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Impact Resources: Nazi Germany


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Here are some impact resources on the "Resistance to Nazism". All these resisters are German.

Martin Niemöller

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERniemoller.htm

Poem by Martin Niemöller that was said to have been written in 1946.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Kurt Huber

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERhuberK.htm

Kurt Huber, final speech in court (20th February, 1943)

As a German citizen, as a German professor, and as a political person, I hold it to be not only my right but also my moral duty to take part in the shaping of our German destiny, to expose and oppose obvious wrongs.

What I intended to accomplish was to rouse the student body, not by means of an organization, but solely by my simple words; to urge them, not to violence, but to moral insight into the existing serious deficiencies of our political system. To urge the return to clear moral principles, to the constitutional state, to mutual trust between men.

A state which suppresses free expression of opinion and which subjects to terrible punishment - yes, any and all - morally justified criticism and all proposals for improvement by characterizing them as "Preparation for High Treason" breaks an unwritten law, a law which has always lived in the sound instincts of the people and which may always have to remain.

You have stripped from me the rank and privileges of the professorship and the doctoral degree which I earned, and you have set me at the level of the lowest criminal. The inner dignity of the university teacher, of the frank, courageous protestor of his philosophical and political views - no trial for treason can rob me of that. My actions and my intentions will be justified in the inevitable course of history; such is my firm faith. I hope to God that the inner strength that will vindicate my deeds will in good time spring forth from my own people. I have done as I had to on the prompting of my inner voice.

White Rose

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERwhiterose.htm

Extract from the second leaflet published by White Rose (1942)

It is impossible to engage in intellectual discourse with National Socialism because it is not an intellectually defensible program. It is false to speak of a National Socialist philosophy, for if there were such an entity, one would have to try by means of analysis and discussion either to prove its validity or to combat it. In actuality, however, we face a totally different situation. At its very inception this movement depended on the deception and betrayal of one's fellow man; even at that time it was inwardly corrupt and could support itself only by constant lies. After all, Hitler states in an early edition of "his" book (a book written in the worst German I have ever read, in spite of the fact that it has been elevated to the position of the Bible in this nation of poets and thinkers); "It is unbelievable, to what extent one must betray a people in order to rule."

We do not want to discuss here the question of the Jews, no do we want in this leaflet to compose a defence or apology. No, only by way of example do we want to cite the fact that since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way. Here we see the most frightful crime against human dignity, a crime that is unparalleled in the whole of history.

White Rose leaflet entitled, Leaflet of the Resistance (February, 1943)

Germans! Do you and your children want to suffer the same fate that befell the Jews? Do you want to be judged by the same standards as your traducers? Are we do be forever the nation which is hated and rejected by all mankind? No. Dissociate yourselves from National Socialist gangsterism. Prove by your deeds that you think otherwise. A new war of liberation is about to begin. The better part of the nation will fight on our side. Cast off the cloak of indifference you have wrapped around you. Make the decision before it is too late! Do not believe the National Socialist propaganda which has driven the fear of Bolshevism into your bones. Do not believe that Germany's welfare is linked to the victory of National Socialism for good or ill. A criminal regime cannot achieve a victory. Separate yourself in time from everything connected with National Socialism. In the aftermath a terrible but just judgment will be meted out to those who stayed in hiding, who were cowardly and hesitant.

White Rose leaflet entitled, Fellow Fighters in the Resistance (February, 1943)

The day of reckoning has come - the reckoning of German youth with the most abominable tyrant our people have ever been forced to endure. We grew up in a state in which all free expression of opinion is ruthlessly suppressed. The Hitler Youth, the SA, the SS, have tried to drug us, to regiment us in the most promising years of our lives. For us there is but one slogan: fight against the party!

The name of Germany is dishonoured for all time if German youth does not finally rise, take revenge, smash its tormentors. Students! The German people look to us.

Sophie Scholl

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERschollS.htm

Roland Friesler, of the People's Court, describing the charges against Sophie Scholl (21st February, 1943)

The accused, Sophie Scholl, as early as the summer of 1942 took part in political discussions, in which she and her brother, Hans School, came to the conclusion that Germany had lost the war. She admits to having taken part in preparing and distributing the leaflets in 1943. Together, with her brother she drafted the text of the seditious Leaflets of the Resistance in Germany. In addition, she had a part in the purchasing of paper, envelopes and stencils, and together with her brother she actually prepared the duplicated copies of the leaflet. She put the prepared letters into various mailboxes, and she took part in the distribution of leaflets in Munich. She accompanied her brother to the university, was observed there in the act of scattering the leaflets.

Sophie Scholl, speech in court (21st February, 1943)

Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did.

Else Gebel shared Sophie Scholl's cell and recorded her last words before being taken away to be executed.

It is such a splendid sunny day, and I have to go. But how many have to die on the battlefield in these days, how many young, promising lives. What does my death matter if by our acts thousands are warned and alerted. Among the student body there will certainly be a revolt.

Munchener Neuete Nachrichten (22nd February, 1943)

On February 22, 1943, the People's Court, convened in the Court of Assizes Chamber of the Palace of Justice, sentenced to death the following persons: Hans Scholl, aged 24, and Sophia Scholl, aged 21, both of Munich, and Chrstoph Probst, aged 23, of Innsbruck, for their preparations to commit treason and their aid to the enemy. The sentence was carried out on the same day.

Typical outsiders, the condemned persons shamelessly committed offences against the armed security of the nation and the will to fight of the German people by defacing houses with slogans attacking the state and by distributing treasonous leaflets. At this time of heroic struggle on the part of the German people, these despicable criminals deserve a speedy and dishonorable death.

Hans von Kluge

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERkludge.htm

Hans von Kluge, suicide letter to Adolf Hitler (19th August, 1944)

When you receive these lines I shall be no more. I cannot bear the reproach that I have sealed the fate of the West through faulty measures, and I have no means of defending myself. I draw a conclusion from that and am dispatching myself where already thousands of my comrades are. I have never feared death. Life has no more meaning for me, and I also figure on the list of war criminals who are to be delivered up.

Our applications were not dictated by pessimism but by sober knowledge of the facts. I do not know if Field-Marshal Model, who has been proved in every sphere, will still master the situation. From my heart I hope so. Should it not be so, however, and your cherished new weapons not succeed, then, my Fuhrer, make up your mind to end the war. The German people have borne such untold suffering that it is time to put an end to this fnghtfulness. There must be ways to attain this end, and above all to prevent the Reich from falling under the Bolshevist heel.

Henning von Tresckow

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERtresckow.htm

Claus von Stauffenberg

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERstauffenberg.htm

Henning von Tresckow, message to Claus von Stauffenberg (July, 1944)

The assassination must be attempted, at any cost. Even should that fail, the attempt to seize power in the capital must be undertaken. We must prove to the world and to future generations that the men of the German Resistance movement dared to take the decisive step and to hazard their lives upon it. Compared with this, nothing else matters.

Erwin von Witzleben

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERwitzleben.htm

Adolf Hitler to Joachim von Ribbentrop (20th July, 1944)

I will crush and destroy the criminals who have dared to oppose themselves to Providence and to me. These traitors to their own people deserve ignominious death, and this is what they shall have. This time the full price will be paid by all those who are involved, and by their families, and by all those who have helped them. This nest of vipers who have tried to sabotage the grandeur of my Germany will be exterminated once and for all.

An eye-witness to the executions of some of the conspirators at Ploetzwnsee Prison on 8th August, 1944 later described what he saw.

Imagine a room with a low ceiling and whitewashed walls. Below the ceiling a rail was fixed. From it hung six big hooks, like those butchers use to hang their meat. In one corner stood a movie camera. Reflectors cast a dazzling, blinding light. At the wall there was a small table with a bottle of cognac and glasses for the witnesses of the execution. The hangman wore a permanent leer, and made jokes unceasingly. The camera worked uninterruptedly, for Hitler wanted to see and hear how his enemies died. He had the executioner come to him, and had personally arranged the details of the procedure. "I want them to be hanged, hung up like carcasses of meat." Those were his words.

Richard Sorge

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERsorge.htm

After the war Leopold Trepper met General Tominaga, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army in Manchuria. During the meeting he asked Tominaga about Richard Sorge.

"Do you know anything about Richard Sorge? I asked him.

"Naturally. When the Sorge affair broke out I was Vice-Minister of Defence."

"In that case, why was Sorge sentenced to death at the end of 1941, and not executed until November 7, 1944.? Why didn't you propose that he be exchanged? Japan and the USSR were not at war" (The USSR officially declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945)

He cut me off energetically. "Three times we proposed to the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo that Sorge be exchanged for a Japanese prisoner. Three times we got the same answer: "The man called Richard Sorge is unknown to us."

Unknown, Richard Sorge? Unknown, the man who had warned Russia of the German attack, and who had announced in the middle of the battle of Moscow than Japan would not attack the Soviet Union, thus enabling the Soviet chiefs of staff to bring fresh divisions from Siberia? They preferred to let Richard Sorge be executed rather than have another troublesome witness on their hands after the war.

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John Heartfield

Probably the most effective member of the German Resistance was Helmut Herzfelde. Born in Berlin on 19th June, 1891, his father was a socialist writer and his mother was a textile worker and trade union activist. As a result of their politics the family was forced to flee to Switzerland in 1896.

After leaving school at fourteen Herzfelde worked for a bookseller in Wiesbadenl. In 1907 he became an assistant to the painter, Hermann Bouffier, and two years later became a student at the School of Applied Arts in Munich.

In 1912 Herzefelde started work as a designer in Mannheim for a year before moving to Berlin to study under Ernst Neuman at the Arts and Crafts School.

During the First World War Herzefelde began contributing work to Die Neue Jugend, an arts journal published by his brother, Wieland Herzfelde. He was drafted into the infantry where he meets George Grosz.

Herzefelde continued to contribute illustrations to Die Neue Jugend. While working for the journal Heartfield developed a new style of work that later became known as photomontage (the production of pictures by rearranging selected details of photographs to form a new and convincing unity). A pacifist and Marxist, Herzfelde, changed his name to John Heartfield in 1916 in protest against German nationalism.

After the war Heartfield joined the newly formed German Communist Party (KPD) and over the next fifteen years produces designs and posters for the organization. During this period artists such as George Grosz, Otto Dix, Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters form the German Dada group. Some of these artists, including Ernst and Schwitters, were influenced by the work of Heartfield and developed his ideas on photomontage.

In 1923 Heartfield became editor of the satirical magazine, Der Knöppel. Heartfield also worked for the socialist magazine, A.I.Z., where he used photomontage to attack Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. Under threat of arrest, Heartfield was forced to leave Germany in 1938. Heartfield moved to England where he produced photomontages for Reynolds News, Picture Post and Penguin Books.

Heartfield returned to Germany in 1950 where he designed scenery and posters for the Berliner Ensemble and the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. In 1960 he became professor at the German Academy of Arts in Berlin. John Heartfield died in Berlin on 26th April, 1968

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWheartfield.htm

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Here are some impact resources from the Non-German resistance to fascism.

Masha Bruskina

Masha Bruskina was born in Minsk, in the Soviet Union, in 1924. Born into a Jewish family she was forced to live in the Minsk ghetto with her mother soon after the arrival of the German Army in July 1941.

Although only seventeen Masha, an ardent member of the Communist Party, joined the Minsk resistance movement. She volunteered as a nurse at the hospital in the Polytechnic Institute, that had been set up to care for wounded members of the Red Army. As well as caring for the soldiers she helped them escape by smuggling into the hospital civilian clothing and false identity papers.

One of the patients informed on Masha and on 14th October she was arrested by the German authorities. She was tortured for several days but refused to give the names of other members of her group.

In order to frighten the people of Minsk into submission, the commander of the 707th Infantry Division, decided to hold a public hanging. On 26th October 1941, Masha Bruskina and two other members of the resistance, 16 year old Volodia Shcherbatsevich and First World War veteran, Kiril Trus, were executed in front of the gates of a local yeast factory.

Written Sources

(1) Masha Bruskina, letter to her mother after being imprisoned by the German authorities (20th October, 1941).

I am tormented by the thought that I have caused you great worry. Don't worry. Nothing bad has happened to me. I swear to you that you will have no further unpleasantness because of me. If you can, please send me my dress, my green blouse, and white socks. I want to be dressed decently when I leave here.

(2) Antonovna Zhevzhik witnessed the execution of Masha Bruskina on 26th October 1941.

Before noon, I saw the armed German and Lithuanian soldiers appear on the street. From over the bridge they escorted three people with their hands tied behind their backs. In the middle there was a girl with a signboard on her chest. They were led up to the yeast factory gate. I noticed how calmly these people walked. The girl did not look around. When they stopped one of the fascists started knocking on the door of my neighbour, asking for a chair. But she got scared and dld not open the door. In a while I saw the Germans carrying a stool from the factory weigher's booth. The factory gates were wide open. The officer threw a rope on the crossbar and made a loop. The first one led to the gallows was the girl.

(3) Pyotr Pavlovich Borisenko was also in the crowd when Masha Bruskina was executed.

When they put her on the stool, the girl turned her face toward the fence. The executioners wanted her to stand with her face to the crowd, but she turned away and that was that. No matter how much they pushed her and tried to turn her, she remained standing with her back to the crowd. Only then did they kick away the stool from under her.

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Jean Moulin

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWmoulin.htm

Jean Moulin, the son of a professor of history, was born in Belziers, France, on 20th June 1899. He was conscripted into the French Army in 1918 but the First World War came to an end before he had the opportunity to see action.

After the war Moulin joined the civil service and rose rapidly to become the country's youngest prefect. Influenced by his friend, Pierre Cot, a radical pacifist, Moulin developed left-wing views. During the Spanish Civil War Moulin helped to smuggle a French aircraft to the Republican Army fighting against the Royalists.

Moulin refused to cooperate with the German Army when they occupied France in June 1940. He was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo and while in his cell he attempted to commit suicide by cutting his throat with a piece of broken glass. After recovering he was released from prison.

In November 1940, the Vichy government ordered all prefects to dismiss left-wing mayors of towns and villages that had been elected to office. When Moulin refused to do this he was himself removed from office.

Over the next few months Moulin began to make contact with other French people who wanted to overthrow the Vichy government and to drive the German Army out of France. This included Henry Frenay, who had established Combat, the most important of all the early French Resistance groups. He also had discussions with Pierre Villon who was attempting to organize the communist resistance group in France. Later, Moulin was accused of being a communist but there is no evidence that he ever joined the party.

Moulin visited London in September, 1941 where he met Charles De Gaulle, Andre Dewavrin and other French leaders in exile. In October 1941, Moulin produced a report entitled The Activities, Plans and Requirements of the Groups formed in France. De Gaulle was impressed with Moulin knowledge of the situation and decided he should become the leader of the resistance in France.

Moulin was parachuted back into France on 1st January, 1942. Moulin brought with him a large sum of money to help set up the underground press. This included working with figures such as Georges Bidault and Albert Camus who had both been involved in establishing the Combat newspaper.

Moulin's main task was to try and unite all the different resistance groups working in France. Over the following weeks he arranged meetings with people such as Henry Frenay (Combat), Emmanuel d'Astier (Liberation), Jean-Pierre Lévy (Francs-Tireur), Pierre Villon (Front National), Pierre Brossolette (Comité d'Action Socialiste) and Charles Delestraint (Armée Secrete). After much discussion Moulin persuaded the eight major resistance groups to form the Conseil National de la Resistance (CNR) and the first joint meeting under Moulin's chairmanship took place in Paris on 27th May 1943.

On 7th June 1943, René Hardy, an important member of the resistance in France, was arrested and tortured by Klaus Barbie and the Gestapo. They eventually obtained enough information to arrest Moulin at Caluire on 21st June. Jean Moulin died while being tortured on 8th July 1943.

Sources

(1) Report written by Jean Moulin just before his death in July, 1943.

I am now hunted at the same time by Vichy and the Gestapo who are not unaware of my identity, nor my activities. My task is becoming more and more delicate, while the difficulties increase constantly. I am determined to hold on as long as possible, but if I should disappear, I should not have had the time to familiarize my successors with the necessary information.

(2) M. R. D. Foot, Six Faces of Courage (1978)

It was Jean Moulin who united resistance; who concentrated the scattered energies of the French into the sole channel of anti-German activity; who saved France from the civil wars that ravaged Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece; who gave the battered nation back its self-respect. He never blew up a train, or knocked down a bridge, or even carried a pistol; he made sense of the work of those who did. As André Malraux said at the ceremony of the laying of the ashes, in a splendid invocation to the dead and to the young, "He made none of the regiments; but he made the army."

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Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan was born in the Soviet Union on 1st January 1914. Noor was the great-great-great-granddaughter of Tipu Sultan, the eighteenth-century Muslim ruler who died in the struggle against the British. Shortly after her birth in Moscow the family moved to England and later settled in France.

After studying music and medicine Noor became a writer. Her children stories were published in Figaro and a collection of traditional Indian stories, Twenty Jataka Tales, appeared in 1939.

On the outbreak of the Second World War she trained as a nurse with the Red Cross. In May 1940 France was invaded by the German Army. Just before the French government surrendered she escaped to England with her mother and sister.

In England she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and trained as a wireless operator. While working at a Royal Air Force bomber station, her ability to speak French fluently brought her to the attention of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). After being interviewed at the War Office she agreed to become a British special agent.

Given the codename "Madeleine" she was flown to Le Mans with Diana Rowden and Cecily Lefort on 16th June 1943. She travelled to Paris where she joined the Prosper Network led by Francis Suttill. Soon after arriving a large number of members of the resistance group associated with Prosper were arrested by the Gestapo. Fearing that the group had been infiltrated by a German spy, she was instructed to return home. However, she declined, arguing that she was the only wireless operator left in the group.

Noor continued to keep the Special Operations Executive in London informed by wireless what was going on in France. She also made attempts to rebuild the Prosper Network. However, it appears that the Gestapo already knew of her existence and were following her in an attempt to capture other members of the French Resistance.

After three and a half months in France Noor was arrested in October and taken to Gestapo Headquarters. She was interrogated and although she remained silent they discovered a book in her possession where she had recorded the messages she had been sending and receiving. The Gestapo were able to break her code and were able to send false information to the SOE in London and enabled them to capture three more secret agents landed in France.

Noor was taken to Nazi Germany where she was imprisoned at Karlsruhe. In the summer of 1944, Noor, and three other SOE agents, Yolande Beekman, Eliane Plewman and Madeleine Damerment, were moved to Dachau Concentration Camp. The four women were murdered by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) on 12th September, 1944. In 1949 Noor Inayat Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

Sources

(1) Captain Selwyn Jepson first met Noor Inayat Khan when she first joined the Special Operations Executive. He later talked about this to the Jean Overton Fuller for her book Madeleine published in 1952.

I see her very clearly as she was that first afternoon, sitting in front of me in that dingy little room, in a hard kitchen chair at the other side of a bare wooden table. Indeed, of them all - and they were many - who did not return, I find myself constantly remembering her with a curious and very personal vividness which outshines the rest. The small, still features, the dark, quiet eyes, the soft voice and the fine spirit glowing in her.

(2) Maurice Buckmaster, Specially Employed (1952)

As the war progressed and supplies improved, we were able to send out by parachute to our operators a fair quantity of radio transmitters, cunningly camouflaged, and they were bidden to jettison or abandon sets whose use might seem to them particularly dangerous. The care with which our agents treated their sets was demonstrated to me in no uncertain manner after the war, when, in my travels round the areas where our people had been working, I was handed the jealously guarded suitcases containing transmitters - 'still in perfect working order', I was assured.

It was evidently essential to relieve, as much as we could, the burden of traffic over the 'clandestine air'. We quickly realized the possibility of using the BBC French Service for sending out previously arranged conventional messages. This system eliminated the need for the intricate coding and decoding which was necessary in sending our Morse messages. For there were many occasions on which a prearranged signal, totally meaningless to the enemy, gave an agent the clue for which he was waiting.

(3) William Stephenson, head of the British Secret Intelligence Service in the United States, later wrote about Noor Inayat Khan in his book A Man Called Intrepid (1976)

Ten days after Professor Balachowsky retrieved her luggage on a peaceful June night, he was arrested. During the following week, dozens of French agents were rounded up. In London, a signal was delivered to Maurice Buckmaster at Baker Street. It reported the destruction of the Prosper network. All the leaders and their equipment had been captured, and only one transmitter remained in operation. That was Madeleine, whose call sign ended the message.

Buckmaster surveyed the area of disaster. He was to say later that Berlin security headquarters regarded the French network as the heart of the secret army that was most dangerous to the Third Reich. Now it was smashed. Buckmaster told Madeleine to get out of Paris; an aircraft would be sent to pick her up. The girl replied no. She was the only operator left in the Paris region. Without her, all communication would be lost. She could pick up some threads and reconstruct at least one circuit, if not more.

Buckmaster made a hard decision. If the girl stayed, it could be only a matter of time before she was caught. Yet the catastrophe had left her as the most important "station" in France. He signaled approval, but warned her not to transmit. All Gestapo detection gear would be trained on her transmitter now that the rest had been wiped out.

The girl, on her own now, moved about Paris looking for old school friends. She found her former music teacher, Henriette Renie, for instance. One contact led to another. She stayed briefly in different parts of the city, trying not to compromise those who showed hospitality. She had a bicycle and carried the transmitter with her. Despite Buckmaster's warnings, she began regular transmissions from the first week of July and she continued until October, when she was caught and taken to Gestapo headquarters.

(4) Citation published when Noor Inayat Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross on 5th April 1949.

Following her arrival the Gestapo made mass arrests in the Paris Resistance groups to which she had been detailed. She refused to abandon what had become the principal and most dangerous post in France, although given the opportunity to return to England. She did not wish to leave her French comrades without communications and she hoped also to rebuild her group.

The Gestapo had a full description of her but knew only her code name Madeleine. They deployed considerable forces in their effort to catch her and so break the last remaining link with London. After three and a half months she was betrayed to the Gestapo and taken to their HQ in the Avenue Foch. The Gestapo had found her codes and messages and were in a position to work back to London. They asked her to cooperate, but she refused and gave them no information of any kind.

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Violette Szabo

Violette Bushell, the daughter of an English father and a French mother, was born in France on 26th June, 1921. She spent her early childhood in Paris where her father drove a taxi. Later the family moved to London and she was educated at a Brixton Secondary School. At the age of fourteen Violette left school and became a hairdresser's assistant. Later she found work as a sales assistant at Woolworths in Oxford Street.

During the Second World War Violette met Etienne Szabo, an officer in the Free French Army. The couple decided to get married (21st August 1940) when they discovered that Etienne was about to be sent to fight in North Africa.

Soon after giving birth to a daughter, Tania Szabo, Violette heard that her husband had been killed at El Alamein. She now developed a strong desire to get involved in the war effort and eventually joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She told a fellow recruit: "My husband has been killed by the Germans and I'm going to get my own back."

At first SOE officers had doubts about whether Violette should be sent to France. One officer wrote: "She speaks French with an English accent. Has no initiative; is completely lost when on her own. Another officer argued: "This student is temperamentally unsuitable... When operating in the field she might endanger the lives of others."

Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, head of SOE's French operations, overruled these objections and after completing her training Violette was parachuted into France where she had the task of obtaining information about the resistance possibilities in the Rouen area. Despite being arrested by the French police she completed her mission successfully and after being in occupied territory for six weeks she returned to England.

Violette returned to France in June 1944 but while with Jacques Dufour, a member of the French Resistance, was ambushed by a German patrol. By providing covering fire Szabo enabled Dufour to escape. Szabo was captured and taken to Limoges and then to Paris. After being tortured by the Gestapo she was sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany.

Some time in the spring of 1945, with Allied troops closing in on Nazi Germany, Violette Szabo was executed. She was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the George Cross. Her story is told in the book and film entitled Carve Her Name With Pride.

Sources

(1) Captain Selwyn Jepson was SOE's senior recruiting officer. He was interviewed by the Imperial War Museum for its Sound Archive.

I was responsible for recruiting women for the work, in the face of a good deal of opposition, I may say, from the powers that be. In my view, women were very much better than men for the work. Women, as you must know, have a far greater capacity for cool and lonely courage than men. Men usually want a mate with them. Men don't work alone, their lives tend to be always in company with other men. There was opposition from most quarters until it went up to Churchill, whom I had met before the war. He growled at me, "What are you doing?" I told him and he said, "I see you are using women to do this," and I said, "Yes, don't you think it is a very sensible thing to do?" and he said, "Yes, good luck to you'" That was my authority!

(2) Maurice Buckmaster was the officer at the Special Operations Executive who gave her the instructions for her second mission to France.

Violette got up rather nervously as I went into the room. She was really beautiful, dark-haired and olive-skinned, with that kind of porcelain clarity of face and purity of bone that one finds occasionally in the women of the south-west of France.

"When you land, you will be received by a group organized by Clement. I showed her on the large-scale Michelin map the exact area where the drop was to rake place. She carefully memorized the geographical features of the area, tracing the path she would follow through the wood to the side-road which led to the farm cottages where she would spend the rest of the night and the whole of the next day.

(3) Jacques Dufour, French Resistance leader, report to SOE (1944)

We heard the rumble of armoured cars and machine-guns began spraying close to us they could follow our progress by the movement of the wheat. When we weren't more than yards from the edge of the wood Szabo, who had her clothes ripped to ribbons and was bleeding from numerous cuts all over her legs, told me she was unable to go one inch further. She insisted she wanted me to try to get away, that there was no point in my staying with her. So I went on and managed to hide under a haystack.

(4) Julie Barry, News of the World (31st March, 1946)

I was caught by the Germans for sabotage in Guernsey and imprisoned there at first and then in many other prisons in France and Germany before being sent to Ravensbriick. I spoke several European languages and the staff of the prisons made use of me as an interpreter. At Ravensbriick, I was made a prison policewoman and given the number 39785 and a red armband that indicated my status.

I was handed a heavy leather belt with instructions to beat the women prisoners. It was a hateful task, but in it I saw my only chance to help some of the condemned women.

It was into this camp that three British parachutists were brought. One was Violette Szabo. They were in rags, their faces black with dirt, and their hair matted. They were starving. They had been tortured in attempts to wrest from them secrets of the invasion but I am certain they gave nothing away.

(5) Leo Marks wrote a poem about a girlfriend, Ruth Hambo, who was killed in an air crash in Canada. Marks later gave the poem as a ciphar to Violette Szabo.

The life that I have is all that I have

And the life that I have is yours

The love that I have of the life that I have

Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have, a rest I shall have

And death will be but a pause

For the years I shall have in the long green grass

Are yours and yours and yours.

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