Women's Activism NYC

Hannie Schaft

By: Antonio M | Date Added:

Hannie Schaft was born in Haarlem the capital of the province of North Holland. Her mother, Aafje Talea Schaft (born Vrijer) was a Mennonite, and her father, Pieter Schaft was attached to the Social Democratic Workers' Party; the two were immensely protective of Schaft because of the death of her older sister. From a young age, Schaft discussed politics and social justice with her family, which encouraged her to pursue law and become a human rights lawyer. During her law studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, she became friends with the Jewish students Philine Polak and Sonja Frenk. This made her feel strongly about actions against Jews. With the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, in 1943, university students were required to sign a declaration of allegiance to the occupation authorities. When Schaft refused to sign the petition in support of the occupation forces, like 80% of the other students, she could not continue her studies and moved in with her parents again. Shaft's resistance work started with small acts. First, she would steal ID cards for Jewish residents (including her friends). Upon leaving university, she joined the Raad van Verzet or "Council of Resistance", a resistance movement that had close ties to the Communist Party of the Netherlands. Rather than act as a courier, Schaft wanted to work with weapons. She was responsible for sabotaging and assassinating various targets. She carried out attacks on Germans, Dutch Nazis, collaborators and traitors. She learned to speak German fluently and became involved with German soldiers. Schaft did not, however, accept every job. When asked to kidnap the children of a Nazi official she refused. If the plan had failed, the children would have to be killed, and Schaft felt that was too similar to the Nazis' acts of terror. When seen at the location of a particular assassination, Schaft was identified as "the girl with the red hair". Her involvement led "the girl with the red hair" to be placed on the Nazis' most-wanted list. She was eventually arrested at a military checkpoint in Haarlem on 21 March 1945 while distributing the illegal communist newspaper de Waarheid (literally 'The Truth'), which was a cover story. She was transporting secret documentation for the Resistance. She worked closely with Anna A.C. Wijnhoff. After much interrogation, torture, and solitary confinement, Schaft was identified by the roots of her red hair by her former colleague Anna Wijnhoff. Schaft was murdered by Dutch Nazi officials on 17 April 1945. Although at the end of the war there was an agreement between the occupier and the Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten ('Dutch resistance') to stop executions, she was shot dead three weeks before the end of the war in the dunes of Bloemendaal. Two men took her there and one-shot her at close range, only wounding her. She is said to have told her executioners: Ik schiet beter "I shoot better!", after which the other man delivered the final shot. Sources ยท https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannie_Schaft

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