Famous Spies: Violette Szabo

Famous Spies: Violette Szabo

Violette Szabo was born in Paris in 1922, though would be raised in Britain.  Her husband fought in the war and was killed in action in Africa.  She could have easily lived out her life in an unassuming way, but instead chose to volunteer herself for one of the most dangerous duties of the war - spying.

She was recruited into Britain’s Special Operations Executive based on her excellent skills with a rifle as well as her ability to fluently speak French.  She took to her work with a passion, completing her training quickly.  After training, she would be sent behind enemy lines, into France.

Her mission in France was to help unite the French underground and establish communications between its leaders and Britain.  In addition, she was to evaluate the strength of French resistance forces and gather information on factory production of war materials for the Germans.  She was parachuted into France in April of 1944 and came back shortly thereafter, her first mission a success.

Despite misgivings by her commanders, Szabo insisted on performing another mission.  Eventually, they would relent and she would end up in France again in June of 1944.  On her second mission she was to help coordinate resistance activity following D-Day.  It was on this mission that Szabo would be taken prisoner by the Gestapo.

Despite extensive torture, Szabo did not provide the Germans with any useful information.  After a lack of success, they sent her to a concentration camp where she was further tortured.  In April of 1945, she would be seen as no further use to the Germans and they executed her.  Violette Szabo died an allied hero at just 23 years of age.  Since then, she has been received several posthumous awards as well as becoming the subject of books and film.  Whatever her motivations for joining the fight, she proved to be a brave soldier in the struggle against Nazi Germany.