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As one of the Nazi’s most sought-after underground leaders, John Henry Weidner lived in constant risk of arrest and imprisonment for his rescue work as leader of the Dutch-Paris Escape Line. Despite the danger, Weidner kept a full file of correspondence, receipts, copies of fake transit visas and other “illegal” documents at his apartment. When Weidner emigrated to the US after the war, he brought these files with him.
In 2009, Janet Holmes Carper, of Cornish, Maine began translating letters that went back and forth between members of the Weidner family before and during the war. The letters, many written with code names, reveal the stresses and affections of a family struggling to remain cohesive under Nazi occupation. Code names became necessary to hide the identiities of John Weidner and his sister Gabrielle who assisted Weidner in rescue work. Gabrielle was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a prison camp in Poland where she died.
Weidner, a Dutch citizen, spoke and wrote in French. His parents wrote to him in Dutch. A sister wrote in Italian. In addition to Carper’s translations of the letters in French, letters in Dutch were translated by Anthony Sluis of Toms River, New Jersey. Taped interviews of Annette Hipleh Weidner were translated from Italian by Anna Rein of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Carper’s book, The Weidners in Wartime: Daily Life and Heroism. Family Correspondence During World War II, is now being offered to publishers.