Violette Morris: Heroine, Sportswoman, Collaborator

Aug 26, 2020

Life Stories

Violette Morris


Violette Gouraud-Morris was born in 1893, youngest of six sisters. In 1914, she married Cyprien Gouraud. Violette was an ambulance driver during the First World War, and was running messages on the front line at the Battle of Verdun. Violette was a major figure in French sport, excelling in horse-riding, swimming, discus and shot-putting. In 1923 she was national boxing champion. From 1917, she was a famous footballer, for Femina Sport de Paris, Olympique de Paris, Les Cadettes de Gascogne, and the French national team.

Sport, Controversy and Fascism

After her divorce in 1923, Violette Morris challenged social and cultural norms, among others by dressing “as a man” and being openly lesbian. France barred her from the 1928 Olympics due to her “low moral standards”. She was criticised for racing cars, and boxing against men. In 1937 she was charged with murder after killing a young man “in self-defence”, and was found not guilty. She became openly pro-Fascist. In 1936, she was reportedly approached by Nazi German officials to collaborate.


After the Fall of France in 1940, Violette Morris collaborated with the Germans and the Vichy regime. Her motor business provided cars, black-market petrol, and her own services as a driver. She also acted as an informer. In April 1944, Violette Morris was killed by the Resistance, who assassinated her on a country road in Normandy. In death, Violette became a hated figure, the “Hyena of the Gestapo”, accused of participating in torture and of betraying state secrets. These have turned out to be myths.

Thinking points

Violette Morris’s life, and death, caused scandal and controversy. She was a gifted athlete, winning medals for swimming at the first Women’s World Games, and excelled in football, boxing, weightlifting and motor racing.  But her life became a story of norms and ideology, including her open lesbianism, the sensational trial when she was acquitted of murder, and her pro-Fascist sympathies and wartime collaboration. In 1944 she was killed by the French Resistance as a collaborator. After her death, her name was further tarnished by claims about her deeds during the war, which were later found to be exaggerated. Historians are still researching the details of her life.

Educators could look at the life story of Violette Morris and work with young people to consider these questions:

  1. How can the life story of Violette Morris be narrated in a balanced way?
  2. How can a multi-facetted life like that of Violette Morris be studied and remembered today?

Find out more

French public radio France Inter provides a brief overview of her life. Another profile that summarises here life is available at Liberation. Although it’s in French, the 3-minute YouTube item, La Diablesse du Stade is informative and insightful. You can also read Cars, Cross-Dressing, And Espionage and Violette Morris: Pioneering Female Athlete Turned Nazi Spy, two articles that investigate Violette’s life in-depth into her life. Belgium Graphic Novel creator Javi Rey recently brought Violette’s story to life in several published works. See his website.


Violette Morris in 1913 [Photo: National Library of France, Public Domain]

Violette Morris in 1913 (Photo: National Library of France / Public Domain).

Life Story

She challenged cultural norms, but was killed a collaborator in war-torn France.


Article Tags:   fascism  |   gender history  |   lgbt+  |   World War 2

LIFE STORIES  To discover now

Mario Balotelli: Magnet for Controversy

Mario Balotelli: Magnet for Controversy

Mario Balotelli was bound to be a major star, but he faced a turbulent career as a young player. Racist abuse and many controversies are etched in his career. His story is one of racism, diversity and a reminder that Football has some way to go still.

Do you wanna know more?



Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.


Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.

Educational Resources

Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.

Trending Stories



In the wake of the 2015 migration peak, activists and volunteers across Europe have been involved in supporting refugees, sometimes with the simple act of offering space and friendship to participate in football through grassroots clubs to help newcomers integrate.

LATEST POST  You may also be interested in

Formation for Human Rights

Formation for Human Rights

A class of high school history students in Oslo was asked to create an ideal starting XI line-up based on Human Rights. Find out why and how it went.

Share This