|them shut, and put them
in the remotest corner of the attic, where even the Gestapo, we were sure,
would not find them among the bric-a-brac accumulated there for at least
a century. This took us another two hours.
The French police or the
German Gestapo could come. We were ready for them. Yet neither
showed up. The police had not put two and two together. They
had merely kept Jean in prison without even attempting to go to the source
of his material, which was obviously the seminary.
Jean was sentenced to a
few months in jail in early 1944. We heard that he jumped from the
train that was taking him to prison. None of us has ever heard anything
more about him. As for Jacques Soulier, how he wept over his mutilated
books. We were unmoved, imagining the French police or, God forbid,
the Gestapo, discovering his fine collection of spy paraphernalia.
THE GESTAPO HOTEL
There was another close
call. But this time it was not someone else's fault which almost
brought me into the hands of the Gestapo.
Our underground railroad
for the American boys had always taken them from Annemasse to Toulouse.
They had to stay overnight in the city in order to begin the trip to the
Spanish frontier the next morning, crossing the Pyrenees during the second
night. The overnight stay in Toulouse was, we thought, an unnecessary
danger. Better, we thought, if we could take them to the border directly.
We planned, therefore, to take them to the Spanish frontier near Montpellier,
where they could cross into Spain the same evening, through Perpignan and
on to the Eastern Pyrenees, which were close to Montpellier.
But for this new route
we had to hire some smugglers in the Roussillon region and one of us would
have to open the route. I was chosen.
I travelled to Prades,
a small town right outside the forbidden zone the Germans had established
north of the Spanish frontier, and got in touch with a man in a village
not far from there. (Prades has, incidentally, become famous since
the war for the Casals Festival.) He was to take delivery of our
men directly and bring them over into Spain on the very day on which they
had left Annemasse. Since Prades was located outside the forbidden
zone, there did not seem to be any particular danger in this preparatory
journey of mine.
In order to make the trip
realistic, I jumped on the Annemasse express in Montpellier, alighted in
Perpignan, and changed to a small train which took me to Prades.
Arriving there, I learned there was no bus to the village of our smuggler.
I would have to do it on foot or bicycle the next morning. In the
meantime I had to find a place to stay, in one of two hotels in Prades.
On my way down into town
from the railroad station, I had noticed a few German-looking types in
the street, making their way to the hotel to the right. I hesitated.
This was not the forbidden zone, so I had a perfect right to be there.
On the other hand, there seemed to be a German post here in Prades.
But why avoid the