Mascara and M.73 Revolvers

Kendra Kane, Contributing Writer

Red lips and alluring eyes.  A coy smile and demure posture. He failed to see the satisfied glint in her eye, or the slight smug smirk she almost let slip.   The SS Soldier followed the young girl out, not knowing it would be the last night of his life.  Freddie Oversteegen, only 16 but looking even younger with her braids,  walked the Nazi to his execution.

Freddie and Truus Oversteegen – criminally unrecognized Dutch sisters that aided a resistance in the Netherlands during World War II.  Along with Hannie Schaft, they made up a trio of Nazi-killing, railroad-exploding, and bike-riding teenage girls. 

But 16 and 18 aren’t the ages that Freddie and Truus started helping victims of wars.  “‘[Their mother]  would get the young girls to make dolls for children who were victims of the Spanish Civil War.’  Ms Poldermans… worked with the siblings for over a decade… also knew them personally, said Truus and Hannie would help [move] Jewish children to safe houses but Freddie, 14…, had been too young to help.”   They got started by delivering newspapers that spread anti-Nazi rhetoric. They soon graduated to blowing up railroads and gunning down Nazis. “”Only later did he tell us what we’d actually have to do: sabotage bridges and railway lines,” Truus Oversteegen said, according to Jonker. “…’And learn to shoot, to shoot Nazis,’… I remember my sister saying, ‘Well, that’s something I’ve never done before!'””

All of this action wasn’t good for their psyches, however.  A particularly saddening quote from Freddie is, “”Yes… I’ve shot a gun myself and I’ve seen them fall. And what is inside us at such a moment? You want to help them get up.”  The loss of Hannie must have been a rough blow, as well.  Apparently, Hannie would always get dolled up before going out on assignment just in case she got captured; so she could “die beautifully”.  And so, just two weeks before the end of the war, Hannie was captured by Nazi troops and executed on the spot.  Her final words are true to her character; “I’m a better shot.” 

Their lives post-war were not any easier.  Haunted by the ghosts of their pasts, taking lives never got any easier to handle.  “‘War affected everything in their lives… The trauma never went away for them. Every day around liberation day in May, they would wake up screaming, having nightmares about the war. All the memories came back to them.’”  However, the impact they left on the world will never be known to them, as Freddie died four years ago (age 92), one day before her birthday. Truus also passed at age 92, two years prior to her sister.

But 16-year-old Freddie and 18-year-old Truus, while staring down a pleading SS soldier, didn’t know how impactful their actions would be; after all, they are proof that it’s easier to catch flies with honey rather than vinegar.