Searching for the Dutch-Paris Escape Line
I think that everyone can agree that the launch of the Dutch translation of my book on Dutch-Paris, Gewone Helden (Ordinary Heroes), in Amsterdam on 10 November 2016 was a great success. Many thanks to Maarten Eliasar and his extended family for organizing the symposium and watching over every last detail.
Just over 280 people came to the symposium at the Amsterdam Hilton, including family members of 18 Dutch-Paris resisters and several Engelandvaarders and Jewish refugees who were helped by Dutch-Paris. It was a great honor to have them there, especially Joke Folmer, who escorted many Allied aviators across occupied Holland before passing them to Dutch-Paris (and other lines). We were also pleased to be joined by the ambassador of Israel, the consul general of the United States and the consul general of France.
I was on a strict time table, so I told the short version of the story of Dutch-Paris, followed by a panel discussion. Hans Blom and Ad van Liempt shared their thoughts on why individuals chose to resist. Onno Sinke gave us the short version of possible transgenerational consequences for families of resisters. I know that everyone in the audience would have liked to hear more about that. By that time there wasn’t much time left, so we could take only a few questions from the audience. It was then my honor to present a book to a representative of each of the resister families who were there.
That was followed by a public reception and a private reception. I can’t report on either because I was busy signing books. But I apologize to everyone I did not get a chance to talk to. There were so many people I was hoping to meet in person who I know were there. I hope we’ll get another chance.
All of that was followed by a private dinner for family of members of Dutch-Paris or people they helped, including both children and grandchildren who came from the Netherlands, Sweden, France, England, Spain and the US. Most of them had not met each other before, or even heard a coherent story about their parent’s or grandparent’s wartime resistance. But several told me that they felt like they had found long lost family among each other.
Thank you to everyone who attended for giving the ordinary heroes of Dutch-Paris the recognition they deserve.