The extraordinary and controversial life of Violette Morris: athlete, spy and Nazi collaborator

June 01, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

The extraordinary and controversial life of Violette Morris: athlete, spy and Nazi collaborator

Violette, Paule, Emille Marie, was born in Paris in 1893, the daughter of Baron Pierre Jacques Morris and Elisabeth Marie Antoinette "Betsy" Sakakini. At just 15 years old, she participated in the French free swimming championship, finishing fifth in the 8-kilometer race as the only female competitor. Before turning 17, she started boxing and even defeated male opponents. On the eve of World War I, she was already a well-rounded athlete, specializing in shot put and discus throw, as well as playing soccer and racing bicycles and motorcycles. During the war, she enlisted in the motorcycle dispatch rider group of the Red Cross and took part in the Battle of the Somme in February 1915. However, in May 1916, she contracted pleurisy on the Verdun front, leading to a long hospital stay. After recovering, she continued her sports career and got married, excelling in various competitive activities.



Her motto became: “What a man can do, Violette can do.” She became an ace driver, a champion in gliding, a Greco-Roman wrestling instructor, and a skillful archer. From 1921 to 1924, she gained significant notoriety even outside France. She divorced in 1923 and dedicated herself entirely to sports, excelling in many disciplines. Standing 1.66 meters tall and weighing 68 kilos, she possessed incredible strength and endurance despite smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. She expected to be selected for the 1928 Olympics, the first to include women, but in 1927, the FFSF denied her license renewal for "outrage to modesty" due to her openly homosexual behavior and masculine attire.


Despite her protests and a court appeal, Violette was excluded from the Games and turned to car racing. However, her large breasts hindered her movements, so she decided to have them removed. In 1934, during a stay in Germany, she listened to Hitler and was fascinated by the power of the new Nazi order. She frequently traveled to Germany, and in 1936, she participated in the Berlin Games, where she was contacted by the Reich's Security Services to become a spy.

Her espionage activities grew in importance as the war approached. It is said that Violette provided the Germans with plans for the Renault Somua tank. The British MI5 also tried to recruit her as a double agent but without success. With the Nazi occupation of France, Violette collaborated with the Germans, supervising the interrogations of captured British secret agents. She joined the Lafont gang, known for its brutal torture of resistance fighters.



The information obtained by Violette was so valuable that she was tasked with recruiting spies within the Resistance. She participated in dismantling resistance groups and capturing SOE agents. Considered extremely dangerous, her elimination was ordered. On April 26, 1944, she was killed in an ambush organized by partisans on the road to Epaignes. Despite trying to defend herself, she was shot multiple times.


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