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Actress Audrey Hepburn was WWII spy, new book reveals

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on Vespa in Roman Holiday (Trailer screenshot/WikiCommons)
April 14, 2019

Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn was a resistance spy against the Nazis during World War II, according to a new book.

A new book written by Robert Matzen, “Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II” unveiled undisclosed files, interviewed Hepburn’s family, and located diaries to piece together the whole story that concluded Hepburn was a spy during the Dutch resistance against the Nazis, according to the New York Post.

The revelation comes as a surprise since Hepburn’s parents were once Nazi supporters.


World War II started in 1939 when Hepburn was just 10 years old, and four years after her father abandoned the family. The same year, Hepburn and her mother relocated to the Netherlands from England, moving to Arnhem, Holland, a town that was quickly savaged by Germany during the war in 1940.

Hepburn said, “The first few months we didn’t know quite what had happened … I just went to school. In the schools, the children learned their lessons in arithmetic with problems like this: ‘If 1,000 English bombers attack Berlin and 900 are shot down, how many will return to England?’” NTD reported.

In 1942, Hepburn’s mother relocated them again to Velp. During this time Hepburn’s mother began to change her pro-Nazi thinking and joined the Resistance movement.

Hepburn later recounted watching a train filled with Jews, “I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child … Then I realized what would have happened to him.”

In 1944, Hepburn formed ties with Dr. Hendrik Visser ’t Hooft, an anti-German leader who worked in the Resistance movement. She soon began dancing at illicit events called “black evenings” to raise money for the Resistance.

“Guards were posted outside to let us know when Germans approached. The best audiences I ever had made not a single sound at the end of my performance,” Hepburn once said.

She also secretly delivered the Oranjekrant, a Resistance newspaper. She said, “I stuffed them in my woolen socks in my wooden shoes, got on my bike and delivered them.”

Because she was young and inconspicuous, Visser ’t Hooft directed her to take messages and food to Allied pilots on the sly, despite extreme food shortages. At one point, the Hepburn family hid a downed English pilot in their home. Luca Dotti, Audrey’s son, said it was one of his mother’s beloved memories of the war.

In the book, Dotti said, “My mother told me it was thrilling for her — it was risky, he was a stranger in uniform, a savior, and therefore a knight and hero. Then I learned about the German law that if you were caught hiding an enemy, the whole family would be taken away.”

When the war ended, Hepburn pursued dance and modeling, then relocated to New York in 1951 where she started acting. She was best known for her roles in the Hollywood films, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Roman Holiday. She died in 1993 at the age of 63.