HANNIE SCHAFT (the girl with the red hair)
Jannetje Johanna (Jo) Schaft (16 September 1920 – 17 April 1945) was a Dutch communist resistance fighter during World War II. She became known as the girl with the red hair (in Dutch Het meisje met het rode haar, also the title of a book and film about her). Her secret name in the resistance movement was Hannie.
Hannie Schaft was born in Haarlem. 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 university students were required to sign a declaration of allegiance to the occupation authorities. When Hannie refused to sign the petition in support of the occupation forces, she could not continue her studies and moved in with her parents again. She became more and more active in the resistance movement and helped people who were hiding from the Germans with stolen IDs and food-coupons.
She joined the Raad van Verzet, a resistance movement that had close ties to the Communist Party of the Netherlands. Her motivation to join the communists was that they were at least resisting actively.With her friend Truus she carried out various attacks on Germans, collaborators and traitors. She learned to speak German fluently and got involved with German soldiers. Some resistance members considered her a traitor for that.
Hannie Schaft was hated by the German occupiers, because just before the end of the war she carried out various attacks that were pointless in the eyes of the Germans. She was arrested in Haarlem while distributing the illegal communist newspaper de Waarheid on April 17, 1945. She was interrogated and sentenced to death. After the first volley from a machine pistol, which wounded her, she allegedly cried out “Ik schiet beter!”, or in English, I could shoot better. She was buried in a shallow grave, and some of her distinctive hair was visible after the burial protruding from the dirt.
After the war, in these dunes the remains of 422 resistance people were found, 421 men and one woman, Hannie Schaft. She was reburied at the honorary cemetery at the dunes inOverveen in the presence of Princess Juliana and her husband Prince Bernard. Later, as queen, Juliana unveiled a bronze commemorative statue in the Kenau Park in nearby Haarlem, her birthplace. Hannie Schaft also received the ‘Wilhelmina resistance cross’ and the US Medal of Freedom.