It’s hard for many of us to imagine the atmosphere and circumstances in which Dutch-Paris operated. It’s hard to comprehend the emotional and physical difficulties of recruiting people into a life of clandestine danger for an unknown period because so many of us take our freedoms and ease (plenty of food, heat, clothing) for granted.

Here’s a story from a village in the French Pyrenees, close to the Spanish border, that might help illuminate the times. On the 10th of September 1943 a dozen or so people gathered in a private home to listen to the 9:30 pm broadcast of the BBC from London. Listening to the BBC was a crime in Occupied Europe, including France. But how much of a crime could listening to the radio be? A fine, maybe a couple of days in prison?

On that particular day in that particular village, the radio was turned up so loud that you could hear it from the street. A passing German patrol must have heard it because they burst in through the door, shooting into the air.

A French housewife who happened to be walking down the street with her four year old child took fright at the shots and ran away as any sensible mother would do. The Germans shot her too, once in the right arm and once in the right thigh. Eventually they allowed her to be taken to the hospital in the nearest town, but they took their time about it.

They next day the Germans arrested the man who had organized these public performances of the BBC, seized his radio, and deported him to a concentration camp. Where he died. For listening to the radio.

It’s not surprising that less than 10% of the population joined the Resistance. It’s rather surprising that so many did.