In the last post I mentioned that different resistance groups sometimes crossed in a single person. This was especially true among what is sometimes called the humanitarian resistance, ie resisters who offered aid to fugitives and prisoners. The nature of that illegal work meant that a lot of people had to be involved to provide money, false documents, shelter, food, medical care etc etc. It also meant that the word got out that so-and-so was willing to help.

John Weidner certainly had such a reputation in Annecy, near the Swiss border, in late 1942. In fact, he got to be so well known that the French and German police had several talks with him about it. Finally, in September 1943, he was too well known and had to go underground completely. Other resisters, however, were able to remain in their normal lives despite a widespread reputation for helping.

Such a reputation could certainly endanger the resister. But it could also help the cause by connecting fugitives with helpers and other helpers with each other.

Here’s an example. In early 1944 a Dutch priest with solid resistance credentials and a Dutch secret agent who had parachuted into the country from England made their own way from the Netherlands to Switzerland. There, they were introduced to Dutch-Paris for the rest of their journey to Spain (and then on to England). Because they were both old enough to take care of themselves and one was a trained secret agent, they were given false documents and careful instructions and sent from Geneva to Toulouse on their own. They managed to get lost almost immediately but they had the resources to continue on their journey nonetheless. In Toulouse they went to the house belonging to the order to which the Dutch priest belonged. His brother priests there had heard about a Dutch priest in town with a reputation for helping fugitives.

And who did our fugitive priest and his secret agent traveling companion meet at the rectory of this helpful Dutch priest? John Weidner, who had himself just escaped from prison and was hiding with the helpful priest, who just happened to belong to Dutch-Paris. So Weidner put the two back onto the Dutch-Paris route and they made it to Spain without serious mishap.

That was surely not the only time that that Dutch priest living in Toulouse served as a connector between resisters from different organizations.  So it was not necessarily bad to have a reputation as a resister.  It just depended on who heard the rumor.