During the war, it weighed 40 kg. To survive, Audrey Hepburn ate lily bulbs

She did not even want to talk to her loved ones about her experience during World War II, so many official biographies of Audrey Hepburn contain no information about her life in the Dutch city of Arnhem. After a two-year investigation, writer Robert Matzen, author of Audrey Hepburn’s The Resistance Dancer, was able to find documents in the archives of the FBI and CIA and collect all the statements of the actress about World War II and the role Audrey played at that time.

  • The actress joined the Dutch resistance
  • She survived the bloody 211-day Battle of Arnhem and almost starved. She survived eating nettles and lavender bulbs and drinking water to fill her stomach
  • When she was 170 cm tall, she weighed less than 40 kg
  • Traumatic experiences left their mark on her later life
  • You can find more such stories on the homepage of Onet.pl

In 1935, six-year-old Audrey’s mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra, left her two sons and young daughter at a Dutch resort to meet the Führer with her husband. The Baroness also participated in the annual NSDAP Conference in Nuremberg. Audrey Kathleen Van Heemstra Ruston was born on May 4, 1929, the future Audrey Hepburn, and raised by a strict mother of an aristocratic Friesian family. The father who claimed to be a descendant of Maria Stewart’s third husband, Joseph Hepburn Ruston, will disappear from the actress’s life when she is just six years old.


Audrey Hepburn in 1953. Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images)

Photo: Getty Images

One of Audrey’s most traumatic experiences would be the abandonment of her father and the depression of a mother who cried all day. “I think abandoned children are difficult sometimes. Regardless of who they are. It is a terrible torture for a child. They do not understand what the problem is. Children need both parents to be able to maintain emotional balance in their lives” – the actress will say many years later . In 1935 Audrey was sent to her family to England, and her mother would visit them sporadically. The girl began to gain weight, pulled out and complained of severe migraines.

little dutch girl

In September 1939, right after the outbreak of World War II, Audrey moved to Arnhem, her grandparents’ hometown, with her mother and half-brothers. From that moment, the girl was brought up to be Dutch and had to learn a difficult Dutch language. In the early 1940s, the family’s fortune was gradually dwindling, so Audrey’s mother had to take her first job in her life. The Baroness started working for a company that imported furniture from Dutch designers and also had to take care of her family for the first time. “My views on life were instilled in me by my mother, a lady who adhered to strict Victorian principles. Badly seen disturbing people with their feelings. First, you had to think of others. Observe discipline ”- the actress will remember years later.

If Audrey had not started acting in films, she would have become the image of a ballerina.  Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

If Audrey had not started acting in films, she would have become the image of a ballerina. Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Although little Audrey had been interested in dancing before, she began to seriously develop her passion in Arnhem. The discipline instilled by the mother made him She danced against adversity and against her being.

“Wake up, war has broken out”

On May 10, 1940 Hitler attacked the Netherlands. Indeed, only from that moment did Audrey realize what was happening in Eastern Europe. Years later, she will remember this event as the “second worst memory” of her life after her father’s disappearance. Audrey will remember from the early days of the war the throngs of people who walked through town with their bags and packs, wearing many layers of clothes and carrying what they could carry.

Soon the Germans entered the hometown of 11-year-old Audrey. In 1940, the girl entered a music school and devoted herself entirely to dancing. “What people don’t realize is that during war, a person does not change intrinsically inwardly– says Hepburn years later. “Circumstances and customs change, but the man does not. If a girl wanted to become a dancer early on, despite the war, she still wanted it just as much.”

Audrey Hepburn did not like to talk about her mother.  Paramount Pictures / Courtesy of Getty Images

Audrey Hepburn did not like to talk about her mother. Paramount Pictures / Courtesy of Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Ella was very pro-German, which caused great anxiety in the family. That is why her name would later appear on the list of “unreliable” people printed in the local resistance newspaper and would convince Ella to move to the town of Philip.

Audrey with her mother Photo.  Batman

Audrey with her mother Photo. Batman

Photo: Getty Images

In 1942, food began to be increasingly rationed, and Audrey witnessed the crimes of German soldiers with her own eyes. “I’ve seen families with young children, with children, being mowed down in cattle carts – Large wooden wagons, with one rail unfastened at the top All these faces were looking at you“By the end of 1943, Philipp became the most important place for the Nazi occupation government in all of Holland. The population was hiding in churches, and store shelves were empty for a long time.

Malnourished Audrey had to stop dancing for a while. her body rebelled. “There was less and less food. Everything we had was running out. The Netherlands had no imports or exports. It was a closed country. Of course the German army took the best.”

Black Evenings. Audrey dances for resistance

Audrey, who spent the summer volunteering for Dr. Visera Hoft, a member of the underground resistance movement, came close to the activities of the conspiracy network. Hospital staff played a key role in many anti-German actions, including the falsification of identity documents. Although many biographers of Audrey Hepburn believe the actress was too young to be in the resistance, Robert Matison, author of Audrey Hepburn’s book.

Audrey danced to the resistance.  Parade Photographer/Holton Archive/Getty Images

Audrey danced to the resistance. Parade Photographer/Holton Archive/Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

According to the writer, it was the doctor who persuaded Audrey to use her talent and dance during illegal musical performances organized by the resistance movement, during which money was raised for the Dutch hideouts. In fact, I acted illegally to make money for the Dutch resistance.Attending such gatherings was associated with high risks. But Audrey didn’t just dance. In one interview, she revealed that she “ran with food for the pilots.” She is also known to have passed on messages from the Resistance to Allied pilots.

“winter hunger”

When the Battle of Arnhem began on September 17, 1944, the largest airborne operation of World War II, Audrey took refuge with her mother and grandparents in a basement in Philipp. Remember the townspeople, who survived the war four years On that day the end of the world began. Arnhem was in ruins, and the bodies of the British, Germans and Dutch were scattered throughout the area. Philip was still in the hands of the Nazis. There was no electricity or running water. When the fighting for Arnhem finally ended, the survivors were told they had to leave the city immediately.

“I still faint when I remember those scenes. It was a human misfortune in all its glory— A wandering crowd of refugees, some carrying their dead, children born on the road, hundreds of people fainting from starvation“.

The city of Philip received a large number of refugees. There are now 37 people in the basement where the Audrey family has taken refuge. We only ate what we found.. Bread rations have been reduced to 500g per week – too little for a human to survive cold and disease outbreaks. Residents were digging the frozen ground in search of potatoes. At the end of winter, people were about to go crazy. This last winter, which is called hunger, I saw death of starvation with my own eyes. Not at the Somali level, but it was really bad. Children searched garbage cans, and people died of hunger and cold.”

One evening, a teenage girl heard that she had to stay in bed because she had nothing to eat. It so happened that even for three days she had nothing in her mouth. For several months, breakfast consisted of hot water and a slice of brown bean bread. “There was a potato in the broth for dinner.” Audrey shared her food rations with her mother and aunt. to escape from hunger Audrey ate turnip, dandelion, grass and even lily bulbs.

Audrey with her mother, 1946 photo.  Holton Archive/Getty Images

Audrey with her mother in 1946 Foote. Holton Archive/Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

At that time, the girl also had colitis and her period was painful and irregular. these Diseases led to permanent changes in metabolism. The list of diseases also combined severe anemia, breathing problems and swelling of the extremities. Her knuckles swell, Buttocks lost so much weight that she could not sit still.

When food finally arrived in town—bread, potatoes, oil, meat, and cheese—Audrey’s family was able to eat their first full meal in years. After 211 tragic days, Philip was liberated by Canadian forces. “I enjoyed the smell of Allied gasoline as the most expensive perfume in the world, and I ordered a cigarette, even though I choked terribly the first time.” From now on, smoking will always be associated with freedom.

Audrey Hepburn Always Explains Her Thin Fot.  Images via Getty Images

Audrey Hepburn Always Explains Her Thin Fot. Images via Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Audrey “thin” problematic

Years later, Audrey admitted that the war made her introverted, but it also instilled fortitude and strict discipline. For the rest of her life, the actress also had to deal with rumors about her alleged anorexia. Audrey insisted that she always eat what she wanted, and that the only thing that took away her appetite was stress. She smoked up to sixty cigarettes every day.

Audrey Hepburn died on January 20, 1993 at the age of 63. The cause of death was a tumor in the gastrointestinal tract.

I used the book “Audrey Hepburn. A Resistance Dancer” by Robert Matzen.

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