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The spy of the night and the fog • Damn interesting



In the early morning hours of June 17, 1943, a few miles south of the rural community of Tierce in France, two Lysander aircraft landed in the dark on a makeshift runway. A secret agent got out of the narrow passenger compartment of an airplane and two emerged from the other. The agents were all women – two couriers and one radio operator. The latter was a woman named Noor Inayat Khan at the age of 29. It is said to have a hint of fragility accented by soft facial features and deep, dark eyes – not exactly the first choice of central casting for a hard-nosed spy by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).

SOE has been active since 1940 and continues its mission to support resistance movements in the countries controlled by Nazi Germany. The organization sowed the seeds of chaos under Winston Churchill's order to bring Europe to safety through sabotage, murder and the transfer of Allied personnel. With all the thrill of posting, working for SOE had its drawbacks ̵

1; an agent's life expectancy in occupied France was six weeks.

  Noor Inayat Khan, 1934 "title =" Noor Inayat Khan, 1934 "style =" Width: 424.2 pixels; "/> </div><figcaption style= Noor Inayat Khan, 1934

After the women left the ship, other employees got on the aircraft. The exchange did not take more than 20 minutes before the aircraft took off and flew to England and the Allies As for Khan, she was destined for Paris to join a "circle" – a spy network.

As with all these exchanges, the three women were not alone, and a contact agent, Henri Dericourt, was ready for Khan with a bike present She drove to a train station near Angers, about 16 km away, from there she took the train to Paris and the next day she reached her destination in the city: 40 rue Erlanger, 16e. [19659006] Khan, under the impression that her contact was an old woman, the passphrase should say: "I came in the name of your friend Antoine for news about the construction company." But when the door opened, a man answered. Khan said a little nervous: "I think I'm expected."

The man let her into the apartment and introduced himself as Emile Henri Garry. Another woman was present, who introduced Garry As to his fiancee. There were long pauses in awkwardness when Garry Khan offered cigarettes that she accepted. Finally the fiance apologized when she sensed that maybe she should leave the room to make coffee.

Khan blurted out the passphrase "I came on behalf of your friend Antoine to find out news about the construction company!" Garry replied with the correct answer: "Business is in hand."

• • •

Noor Inayat Khan was born on New Year's Day 1914 in Moscow's Vusoko Petrovsky in Moscow. Her father, Inayat Khan, came from a noble Muslim Sufi family in India, a musician of classical Indian music who was one of the key figures in bringing the pacifism of universal Sufism to the West. He was a descendant of Tipu Sultan, the so-called "Tiger of Mysore", who opposed British imperialism in India in the 18th century – something that the family kept secret for political reasons.

Khan's mother Ora Ray Baker was an American. She had met Inayat Khan at a lecture in San Francisco. They fell in love and married in 1913. Ora Ray took the name Amina Sharada Begum. Her family never forgave her for marrying a foreigner, and she severed all ties to them. She traveled around the world with her new husband and fellow musicians to Noor, whom they Babuli called "Papa's darling" had three other children.

Shortly after the Versailles Treaty ended World War I, the Khans moved to a house north of Paris. The family occasionally went abroad, and on such a trip in February 1927, when Inayat was on a pilgrimage to India, he died of pneumonia. His wife Amina was devastated and considered Inayat's death a betrayal. She retreated and let Noor take care of the family as the oldest child. Noor was only thirteen years old.

  Noor, standing center, with siblings "title =" Noor, standing center, with siblings "style =" width: 476px; "/> </div><figcaption style= Noor, standing middle, with siblings [19659005] Khan took care of their siblings when they got sick, took care of the housework and arranged all the supplies. But she was not angry. She devoted herself to her family and even spent time writing poems to her mother to get her out of despair.

Khan shared a creative phase with her siblings. They were all musicians, Khan played both harp and piano, and she also wrote poetry She studied music at the renowned Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris and then studied child psychology.

During this time, Khan published children's books, mainly adaptations of folklore and legends, and planned to start a children's newspaper. It seemed that she was destined to become a writer, but then World War II b Khan faced a moral dilemma She had grown up in the pacifist spirit of universal Sufism. But she and her family detested the Nazi racist ideology and murderous extremism. Her brother said:

“If an armed Nazi came to your home and took twenty hostages and wanted to exterminate them, you would not be an accomplice in these deaths if you had the opportunity to kill him (and thus prevent these deaths) )) but not because of your belief in non-violence? How can we preach spiritual morality without taking preventive measures? Can we watch what the Nazis do? “

Khan thought it was truer to help her principles in the most active way to defeat National Socialism. At first, she and her sister trained as a nurse, but when France fell in June 1940, they fled the country to London.

Khan wanted more than ever to do what she could for the war effort. She volunteered and joined the Relief Air Force (WAAF) on November 19, 1940. She used the name Nora and registered her religion as "Church of England" to avoid complications. To fit in, she even attended Anglican services and never spoke about her family.

  SOE training school in Beaulieu "title =" SOE training school in Beaulieu "style =" width: 476px; "/> </div><figcaption style= SOE Education School in Beaulieu

Khan was among the first group of WAAFs to be trained as radio operators. They became competent, which, along with their French connection, made them aware of Special Operations Executive became an interview.

SOE desperately needed radio operators who spoke French like a native. Khan interviewed Captain Selwyn Jepsen on November 10, 1942, who immediately liked her. He noticed Khan's gentle manner and added that they were "intuitive It made sense of what I could think of her. ”She was recruited in one interview while most other agents needed three, and officially joined SOE on February 8, 1943.

Khan began basic training in the SOE – Facilities at Wanborough, where the recruits ran 10-minute runs in the morning, followed by lessons in shooting, handling grenades and explosives, after a strenuous training day The recruits were allowed to drink freely in a bar in Wanborough – the agents watched the recruits to determine whether they were disclosing information or were slightly intoxicated.

Khan's trainers were divided over their abilities. One noticed that she was "pretty afraid of weapons". To counteract this, the SOE commander admitted that although she was "shy", she "would likely go up to an emergency."

Khan's most brilliant criticism was from Lance Corporal Gordan, who was impressed by her character: [19659019] “She is a person for whom I have the greatest admiration. Completely reserved and selfish. [sic] The last person whose absence was noticed, extremely humble, even humble and shy, always thought that everyone was better than themselves, very polite. Has written books for children. Takes everything literally, is not quick, more diligent than clever. Very conscientious. “

After Khan had completed basic training, she was sent for special signal training. In particular, Khan was the first woman selected for the course, perhaps because SOE was plagued by a lack of field radio operators. From the various positions of the field agents, a radio operator was considered to be the most dangerous occupation because the operators had to carry their equipment around to discriminate against them. They were reported to have the highest rate of victimization and capture among SOE agents.

  WAAF women "title =" WAAF women "style =" width: 415.8px; "/> </div><figcaption style= Women of the WAAF

Again, their coaches were divided. What might be considered their greatest strength, their character, could be a liability in the world of espionage. On April 19, 1943, an instructor reported :

"She admits that she would not like to do everything that is" two-sided ", with which she deliberately maintains friendly relationships with malicious thoughts … It is the emotional side of her character, coupled with a lively imagination, which will test their consistency most in the later phases of their training. ”

This later phase of their training took place in the“ finishing school ”between the ruins of a medieval abbey in Beaulieu, Hampshire. Training, avoiding agents and setting up radio antennas were just a few of the surreptitious jobs that took place there .. A lot o The training was practical sent the recruits to the field and arrested to see if they could keep their cover stories. Because of the need for sales representatives, Khan's training was shortened. There was no time to train skydiving, opening locks and breaking security.

In some cases, Khan's open honesty was puzzling. An instructor reported that a policeman stopped her on her bike during her training and asked what she was doing. She replied, "I'm training to be an agent. Here's my radio – do you want me to show it to you?"

Khan's deepest moment came during a false Gestapo interrogation. These were carried out by Maurice Buckmaster, head of the French section of SOE. When the time came, Khan was pulled out of bed and forced into an interrogation room. Bright lights blazed on her face as she faced a group of false Gestapo officers in full Nazi clothing. Like others, she would have been stripped and forced to stand for hours while questions were directed at her. Khan had to keep repeating her cover story.

Khan was not doing well. A witness to the session remembered:

“She seemed absolutely scared. You could see the lights hurt her and the officer's voice when he screamed very loudly … She was so overwhelmed that she almost lost her voice. Over time, it became practically inaudible. Sometimes there was only a whisper. When she came out after that, she trembled and was quite blanched. “

Some of her coaches doubted that if she were ever captured, she would be under pressure.

The last training session took place in Bristol in mid-May 1943. Khan entered the city with a cover story to recruit contacts, organize secure dropboxes for messages, and find an apartment from which to transmit messages. All the while, she was followed by SOE staff who evaluated her every move. She performed the tasks admirably, but had problems with wrong arrest and questioning (though not in the Gestapo style). The coaches found that Khan made mistakes during the interrogation and offered more information than she should have.

In the end, Khan's instructors were still divided over whether she was cut out as an agent. She looked nervous and emotional. Some of her colleagues who would survive the war would later say that she was far too conspicuous.

On May 21, Colonel Frank Spooner submitted a targeted, negative rating from Khan:

"Not overworked with reason, but worked hard and showed acumen, apart from a certain aversion to the security side of the course. She has an unstable and spirited personality and it is very doubtful whether she is really suitable for working on site. "

Spooner later claimed to have written the tough report protecting Khan. At the time, the report angered Maurice Buckmaster, who supported her. But Buckmaster also heard doubts from others. Another assessment was:

“From reports about the girl, I suggest that you take care that she is not given a task that could trigger a mental conflict with her idealism. In our view, this could make them unstable. “

On the other hand, Khan had three points in her favor. She spoke French like a native speaker, she was an excellent radio operator, and SOE desperately needed French-speaking operators. Buckmaster sent Khan to France.

  Field radio type 3 Mark II "title =" Field radio type 3 Mark II "style =" width: 476px; "/> </div><figcaption style= Field radio type 3 Mark II

French resistance was organized into espionage networks known as circuits, which were further divided into subnetworks. After arriving in Paris and Emile Henri Garry pronouncing the puzzling passphrase" construction company " she was included in his “Cinema Circuit.” Garry's circuit was a sub-circuit of the larger spy network “Prosper.” Her code name was Madeleine and her code name was Jeanne-Marie Renier, a student at the College of Agriculture in Grignon If she had trouble going to a safehouse, a bookseller on Rue de Passy, ​​if there was no other way out, she would be forced to flee through Spain, whose government was said to be neutral in the war.

At the time of Khan's arrival, Prosper was fairly calm Prosper coordinated sabotage operations on power plants, oil reserves and attacks on trains Khan's task b was in relaying messages to and from Garry's subcircuit.

Khan made her first call a little less than 72 hours after her arrival in London. This was impressive in itself and the fastest check-in when an agent arrived. Nevertheless, the transmissions had to be short, the Germans used radio direction finders in their switch -intelligence efforts. She also met other agents and got on well with her new colleagues because of her natural, sociable personality.

Khan, however, showed signs of negligence. It did not always follow French customs, such as the last filling of milk when making tea. When she visited some of her colleagues on the cover of a college, she left a portfolio of security codes in an entrance hall. One of the French agents, a professor, returned the papers to her and warned her not to trust anyone.

Before Khan could do real work for the cinema, everything started to dissolve. On June 21, 1943, the Gestapo arrested two Canadian SOE agents. One of the agents had a distinct Canadian accent when he spoke French and was giving cover. They owned not only a radio, but also contact information for important members of the Prosper network. This led to arrests and infiltration. Further SOE errors led to the complete collapse of the spy ring in early July. In the book Spy Princess of a biography of Noor Khan, the author Shrabani Basu comments that Prosper "… had grown too big and it was inevitable that it would be infiltrated." Khan hardly escaped the following excitement and she hid in Paris.

It was Khan who informed SOE of Prosper's collapse. At the end of July, the last members of the race track who managed to escape did so. Maurice Buckmaster sent a message to Khan saying that it was far too dangerous for her to stay alone in France. However, Khan explained that since she was the last radio operator in Paris, she wanted to stay and knew that she would be a crucial ingredient if a new racetrack were to be built. Buckmaster gave in, although it was almost certain that she would be captured.

  Noor in Uniform "title =" Noor in Uniform "style =" width: 425.6px; "/> </div><figcaption style= Noor in uniform

In the months that followed, Khan SOE provided data on the remains of espionage circles and locations where resistance supplies could be delivered. It provided information on the rescue of two hiding in Paris In the same way, she also helped escape 30 other Allied pilots who had survived being shot down over France.

Throughout this period, Khan stayed one step ahead of the Gestapo by constantly evading Moving from place to place to transmit, she dyed her hair in different colors and used different disguises. Once she was cornered by two German officers on the subway. They noticed her suitcase carrying her secret transmitter they asked what was the case, "A cinema projector," Khan replied, opening the case slightly and allowing the officers to peek inside. "There are the little light bulbs. Have you never seen one? "Apparently, their confidence and audacity was so embarrassing to the Germans that they accepted their story and did not hold it.

But Khan's capture was only a matter of time. The Gestapo had received their description and was on guard. SOE advised Khan asked to stay again and promised to calm down.

On October 13, 1943, NSA agents (19459013) localized and arrested Noor Inayat Khan and took her to the SD headquarters in Paris for questioning. It is uncertain how they identified her as a spy, although historians suspect that she was betrayed by Renée Garry, sister of Emile Garry, director of the Cinema Circuit, or Khan may have been by SOE officer Henri Dericourt, who was later suspected as an SD double agent, and after all reports, Khan did not disclose their SOE connections or activities, but under the effects German counterintelligence agencies provide a comprehensive written record of their secret messages. Apparently she had misunderstood her command to "be extremely careful when submitting your messages" where "submission" meant "submission", but Khan confused this with records. Khan was captured. On her first night, she tried to escape through a bathroom window, but was quickly taken back.

The head of the Paris SD office, Major Hans Josef Kieffer, used a light touch by Khan to keep her in decent conditions and to conduct pleasant, seemingly harmless conversations and interrogations. While Khan never shared information about SOE, she provided personal details about her family life that she thought were harmless.

With this personal data and with Khan's files, the Germans sent false messages in Madeleine's name within a few weeks. SOE was originally reported to have been captured in October, but when the Germans began broadcasting on their behalf, Buckmaster and other SOE officers believed that Khan had again evaded capture. The SD faked SOE so completely that Buckmaster Khan recommended a medal on February 24, 1944, because he thought it was still free. The fake transfers resulted in the arrest and execution of other SOE activists and the confiscation of Allied funds to fund resistance operations.

Meanwhile, Khan and two other detained agents tried to escape. They managed to get a screwdriver to loosen their cell sticks. The three broke out on November 25, 1943 and fled to the roof. Unfortunately, an air raid rang out. The prisoners' cells were found empty and shortly afterwards captured by the Germans. Had it not been for the air raid siren's misfortune, the prisoners might have made their escape well.

Kieffer decided not to execute Khan or to torture him. Instead, he asked for her word of honor that she would not try to flee again. Khan declined. On November 27, Kieffer sent her to Pforzheim Prison in Germany, which was classified as a dangerous prisoner. Khan was held as a "night and fog" prisoner, a term that means "night and fog". It was a sentence that was applied to prisoners who were considered highly dangerous and who were therefore made to "disappear".

In Pforzheim, Khan was kept in solitary confinement on minimal rations. No one spoke to her except the German guards. Her arms and legs were tied up day and night, and a third chain connected her arms and feet. She was also beaten. But she didn't reveal any secrets. The prison governor, who showed sympathy for the woman, ordered her to tie her up, but the Gestapo headquarters refused.

Given her solitary confinement, Khan's stay in prison may have been lost for history, but she managed to smuggle a word from her presence to other female prisoners by scratching messages on the back of a bowl that circulated between them. She didn't give her real name and wrote that it was too dangerous. Rather, she used her mother's maiden name and identified herself as Nora Baker, a Radio Center Officer with the Royal Air Force.

Khan grew more frail over the months. Still, she wouldn't give up any information. The women in the nearby cells often heard her crying herself to sleep.

On September 11, 1944, Khan was transferred to the notorious Dachau concentration camp with two other female prisoners. While there are conflicting versions of what happened to her there, the most sensible case is made by the biographer Shrabani Basu, who had access to accounts that weren't available in previous decades. According to Basan, Khan was stripped, beaten, and likely raped by a security guard named Ruppert upon arrival in Dachau. She lay unconscious in her cell, wounded and bleeding. On September 13, she was shot in the head. They executed some reports with the other two prisoners, others shot them in their cell. Her last word was "Liberté". Khan's body was cremated. The location of their ashes is unknown.

  Extract from Noors SOE file "title =" Extract from Noors SOE file "style =" width: 476px; "/> </div><figcaption style= Extract from Noor's SOE file

On January 16, 1946, Charles De Gaulle Noor Khan posthumously awarded the French gold star – the Croix de Guerre – for their courageous escape from and their struggle against the enemy Great Britain also awarded her the George Cross for her moral and physical courage, plaques commemorating her bravery in Great Britain and France in 1949. In 1952, Jean Overton Fuller wrote a biography of Noor Khan, which was largely forgotten in history until 2007 Biography of Shrabani Basu.

Noor Inayat Khan, a pacifist who was driven by the war to fight for her idealism and ultimately to die, still arouses admiration to this day, and in 2018 historians and activists fought for her resemblance The campaign failed with the Bank of England, which preferred a scientific figure E. Still, Khan remains History persists despite its shortcomings – mistakes that made it imperfect as a spy, but also humanized it, made it relatable and gave it the decision not to break when it mattered.


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