Massy-Beresford, Monica (1894–1945)

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Massy-Beresford, Monica (1894–1945)

English-born Danish heroine. Name variations: Monica Wichfeld, Monica de Wichfeld. Born Monica Emily Massy-Beresford in London, England, July 12, 1894; died in Waldehim, Germany, Feb 27, 1945; daughter of George (Irish landowner and sportsman) and Alice (Mulholland) Massy-Beresford (dau. of the wealthy Lord Dunleath); grew up in County Fermanagh on Lough Erne in northern Ireland; tutored at home, attended a girls' school in Dresden, Germany, for 1 year; married Jorgen de Wichfeld (Danish aristocrat), June 15, 1916; children: Ivan (b. 1919); Varinka Wichfeld-Muus (1922–2002, Danish resistance leader); Viggo (b. 1924).

Heroine of the Danish Resistance in WWII, married Jorgen de Wichfeld, a man 11 years her senior, whose father, as chamberlain to Christian X, had just inherited some 3,000 acres of Denmark's richest farmland and the country estate Engestofte, the family seat; settled at Engestofte, on the island of Lolland (1922); gave up her British passport for her Danish one; upon the death of her father (July 1924), her mother moved into a large villa at Rapallo, a small seaside town near Genoa in Italy; when the family finances took a turn (1923–24), began to spend late autumn, winter and early spring in Italy or southern France, and April thru Oct at Engestofte; knew everybody; played tennis with Clementine Churchill, dined with Tallulah Bankhead, lunched with Edwina Mountbatten; also worked closely with Free Denmark and Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) in sabotage activities; arrested by the Germans (1944), was sentenced to death for refusing to give information about her involvement in the Resistance and about her contacts (May 13, 1944), the 1st time since the Middle Ages that a woman was condemned to death in Denmark; sentence commuted to life, but she died in prison of tuberculosis in Waldheim (Feb 1945).

See also Christine Sutherland, Monica: Heroine of the Danish Resistance Farrar, Straus, 1990.

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