Monday, May 23, 2011

Hannie Schaft: A Gun in Her Bag

Hannie Schaft, courtesy of the Hannie Schaft Memorial Foundation

The winter of 1944-45 was a particularly cold one that would become known in the Netherlands as the hunger winter. Certain areas of hte Netherlands had already been liberated by the Allies, but the western sections were still in the control of the Germans when, on March 21, 1945, a dark-haired, bespectacled young woman on a bicycle was stopped at a checkpoint -- a concrete wall with a narrow opening built over a street -- in the northwestern city of Haarlem. The guards searched the girl's bag and found a bundle of illegal newspapers. She was obviously part of the local Dutch Resistance. This didn't surprise them; they had discovered many women working for the Resistance during the occupation. But they found something else in the bag that did surprise them: a pistol. Most female resisters in the area didn't use weapons. If this woman's hair hadn't been so dark, the soldiers might have thought she was "the girl with the red hair" who had been spotted during several assassinations but who had thus far evaded capture. They arrested the woman and took her away for questioning.

Opening paragraph of "Hannie Schaft: the Symbol of the Resistance" from Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.

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