In Dachau concentration camp, she was tortured for days. But she embraced death bravely shouting the word “Liberté” (freedom). She gave up her life as a British spy fighting with the French resistance for freedom.
Born to a Sufi musician and globetrotter father and an American mother on 1st January 1914 in Moscow, Noor Inayat Khan had the bloodline of Tipu Sultan, one of India’s greatest rulers. Growing up in a profoundly peaceful Parisian household, Noor grew a love for music like her Sufi pacifist parents. Noor studied psychology at the prestigious Sorbonne Institute and was fascinated by child psychology which inspired her to publish children’s books.
Hard to believe, right? How did someone who was compassionate and grew up loving music and had a quality education end up being one of the most braveheart agents of all time? Her life took a turn with the advent of the Second World War.
In 1940, as the German army was getting to capture Paris, Noor, along with her brother started their Pacifist movement of non-violence to attain freedom. But the disasters her eyes witnessed changed her forever. She travelled to Britain and joined the Allied forces in the Women’s Auxillary Air Force.
She started learning the art of espionage, beginning her journey as a radio operator. While she swam deeper into the world of Morse code and wireless operations, little did she knew that she was being watched by a secret organisation. Noor was thus recruited by The British Special Operative Executive as a wireless operator due to her proficiency in French and knowledge about different locations of Paris. She was warned that her field was one of the most difficult and crucial in a war as operators had to carry a transmitter through enemy territory. In this process, if she gets caught she wouldn’t be saved by the clandestine agency. But the perils of the task did not back her down and she accepted the offer.
Unfazed At The Face of Danger
Her mastery in the art of espionage was remarkable as she learned how to pick a lock, fire a gun, resist interrogation, and most importantly, secretly contacting the intelligence. In 1943, she landed in Paris with a fake, a few Francs, and a pistol.
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As the mission was heading towards failure with all her fellow agents being captured, she was called back too. But, Noor had no intention of giving up. Convincing her supervisors to let her stay, Noor continued the mission by handling the job of six radio operators, all by herself.
Her dedication made her track and transport supplies to the French resistance, along with tracking safe passages for the Allied soldiers. She also sent details of the Nazi activity to the British. Her brilliance lay in the calm and charming demeanor that helped her from avoiding being questioned multiple times.
When spotted and questioned by an officer while hanging her aerial, she gleefully chatted about her passion for music. That even ended up in her getting help from the officer to set the aerial up.
Noor Inayat Khan Continue to Inspire Millions
Her quick wits helped her escape every time until an event of lethal jealousy from the sister of a colleague led her identity and address to get sold off to the Gestapo. Thus, she was thrown to a series of questioning but Noor did not give in to any of it. As dauntless as she was, Noor even managed to escape and helped her allies to escape with her. But, she was caught again as an Air raid siren alerted her captors. She was finally sent to the Dachau Concentration Camp where she was kept in isolation. Though being relentlessly tortured by the Nazis, she gave nothing away. She breathed and spoke her last word “Liberté” just before she was executed.
After reading about her, I thought what would have come across her mind as she was escaping the prison or when she was called for her execution? Did the memories of her peaceful life spring up in her mind and her freedom to get back to it? Or, was it the sheer happiness of seeing a world without any war, where everyone lived the life she was once living?
Her contributions tremendously helped in forming the Allied Intelligence Networks and the French resistance, which ultimately played a significant role in ending the war. She will always be remembered and millions will be inspired for her heroic contributions from behind the enemy lines.
Featured Image Credits: Feminism In India