world war ii: resistance

A picture of Freddie Oversteegen, a Dutch girl who was the unsuspecting killer of dozens of Nazis. Along with her friend Hannie and her sister Truus, the girls worked with a team from the Dutch Resistance to lure men into the woods for a promised kiss. Once they reached a remote location, the men got a bullet to the head instead.

A German soldier is attacked by a group of Dutch civilians and members of the Dutch Resistance on the Rokin in Amsterdam during the liberation of the city from the German garrison as the Canadian Army rolled into the city. Some pockets of German troops refusing the surrender had to be rooted out by hand-to-hand combat. Although Germany would capitulate on 5 May 1945, some parts of the country would not be fully liberated until several months later. Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands. May 1945. Image taken by Cas Oorthuys. 

French and African members of the French Resistance march through the streets of Agen in the soutwest of France during the city’s liberation from German control. The African men are mostly colonial soldiers who were transferred to France in 1940 at the outbreak of the war. Some were demobilized after the defeat of France and were trapped in France for the duration for the war. Others were captured by Axis forces and were interned in camps in France before escaping. All ended up joining the Maquis to do battle for liberation. Agen, Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine, France. 19 August 1944.

“A group of young Jewish resistance fighters are being held under arrest by German SS soldiers in April/May 1943, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter.”


There were a group of witches and wizards in World War II that were a part of the French resistance and who used to use their magic wherever they could to help fight against the Nazi occupation of France, such as blowing up bridges or boosting radio signals to England on stormy nights while hiding them from Nazi receivers.

Chinese guerillas armed with rifles and dadao (traditional sabers) are photographed in a village near Canton (Guangzhou) after Imperial Japanese forces had taken the city nearly three years previously, on 21 October 1938, following an intensive aerial bombing campaign. The Japanese would hold onto the city until 16 September 1945. Canton would be one of many cities in which the Imperial Japanese Army would conduct bacteriological research on the civilian population under Unit 8604, a section of the notorious Unit 731. Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit which cost the lives of over 3,000 from often grisly inside experiments and tens of thousands from field experiments. Near Guangzhou, Guangdong, Republic of China. February 1941.

“A girl of the resistance movement is a member of a patrol to rout out the Germans snipers still left in areas in Paris, France, on August 29, 1944. The girl had killed two Germans in the Paris Fighting two days previously.”


Elżbieta Zawacka (1909-2009), codename ‘Zo’, was a Polish university professor, scouting instructor, SOE agent and a freedom fighter during World War II. 

During the war she was the only woman in Cichociemni ('Dark and Silent’), elite special-operations paratroops of the Polish Army in Exile, and served as a courier for the Polish Home Army, carrying letters and other documents from the Nazi-occupied Poland to the Polish government in exile and back. In 1944 she fought in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and after its collapse moved to Kraków, where she continued her underground activities. In 1945 she shortly joined the anti-Communist organization Freedom and Independence (WiN).

Like numerous other Polish freedom fighters involved in anti-communist war organizations, after the war she was arrested and tortured by Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego (Ministry of Public Security which was a communist secret police, intelligence and counter-espionage service in the Soviet-controlled postwar Poland). In 1951 she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for ‘treason and espionage’, but her sentence was shortened and she was released in 1955.

She was an active member of the World Union of Home Army Soldiers and cooperated with Solidarność in the 1980s.

Polish insurgents of the Polish Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa) wearing the flag of Poland as armbands and carrying their rifles ready themselves for combat against German occupying forces during the Warsaw Uprising. The Uprising was timed to coincide with the Soviet Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of occupying German forces. However, the Soviet advance stopped short, enabling the Germans to regroup and demolish the city while defeating the Polish resistance, which fought for 63 days with little outside support. Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland. September 1944.