A friend was telling me about the “new networking” in which the important thing is not who you know but what they know about you. I can see how that might be true if you’re looking for a job in 2017, but it was certainly not true in the Resistance during the Second World War.

There were most definitely some qualifications that you wanted to keep quiet about during the war, such as: nerves of steel, strong convictions, excellent forger, terrific at dissembling, or willing to undertake hazardous journeys.

The story of Dutch-Paris makes it very clear that for both helpers and those they helped, it was who you knew that mattered most. After all, how did Jews and resisters who needed to escape occupied territory find Dutch-Paris or any other rescue network? Word of mouth. They knew someone with a connection to the line. That someone might be a cousin who worked for Dutch-Paris, or it could have been a French official whom they just met but who whispered a suggestion to find so-and-so who would know where to get help. One Jewish couple got out of the Netherlands because the woman’s hairdresser had a cousin who worked as a Maréchaussee on the Belgian border. An Engelandvaarder found Dutch-Paris because when his mother was in prison she had befriended another resister who knew someone who knew someone in the line.

And how did the resisters know that the person asking for help was not an agent provocateur laying a trap for them and all their colleagues? They had to either trust their instinct for judging a stranger’s character or trust the word of the person introducing them as genuine fugitives.

After agreeing to help someone, how did the helpers find the things they needed for the task, such as false documents, information, rationed goods and money? Again, personal relationships. The leaders of Dutch-Paris made a point of making friends with civil servants with access to identity registers and information. They cultivated their relationships with shopkeepers and innkeepers. They did not hide somewhere and issue orders. They traveled constantly through France and Belgium to talk to their colleagues in Brussels, Paris, Toulouse and Lyon and sometimes to buy them a decent meal.

Dutch-Paris was built on personal relationships and operated on personal relationships. It was all about who you knew.