Nancy Wake – Jewish Australia Farewells a WWII Heroine

August 9, 2011 by Community Editor
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The Executive Director of the ECAJ, Peter Wertheim, today expressed praise for the late Australian war heroine, Nancy Wake.  “The Australian Jewish community joins in paying tribute to Nancy Wake, war hero, resistance fighter and secret agent, who sadly passed away on Sunday,” Mr Wertheim said.

Nancy Wake

Much has been written about her daring exploits during World War II in Nazi-occupied France.  She set up escape routes via the Pyrenees which helped save the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution as well as Allied servicemen.   In the lead-up to the D-Day landings in Normandy, she led 7,000 French resistance fighters in missions to sabotage Nazi military installations.  She outwitted the Gestapo, which placed a 5 milion franc bounty on her head and paid an unintended compliment to her skill in eluding capture by giving her the code-name “The White Mouse”.”

Highly honoured by France and Britain and, somewhat belatedly, by Australia, Nancy Wake was an inspirational example of how ordinary people can rise to extraordinary heroism in the crucible of conflict.

“The foundation of her heroism was her basic decency as a person and her refusal to abide any form of persecution or tyranny,” Mr Wertheim said.  “She became resolved to fight Nazism after witnessing the shocking mistreatment of Jewish civilians by Nazi troops in Vienna.”

“In today’s superficial world, obsessed with appearances and material concerns, Nancy Wake’s example reminds us of the things that really matter in life.   She demonstrated that one person standing up against monstrous evil can make a difference.”

…and from The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council’s Executive Director Colin Rubenstein:

“Nancy Wake was a true Australian hero, who showed tremendous strength and bravery in her involvement as a British agent with the French Resistance to the Nazis. She was able to help many European Jews, as well as Allied soldiers, to escape from the fate that awaited them in the Nazi death camps. On top of her contribution to the war effort, Ms Wake will be remembered for her involvement in Australian public life. Her loss will be keenly felt by Australia’s Jewish community, as it will be by the entire nation.”



One Response to “Nancy Wake – Jewish Australia Farewells a WWII Heroine”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    We hail her too in this household. My son kept in touch with her as a young boy, and will be glad of the photograph framed on the wall, and books she signed for him all those years ago, as will many others.
    She had a wonderful connection with the young, to the point of cutting out the glass of beer she held in her hand in the photograph, not wanting to set him bad example.
    Thank you for remembering her and paying her the homage due.

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