Freddie Oversteegen, Who Fought Nazis As a Teen Resistance Member, Dies at 92

In Depth

During World War II, Freddie Oversteegen and her older sister Truus made strategic use of the fact that so many people fail to take teenage girls seriously—by joining the Dutch resistance and killing Nazis.

The Washington Post wrote that Oversteegen, who died September 5, was the last living member of the Netherlands’ famous resistance cell led by Hannie Schaft, which was composed of women. Freddie’s mother was a communist and had the girls making dolls for children caught up in the Spanish Civil War; they graduated to anti-Nazi pamphlets and posters and, when Freddie was 14, they were recruited for heavier work:

Their efforts apparently attracted the attention of Frans van der Wiel, commander of the underground Haarlem Council of Resistance, who invited them to join his team — with their mother’s permission.
“Only later did he tell us what we’d actually have to do: sabotage bridges and railway lines,” Truus Oversteegen said, according to Jonker. “We told him we’d like to do that. ‘And learn to shoot, to shoot Nazis,’ he added. I remember my sister saying, ‘Well, that’s something I’ve never done before!’”

“They sabotaged bridges and rail lines with dynamite, shot Nazis while riding their bikes, and donned disguises to smuggle Jewish children across the country and sometimes out of concentration camps,” the Washington Post explained. And if that wasn’t nervy enough:

In perhaps their most daring act, they seduced their targets in taverns or bars, asked if they wanted to “go for a stroll” in the forest — and “liquidated” them, as Ms. Oversteegen put it, with a pull of the trigger.

Oversteegen paid a price for her work; Truus once said of the killing, “It was tragic and very difficult and we cried about it afterwards,” adding, “We did not feel it suited us — it never suits anybody, unless they are real criminals.” But it seems she never regretted it, either.

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