Ilse Hirsch was a Nazi resistance fighter who played a key role in the assassination of Franz Oppenhoff in the later days of World War Two.
Born in 1922, Hirsch joined the League of German Girls, part of the Hitler Youth movement, when she was 16 years old and became one of the organisation’s leaders. In 1945 she became involved with the Nazi resistance force, dubbed ’The Werewolves’, whose mission was to work behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced into Germany.
Hirsch was selected to take part in Operation Carnival, a mission to assassinate Dr. Franz Oppenhoff, who had recently been appointed mayor of Aachen by the Americans who had taken control of the city. Hirsch knew the ground well and acted as a guide for the team. Along with 5 other Werewolves she was parachuted in near Aachen and guided them to Oppenhoff’s countryside home outside the city. Oppenhoff was shot by SS Lieutenant Leitgeb on the steps of his home, after which Hirsch attempted to lead the Werewolves to safety. However she caught her foot on a trip-wire and triggered a landmine, gravely injuring her and killing Leitgeb.
Hirch’s injuries kept her in hospital for a long time but she eventually returned home. In 1949 the surviving members of the team, barring one, were arrested and became the subject of Aachen ‘Werewolf Trial’. All were found guilty and sentenced to 1-4 years in prison, but Hirsch was released. Following the war Hirsch continued to live in the Aachen area, marrying and having two sons.