The lame heroine who outwitted the Gestapo

The lame heroine who outwitted the Gestapoassigned

Virginia Hall was born in 1906 in Baltimore and was the youngest of a wealthy family related to the bank come to less. For this reason, her destiny seemed to be linked to a marriage that would restore the luxuries of yesteryear to the Hall family, but his plans were very different. She was a natural leader since childhood, wore pants and practiced activities with horseback riding at the beginning of the 20th century. She was trained in the women’s sections of Harvard, Columbia or the American University of Washington and managed to speak French, German and Italian, as well as English. In an independent spirit, she traveled to Paris where she lived through the Roaring 20’s and developed a deep love for the French territory and the French.

With the desire to start the diplomatic career she accepted a job at the US Embassy in Warsaw and later in other destinations such as Turkey but, as a woman, her tasks did not go beyond the functionss typical of a secretary. It was precisely in the Turkish city of Izmir where he suffered a hunting accident when the gun went off and complicated the wound on his left foot. The amputation of his leghowever, would not determine his fate.

It was the time of the rise of Nazism as Hall worked as a consulate secretary insisting on higher-ranking positions to launch a diplomatic career. Her wooden prosthetic leg, which Virginia called Cuthbert, garnered her constant denial, but she was a firm believer that her career was worth much more than a convenient marriage.

A loyal and effective spy

In 1939, with Europe besieged by the troops of the Third Reich, she traveled from Paris -where she worked as a nursing volunteer- to London. He did it by cycling to the coast on his wooden leg and then taking a ferry. in the british capital came into contact with Vera Atkins, the British spy recruiter for the French section of SOE (Special Operations Executive), a group created by Winston Churchill for espionage and the implementation of sabotage in France busy that would propel our protagonist to her most glorious feats.

Recruited by England, was sent back to France in 1941 under the alias Germaine. She did it by parachute and with little hope on the part of London that a lame woman could reap any progress, but to everyone’s surprise she contacted the head office implanting for the first time a line of communications between London and France. He began his task of recruiting agents, designing security plans and adopting different identities. she became a agent not only effective, but loyal and tireless spirit for the cause, facing resistance from some men – who baptized her as the red-haired witch – and who refused to obey their orders, putting the lives of other agents at risk and ruining some operations.

Image of Hall’s international driver’s license.

“We must find it and destroy it”

With the resistance fully organized, the stage was set for both orders and arms to be received from London. Hall was the architect of the release of a dozen agents detained by the Gestapo and whose release Churchill himself tried to negotiate. His red clandestina, which gave support to the resistance groups, added more and more units. Her fame not only spread to the French resistance, but also among the Nazi ranks themselves who searched for her tirelessly, becoming the obsession of Klaus Barbie, the butcher of Lyon, who ordered the torture of his collaborators (from politicians to acrobats or prostitutes) to obtain information and launched in 1942 the circulation of posters with the alleged face ofe Germaine: “This limping woman is one of the most dangerous agents of the Allies in France. We must find it and destroy it.”

The arrest and murder of people very close to Hall andtightened the fence around her and precipitated her flight to Spain through the Pyrenees. Out of options, he hired smugglers to carry out the passage along with two other men whom he paid for their services and who he would later recruit for his networks. He fled but kept working. He carried his wooden leg and the radio, climbed and walked without complaining so that his leg full of sores from the hard transit through the snowy mountains at two thousand meters high would not be discovered. For six months, Virginia was prisoner in a prison in Girona until the US embassy, ​​which had already entered the war, secured his release.

She returned to France disguised as an old woman to continue with her plans (she came to recruit up to 12,000 volunteers), sending weapons or messages. Sabotaged railway lines and passageways for so delay the advance of the Germans towards Normandy becoming one of the key pieces for D-Day. After the war, he received numerous accolades and worked for the CIA until his retirement. He died at age 98 in his native Baltimore.

Hall’s ‘sexual front’

Virginia Hall’s disability made her a presumed easy target and a harmless and weak agent for the Gestapo. But Hall used his imagination and with the help of waitresses who worked in brothels he slipped heroin into the soldiers’ drinkIt’s Nazis. His biography notes that Hall used women as weapons of war. She allied herself with a doctor who facilitated medical reports to prostitutes in which the absence of syphilis or gonorrhea was falsely certified. In this way, he neutralized the soldiers, leaving them incapable of fighting, becoming addicted to drugs or infecting them with STDs. It was the ‘sexual front’ launched by Hall and known by the Nazi high leadership with the consequent lack of control of the Third Reich.

she suffered the misogyny and the machismo of the CIA, -of which it was a pioneer in its ranks- recognized years after his return To united states. many of his tactics they are still used today by the American secret services.

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