Violette Szabo's George Cross brings World Record £312,000
A set of gallantry medals awarded to the WWII secret agent Violette Szabό, including her George Cross, has sold for a world-record price of £312,000.
Szabό was a celebrated Anglo-French WWII Resistance heroine, and one of just four women to be awarded the George Cross.
The group of medals was offered for auction in London with specialists Dix Noonan Webb, and was immediately snapped up by the noted medal collector Lord Ashcroft, who also owns the world's largest collection of Victoria Cross medals.
In 1942 Szabό volunteered for the Special Operations Executive, in a desire to avenge the death of her husband who was killed at the battle of El Alamein. Having undergone extensive training, she embarked on her first mission to France in April 1944 and gathered valuable information about the Resistance movement before returning to London.
Her second mission in 8 June 1944 saw her parachuted behind enemy lines, just two days after the D-Day landings. However, after being held up at a German roadblock she engaged enemy officers in gunfire, with just an apple tree for cover, and continued to fight until she ran out of ammunition.
She was later tortured by the Nazis, and killed at the Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1945. In January 1947 she was posthumously awarded the George Cross, and her four-year-old daughter Tania was presented with the medal during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Having retained her late mother's medals throughout her life, Tania consigned them to auction earlier this year in order to find them a new permanent home.
“Her life was short but lived to the full, with much happiness, joy, some deep sadness and great endeavour," said Tania Szabό, prior to the auction. "What a great old lady she would have made, what a contribution she would have given and what wisdom and fun she would have passed our way. She and all those other brave souls who gave their life for our fragile liberties would urge us most strenuously to be ever vigilant and strive to remain free. Lest we forget.”
"[Violette Szabό's] award stands at the pinnacle of such distinctions and her legacy yet higher," said David Erskine-Hill, auctioneer at Dix Noonan Webb. "As a consequence, her story has reached an admiring international audience, for it is a story of a brave and beautiful woman, in fact a very special human being, who in reality conquered her foes by an example of stoicism that remains an inspiration to this day.”
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