I've never understood the value collectors place on medals, but they are enormously popular here in England. However, the story behind this woman's achievement fills me with empathy and a sense of wonder at the human spirit.
French-born Szabo, a cockney girl born Violette Bushell, was selling perfume at a London department store. On the lookout for spies with special abilities, someone much have spotted her intelligence, quick thinking, and fluency with the French language.
She was recruited into Churchill’s Special Operations Executive. From then on, Violette Reine Elizabeth Szabo GC, née Bushell, worked as an agent during the Second World War.
Germans captured her on her second mission over enemy lines, and the beautiful secret agent was tortured by the SS.
In 1945 on the way to their execution behind Ravensbruck's concentration camp’s crematorium, Szabo held the hands of the two women carried on stretchers who were two weak to walk.
Special agent Violette Szabo, aged 23, was shot dead at the Ravensbruck concentration camp where more than 50,000 women were tortured and killed.
Her seventy-three year old daughter said she was selling the medals with “regret” but added: “I have every confidence the successful purchaser will cherish them.”
Only four women have won the George Cross. The first was Odette Sansom who said: “Violette was the bravest of us all.” The 1958 film Carve Her Name With Pride told Violette's Szabo's story.
A few weeks ago, the head of a German museum apologized for the Nazi concentration camp execution of a British World War Two heroine. He said the German nation is ashamed of what happened there and apologized for “all cruelties and crimes Germany did to people all over Europe”.
War is war, spies are spies, and all that went before is well and truly over. Nations who were once enemies are now friends, as it should be. Let's move on, having learned from past mistakes.
But let's honor the indomitable spirit of bravery in the face of death. I would like to think I would do the same.