Was Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn a teenage Nazi fighter?


Photo: Screenshot from ‘Sabrina’ trailer


“The Forgotten Battle” is a Dutch World War II film that depicts the Battle of Scheldt in 1944. The movie just recently premiered on Netflix and popped up as a suggestion last weekend.

The film follows a Dutch Axis soldier (played by Gijs Blom), a British Allied pilot (Jamie Flatters) and a resistance woman from Zeeland (Susan Radder).  I had never known there were Dutch Axis soldiers, so I looked for more information online. Not only did I discover that Dutch Axis soldiers were real, but I also stumbled onto another factoid: Audrey Hepburn fought the Nazis as a teen.

Yes, that Audrey Hepburn.

According to a report in 2017 from JTA, legend has it that during the Nazi occupation of Holland, a teenaged Hepburn slipped through the streets as a courier, relaying documents and money between groups of resistance fighters—all while withering from malnourishment due to the German blockade of food imports.

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But what isn’t legend is that her parents were Nazi sympathizers.

Indeed, the American Film Institute’s third Greatest Female Star of All Time was born to British and Dutch semi-royalty: Joseph Ruston and Baroness Ella van Heemstra, card-carriers of the British Union of Fascists who found common ground with Nazi ideology.

In 1935, when Hepburn was 6, her mother attended the Nuremberg rally, and detailed her account with great enthusiasm for the fascist paper The Blackshirt. “We…have heard the call of Fascism,” she wrote, “and have followed the light on the upward road to victory.”

Her father was no better. In 1938, Ruston was investigated by the British House of Commons for receiving money from Germans tied to Joseph Goebbels to start a newspaper. Eventually, he was jailed as an enemy of the state for the duration of the war.

Though Hepburn denounced her parents’ ideology, she maintained contact with both of them until their deaths.