Mary Lindell

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Mary Lindell
Born Ghita Mary Lindell
11 September 1895
Sutton, London
Died 1986
Paris
Nationality  United Kingdom
Other names Marie-Claire, Comtesse de Milleville, Comtesse de Moncy
Occupation Nurse

Ghita Mary Lindell (11 September 1895 in Sutton, London - 1986 in Paris) was a controversial figure of the Second World War. Resistance fighter to some, to others she was a double agent on the German payroll.

Biography[edit]

Lindell was born to a wealthy family in Surrey, England. Her mother, Gertrude Colls, was of the Colls family, the daughter of a successful architect.[1]

During the First World War, she served as a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) and subsequently with the Secours aux Blessés, a division of the French Red Cross. She was decorated for her bravery and service by the French, receiving a Croix de Guerre in 1918.[1] She was also decorated by the Tsarist Russian government.

She married the Count de Milleville, a member of the French aristocracy, and settled permanently in France. During World War II, she participated in the evacuation of three Allied pilots on the "Pat" line (named after "Pat O'Leary", an alias of Albert Guérisse). Despite a narrow escape, which led to her brief refuge in her native Britain, she joined MI9 and returned to occupied France in 1942, where she learned that as the Comtesse de Milleville, she had been sentenced to death.[1]

She would have organised a new escape line, the "Marie-Claire" line, under her new name. She continued to work in France until severely wounded, captured and deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp at the end of 1943.[2] She survived in the camp hospital and was liberated by the Swedish Red Cross in 1945.

The Lindell children were involved in their mother's work. Her son, Maurice, was interrogated and severely beaten for his activities but was released when Mary paid the Gestapo chief in Lyons, Klaus Barbie, a bribe of 45,000 francs.[3] Her other son, Oky, was similarly interrogated and deported to a concentration camp where it is presumed he died. Lindell was subsequently recognised for her work and was also an advocate for those British civilians who were interned in Nazi concentration camps.

Mary Lindell is mentioned at length in the book The Last of the Cockleshell Heroes, by William Sparks with Michael Munn (ISBN 0 85052 297 8). According to the book, she and her son Maurice helped Major Herbert Hasler and Corporal Bill Sparks in Lyon.[4]

Film and television[edit]

The 1991 film One Against the Wind starred Judy Davis, and was based on the biography Story of Mary Lindell: Wartime Secret Agent by Barry Wynne. Lindell was featured in Women of Courage, a television series about four women who defied the Nazis, produced by Peter Morley,[1] himself a German Jewish refugee. The other women were Maria Rutkiewicz, a Polish woman; Sigrid Helliesen Lund, a Norwegian; and Hiltgunt Zassenhaus, a German.

Le Foulon's research[edit]

In 2015, Marie-Laure Le Foulon published an account of her research on Lindell based on the work of Corinna von List and information provided by Anise Postel-Vinay, both members of the resistance movement.[5] According to Le Foulon, who investigated the French, US, and British archives, Lindell had a pathological narcissistic personality that fed her compulsive lying. Although Lindell took care of the evacuation of three British airmen to Great Britain via Marseille and the Pyrenees, historians did not find any other rescues. Her marriage to the Count de Milleville, who controversially enriched himself during the war, her daughter's alleged relationship with a Gestapo agent, and her son who, according to Le Foulon, joined the SS collaboration group, are elements that complicate her involvement in the resistance movement.

Her deportation to Ravensbrück in September 1944 when Paris was about to be liberated was common to all double agents on the German payroll. Yet Lindell did not suffer the fate of other prisoners, since she was an assistant of SS Obersturmführer Percy Treite, who committed suicide on 8 April 1947 when sentenced to death in the Ravensbrück trial. She pleaded in his favour to the point of irritating the English judge so much that the judge threatened to prosecute her for complicity.[5][6]

See also[edit]

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Peter Morley, Peter Morley - A Life Rewound Part 4 (PDF) British Academy of Film and Television Arts (2010), pp. 245-250. Retrieved September 29, 2011
  2. ^ John Nichol and Tony Rennell, Home Run - Escape from Nazi Europe Penguin books (2007)
  3. ^ "War heroine says she bribed ex-Nazi for her son's release". The Miami News. February 10, 1983. 
  4. ^ The Last of the Cockleshell Heroes, pp 96, 98, 100-3, 106-16, 119, 124
  5. ^ a b Marie-Laure Le Foulon, Lady mensonges, Mary Lindell, fausse héroïne de la Résistance, Paris, Alma Éditeur (2015), ISBN 978-2362791499
  6. ^ Interview with Marie-Laure Le Foulon: Mary Lindell sculpte sa propre statue