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Hélène Marguerite Deschamps Adams
Born Helene Marguerite Deschamps
(1921-01-30)January 30, 1921
Tientsin, China
Died September 16, 2006(2006-09-16) (aged 85)
Manhattan
Nationality Naturalized U.S. citizen; originally French
Occupation Author
Political movement French Resistance [the Franc Croix and Jacques/Penny Farthing networks], and the OSS, the forerunner of CIA.

Hélène Marguerite Deschamps Adams (born 30 January 1921 in the French concession of what was then called Tientsin, China; d. 16 September 2006 in Manhattan) was a member of the OSS,[1] the forerunner of CIA.[2]

Early life[edit | edit source]

She "was raised in Senegal, Madagascar and Réunion, an island department of France in the Indian Ocean."[3] Her family "returned to France when her father, a general, retired in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France."[2] She was studying in a convent when the Nazis invaded France, and as a teenager decided to join the French Resistance. She began as a courier and progressed to more complicated missions behind enemy lines including reporting on airfield locations, German mines and antiaircraft and camouflaged emplacements along the shores of the Mediterranean. She saved American parachutists from capture at drop zones and helped Jewish families escape to Spain. She posed as a secretary at the Milice headquarters in Vichy, where she had access to file cabinets with names of Jews and Resistance fighters marked for execution or deportation to concentration camps, and removed several name cards a day for several months, thus saving many lives. “Hélène was a very gutsy young woman,” Henry Hyde, the chief of American intelligence in France during World War II, said in an interview in “Women in the Resistance” by Margaret L. Rossiter (Praeger, 1985). “She went through the lines for us, observing German defense installations and order of battle,” he said. “She took many risks and was a genuinely good operator.”

In an interview with CNN in 1996, Mrs. Deschamps Adams said her years of espionage had “no glamour, no romance, no dinner at the embassy in a designer gown.” There was only a necessary job, she said. “You have to forget your own feelings.” Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

She sustained serious injuries for her efforts, including to her back from a beating by an interrogator and partial deafness when a bomb exploded.[3] Nevertheless, when "asked why she took on the dangerous role of secret agent, she was fond of saying, 'I didn't like the idea of Nazis taking over my country.'"[4]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

She married American first lieutenant, Forest E. Adams, and came to the United States of America in 1946.[3] She had a daughter with Adams named Karyn Anick Monget.[3] In 2000, she received The Distinguished Service Medal as well as a citation from former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, and a citation from the French government as an "ancienne combattant" at a joint ceremony at the French Consulate in Manhattan. She was working on unpublished missions for a third book before her death.

Death[edit | edit source]

She died of congestive heart failure in Manhattan at age 85.[3]

Accomplishments and legacy[edit | edit source]

During the war, she "saved American parachutists from capture at drop zones and helped Jewish families escape to Spain."[3] After the war, "she wrote two books, The Secret War, in 1980, and Spyglass: The Autobiography of Helene Deschamps Adams, in 1995. She was honored by the U S and French governments for her deeds....In addition to her books – she was working on a third when she fell ill – Ms. Deschamps Adams was the subject of several TV documentaries on female spies."[2]

For example, The Washington Post reports that Davis Barcalow's documentary film on the OSS's "last shot, after the credits and in a punchy and artsy move, is a short clip of Helene Deschamps Adams, the famous World War II spy, saying: 'You have to think, if you look scared, you're dead. So smile.'"[5]

Video game homage[edit | edit source]

Video game character Manon Batiste is based on Deschamps Adams,[1] who also served as a consultant for game Medal of Honor.[2]

Major publications[edit | edit source]

  • The Secret War of Helene de Champlain (1980), ISBN 0-491-02872-5
  • Spyglass: The Autobiography of Helene Deschamps Adams (1995), ISBN 0-8050-3536-2

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 William Talley, "$20 Game of the Week & Lost Classics: Post Veteran Day Special," POWET.TV (Nov.16, 2008).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Richard Pyle, "Helene Deschamps Adams, 85, daring French spy, rescuer in WWII," The Boston Globe (September 21, 2006).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 DOUGLAS MARTIN, "Hélène Deschamps Adams, Wartime Hero, Dies at 85," The New York Times (September 24, 2006).
  4. "Notable deaths in 2006," South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sep 28, 2006).
  5. Ian Shapira, "Student's Film Peering Into Spy Agency Vies for Prize: Documentary on OSS In National Contest," The Washington Post (June 15, 2008): PW01.

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