1. Astrid Løken - Norway - April 14, 1911 – January 19, 2008
Astrid looks like my friend’s grandma & was a student at the University of Oslo back in the day, where she studied bumblebees. So what does that have to do with the war? Well, Astrid was also a spy for the Norwegian resistance & worked under the code name “Eva”. Appearing as an ordinary student riding around on her little bicycle taking photographs, Astrid wasn’t much of a concern to the Germans during their 2-month occupation of Norway. How were they to know that she was actually snapping shots of their installments, or that she had incendiary bombs, grenades & slept with a cyanide capsule under her pillow?
2. Corrie ten Boom - Netherlands - April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983
In addition to looking like someone who likely bakes delicious cookies, Corrie & her family harbored several refugees during the Holocaust. Eventually, she & her family were arrested by the Germans & sent to various concentration camps. Most of her family was killed & on Christmas day, 1944, Corrie was released – by mistake. Her release was due to a clerical error & just after her release, the other females imprisoned in the camp with her were executed. Corrie ten Boom later went on to write her story in the book, The Hiding Place, which was made into a movie in 1975.
3. Denise Bloch - France - 1916 – 1945
Born into a Jewish family in France, Denise was a British secret agent for the Special Operations Executive. Her family was rounded up by the Gestapo in 1942 during the French occupation. Soon after, she spent 10 months learning to parachute, be a wireless operator & other spy-like things. She was later dropped into central France where she sent 31 messages back to the SOE. In 1944, Denise was arrested & sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she suffered a great deal of hardship for nearly a year before being executed.
4. Élise Rivet - Algeria - January 19, 1890 – March 30, 1945
Élise was the Mother Superior at the convent of “Notre Dame de Compassion”, where she not only hid refugees from the gestapo, but also used the convent to stash some weapons & ammunition for the resistance. She was eventually caught in March of 1944 & sentenced to hard labor at Ravensbrück concentration camp. About a year later, Élise was murdered along with thousands of others just weeks before the war ended.
5. Hannah Szenes - Hungary - July 17, 1921 – November 7, 1944
Hannah Szenes was a paratrooper for the British Special Operations Executive. The mission was to enter Yugoslavia to rescue several Jews who were being prepared for deportation to Auschwitz. Unfortunately, she was caught, imprisoned, tortured & interrogated. Regardless of the torment inflicted upon her, Hannah didn’t crack. Instead, she wrote poetry & kept a diary until her execution by firing squad.
6. Lucie Aubrac - France - June 29, 1912 – March 14, 2007
Lucie was a school teacher who became a member of the French resistance along with her husband, Raymond. When Raymond & his friend, known badass, Jean Moulin, were arrested by the Gestapo, Lucie wasn’t having that shit. Instead, she got some of her friends together & they managed to break Raymond out of there (killing 6 Germans in the process) along with 13 others in a jailbreak worthy of being made into a movie. Which, incidentally, it was. Some women just don’t put up with people jerking their men around. You got that?!!?
7. Lyudmila Pavlichenko - Russia - July 12, 1916 – October 10, 1974
Ok, just in case you hadn’t already figured out from the picture, Lyudmila was a sniper. One of 2,000 female snipers in the Red Army’s 25th Infantry Division, she was one of only 500 that actually lived to the end of the war. Lyudmila is credited with 309 kills, 36 of which were enemy snipers. After the war, she did the mundane, day-to-day things that one might expect: hanging out a president’s houses, training new snipers & furthering her education.
8. Nancy Harkness Love - U.S.A. - 1914 – 1976
Nancy was a pilot & was the commander of the WAFS, the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Later, she was the executive of the well known WASPs. Um… that’s the Women Airforce Service Pilots, not, you know… the offensive sort of WASPs. Later, she became the first woman pilot to fly all the way around the world. It seems she was a sentimental sort, too – after her death in 1976, a box was found that contained a hand-written list of each woman that had died under her command along with clippings & photographs of each one of them.
9. Odette Sansom - France - April 28, 1912 – March 13, 1995
Odette lived in London with her English husband, but returned to Nazi-occupied France to work with the French underground, leaving her husband at home with the kids. She was later arrested & tortured by the Gestapo, who sentenced her to death at Ravensbrück. However, she survived & later testified against her prison guards.
10. Susan Travers - England - September 23, 1909 – December 18, 2003
During the war, Susan drove an ambulance in Italy, a truck in France & a self-propelled anti-tank gun in Germany. She was the only female member of the French Foreign Legion, was wounded by a landmine & still went on to serve in Vietnam. In 2000, she wrote her autobiography. Oh… & she also played semi-pro tennis. Ok, minor detail.
11. Violette Szabo - France - June 26, 1921 – c. February 5, 1945
Under the code name, “Louise”, Violette was an Allied secret agent trained in night and daylight navigation, escape and evasion, both Allied and German weapons, unarmed combat, demolitions, explosives, communications & cryptography. As a matter of fact, yes, she was a badass. She landed in Nazi-occupied France, organized a resistance, sabotaged roads & bridges, sent info back to the Allies & totally owned her first mission. During her next mission, she was caught by the Germans when her Sten gun ran out of ammunition during a gun battle. She was taken to Ravensbrück, so I guess I don’t need to tell you how the story ends.
12. Wanda Gertz - Poland - April 13, 1896 – November 10, 1958
Wanda was a soldier in the Polish Legions & later became commander of the Volunteer Women’s Battalion in the Polish Army. During the war, she organized the women’s sabotage unit, then was captured after the Warsaw Uprising & was a POW in various camps until being liberated by the United States Army. After her release, she returned to the military, joining the Polish I Corps in the West.
13. Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya - Russia - September 13, 1923 – November 29, 1941
Zoya was a high school student who volunteered for a partisan unit. In accordance with Stalin’s “scorched earth” policy, Zoya set to burning the village of Petrischevo, where some Germans were stationed. She managed to burn a few of the buildings, but was unfortunately caught when someone sold her out for a bottle of vodka. She was interrogated, beaten, tortured, raped, beaten some more… her fingernails were ripped out, her lips bloody & swollen from biting them, she was beaten some more, then marched around out in the freezing cold in her skivvies because she refused to tell her captors a single thing. Zoya was later marched out in front of everyone to be hung, but she made sure to give a parting speech 100 times better than that shit at the end of Braveheart, whereupon she encouraged her comrades to fight & basically told the enemy to suck it.
Technocrati Tags: Women, World War II, Thursday Thirteen, Resistance, secret agent, SOE, WASP, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, Wanda Gertz, Violette Szabo, Susan Travers, Odette Sansom, England, France, Germany, United States, military, Nancy Harkness Love, Lucie Aubrac, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Hannah Szenes, Élise Rivet, Astrid Løken, Corrie ten Boom, Denise Bloch, Norway, Russia, Poland, Ravensbrück, Nazi, Gestapo, history, feminism, paratroopers, pilots