Though not as well known as other courageous young resistance fighters like Sophie Scholl, Freddie Oversteegen and her sister, Truus, were pivotal forces in the anti-SS movement and heroines of the Dutch Resistance during WWII. Through a combination of human passion and meticulous strategy, they succeeded in luring countless members of the SS to their ends – and they did their most important work as teenagers.
When Freddie and her sister were 14 and 16 years old, respectively, a member of the resistance visited their family home to ask their mother (who was also involved in the movement) for her permission to let her daughters join the cause, and the rest is history. As Vice put it, the Oversteegen sisters, along with their more famous colleague, Hannie Schaft, "would flirt with German collaborators under false pretenses and then lead them into the woods, where instead of a make-out session, the men would be greeted with a bullet."
Read on to find out more about the Dutch Resistance's extraordinary anti-fascist youth movement, and about this extraordinary teenager who seduced and took down WWII German soldiers.
Freddie And Her Sister Truus Worked As A Dream Team
To complete her missions, Freddie Oversteegen tended to work in tandem with her sister, Truus. After their mother agreed to let them join the movement, they became the first girls to be assigned to their particular beat, so to speak, which was specifically dedicated to destroying German railway lines and saving Jewish children.
The first step, however, was to destroy officials and employees themselves. As OMGFacts put it, the girls' general modus operandi went like this: "Truus would approach Nazi collaborators in bars, seduce them and take them back to the woods, where the Resistance would shoot them. Freddie acted as a lookout to make sure no one interrupted."
True to the old adage of "femme fatale" seduction being the most efficient method in the world, the tactic was spectacularly effective.
Sometimes, The Sisters Were Successful; Sometimes, They Weren't
Oversteegen doesn't spare any details when it comes to recounting her memories of this period: her stories (and her sister's) are both heartbreaking and triumphant. As she told VICE:
"Truus had met [a Nazi] 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.' They apologized, turned around, and walked away. 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 ... they later told us that they had taken off all his clothes, so you couldn't tell who he was. I think he might still be there."
Not all the sisters' missions were successful, however. In 2016, Pepijn Brandon, the granddaughter of one of the Oversteegen's colleagues, told Jacobin Magazine that Truus had
"Grieved over a failed transport of Jewish children: caught in the searchlight in a remote area, all but one of the kids were mowed down by machine-guns. She courageously carried on after her comrades were arrested and shot, a fate that befell Hannie Schaft. And finally, she remembered the rising tensions within the resistance movement itself during the final phases of the war."
Her Parents Were Also Involved In The Movement, Which Made Their Daughters Joining A No-Brainer
Though her parents were divorced by the time resistance workers approached her mother, the elder Oversteegens were both heavily involved in the anti-Fascist movement. According to OMG Facts, both mother and father were part of an organization called International Red Aid, which was dedicated to helping refugees cross the border between Germany and the Netherlands.
The article goes on to point out that the Oversteegen sisters had been active in the cause from a very early age; even before they officially joined the Resistance, they'd been engaged in distributing leaflets and publications.
The Sisters Worked Alongside The World-Famous Hannie Schaft, AKA "The Girl With The Red Hair"
Famous Dutch resistance fighter Hannie Schaft, who became known as "the girl with the red hair," frequently worked alongside the Oversteegen sisters. Born into a family of politically active humanitarians (her parents were members of the Social Democratic Workers' Party), Schaft went to college with the goal of becoming a human rights lawyer. After refusing to sign a "declaration of allegiance" to the Occupation, she was kicked out of school, and became an active member of the movement.
In 1945, Schaft was detained at a military checkpoint. Though she'd by then dyed her locks black to obscure her identity, she was nonetheless identified "by the roots of her hair." (Like a true hero, she was rumored to have told one of her aggressors, "I shoot better than you," after his first bullet failed to dispatch her). Even after "much interrogation," she refused to divulge the identities of the Oversteegen sisters or any other of her fellow resistance fighters.