because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Noor Inayat Kahn

Born an Indian Sufi woman in Moscow, Russia, in 1914, Noor Inayat Kahn moved with her family first to London and then to Paris where she was educated as a child psychologist and composer of music for harp and piano.  Though a devout pacifist and well known as a writer of children's books and stories, when World War II came, Kahn decided that Indian people must distinguish themselves in the war if they wanted the British to respect them as equals.  So, taking the name Nora Baker, she embarked on a rigorous training program as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force Special Operations Executive.  Once trained, Kahn was flown into Nazi-occupied France where she became indispensable for her transmissions by wire from Paris, a location that was crawling with Germans -- and ripe with information important to the Allies.

Though she watched the other Paris operatives arrested one after another, Kahn refused to leave Paris or return to England until she was herself arrested only four months after her arrival. Interrogated for more than a month, during which she fought with her captors constantly, giving them no useful information, Kahn even tried to escape twice, very nearly succeeding on one occasion.  Classified "highly dangerous" and shackled in chains for ten months in a "disappearance without trace" prison in Germany, Kahn remained uncooperative and was finally moved one last time to Dachau Concentration Camp where she was beaten severely before being shot in the head.  Bloody and helpless before her Nazi tormentors, Kahn's last word (reported by a Dutch prisoner who survived) was "Liberte!'"  An in-your-face woman to the end.

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