Underground efforts Jean (John) Weidner, a Dutch merchant in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, led the escape line known as Dutch-Paris. Its more than 300 members rescued around 3,000 people, including Jews, resistance fighters and Allied airmen. –wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com
You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.
You have probably heard of The Underground Railroad. This is how many slaves were able to escape to freedom. Several of them would run away and travel north to New England states and/or up into Canada to gain independence. Many good people would shelter and feed these persecuted ones and help them along their way. Some of these good people even became “conductors” on the underground railroad. That means, they would help groups of escaping slaves on a regular basis. And because of their bravery, they were able to bring many people to freedom.
However, slavery was not the only tragedy to produce an underground railroad. When Hitler was trying to harm all the Jews, many people stepped up to bring these people to safety. Many survivors from World War II have shared their stories of escape and of the good people who helped them stay safe or fed as they traveled.
A Dutch textile merchant, Jean (pronounced John) Weidner and his wife, Elisabeth Cartier, who were living in Nazi occupied France at the time, received a letter one day from a Jewish couple asking for his help in their escape to Switzerland. The Weidner’s had no underground connections and had never done anything like this before. As it was, they hardly knew this couple, but decided to risk their lives because they thought it was the right thing to do. The couple was being held in a French prison, and somehow the Weidner’s were able to take them and get them across the border into Switzerland where they were free and safe.
Amazingly, this grew into and became known as the Dutch-Paris escape line, one of the most successful underground railroads of World War II. In the course of a few years what started with two people, turned into a massive resistance party of approximately 330 who were able to rescue about 3000 people! And it ran through the countries of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France into Switzerland and Spain.
Not only did this group end up helping Jews, but they also helped many Allied airmen (who had to bail out of their planes into enemy territory), as well as the resistance fighters, to slow down Hitler’s army. They learned helpful things like how to get food on the black market, forge documents and obtain cash when needed.
Of course, not all the Jews, resistance fighters and Allied airmen were able to be saved, but for the ones that were, they and their families were very thankful to the people who were courageous enough to stand up for what they thought was right and work on this invisible underground railroad.
This reminds me of Jesus’ words in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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