Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
The arrest of one member of a resistance group obviously caused a great deal of concern for everyone else in the group. They worried about the welfare of their arrested colleague, of course, but they also worried about what that person might be “persuaded” to reveal about the rest of them.
The anxiety was magnified by the fact that you did not necessarily know why a person was arrested. The resisters knew that they had been breaking the law, but the police did not always know it. If someone had been arrested as a suspected resister, then you had reason to fear that he or she would be tortured, but only if the police suspected his or her resistance work.
The German authorities and local police arrested people for so many reasons during the war that it was not unreasonable to hope that an arrest had nothing to do with resistance activity. Clearly, if police surrounded the building in which resisters were meeting and arrested them all, the police knew about the resistance work. But what if someone were arrested in the metro or outside the train station? The German authorities often rounded up people in public places because their documents were out of order or to use as hostages. In Belgium in 1944, they shanghaied forced labor by arresting whatever young men they found on the street. Two Dutch-Paris couriers were picked up off the streets of Brussels and deported to Germany as forced labor. They were never questioned about resistance activity, or anything else, so their arrests posed no danger to their colleagues.
Similarly, what if the person was carrying a large amount of food at the time of arrest? The police often arrested people on suspicion of black marketeering, which involved different police and different laws than resistance. A Dutch-Paris courier was arrested on the Dutch-Belgian border and given a fine for black marketeering because he had had the foresight to bring a pound of butter with him. That, fortunately, was the end of the matter for him and everyone else. If the guard had suspected the courier’s real reason for sneaking over the border, however, the affair would have ended much differently.