Denise Bloch

Denise Madeleine Bloch, born in 1915 in France - died February 5, 1945 in Ravensbrück, Germany, was a heroine of World War II.

From a Jewish family, by the middle of 1942 in occupied France they were being rounded up by the Gestapo. In the city of Lyons, Denise Bloch was recruited to work for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She began resistance work with SOE radio operator Brian Stonehouse until his arrest near the end of October that year.

Following Stonehouse's capture, she went into hiding until early 1943 when she was put in touch with SOE agents George Reginald Starr and Philippe de Vomécourt. She began working with them in the town of Agen in the Lot-et-Garonne département in the south of France. However, it was decided to send her to London, England and accompanied by another agent, she walked across the Pyrenees mountains making their way to Gibraltar and eventually London. There, SOE trained her as a wireless operator in preparation for a return to France.

On March 2, 1944, with fellow SOE agent, Robert Benoist, she was dropped back into central France. Working in the Nantes area, they re-established contact with SOE agent and Benoist's fellow race car driver, Jean-Pierre Wimille. However, in June, both she and Benoist were arrested and Denise Bloch was interrogated and tortured before being shipped to Germany. She was held in prisons at Torgau in Saxony and at Konisberg in Brandenburg where she suffered great hardship from exposure, cold, and malnutrition.

Eventually shipped to Ravensbrück concentration camp, sometime between January 25 and February 5, 1945, 29-year-old Denise Madeleine Bloch was executed by the Germans and her body disposed of in the crematorium. Both Lilian Rolfe and Violette Szabo, two other female members of the SOE held at Ravensbrück, were executed at or about the same time. In May, just days before the German surrender, SOE agent Cecily Lefort was also executed at Ravensbrück.

In England, Denise Bloch is recorded on the Brookwood Memorial in Surrey. Posthumously, Britain awarded her the "King's Commendation for Brave Conduct." In France, posthumous honors include the Legion of Honor the Médaille combattant de la Résistance, and the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. As one of the SOE agents who died for the liberation of France, she is listed on the "Roll of Honor" on the Valençay SOE Memorial in the town of Valençay, in the Indre departément of France.

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