Violette Morris (1893-1944) was a decorated French athlete, race car driver, military nurse and Nazi intelligence operative.
A wild child from a French noble family, Morris spent her teenage years in a convent where she displayed an incredible aptitude for sports. At the age of 15 she was competing at the highest levels of boxing, swimming, weightlifting, javelin, shot put and discus. She was fond of describing herself with her cheeky motto "Anything a man can do, Violette can do".
Morris married Cyprien Gouraud in 1914 just before the outbreak of the First World War. During the war she served as military nurse driving an ambulance on the front lines during the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme. She also served as a warzone motorcycle courier, wrecking her bike on the crater-filled terrain at least three times, but always completing her mission.
After the war Morris returned to sports, playing for various French Women's Football teams and winning Olympic gold medals for discus, javelin and shot put. Her life driving on the front lines had given her a passion for speed and she competed twice in the Bol d'Or driving a 750cc Benjamin Ruby cyclecar. In 1923 she became the the French national boxing champion. Morris also defied society's expectations of women in her personal life, dressing in men's clothes, smoking heavily and swearing frequently. She was publicly known to be bisexual and was photographed attending the Parisian lesbian nightclub, Le Monocle. In 1929 she had a double mastectomy, stating that her large breasts interfered with her race car driving.
Public opinion eventually turned against Morris. She was banned from entering the 1928 Olympics and was subsequently smeared in the French press. Repeatedly forbidden from entering sporting competitions, Morris became bitter toward French society and in 1935 she agreed to become a spy for Nazi Germany. She was rewarded with a personal invitation from Adolf Hitler to be an honoured guest at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Morris provided Germany with French tank schematics and plans of France's defenses along the the Maginot Line, information which proved integral to the German invasion of France in World War 2.
Following the German occupation of France, Morris became a member of the Carlingue, the French wing of the Gestapo secret police. She operated in counter-intelligence working against British SOE forces that were supporting the French Resistance. She was so effective in infiltrating resistance networks and extracting information through torture that she became known as the 'Gestapo's Hyena'. Her notorious success eventually led to resistance forces plotting to assassinate her. On April 26th 1944 Morris was driving her sports car when she was fatally ambushed by Resistance commandos armed with machine guns. Nobody claimed her body and she was buried in a communal grave.