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Audrey Hepburn feared being kidnapped to work in Nazi brothels


April 7, 2012 - London

A new book has revealed how Audrey Hepburn-Ruston escaped a Nazi brothel and survived the last dreadful days of the Second World War.

During the end of the war, the 'Breakfast at Tiffany's star was just a hungry child, another innocent victim of the war that had starved, dehumanised and killed millions across Europe.

The book Five Days That Shocked The World, by Nicholas Best and published by Osprey tells the story of those tumultuous five days at the end of the war, including the experiences of ordinary people, some of whom would later lead extraordinary and famous lives, the Daily Mail reported.

Fifteen-year-old Audrey had been hovering close to death for months, sick with jaundice, her legs and feet swollen from oedema caused by malnutrition, so weak with hunger that she could barely climb the stairs in her grandfather's home, just outside Arnhem.

Audrey's mother was a Dutch aristocrat, but her father was English and they had been living in Britain before the war.

Following her parents' divorce, when war began Audrey's mother took her back to Holland, believing they would be safer as it was neutral. But the Germans invaded in 1940 and the young Audrey watched her Jewish neighbours being herded into trucks, men into one truck, women into another, babies into another.

She lived in fear of being kidnapped and taken to a military brothel as so many other girls had been. She was once picked up by the Germans to work on their kitchens but managed to escape.

She began working for the Resistance, carrying messages in her shoes.

But in April 1945 as the fighting came closer, she and her family took refuge in the cellar as the Germans and Allies fought from house to house.

"Once in a while, you'd go up and see how much of your house was left, and then you'd go back under again," she recalled.

Then on the morning of April 29, the shelling and shooting stopped. Audrey heard voices and singing, and smelt English cigarettes. They crept upstairs and opened the front door to find the house surrounded by English soldiers all aiming their guns at them.

"I screamed with happiness, seeing all these cocky figures with dirty bright faces and shouted something in English ... a cheer went up that they'd liberated an English girl," she said.

At the war's end, she returned to London and began training as a ballet dancer, but her slight physique meant that she would never reach the top.

She became a chorus girl then had a series of small parts in British films before being picked for the lead role in the play 'Gigi' on Broadway aged 22, which in turn launched her Hollywood career.

ANI

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