This week we will focus our nonfiction list around biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, because there is no story quite like real-life experience.
A new book called The Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, written by biographer and historian Robert Matzen, will provide “proof” that Audrey Hepburn was involved in anti-Nazi resistance as a young teenager in Holland.
Hepburn achieved fame for her roles in films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Roman Holiday, but until now, the story of her role in the Dutch Resistance has gone untold. Her son, Luca Dotti, now believes that it’s “a good time to tell my mother’s story and to know her as more than just an icon of beauty and style.”
The synopsis provided by Amazon reveals the type of content the book will include:
Audrey’s own reminiscences, new interviews with people who knew her in the war, wartime diaries, and research in classified Dutch archives shed light on the riveting, untold story of Audrey Hepburn under fire in World War II. Also included is a section of color and black-and-white photos. Many of these images are from Audrey’s personal collection and are published here for the first time.
Besides being personally affected by the Nazi regime—Hepburn suffered from hunger and malnutrition due to scarcity of food—she also experienced loss at the hands of Nazis. Hepburn’s uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum, was executed by Nazis for his refusal to support the regime in 1942.
Hepburn began working with the Dutch Resistance at the age of fourteen. One of the ways she helped was through using her talents as a performer to participate in “black evenings” or illegal performances which featured music and dancing, which also functioned as informal fundraisers. In order to keep the performances secret, the windows of the venue would be blacked out (hence “black evenings”) and guards would be “posted outside to let us know when Germans approached,” according to Hepburn.
Hepburn assisted in more direct ways as well. According to Matzen, “Audrey once said that one of her jobs was ‘running around with food for the pilots… As a fluent English speaker, she could communicate with the pilots, tell them where to go and who would help them.” She also helped distribute the prohibited Resistance newspaper, risking her life in the process.
Hepburn continued to demonstrate the same dedication to helping others during her later life, specifically through her work as an ambassador for Unicef. On this role, Hepburn commented, “I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II.”
It’s clear that WWII, and her involvement in it, shaped Hepburn’s life more than was formerly known—The Dutch Girl is significant for the way it will allow Hepburn’s truth to finally come to light.
The book will be released on April 15th, 2019.
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