The White Mouse gave the Nazis a dose of their own hell. You can’t make this stuff up.
March 13, 2013
Researching is a lot like prospecting. You dig through a lot of dirt and a river or two of mud, and every once in a while, you find something quite valuable. When I stumble across some fascinating person, place, or heroic deed I’ve never known before, I consider it a diamond.
While writing Secrets of the Dead, an espionage thriller set during the beginning days of World War Number Two, I was waist deep in research when, amongst the rubble and scattered pages, I found the White Mouse.
Nobody was as tough as the White Mouse.
Nobody was as courageous as the White Mouse.
Nobody was ever as cool under pressure as the White Mouse.
The newspaper reporter had journeyed from France to Germany to interview this frightening little man wearing a black mustache and report on the rise of fascism.
Hitler was bad news.
Already the atrocities had begun.
The reporter saw Jewish men and women dragged into the streets and beaten. It wasn’t unusual. It was an every day occurrence.
Dark clouds of war were hanging low. The distant thunder sounded like gunfire. It was. Innocents were dying, and innocents were vanishing from the streets.
The White Mouse wrote story after story about the violence, the cruelty, and the tragedies that had trapped Europe in a web of evil.
The stories opened a lot of eyes. The stories weren’t enough.
The reporter looked up one day and realized that the Germans had crossed the border into France.
There was no safe place to go.
No safe place to be.
The reporter struck back and suffered the consequences.
The White Mouse worked at night to help thousands of Jewish refugees as they fled the shadow of concentration camps. The White Mouse led a resistance force that rescued Allied pilots shot down over occupied territory.
But now the Gestapo had a name.
Soon, the Gestapo had a face.
The reporter had no choice but escape across the Pyrenees to Spain, moving on to Britain and becoming a spy, training to lead guerilla warfare against Hitler’s storm troopers.
The White Mouse entered France by parachute and in a cloak of darkness, commanding seven thousand resistance fighters and coordinating attacks on German troops as a reckless and violent prelude to the troops coming ashore at Normandy on D-Day.
The White Mouse had seen the worst happen to mankind.
The White Mouse never forgot.
The White Mouse was ruthless, killing a German prison guard with a single karate chop to the neck, executing a woman who had been caught spying for Hitler’s war machine, and blasting past one roadblock after another, traveling by bicycle for seventy miles through heavily armed Nazi checkpoints to deliver a new set of crucial radio code for the Allies.
The White Mouse, virtually overnight, climbed to the top of the Nazi’s Most Wanted List. There was a heavy price on the head of the White Mouse. It went unpaid.
The White Mouse never quit fighting.
The White Mouse had fear attached to the name.
The White Mouse was known as the deadly one.
The White Mouse was a woman.
How was she able to gain the respect of the seven thousand men she commanded?
She challenged them a drinking contest one night, and when it was over, she was the only one standing.
How did she manage to pass through German checkpoints without ever being caught?
The White Mouse was a woman. She smiled and flirted. Her eyes were full of promise. The guards had no idea that she could kill them, and those eyes would never blink.
Germans, at the time, believed the elusive White Mouse was a man.
A woman could not be that merciless.
Nancy Wake was.
And when she died in London just three weeks shy of her ninety-ninth birthday, she still had her regular place at the bar and downed six gin a tonics a night.
Her ashes were scattered in Montlucon, France.
It was the town where she led a raid on a Gestapo headquarters. The Germans never knew what hit them. A lot of Nazis died that night.
Nancy Wake was fond of her memories.
Women are like that, you know.
The exploits of the White Mouse?
You can’t make this stuff up.