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After her father abandoned them, she and her mother moved to the Netherlands, and her mother's views changed when Nazis executed her brother, Otto van Limburg Stirum, in retaliation for resistance activities.
As a child, Hepburn studied ballet, and began to perform recitals to fundraiser for the resistance. The performances were referred to as “zwarte avonden” ("black evenings") as organisers blacked out windows while they took place so they could not be observed from outside. Hepburn described how "Guards were posted outside" to warn of approaching Germans, and how audiences "made not a single sound at the end of [her] performance."
Hepburn was part of the resistance cell of Dr. Hendrik Visser’t Hooft, which according to his daughters he proudly recalled to them. Hepburn would help deliver copies of his underground anti-fascist newspaper as a courier: “I stuffed them in my woolen socks in my wooden shoes, got on my bike and delivered them," she later recounted.
As an English speaker, Hepburn also relayed messages between downed British pilots and the resistance, and according to her son her family sheltered a British pilot who had been shot down.