Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable Story of Hannie Schaft and the Oversteegen Sisters, Teenaged Saboteurs and Nazi Assassins
by Tim Brady
An astonishing World War II story of a trio of fearless female resisters whose youth and innocence belied their extraordinary daring in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. It also made them the underground’s most invaluable commodity.
May 10, 1940. The Netherlands was swarming with Third Reich troops. In seven days it’s entirely occupied by Nazi Germany. Joining a small resistance cell in the Dutch city of Haarlem were three teenage girls: Hannie Schaft, and sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen who would soon band together to form a singular female underground squad.
Smart, fiercely political, devoted solely to the cause, and “with nothing to lose but their own lives,” Hannie, Truus, and Freddie took terrifying direct action against Nazi targets. That included sheltering fleeing Jews, political dissidents, and Dutch resisters. They sabotaged bridges and railways, and donned disguises to lead children from probable internment in concentration camps to safehouses. They covertly transported weapons and set military facilities ablaze. And they carried out the assassinations of German soldiers and traitors–on public streets and in private traps–with the courage of veteran guerilla fighters and the cunning of seasoned spies.
In telling this true story through the lens of a fearlessly unique trio of freedom fighters, Tim Brady offers a never-before-seen perspective of the Dutch resistance during the war. Of lives under threat; of how these courageous young women became involved in the underground; and of how their dedication evolved into dangerous, life-threatening missions on behalf of Dutch patriots–regardless of the consequences.
Harrowing, emotional, and unforgettable, Three Ordinary Girls finally moves these three icons of resistance into the deserved forefront of world history.
My thoughts: This book, about three teenaged Dutch girls who fought in the resistance against the Germans in WWII during the occupation of their country, was really the kind of book I can’t get enough of. I stayed up all night reading it because I became so engrossed in it, and it was just so good. Two of them were sisters, but later they all ended up working together. It’s filled with action and danger, and so many close calls, yet the girls keep going back for more. You will meet the sisters, Truus and Freddie, and then there is Jo, who is also known as Hannie, the girl with the red hair. Each of them is special in her own way, and valuable to the resistance. This is an amazing true story of courage, as so many of these types of war books are, and I do recommend it if you like this genre. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Tim Brady, and the publisher.
Publisher: Citadel – 336 pages
Publication: Feb 23rd, 2021
My rating: 5/5 STARS
About the author– Tim Brady is an award-winning history author who’s critically acclaimed books include Twelve Desperate Miles, A Death in San Pietro, His Father’s Son and Three Ordinary Girls. In addition to contributing numerous articles, reviews, essays and short stories for a wide range of magazines, newspapers and journals, he has written and helped develop a number of television documentaries, including the Peabody Award-winning series, Liberty! The American Revolution for PBS. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.