The Story Of Freddie Oversteegen, The Woman Who Seduced Nazis To Kill Them

World War II is inarguably one of the darkest periods of human history. It can be difficult to wrap your head around the sheer number of lives lost, families separated, and cities decimated. From the ashes of destruction rise heroes - some recognized, and others deserving of recognition they never receive. Freddie Oversteegen is one of those overlooked heroes from unknown WWII stories. Once you learn about her life, you'll never forget her, and you'll also wonder why no one has made a movie about this incredible woman. 

At just 14 years old, Freddie joined the Dutch resistance against Germany and was being trained to be the most innocent-looking member of an assassination cell ever. In true Dutch fashion, Freddie and her sister Truus took down their enemies while speeding by on a bicycle, pigtails waving in the wind behind them. They learned how to lure Nazis and Dutch collaborators into the woods with their girlish charm, but instead of a kiss, the men were met with a bullet. 

Prepare yourself to learn about one of the most remarkable women in history!

  • She Was Raised By A Single, Working-Class, Self-Proclaimed Communist Mother

    Freddie Oversteegen and her older sister Truus were born to a working-class family with left-wing political ideals. This meant they grew up in an area north of Amsterdam where communists were forced to live, called the Red Zone. By the 1930s, the girls and their mother Trijntje became part of an underground organization that helped Jews and refugees escape the burgeoning Nazi regime, called the Red Aid. 

    The girls' father was also a political activist, but showed no sign of wanting to support his family financially or otherwise, so their parents divorced. Their mother continued to raise them alone while working in industrial factories.

    In a Vice interview, Freddie recalled her parents' separation:

    My mother had divorced him, which was pretty unusual for that time. She was just fed up one day - we lived on a large ship in Haarlem, but my father never made any money and didn't pay anything for the barge. But it wasn't an ugly divorce or anything - he sang a French farewell song from the bow of the ship when we left. He loved us, but I didn't see him that often anymore after that.

  • In 1939, Her Family Brought In Jewish Refugees

    Resistance to fascism was in the Oversteegen girls' blood from day one. Their youth was full of memories of hiding Jews and political fugitives in their home.

    As soon as the sisters' parents divorced, their mother Trijntje moved them from the boat they were living in with their father to a modest apartment with straw mattresses she made herself. Even though the apartment was barely large enough for the three of them, they began harboring fugitives. Freddie remembers living with a Jewish couple during the years of the war. 

    The Oversteegens were anti-fascists from the start, never succumbing to the fear tactics of the Germans as the war took hold of the Netherlands. In a 2016 interview with Vice, Freddie recalled:

    I remember how people were taken from their homes. The Germans were banging on doors with the butts of their rifles - that made so much noise, you'd hear it in the entire neighborhood. And they would always yell - it was very frightening.

  • In 1940, Freddie And Her Sister Truus Risked Death By Distributing Anti-Nazi Pamphlets
    Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-05979 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

    In 1940, Freddie And Her Sister Truus Risked Death By Distributing Anti-Nazi Pamphlets

    When the war officially began, Freddie and Truus began handing out flyers and pamphlets with information on how to join the resistance. They rode their bikes and wore their hair in pigtails to throw anyone suspicious of them off their trail. They tried to look as innocent and young as possible as they vandalized the German posters that had made their way across Amsterdam.

    Freddie talked about this in interviews that later made it into the book Under Fire: Women and World War II, edited by Eveline Buchheim and Ralf Futselaar:

    We also glued warnings across German posters in the street calling men to work in Germany, and then we’d hurry off on our bikes.

    The punishment for distributing information or organizing against the Nazis was punishable by death, so what the Oversteegens did was no small feat. 

  • At Age 14, She Was Asked To Officially Join The Resistance

    The Oversteegen family's fearless commitment to disseminating information against the Germans caught the attention of Frans van der Wiel, the commander of the Haarlem Council of Resistance. He personally visited their house to ask their mother permission to recruit Freddie and Truus to the resistance. 

    Without a second thought, Trijntje said yes. Freddie and Truus also agreed, and the sisters joined. In a later interview, Freddie recalled this moment:

    Only later did he tell us what we’d actually have to do: sabotage bridges and railway lines, and learn to shoot, to shoot Nazis. I remember my sister saying: "Well, that’s something I’ve never done before!"

  • The Sisters' Jobs As Members Of The Resistance Included Seducing SS Officers Before Killing Them
    Photo: Een onbekend persoon van de verzetsgroep / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The Sisters' Jobs As Members Of The Resistance Included Seducing SS Officers Before Killing Them

    Freddie and Truus were two of seven girls recruited by the resistance. At first, they thought they'd be forming a secret army. It turns out, their responsibilities were a bit different. 

    The commanders taught them some military techniques; in particular, how to shoot a gun. They also learned to march and received all their training deep in the woods. 

    When it came time for their first mission, Truus was told to flirt with a young German soldier and ask him to join her for a stroll in the same woods where the girls had trained. As a distraction, the resistance set up a seemingly coincidental run-in with an acquaintance, which was just another resistance soldier. Once the German soldier was distracted, the fatal shot was fired. 

    The entire time this was happening, Freddie was acting as a lookout a few feet away. She described the fateful moment in an interview:

    And then shots were fired, so that man never knew what hit him. They had already dug the hole, but we weren't allowed to be there for that part. 

    This became the girls' tactic for killing the German soldiers who had overtaken their city. While Freddie couldn't recall how many soldiers' lives she had taken during her time in the resistance, it had a profound effect on her and Truus, as the latter explained in a 2016 interview: 

    It was tragic and very difficult and we cried about it afterwards. We did not feel it suited us - it never suits anybody, unless they are real criminals... One loses everything. It poisons the beautiful things in life.

  • Freddie And Truus Focused For A While On Targeting Dutch Collaborators
    Photo: Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / Public domain

    Freddie And Truus Focused For A While On Targeting Dutch Collaborators

    As the war went on, the resistance quickly realized that Dutch citizens collaborating with Nazi Germany were a far bigger threat than German soldiers. In a BBC interview with Freddie's son, Remi Dekker, he recalls a story his mother told him about a Dutch traitor who was planning on handing over a list with the names and locations of all the Jews in the Netherlands. Freddie approached the traitor on a bicycle in a park and asked what her name was. Once Freddie confirmed she had the right person, she shot her, point-blank. 

    While their attacks sometimes took place through luring men into the woods by flirting, as the war went on, the Oversteegen sisters became incredibly good shots, taking out Dutch collaborators while racing by on a bicycle. Truus would often ride the bike while Freddie sat in the back and took aim.