Elsje Boon, leader of a University of Leiden student-run escape line, when interviewed about her group after the war, said it was not so much an “organization” as a “list of contacts.” By contrast, the Smit-van der Heijden Line probably came closer to being an organization in the conventional sense because it could rely on the services of a significant number of armed, trained police stationed in permanent locations. But even so, Karst Smit and Eugene van der Heijden depended on their contacts with other groups to receive and forward airmen and other fugitives from the Nazis. The following is a tentative list of some of those groups. I will be adding more as time permits.
Armée Secrète (Secret Army) – Karst delivered intelligence to Albert De Coninck of the A.S., or Secret Army. According to researcher Philippe Connart, the A.S. was the largest Belgian Resistance organization, formerly known as the Légion Belge, and was based on regular Army servicemen. It had the closest relationship to London of any Belgian Resistance group.
BM Line – Leiden University escape line of students led by Elsje Boon and Pieter Wibbens. She was one of many betrayed by Christiaan Lindemans, also known as King Kong. She escaped from the train taking her and other prisoners to the concentration camp at Vught. In 1946, Elsie Boon and her future husband appeared in a film dramatization of their Resistance activities, which can be viewed at http://wn.com/Zes_jaren_1946. For more on her, see http://www.eindhovenfotos.nl/Els_boon.htm.
Bravery Line – In March 1942, Edouard Cleeren, a Belgian Army officer, was parachuted into Belgium to reorganize the BRAVE line into what became the BRAVERY line, an exclusively intelligence line. Charlotte Ambach began to work for him. When he was arrested, she contacted Ernest Van Moorleghem, whose name had been given to her by Cleeren. Subsequently Van Moorleghem was put in touch with Alphonse Escrinier of Service EVA. Consequently, Karst Smit, through his contacts with Charlotte Ambach, her mother Elise Chabot, and Ernest Van Moorleghem, was connected to the Bravery Line and Service EVA.
CDJ/JVD (Comité de Défense des Juifs/Joods Verdedigingscomiteit) – In English this was the Jewish Defense Committee of Belgium. Contact with it would have been through Benjamin (Benno) Maurits Nijkerk and possibly Mauritz Bolle, both also part of the Dutch-Paris Line. The CDJ/JVD had as its number one priority the rescuing of Jewish children. The organization is credited with saving 3000-4000 children.
Comet Line – Its escape route ran from Brussels to Spain. It was the best known escape line, aided the greatest number of Allied airmen, and lasted the longest, in spite of arrests of many of its members.
CS-6 – In a letter to Yad Vashem, Eugene van der Heijden listed as one of their contacts, “Boissevain, Corellistraat 6, Amsterdam.” According to the Amsterdam Stadsarchief, Jan Boissevain and his wife Adrienne Minette (Mies) Boissevain-van Lennep, and their children lived at that address. Since Jan was arrested in 1941, it appears that Van der Heijden’s contact probably was with Mies and/or one of her sons, Janka and Gi. Their address may have been the origin of the name of their Resistance group, CS-6. The connection to the Boissevain family may have been through Elise Chabot and Charlotte Ambach. According to Charlotte, the Boissevain family was related to friends of Chabot. In the late 1930s two of the Chabot sons, John and Fred, stayed at the Double Arrow Ranch in Montana owned by the Boissevain family, first as guests, then as employees. Another possible source of this contact was Alphonse Theissing who, according to his Stichting 1940-1945 file, was a part of the “Boissevain Group.” See “Dutch Paris” below for more on Theissing.
Dutch-Paris of Jan Weidner. Connections through Benno Nijkerk (see above under CDJ); Alphonse Theissing, a businessman from Amsterdam; and Dick Meerburg, a lawyer in Enschede. Alphonse Theissing and Dick Meerburg were identified by Eugene van der Heijden in a letter to Yad Vashem in 1978 as persons through whom the Smit-Van der Heijden Line was able to help Jews.
Groupe Albert/Rolin/Mariette – Members of this group who overlapped with the Smit-Van der Heijden Line included Charlotte Ambach, Elise Chabot, Ernest Van Moorleghem, Elsie Boon, and Marie Krauss. Henriette (Jet) Roosenburg and Jan Wannee of the Fiat Libertas/Luctor et Emergo group also appear on the list of contacts in Groupe Albert, etc.
Group Andre of Sprang-Capelle
Jules Haeck Group of Hengelo. According to Bob de Graaff in his book Stepping Stones to Freedom, p. 107, “the Haeck group … maintained contact points along the Tilburg-Goirle-Baarle route.”
L.O./L.K.P. – There were extensive contacts with this group through Cor van der Hooft of Breda and Ton Hoogenraad of Tilburg.
Leermakers, Piet of Biest-Houtakker. He was an intermediary for some Allied airmen passed to him by the Moergestel group whom he passed on to Karst Smit’s group.
Luctor et Emergo/Fiat Libertas of Jan Wannee. Connections between the Smit-van der Heijden line and Fiat Libertas included (1) Joke Folmer, who knew Willem Schmidt, both being from Zeist (a report by Nel Lind in Joke’s helper file lists Schmidt as someone with whom Joke worked); Willem Schmidt’s helper file lists Joke Folmer among people with whom he worked; (2) Elsje Boon, who was a friend of Henriette “Jet” Roosenburg at the University of Leiden and later took over some of the latter’s Intelligence work for Fiat Libertas after Roosenburg was arrested and who was assisted across the Dutch-Belgian border by Karst Smit on occasion; (3) Pieter Wibbens, whose family records show him as working with Jet Roosenburg, Nel Lind, and Jan Kielstra of Fiat Libertas; (4) the escape of Charles Pahud de Mortanges across the Dutch border into Belgium, which was assisted by Karst Smit and Jet Roosenburg (see the biography of Pahud de Mortanges, Man en Paard, by J.P.A. van Ballegoijen de Jong, and Karst’s list of Engelandvaarders he helped), (5) Nel Van Gellicum in Brussels, helped by Karst Smit to escape from The Netherlands, who put Jan Wannee in touch with Elise Chabot and her daughter Charlotte Ambach; (6) Ernest van Moorleghem and Elise Chabot; (7) Charlotte Ambach, who identified the Bergmans of Bree, passeurs for Fiat Libertas, as contacts and appears to have picked up airmen from them on one occasion; (8) Mrs. Drukker of Amersfoort, who was a source of airmen for Willem Schmidt as well as sister of Nel Lind, head of the escape line for Fiat Libertas; (9) Jan Wannee himself–Wannee, in a statement in his helper’s file, said that he kept in close contact with Karst when using the Baarle-Naasau-Weelde route; and (10) Eduard Veterman a key maker of false ID for Fiat Libertas in his book Keizersgracht 763, pg. 17 mentions Elise Chabot as a link to the Belgian Intelligence Service (her apartment was the reception point for Allied airmen brought by Karst Smit, Eugene van der Heijden, and Willem Schmidt. (Chabot’s daughter Charlotte Ambach mentioned picking up false ID from Veterman.) In addition, the National Archives II (College Park, Maryland) helper file on Jan Wannee contains a report by Wannee mentioning the important role played by Van Moorleghem. For more on Luctor et Emergo/Fiat Libertas, click here.
Meppel-Staphorst line of Peter Van Den Hurk. A portion of the airmen helped by Peter van den Hurk were passed on to the Smit-Van der Heijden Line, namely, Conroy, Cullum, Fidler, Mellor, Penney, and Woollard.
Portemine (Porte-Mine) of Service Zero of Alphonse Escrinier and René Ponty in Brussels. Contact with Service Zero was also through Marie Krauss, also of Brussels, who cited René Delvozal and René Caussin as her contacts to Zero.
Service EVA in Brussels – Contacts were through Charlotte Ambach and Elise Chabot. There also was some contact with Alphonse Escrinier, one of the leaders of EVA by phone. To see my interview with Charlotte Ambach, click here.
Sprang-Capelle. The helper files of two key figures in the Sprang-Capelle group contain references to contacts with Theo Soontiens (Soontjes), secretary of the Hilvarenbeek town hall, suggesting a possible link to the Smit-van der Heijden group. He was one of those listed by Karst Smit in his letter of 26 Sept. 1945 regarding a reunion in Baarle-Nassau of helpers of Allied airmen, by David Jonkers in his Vragenlijst of his contacts, and in Chapter 7, De illegaliteit, of Kees van Kemenade’s book, Hilvarenbeek, 1940-1945.
ter Galestin Group. According to the book Stepping Stones, pp. 114-115, engineer C.J.A. (“Caspar,” “John”) ter Galestin (Caspar ter Galestin), a civil servant in the State Office for Chemical Products in The Hague, led an intelligence-gathering service. In 1943 “ter Galestin was approached about moving downed airmen. This brought him in touch with Brummans of Weert who had established an escape line named ‘St. John’ on behalf of Piet Gerbrands and Fiat Libertas.” The ter Galestin line was infiltrated by Abwehr agents Christmann, Leemhuis, van Bree, and Rouwendaal. Mr. and Mrs. Jannink of Enschede of the Smit-van der Heijden Line, came into contact with the ter Galestin group and unwittingly received the American airman Elton Kevil from Van Bree, who was pretending to be a legitimate guide of airmen for the Resistance, in October 1943. They were arrested the following January. Kevil made it successfully to Gibraltar. That he was not arrested even before being delivered to the Janninks and that the Janninks were not arrested until some three months after receiving Kevil suggests that the Abwehr was seeking to infiltrate and destroy the Smit-van der Heijden Line. How the Janninks came into contact with the ter Galestin group remains to be determined.