Because there’s no written history of Dutch-Paris, or even a complete list of names of its members, I’ve been reconstructing the line following the trail of names in the archives.

That trail was first laid in 1944-1945 when various authorities asked the survivors to give them the names of other people involved. The Dutch Red Cross asked those who returned from the concentration camps for the names of the people who had been arrested and the names of other inmates whom they had seen die in the camps.  The French government asked John Weidner for the names of all those who would qualify for the benefits the French awarded to authentic resisters.  The resisters mentioned their colleagues in their reports to the Americans and British.

Once I have a name I can look for it in the relevant archives. It helps a lot to know the person’s nationality and where they were active because there’s no point in looking in the French archives for a Dutch woman who only got as far south as Belgium. It also helps to know how to spell a person’s name, or how the French are most likely to spell a Dutch name or vice versa.

There are some names, though, that never lead anywhere. For instance, one of the resisters mentioned in a report that so-and-so was arrested after a certain Egberts was arrested. I duly noted the name “Egberts”. No indication of where this Egberts was operating, so I’ve been looking for him in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.


Until yesterday when I was reading a report that a Dutchman living in Paris wrote for a French intelligence service in 1945. This man played a very important role in Dutch-Paris so his reports are usually about 1943-1944 and the evasion of aviators or about his mistreatment in the concentration camps. But this time he started from the beginning, May 1940, and he mentions Egberts.

Egberts, it turns out, was a German agent provocateur whose real name began with a W. He infiltrated the primarily French resistance group that our Dutchman had been involved with in 1941-1942 and caused the arrests of most of the group. At least one of them was executed in 1943.

So Egberts wasn’t a resister at all; he was a German agent! No wonder I couldn’t find him in the French, Belgian or Dutch archives. I might have found him in the German archives, if I could find those particular German archives, but only if I’d been looking under W and he’d mentioned his code name for that particular operation.

That’s one little Dutch-Paris mystery solved.  And a warning to the historian: the sources are not always accurate. Some lie deliberately, and some are gulled by those who do lie.