The girl Bond fell in love with
Who was the Polish Mata Hari?
A novel has just been published about Krystyna Skarbek aka Christine Granville, one of the most famous and extraordinary intelligence agents of the Second World War. Who was the Polish Mata Hari?
Many books and myths were written about Krystyna Skarbek. When Vincent V. Severski writes about her, he tries to deal with false stories about her life. He looks at her biography not only through the eyes of a writer, but also of a former intelligence officer. A British intelligence agent arrives in Yugoslavia in 1941. Belgrade witnesses is a fierce intelligence war, the fate of the Greek war and the invasion of the USSR by Germany are at stake. It is here that Severski sets his novel.
What role did the beautiful and ambitious Polish-born woman play in these events? What traits made her such a prominent figure in the history of global intelligence?
She lived an active social life full of adrenaline, adventure, and romance.
The Polish agent of the British secret service Special Operations Executive was born on 1 May 1908. She lived an active social life full of adrenaline, adventure, and romance. In 1930 she even won the title of 1st Runner-Up in Miss Polonia national beauty pageant. When WWII broke out, she lived in Kenya with her husband, a diplomat.
She managed to get through France to Great Britain. The story goes that she simply came to the Special Operations Executive headquarters and asked to be recruited. With a new identity, as a French journalist Christine Granville, she was transferred to Budapest, from where she began her high-altitude journey to Poland. She transported money, information and propaganda materials for the Polish resistance movement, which was starting its underground activity. From Poland, she smuggled radio codes, reports, and microfilms. One of her key achievements was taking hold of photographs revealing the mobilization of German troops on the border with the Soviet Union.
This was the first proof of the planned Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the USSR, which reached Winston Churchill. In 1941, she returned to the British base in Cairo, where she was removed from conspiracy assignments. The reason was the accusation of double-dealing and contacts with Stefan Witkowski’s Warsaw resistance group—the Musketeers, which was not approved by the Polish authorities. In 1944 she was parachuted in the south of France, where she worked as a courier, supporting the French resistance movement. She’s made a name for herself by rescuing arrested saboteurs captured by Gestapo.
She was demobilized in 1945. Without British citizenship, she worked as a hotel maid, telephone operator, and stewardess. That’s how she met steward Dennis Muldowney. On June 15, 1952, he stabbed her in London’s Shelbourne Hotel. There are many theories about her death, as unverified as the rumors about her affair with Ian Fleming, whom she inspired to create Vesper Lynd, James Bond’s first sidekick.