Noor Inayat Khan was an Indian princess, devout Muslim, and Allied spy who sacrificed her life to fight the Nazi war machine.
Noor was born in 1914 to an Indian father and an American mother. She was a direct descendant of the legendary Tipu Sultan, 18th century ruler of Mysore, India.
Raised as a Sufi Muslim, Noor grew up in London and Paris. She played the harp, had a degree in child psychology, and wrote popular children’s books.
Noor was in Paris when it fell to the Nazis in 1940. She returned to London and volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Noor was recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1942 and sent to Paris to be a radio operator. Her codename was Madeleine and she was tasked with sending messages back to London. She moved constantly to avoid capture.
In October 1943, Noor was betrayed by a French double agent and arrested by the Gestapo. She escaped from prison but was recaptured a few hours later. She was imprisoned in Germany and bound in chains. Despite repeated torture, Noor did not reveal any information to the Nazis.
After almost a year in solitary confinement, Noor was transferred to Dachau concentration camp, where she was executed on September 13, 1944. She was 30 years old. Her last word before being shot was “Liberté!"
Noor was posthumously awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian honor in the United Kingdom. Seven decades after Noor’s death, a statue of her was unveiled in Gordon Square in London.
For using her unique talents to fight Hitler, and for giving her life to the cause, we honor Princess Noor Inayat Khan as this week’s Thursday Hero at Accidental Talmudist.
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With thanks to Dani Laurence