Weidner WWII Collection Opens to Researchers

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The John Henry Weidner Collection at the Hoover Institute on the Stanford University campus is now open to the public. This collection of correspondence, speeches, government documents, and audiovisual materials related to the Dutch-Paris escape route — 45.6 linear feet in all — documents how Weidner, a Seventh-day Adventist layman, managed a WWII escape line for political refugees, Jews and Allied servicemen evading the Nazis in occupied Europe.

The collection includes 96 manuscript boxes, 12 oversized boxes, one card file box, and nine motion picture film reels. It also includes related materials collected by Alberto Sbacchi, Ph.D. while he was a Professor of History at Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Massachusetts as well as records of the John Henry Weidner Foundation for Altruism.

The documents at Hoover include testimonials written by people rescued by Dutch-Paris, bi-weekly reports written by Weidner about line activities and morale in occupied France and Belgium, photographs of members of Dutch-Paris taken during the war, correspondence between Weidner, the Dutch Ambassador to Switzerland and the President of the World Council of Churches about rescue operations and Dutch-Paris's clandestine courier service, and photographs, taken during the war, of the section of the Swiss border where Dutch-Paris smuggled refugees into Switzerland.

The Weidner Collection, along with documents consulted at 31 European archives, is at the heart of the first book to fully document how a WWII escape line operated. That book The Escape Line: How the Ordinary Heroes of Dutch-Paris Resisted the Nazi Occupation of Western Europe by Megan Koreman Ph.D. was released by the Oxford University Press in May of this year and uses recently declassified and discovered archives to piece together the experience of the men and women in a resistance network that stretched from the Netherlands to Switzerland and Spain.

The 330 men and women in the network were students, ministers, priests, shopkeepers, farmers, policemen, widows and businessmen living in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland. The only thing they had in common was a determination to protect the persecuted from the Nazis. German police arrested 82 members of the line, tortured many of them, and deported 49 of them to the concentration camps. Fourteen died there, including Weidner's sister.

The Escape Line is Dr. Koreman's second book on WWII. Her first book, The Expectation of Justice: France 1944-1946 (Duke UP, 1999) explores the liberation of three French towns.

A listing of the Weidner Collection holdings at Hoover can be found at:

https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8kd2194/

 

This press release was written and provided by Kurt Ganter is Director of Archives at The John Henry Weidner Foundation for Altruism.

 

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