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Denise Madeleine Bloch (1916 – 1945, Ravensbrückmarker, Germanymarker) was a French secret agent working with the British Special Operations Executive in World War II.

Early life

Born to a Jewish family (Jacques Henri Bloch and Suzanne Levi-Strauss) in Barrault, Paris, France in 1916; Bloch had three brothers. Before the war, she was a secretary at Citroen. As the family were Jewish, they were rounded up by the Gestapomarker in 1942 in occupied France.

Special Operations Executive

Her job at Citroen was as secretary to Lieutenant Jean Maxime Aron (code name 'Joseph') a who was also a Jewish Resistance leader in France.

Bloch was recruited in Lyonmarker 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 Agenmarker in the Lot-et-Garonnemarker département in the south of France. However, it was decided to send her to Londonmarker and accompanied by another agent, she walked across the Pyrenees mountainsmarker making their way to Gibraltarmarker and eventually London. There, SOE trained her as a wireless operator in preparation for a return to France.

On 2 March 1944, with fellow SOE agent, Robert Benoist, she was dropped back into central France. Working in the Nantesmarker 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 Bloch was interrogated and tortured before being shipped to Germanymarker. She was held in prisons at Torgaumarker in Saxonymarker and at Königsbergmarker in Brandenburgmarker, where she suffered great hardship from exposure, cold, and malnutrition.

Eventually shipped to Ravensbrück concentration campmarker, sometime between 25 January 1945 and 5 February 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. It is alleged that SS Major Horst Kopkow was involved in the arrest/killing of these SOE agents.

Posthumous awards

In England, Bloch is recorded on the Brookwood Memorialmarker in Surreymarker. She was posthumously awarded the "King's Commendation for Brave Conduct" by Great Britainmarker.

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 Memorialmarker in the town of Valençaymarker, in the Indremarker département of France.

Sources and external links

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