Freddie Oversteegen was a young Dutch girl who became a Nazi-killing assassin during the German occupation of Holland.
Born in Haarlem in 1925, Freddie and her older sister Truus were raised by a working-class single mother who taught them to fight injustice and protect the weak. In 1939, the family took Jewish refugees into their home.
Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, a military occupation that lasted until the end of World War II. The Oversteegen girls and their mother distributed anti-Nazi pamphlets and defaced Nazi propaganda posters - activities which could have gotten them killed. Their sweet appearance and young age - Freddie was 14 and petite, with long girlish braids - enabled them to avoid suspicion.
An officer with the Haarlem Resistance Group visited their home in 1941 to recruit Freddie and Truus. Trijntje gave her consent, and the two teenage girls joined the resistance. They were sent to Amsterdam, where they helped smuggle Jewish children out of the country. Soon they began weapons training.
The sisters were fierce fighters and excellent shots. They used dynamite to sabotage bridges and railway lines. Freddie bicycled through the streets of Haarlem with firearms hidden in her wicker basket. Her mission was simple: kill Nazi occupiers and Dutch traitors.
As Freddie matured into a pretty young woman, she started using her feminine wiles to carry out her mission. She frequented nightclubs and bars, where she befriended German soldiers and Dutch collaborators. Freddie would invite a target to “go for a stroll” in the woods with her. Once there, she would pull out a gun and execute him.
Asked later how many people she’d killed during the war, Freddie demurred: “One should not ask a soldier any of that.” She said, “We had to do it. It was a necessary evil, killing those who had betrayed the good people."
Freddie Oversteegen died on September 5, 2018, one day before her 93rd birthday. She was the last surviving member of the Dutch resistance movement.
For killing Nazi occupiers and saving lives, we honor Freddie Oversteegen and her sister Truus as this week’s Thursday Heroes.
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