Playing the daft lassie with them: gender, captivity and the special operations executive during the second world war

J.S. Pattinson

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This article examines the gender-specific experiences of female prisoners, using SOE agents arrested by the Nazis during the Second World War as a case study, in order to contribute an understanding of the complex interaction of the identities of 'woman', 'soldier' and 'prisoner'. Using oral history, as well as information gleaned from auto/biographies and SOE reports, it is argued that many female captives resorted to gender stereotypes by 'playing the daft lassie', that they experienced punishment with distinct sexist and sexual overtones and that gender was significant in their accounts of incarceration within concentration camps. Examining the gendered experiences of captivity casts light on the male chauvinistic nature of the Nazi regime, illuminating the SS and Gestapo response to being confronted with women who overstepped traditional gender boundaries by undertaking paramilitary roles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-92
JournalEuropean Review of History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • gender
  • captivity
  • special operations executive
  • second world war
  • daft lassie
  • special operations
  • ww2

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