VICE has the incredible story of ninety-year-old Freddie Oversteegen, who joined the Dutch Resistance to the Nazi occupation when she was just 14 years old. Along with her older Sister Truus and their friend Hannie Schaft, she signed up because Germans would never suspect young girls as freedom fighters.
|Freddie in the spring of 1945. (Photo from the family album, courtesy of Remi Dekker)|
The incredible journey started when a man visited Freddie’s home to ask her mother if the two sisters could join the resistance with the argument that no one would suspect them to be Nazi killers because of their gender and young age. She told VICE Netherlands:
“I thought we would be starting a kind of secret army. The man that came to our door said that we would get military training, and they did teach us a thing or two. Someone taught us to shoot and we learned to march in the woods. There were about seven of us then – Hannie [one of the most famous resistance fighters of WWII] wasn’t a part of the group yet and we were the only girls.”
|Hannie (right) and Truus in disguise.|
One particular incident from the war that stands out in Freddie’s mind is the time her sister seduced a “big shot” Nazi while she kept a lookout from a vantage point in the woods to see if no one was coming. She recalled:
“Truus had met him in an expensive bar, seduced him and then took him for a walk in the woods. She was like: “Want to go for a stroll?” And of course he wanted to. Then they ran into someone – which was made to seem a coincidence, but he was one of ours – and that friend said to Truus: “Girl, you know you’re not supposed to be here”. We apologized, turned around, and walked away. And then shots were fired, so that man never knew what hit him.”
|Freddie Oversteegen. As a teen, this elderly woman led nazis to their deaths by seducing them. (Photo courtesy of VICE)|
According to a Dutch newspaper, the Oversteegen girls also looked after people in hiding, delivered messages for an underground army as couriers, transported weapons, and escorted Jewish children to safe places. Later, the sisters got actively involved in acts of sabotage and attacks.
After the war, Hannie Schaft became an undisputed resistance heroine. A feature film was made about her, The Girl With The Red Hair, and she was (re)buried with honors in the presence of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Over 15 cities in the Netherlands have streets named after her.
|Freddie reads a poem Hannie Schaft wrote in the war. The picture in the book is of Hannie. (Photo courtesy of VICE)|
Truus became a sculptress and a public speaker at war memorial services. But Freddie, now 90, never got the recognition she deserved for her participation in the resistance, until Dutch filmmaker Thijs Zeeman decided to make her and her sister the subject of his latest TV documentary, Two Sisters in the Resistance.
Freddie got married and had children, which she says helped her cope with the trauma of the war. There are times when she still feels jealous that she never got as much attention as her sister for her efforts during the war, but then she remembers that she was an integral part of the resistance, and just knowing that is enough.