It turns out there were all sorts of ways to join the resistance against the Nazis during WWII. Even before Freddie Oversteegen and her sister Truus joined up at the request of the Dutch military, she and her family were hiding people – Jewish and Lithuanian – in their home. Her mother had divorced their father because he contributed little to the household (a pretty ballsy move for the time), so perhaps the fact that she allowed her 14 and 16-year-old daughters to decide for themselves whether they’d like to sign up to resist the Nazis shouldn’t come as a surprise.
And when a gentleman visited her family one day, arguing that no one would suspect two young girls of being resistance fighters, that’s exactly what Freddie and Truus Oversteegen did.
The teenaged girls said yes, and after some training in firearms and wilderness survival, the sisters began their missions – to flirt with or seduce Nazi collaborators in bars and restaurants and then invite them to walk in the woods…where resistance fighters would be waiting. Although the girls never shot anyone themselves, they led many a randy man to his death, and, according to Freddie, their naked corpses are likely still buried in those woods.
Freddie worked with the famous Hannie Schaft, the “girl with the red hair,” who had a feature film made about her life. Schaft was buried with honors in the presence of the King and Queen of the Netherlands, and over 15 Dutch streets are named after her.
Freddie’s sister Truus made the rounds as a public speaker at memorial services after the war, then became a well-known artist.
Freddie’s part in the story was more muted until recently, when Dutch filmmaker Thijs Zeeman made the Oversteegen sisters the subject of his latest documentary, Two Sisters in the Resistance. As far as her time in the war, Freddie and her sister, who is now suffering from dementia, talk about it often:
“We never had to say remember when,’ because it was always at the top of our minds.”
Here’s to all of the forgotten stories. May they all be told one day.
Images Courtesy of Vice Netherlands
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