JOHN WEIDNERS AND THE DUTCH-PARIS ESCAPE LINE is the intimate story, told in their own words, of a family separated by war. Despite the dangers of writing under the inspection of censors, their letters paint a vivid portrait of decent human beings fighting valiantly to maintain their courage, their humor, and their faith during one of history’s darkest hours. It so happens that one member of the family is also a leader of the resistance, whose heroic actions to save fleeing refugees will make him a hunted man and one of the greatest rescuers of World War II.
Through these never-before-published documents—expertly selected, translated, and introduced by Janet Holmes Carper—readers will encounter the daily lives of an “ordinary” but remarkable family bound together by their deep love for each other and by their prolific correspondence across great distances. The frequently unvarnished words of the Weidners (including Jean; his spirited younger sisters, Gabrielle and Annette; his stalwart parents, “Papa” and “Mama” Weidner; and his fiancé and soon-to-be bride, Elisabeth Cartier) provide a unique window into historical events that continue to resonate in the present. Jean’s secret resistance work is barely alluded to in the family’s letters. What emerges instead are the distinctive personalities, voices, and moral characters of the Weidners as they face the harsh realities of the war with as much bravery and good cheer as they can muster.
The Weidners in Wartime builds to a devastating climax, raising profound questions about humanity and inhumanity, loyalty and betrayal, duty, and sacrifice, that do not admit easy answers and that linger after the book is set down. These letters, written more than 75 years ago, might inspire in new generations a commitment to selfless and courageous action in the spirit of Jean, Gabrielle, Annette, and the other members of the Dutch-Paris escape line.