February 5, 2008

February 5 | Violette Szabo

June 26, 1921 - c.February 5, 1945: Age 23

Violette Szabo was an Allied secret agent in France during the Second World War. She was born in Paris, her mother being French and her father English. When she was 19, she met and married a French soldier of Hungarian descent, who was killed in battle shortly after the birth of their daughter in 1942.

She offered her services to the British Special Operations Executive, based on her fluency in French and her knowledge of the country. After extensive training she was sent into France to research munitions factories in order to establish efficient targets for Allied bombs. After one successful mission, she returned to France in June 1944, but was wounded by a German patrol. She insisted that her companions escape while she provided covering fire, which they did. Once she ran out of ammunition, she was captured.

She was tortured and interrogated but revealed nothing. She was transferred to eight different prisons during her incarceration; when she was in one lightly guarded prison her comrades organized a rescue mission but arrived just two hours after she had been sent away to Ravensbruck, a notorious concentration camp for women, where nearly 100,000 women were killed. Violette, ultimately, was among them. After enduring hard labour and malnutrition there, and later in a labour camp on the Russian front, she was returned to Ravensbruck and executed by firing squad in February 1945.

Sources: Wikipedia, findagrave.com, The Violette Szabo Museum

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