Freddie Dekker-Oversteegen (links) Truus Menger-Oversteegen and premier Mark Rutte. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).

Many civilians felt it was their duty to help in any way they could during World War II. It was a terrifying time, and the only way to feel protected was to protect yourself and take up arms. For this young teenager and her sister, the call to fight could not have been clearer.

Bravery knows no age

When the war began, Freddie and Truus Oversteegen were only 12 and 14 years old, respectively. Raised by a single mother, both girls were taught to stand up for themselves and fight whatever injustices came their way, something they took to heart when WWII began.

Their mother began to take in Jewish refugees who fled to their hometown of Haarlem, and the sisters were quick to find their own means of helping the cause.

The war reaches the Netherlands

The Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940, making the need to get involved even greater for Freddie and Truus. The Oversteegen sisters started by distributing anti-Nazi literature and gluing warnings across Nazi propaganda.

But it wasn’t enough. They needed to do more.

Age isn’t just a number

Because they were young teenagers, the two were less likely to be pinned as real threats. Their bravery and age caught the attention of the Haarlem Resistance Group, and the sisters were recruited in 1941. They started by sabotaging bridges and railways but ended up taking solo Nazi assassination missions.

They would follow Dutch collaborators and SS soldiers to their house to kill them, seduce them into secluded areas, or ambush them… from their bikes! They broke barriers for women in the war, carrying out operations that many grown men would have feared. The two went on to live long lives after the war ended, with Truus dying at age 92 in 2016, and Freddie passing in the fall of 2018. They are truly an inspiration, forever proving the need to show passion and courage in the face of adversity, the need to fight for what’s right.