Freddie was 14 when she joined the resistance. It haunted her for the rest of her life.


Freddie Oversteegen was just 14 years old when she joined the Dutch resistance.

She looked only 12.

The teenager would go on to kill countless Nazi soldiers during World War II.

Oversteegen was born on September 6, 1925, in the Netherlands village of Schoten, which is now a part of Haarlem.

When her parents divorced, Oversteegen moved with her mother and her sister, Truus Menger-Oversteegen, into a small apartment.

Her mother would later marry and give birth to the sister’s half-brother.

During the war, the family hid a Jewish couple in their apartment. Freddie and Truus would later start handing out anti-Nazi pamphlets in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

This activity attracted the attention of Frans van der Wiel, the commander of the Haarlem Council of Resistance. He asked the girls if they would like to join the Resistance and, with the permission of their mother, they did.

“Only later did he tell us what we’d actually have to do: sabotage bridges and railway lines,” Truus told anthropologist Ellis Jonker for his 2014 book Under Fire: Women and World War II.

“We told him we’d like to do that. ‘And learn to shoot, to shoot Nazis,’ he added. I remember my sister saying, ‘Well, that’s something I’ve never done before!’”

The sisters along with Hannie Schaft, a red-haired law student, sabotaged bridges and railways, and smuggled Jewish children out of the country.

They would also lure Nazi officers into the woods, asking them whether they would like to “go for a stroll…”, before executing them.

Freddie was the first one to kill a man.

“We had to do it,” Freddie once told an interviewer. “It was a necessary evil, killing those who betrayed the good people.”


“It was tragic and very difficult and we cried about it afterwards,” Truus said of the experience.

“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 has never revealed just how many people she killed.

“One should not ask a soldier any of that,” she once said.

Annie was captured and killed by the Nazis before the end of World War II. She was immortalised in the 1981 movie, The Girl With the Red Hair. The sisters set up the National Hannie Schaft Foundation in her honour.

Freddie once admitted that she always felt a little bit overshadowed by Truus and Hannie.

“I have always been a little jealous of her because she got so much attention after the war,” she told Vice Netherlands in 2016.

“But then I’d just think, ‘I was in the resistance as well.’ ”

Freddie told the publication she coped with the trauma of the war by “getting married and having babies”. She married a man named Jan Dekker and they had three children together.

Despite this, for the rest of her life, Freddie was haunted by her experience in the war.

According to the Washington Post, when she struggled to sleep at night, she would recall the words of an old battle song she and her sister, Truus, would sing.

“We have carried the best to their graves/torn and fired at, beaten till the blood ran/surrounded by the executioners on the scaffold and jail/but the raging of the enemy doesn’t frighten us.”

Freddie died on September 5, 2018. She was 92 years old.

The next day, she would have turned 93.