Violette Morris

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Violette Morris
Violette Morris 1920.jpg
Morris in 1920
Personal information
Born18 April 1893
Died26 April 1944 (aged 51)[1]
Height166 cm (5 ft 5 in)[2]
Weight68 kg (150 lb)[2]
Event(s)Shot put, javelin throw
Violette Morris, 1913

Violette Morris (18 April 1893 – 26 April 1944) was a French athlete who won two gold and one silver medals at the Women's World Games in 1921–1922. in 1936, she became a spy for Nazi Germany, which continued during World War II. She was killed in 1944 in a Resistance-led ambush as a traitor to France.

Early life[edit]

The youngest of six sisters, Morris spent her adolescence in a convent, L'Assomption de Huy. She married Cyprien Gouraud on 22 August 1914. They divorced in May 1923. She served in World War I as a military nurse during the Battle of the Somme and a courier during the Battle of Verdun.[2]

Athletic career[edit]

Morris was a gifted athlete, becoming the first French woman to excel at shot put and discus, and playing on two separate women's football teams. She played for Fémina Sports from 1917 until 1919, and for Olympique de Paris from 1920 to 1926. Both teams were based in Paris. She also played on the French women's national team.[2][3]

In addition to her football career, she was an active participant in many other sports. She was selected for the French national water polo team even though there was no women's team at the time. She was an avid boxer, often fighting against, and defeating men.[4] She became French national champion in 1923. Among the other sports she participated in were road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, car racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,[5] weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling. Her most brilliant athletic years were considered to be from 1921 to 1924, when her slogan was "Ce qu'un homme fait, Violette peut le faire!" (English: Anything a man can do Violette can do!). In 1924 she participated at the 1924 Women's Olympiad again taking the gold medal in discus and shot put. She later won the 1927 Bol d'Or 24 Hours car race at the wheel of a B.N.C..[6]


Morris's lifestyle was quite different from the traditional role of women during the 1920s. In addition to her wide-ranging athletic activities, Morris deviated from traditional behaviours of the time in several other ways. Among other things, she dressed in men's attire, was a heavy smoker[2] and swore often.[1]

She was refused license renewal by the Fédération française sportive féminine (FFSF – French Women's Athletic Federation) amid complaints of her lifestyle and was therefore barred from participating in the 1928 Summer Olympics. The agency cited her lack of morals, in particular, Morris' penchant for wearing men's clothing.[7] Afterward, Morris decided to undergo an elective mastectomy, which she claimed was in order to fit into racing cars more easily. After 1928, Morris settled into owning a car parts store in Paris, and, along with her employees, building racing cars.[1]


At the end of December 1935, Morris was recruited by the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service), a wing of the infamous SS of Nazi Germany. She was invited, with honor, to attend the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin at the personal behest of Adolf Hitler. She gave Germany partial plans of the Maginot Line, detailed plans of strategic points within the city of Paris, and schematics of the French army's main tank, the Somua S35.[citation needed] Her plans were integral to the German invasion of Paris in 1940.[citation needed] She benefited from the German occupation, often colluding with the local mob. She lived through the German occupation in a houseboat on the River Seine.

One of her main responsibilities during the war was to foil the operation of the Special Operations Executive, a British-run organisation that helped the resistance. For these activities, Morris was sentenced to death in absentia and was killed along a country road by members of a French resistance group on 26 April 1944, at the age of 51, while out driving with friends who were also collaborators. Two other passengers were little children. They too were killed. Her body, riddled with bullets, was never claimed, and was buried in a communal grave.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Bard, Christine. La championne Violette Morris perd son procès en 1930 Archived 13 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine..
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ruffin, Raymond. Violette Morris.
  3. ^ L'équipe féminine de football de l'Olympique. Library of France
  4. ^ Entraînement de Melle Violette Moriss i.e. Morris, boxant avec un sparing partner. Library of France
  5. ^ Mme Violette Gouraud-Morris nageuse, 1er août 1920, Bassin Niclausse à Paris, La Villette. Library of France
  6. ^ Krejci, Martin. "Pre-war races 1927". World Sports Racing Prototypes. Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  7. ^ Kessler, Martin (24 February 2017). "Violette Morris: Pioneering Female Athlete Turned Nazi Spy". Retrieved 18 May 2018.


  • Raymond Ruffin, La diablesse. La véritable histoire de Violette Morris, éd. Pygmalion 1989
  • Jean-Emile Neaumet, Violette Morris, la Gestapiste, éd. Fleuve Noir, coll. « Crime Story », 1994
  • Jacques Delarue, Histoire de la Gestapo, éd. Fayard, 1996
  • Christian Gury, L'Honneur ratatiné d'une athlète lesbienne en 1930, éd. Kimé, 1999
  • Raymond Ruffin, Violette Morris, la hyène de la Gestapo, éd. Le Cherche Midi, 2004
  • Marie-Jo Bonnet, Violette Morris, histoire d'une scandaleuse, éd. Perrin, 2011
  • Miroir du Sport, 14 April 1921
  • Miroir des Sports, n° 260, 3 June 1925
  • Morris is the subject of Francine Prose's historical novel Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 (Harper, 2014): hear Prose interviewed here. Morris' character is called Lou Villars.
  • This article incorporates text translated from the corresponding French Wikipedia article as of 13 June 2006.