Violette Szabo was a secret agent working for the Special Operations Executive during World War II. Violette took on special missions behind enemy lines following the death of her French officer husband at the Battle of El Alamein and as a result of her bravery was awarded the George Cross (the first woman to receive the award) and the Croix du Guerre. Violette was captured, tortured and executed in 1945 by the Germans, while to honour her memory and that of her husband Etienne Szabo their daughter Tania supports The Violette Szabo Museum that enables people to learn about her parents' bravery during the war.
How the Museum Got Started?
The Violette Szabo Museum opened its doors in June 2000 and was the brain child of Rosemary Rigby MBE who was Violette's aunt. Many years of fundraising and collecting artefacts from people who knew Violette or served with her during the war came to fruition on that day in June. Virginia McKenna who played Violette in the famous movie Carve Her Name with Pride attended the first fund raising event to launch the appeal with £20,000 being needed in order to get the museum off the ground.
Leo Marks the writer of Violette's poem also attended the opening of the museum. The museum has since received financial help from other organisations including The National Lottery Fund, Southern Marches Partnership and has received many donations from individuals both at home and abroad. Details of how to make a financial donation to the museum can be found at the new official Violette Szabo GC Museum.
What Can We See at The Museum?
The story and life of Violette Szabo is much in evidence at the museum along with life stories of the many resistance workers who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Visitors can learn about Ravensbruck the concentration Camp that Violette and many of her compatriots were sent to following their capture.
A plaque can be seen that commemorates the bravery of Violette and her friends who were eventually executed at Ravensbruck, Violette was just twenty three years old. Three versions of the Leo Marks poem "The Love That I Have"can be viewed at the museum. One version alerted the SOE that Violette was being coerced into writing but which version it was is unknown.
The museum houses many amazing photographs that chart Violette's childhood through to her marriage with many happy family snaps belying what was to come. Visitors who feel energetic can always sign up for the Violette Szabo GC Trail where participants will walk a six mile route through amazing countryside before finishing at the museum. More details of how to register for the trail plus when it takes place can also be found at the website.
Where is the Museum?
The Museum is located in Herefordshire in the grounds of a small house named Cartref where Violette spent many happy childhood days and did indeed stay between her missions to France during the war. Violette's aunt moved to the house and subsequently turned it into the Violette Szabo GC Museum. The museum opens every Wednesday April through September.
- Violette Szabo GC Museum
- Tump Lane
- HR2 8HN
- Phone: 01981 540 477
More WW2 Museums in Britain
If Violette's amazing story inspires you as much as it has done us you may wish to visit one of the other great World War 2 Museums in Britain. There are many museums spanning the breadth of the UK so whether you live in the north or south of the country you will be able to find out more about the Britain's role in World War 2 and the brave men and women who played their parts in the war.