Ladies and gentlemen, I stand corrected.  It turns out that resisters did write a lot down.  It’s just that they wrote it down after the danger had passed.  For France that happened with the Liberation in the summer of 1944.  Belgium was liberated in September 1944, as was a southern swathe of the Netherlands.  To its immense sorrow, the northern majority of the Netherlands was not liberated until May 1945.

I am working in the Weidner Center Archives at Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Massachusetts.  It holds Weidner’s private papers and a filing cabinet full of notes that Dr. Alberto Sbacchi made in the 1990s while researching a biography of Weidner before losing his battle with cancer.  I haven’t looked through the filing cabinet yet because the correspondence is such a treasure trove.

In November 1944 the Dutch government-in-exile called Weidner to London.  He made his report on his activities during the war, including spending some of the government’s money.  He also had an audience with Queen Wilhelmina.  He returned to France as a Captain in the Dutch army with the mission of vetting all Dutch nationals in France and Belgium for political correctness.  He and his staff, most of whom he picked from the ranks of Dutch-Paris, were looking for collaborators trying to pass themselves off as persecuted patriots.

He used that position and the contacts it gave him with the Americans and British to fulfill his lifelong obligations as chef (“chief” in the sense of the chieftain of a Scottish clan) of Dutch-Paris.  He made sure that his reseau was officially recognized as a Resistance network and its members officially recognized as Resistance combattants.  That status entitled them to a number of government privileges and benefits.  He also served as the Paris correspondent of the Dutch Stichting 40-45 that allocates pensions to resisters and war victims.  And he was happy to provide information to the American MIS-X and its British counterpart who were identifying and rewarding those who had helped American and British airmen to evade and escape during the war.

These efforts provided important advantages to the members of Dutch-Paris and their survivors.  Some of those who returned from the concentration camps were so broken in their health that they could not support themselves without the pensions that Weidner helped them get.  Some of those who did not return left widows and orphans without any other support than those pensions.  And when the pensions were slow in coming, Weidner distributed what was left of his own money.

For others in better material circumstances, the official status as resisters made a difference.  Police inspectors, for instance, had been a tremendous help to Dutch-Paris but they had played a double game.  To the world, they looked like they had been collaborating.  So the combattant card might save their jobs or even their lives if they lived in an area with active vigilantes.

As times passed, the resisters aged, many of them prematurely because of the rigors of deportation.  Many of those who had not wanted a pension in the 1940’s found themselves in need of one in the ’60’s or ’70’s.

All of this created a lot of paperwork because the chef de reseau had to certify each member’s participation.  John Henry Weidner seems to have saved it all.  He even moved it across the Atlantic when he moved from Paris to Pasadena, California, in 1954.

For which I, personally, thank him.  Because if you wanted a combattant card, you needed to write a report about what you did for Dutch-Paris.  And those reports are pure gold to an historian.