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The Lady Was a Spy
September 15, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Eileen Nearne was found dead in her flat in Torquay on September 2, apparently alone and forgotten. But it turns out, she was neither.
posted by CheeseLouise (18 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by zizzle at 12:37 PM on September 15, 2010


Fascinating. Thanks. As easy it is to be cynical when people like Tom Brokaw get all "ooh Greatest Generation" in talking about the second world war, it's stories like Eileen's (and the thousands like her)-- ordinary people who took extraordinary risks fighting against true evil-- that make me think there's something to it after all.
posted by dersins at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2010


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'Professional' media fails research. Typical.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2010


What a life - she escaped from Ravensbrück! She is thanked - and written about - in the stellar A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII.

For her incredible courage and determination I say thanks, and offer a

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posted by rtha at 12:43 PM on September 15, 2010


My father fought in WWII. He and his contemporaries I met have made me suspect "The Greatest Generation" has a mass undiagnosed case of PTSD. It would explain so much.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:44 PM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


From Wiki (even more impressive than the Guardian summary):
In July 1944 her transmitter was detected and she was arrested. Nearne "survived, in silence, the full revolting treatment of the baignoire" at the Gestapo's torture chamber in the Rue des Saussaies. She reportedly managed to convince her captors that she had been sending messages for a businessman, unaware that he was British. On 15 August she was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she refused to work in a factory assisting the German war effort despite being threatened with execution,and was then transferred to a forced labour camp in Silesia. On 13 April 1945 she escaped with two French girls from a work gang by hiding in the forest, later traveling through Markkleeberg, where they were arrested by the S.S. but released after fooling their captors and reportedly hidden by a priest in Leipzig until the arrival of United States troops.
Unbelievably brave lady.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:44 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by sebastienbailard at 12:45 PM on September 15, 2010


Somehow I read the "But it turns out she was neither" as implying that she was neither forgotten nor dead. So I went into the article expecting her to suddenly wake up from a faint while surrounded by adoring historians and the families of the people she helped.

After being thoroughly convinced of her awesomeness, I was extra sad to realize that she had in fact passed away.

You go, girl.
posted by chatongriffes at 12:53 PM on September 15, 2010


He and his contemporaries I met have made me suspect "The Greatest Generation" has a mass undiagnosed case of PTSD. It would explain so much.

I have a whole theory on how that is the root of 1950s American puritanical social policy, culture, etc.
posted by The World Famous at 12:58 PM on September 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by lordrunningclam at 1:00 PM on September 15, 2010


Great story; thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2010


Lovely post. I certainly didn't know about her until now. Her story is amazing and inspiring.

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posted by bearwife at 1:20 PM on September 15, 2010


War is of course hell, and not at all glamorous of course, but the women of the SOE kicked some serious ass. I get all fangirly about them.
posted by Iteki at 1:57 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Women of the SOE kicked some serious ass.

And some paid the ultimate price: See Noor Inayat Khan, Codename MADELEINE.
posted by pjern at 6:33 PM on September 15, 2010


Seconding rtha's suggestion of _A Life in Secrets_. Bonechilling. Also talks about Noor Inayat Khan. Shows how Ms Nearne was even more amazing than any of the obits make her sound.
posted by QIbHom at 6:58 PM on September 15, 2010


    "We were the first wave in the post war baby boom. The generation before had just come out of the great depression and World War Two, You know, heavy vibes for people to wear, So much heaviness Like some kind of voiding of the emotions. "Their music, You know, the songs life always carries. You know, every culture has songs? Well, anyway, their music was restrained emotion, You know, like you didn’t wanna dance If you didn’t know how, Which says something strange. "Well, anyway, Elvis came along about ten years after the nuke When the only generals America had and the only army she had Were Ike and Mac And stupor hung over the land, A plague where everyone tried to materially free themselves, Still too shell-shocked to understand To feel what was happening. -- John Trudell, Baby Boom Ché
posted by Twang at 12:39 PM on September 16, 2010


Wonderful post. thank you.
posted by micawber at 7:45 PM on September 16, 2010


NYT obituary
posted by warbaby at 7:57 AM on September 23, 2010


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