This woman risked it all to run a secret WWII spy network

New York Post | 3/11/2019 | Staff
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Her code name was “Hedgehog,” an homage to a “tough animal that even a lion would hesitate to bite,” as a friend once said.

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And like a hedgehog, which appears cute and nonthreatening but can roll into a tight ball deploying dangerous quills when challenged, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade had an unexpected tough side.

The young French woman headed one of the most important resistance networks during World War II and oversaw the collection of crucial intelligence that helped turn the battle’s tide. And yet she remains virtually unknown — in large part, because of her gender.

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“Nobody really remembers her, and one of the main reasons is she’s a woman,” author Lynne Olson tells The Post.

Olson’s new book, “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler” (Random House), aims to give due to someone who has gotten little.

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“The idea of a woman doing what she did, facing down all these men, breaking every rule in the book about how you should behave as a woman, it’s just really incredible,” Olson says.

And Fourcade did it in a patriarchal society where, before World War II, women were still not allowed to vote or own property in their name.

Fourcade - Intelligence - Network - France - Agents

In 1941, Fourcade ascended to command a vast intelligence network in France, overseeing some 3,000 agents and operating in nearly every sizeable town in the country.

She was just 31.

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The group’s name was the Alliance, but the Nazis called it Noah’s Ark, because its members used animal code names.

The Alliance and its spies risked their lives collecting information about German troop movements, gun placements, submarine sailing schedules and weapons development that was then relayed to the British.

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The woman at its helm could not have...
(Excerpt) Read more at: New York Post
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