1529: Ludwig Haetzer, Anabaptist 1885: George Gibson and Wayne Powers

1945: Denise Bloch, Lilian Rolfe and Violette Szabo

February 5th, 2010 Headsman

On or about this date in 1945, three women who had been caught behind German lines working for the British Special Operations Executive were shot at Ravensbruck.

Left to right: Denise Bloch, Lilian Rolfe, Violette Szabo.

Denise Bloch, Lilian Rolfe, and Violette Szabo were all fluent young Francophones who volunteered their services for Britain’s dangerous spying-and-sabotage operations in support of the French Resistance.

Bloch and Rolfe were wireless operators; Szabo, the most famous of the three, got her hands dirtier with explosives and sabotage.

One evening towards 1900 hours they were called out [of the punishment block] and taken to the courtyard by the crematorium. Camp Commandant Suhren [German Wikipedia link] made these arrangements. He read out the order for their shooting in the presence of the chief camp doctor, Dr. Trommer, SS Sergeant Zappe, SS Lance Corporal Schult, SS Corporal Schenk, and the dentist Dr. Hellinger

All three were very brave, and I was deeply moved. Suhren was also impressed by the bearing of these women. He was annoyed that the Gestapo did not themselves carry out these shootings.

Extensive and illustrated biographies on all three, as well as other SOE agents, can be found at 64 Baker Street: Bloch; Rolfe; Szabo.

Violette Szabo in particular was much written-of after the war (long out of print, the classic Carve Her Name With Pride was recently republished), and was posthumously awarded a variety of decorations by both England and France.

Szabo has what looks to be a charming museum in Herefordshire (phone ahead to Miss Rigby before visiting!); for a younger generation, she’s the inspiration behind “Violette Summers”, the protagonist of the video game Velvet Assassin.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Concentration Camps,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,England,Espionage,Execution,Famous,France,Germany,History,Jews,No Formal Charge,Shot,Soldiers,Spies,Summary Executions,Torture,Uncertain Dates,Wartime Executions,Women

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One thought on “1945: Denise Bloch, Lilian Rolfe and Violette Szabo”

  1. Lecoq Anne-Marie says:

    Private Message


    Thank you for a most interesting site.

    May we let you know the 4 links as follow are now obsolete and automatically download intrusively on our computers:

    Extensive and illustrated biographies on all three, as well as other SOE agents, can be found at 64 Baker Street: Bloch; Rolfe; Szabo.

    Yours faithfully


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>




Execution Playing Cards

Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck.

Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia!

Recent Comments

  • Teri: Whoa…the wife that divorced him was my great grandma. Unbelieveable…ghosts in the cliset.
  • Stewart Colley: This story is better known than is the fact that the Iron Duke himself was more properly a Colley...
  • john: Rest in peace oglach tom williams lovely tribute video and write up
  • CoreyR: Really?? That’s what HE told the court. Dressed in dark clothing, with the passenger seat in the back,...
  • Robert Jones: Like all serial killers, Charles Starkweather was a nobody who wanted to be somebody. He took eleven...