The Weidner Foundation was established in 1996 by John’s wife, Naomi, to provide leadership, guidance, and support to the newly formed John Henry Weidner Center for Cultivation of the Altruistic Spirit. Originally housed at Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts, the Center served primarily as an archive of documents, artifacts, and materials related to the Dutch-Paris Line. In the Foundation’s first year, Bert Beach served as Executive Director. Between 1997 and 2018, vital leadership was also provided by Kurt Ganter and Lawrence Geraty in the roles of director and chair. For one decade, historian Alberto Sbacchi served as curator of the Weidner Collection and conducted research to write a biography of Weidner.
After Professor Sbacchi’s untimely death in 2006, the Foundation made the decision to move the Weidner Collection to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 2009, the Board also commissioned historian Megan Koreman to continue Dr. Sbacchi’s work and write a book not only about Weidner but about the Dutch-Paris Line in its entirety. After years of research in more than 30 archives in both Europe and the United States, made possible through Foundation funding and exclusive access to the Weidner Collection, Professor Koreman’s book, The Escape Line, was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press. (The book was also published in Dutch under the title Gewone Helden.)
In addition to preserving the history and memory of John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line, the Foundation aims to support persons engaged in altruistic actions in the present, and particularly college and university students. In 2006, Foundation board member and sociology professor William Ervin helped to create the first Weidner Chapter at Butler University in Indiana. In partnership with the Indianapolis Downtown Rotary Club, the Chapter provides an annual scholarship award to two deserving Butler students. The Weidner Foundation also offers research grants to college and university students conducting research using the Weidner Collection.
In 2018, Tanja Magas was appointed Board Chair and Ronald Osborn was appointed Executive Director. The Foundation is committed to continuing to find creative new ways to share Weidner’s story and to advance our mission of “cultivating selfless and courageous action in the spirit of John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line.” Our next major undertakings include telling the story of Weidner and the Line as a high quality film and establishing an annual John Henry Weidner Award.
A Child of Dutch-Paris
Born in 1959, I owe my life to the people of Dutch Paris who helped my father, a persecuted Jew, to reach Switzerland in July 1943 after he had escaped from the Netherlands in the summer of 1942. My father’s year-long and high-risk journey required the ingenuity and courage of those who were willing to help him, despite the risks this brought for their own lives and the lives of their family members. Altruistic behavior cannot be taken for granted. It makes me grateful to be part of the heritage of Dutch-Paris.
—Maarten Eliasar, Chair, Weidner Foundation Advisory Board
Our Officers and Board of Directors
William Ervin (Secretary)
Brent G.T. Geraty
Lawrence Geraty, Ph.D (Chair Emeritus)
Tanja Magas (Chair)
Frank Mazzaglia, Ed.D (Agent)
Stephen F. Morgan (Treasurer)
Ronald Osborn, Ph.D (Executive Director)
Astrid Wendth Piscitelli
Ali Sahabi (President)
Our Advisory Council
Bert B. Beach, Ph.D (Chairman Emeritus)
Reinder Bruinsma, Ph.D
Maarten Eliasar, MD (Chairman)
Eva Fogelman, Ph.D
Lourdes Gudmundsson, Ph.D
Edward Lugenbeal, Ph.D
Bob Moore, Ph.D
Ronnie Swartz, Ph.D