in February 1944 and had taken command of the Netherlands Security Service in France and Belgium in November 1944. He had made it his business to find out why his people had been arrested and was convinced that Tony was innocent. He introduced Tony to Micheline, who admitted that she had never seen him before. The stranger at her door was some other Tony, who undoubtedly knew the address and names because the courier had already given them under torture by that date.
The damage to Tony’s reputation was done, though. He was so upset at the accusations of treason that he volunteered for the Dutch military and spent the next few years in Indonesia.