Some people ended up in the Resistance bit by bit, because their first act of kindness led to another, that led them to do something else that led onward to something else. That was the case with John Henry Weidner who started out by offering entirely legal assistance to Dutch nationals interned in French camps and ended up leading a multinational rescue operation.

Others propelled themselves deep into illegality without any forethought through the force of their moral outrage. Such was the case with the truck driver and farm wife whose story I quote below. It comes from a collection by the courageous men and women of CIMADE about their efforts to comfort and save the prisoners in the French internment camps, who were mostly Jews. (On occasion Dutch-Paris and CIMADE worked together to rescue particular individuals in danger.)

“One day the young driver of the truck carrying me [Jeanne Merle d’Aubigny] said brusquely, “Do you see that farm? The farmer’s wife did me a great service. Yesterday I had gone to get vegetables in the station at Limoges. While I was loading, I saw a German armored train enter. From the cars came screams, children crying, yells: ‘Papa, Mamma!…’ Mademoiselle, I could not stand to hear that. I backed my truck up to the door of the last car. All the guards were up front. I opened the locks and made a sign to about twenty kids from five to fourteen years old to jump into the truck. In less time than it takes to tell it, they were hidden under the vegetables. I carefully put back the locks and drove around to leave the station. But, what to do with that merchandise? Passing in front of this farm, I asked the advice of that woman. She told me: ‘Unload them here. I’ll take charge then.’ This morning I stopped and asked how it was going. She answered: ‘It’s OK. They are all stowed away in the vicinity.” *

And there you have a community turned into outlaws overnight because they wouldn’t stand aside to allow children to be persecuted.

*Jeanne Merle d’Aubigny and Violette Mouchon, eds. God’s Underground: Accounts of the Activity of the French Protestant Church during the German Occupation of the Country in World War II. Trans. William and Patricia Nottingham. St Louis: Bethany Press, 1970. p. 94.