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Legendary 93 Year-Old World War II Female Spy Passes Away: “Grenade-Slamming, Gun-Toting Trailblazer”

September 07, 2016

Doris Bohrer, a typist for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) turned Spy for Allied forces during WWII, has died at the age of 93. Bohrer died of heart ailments on August 8, 2016, her death has been confirmed by her son Jason. Bohrer had an amazing 27 year career as an intelligence operative. Her duties would bring her to Italy and North Africa where she would inspect aerial maps to determine where the Nazi party was shipping train cars full of civilians. She would ultimately play an integral part in confirming suspicions that the Nazis were carrying out mass executions at concentration camps across Germany.

Doris Bohrer holding a pistol

Doris Bohrer holding a pistol

Bohrer not only helped open the world’s eyes to the atrocities being carried out by the Nazis, she also smashed the glass ceiling within the CIA. She earned herself the title of Deputy Chief of Counterintelligence before retiring. Her presence helped turn the once male dominated agency into an organization that is nearly half female. Many top ranking officials in the CIA are female and owe part of their success to trail-blazers like Bohrer.

Bohrer was one of the few women that were promoted to “aerial analyst” before the OSS turned into the CIA in 1947. She had dreams of being a pilot, which is what motivated her to take the civil service test that jumpstarted her career, that never came to fruition. She often told her son, Jason, of the blatant sexism that ran rampant throughout the OSS and CIA at the early stages of her career. She commented on her male counterparts being referred to as “sir”, “major” or “captain” depending on their status while all women were simply referred to as “the girls.”

She was even one of the first women to be cleared to carry a firearm. She was regularly escorted by armed men at the beginning of her career. Several demands earned her the right to carry a pistol on duty and exercise her Second Amendment rights. She told her son on several occasions that one of the only regrets of her career was that they couldn’t locate the concentration camps before it was “too late”. She spent hours analyzing maps, completely unaware of the atrocity she was witnessing from a birds eye view. She stated to the Washington Post in 2011:

“That’s how we knew where the concentration camps were located, but we were too late. We kept wondering where all the trains were going. The Germans were also building rocket and electronics factories. We watched what went in, what went out.”

Bohrer was many things, but she wasn’t a pushover. Her non-nonsense attitude and refusal to take abuse lying down is what drove her to a high ranking CIA position. Her intense desire to not only be “one of the boys” but even exceed them is best displayed by an anecdote she shared regarding her superiors at the CIA. After several denied requests to carry grenades Bohrer took it upon herself to have a friend create a realistic disabled grenade. One day, after being belittled for being a female spy, Bohrer took the disabled explosive and slammed on a table her superior and other male agents were eating at. The men quickly dove for cover, some even running to the widows to jump to safety. Bohrer’s response? She told NBC that after she slammed the disabled grenade:

“They just disappeared. And I sat there and ate my salad.”