Tag Archives: frenchspy

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker - spymuseum.comBorn in 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Became a very popular performer in musical revues on Broadway in 1924. Moved to Paris, France in 1925 to appear in the musical revue La Revue Negre. Became a citizen of France in 1937.

Very well known for her energetic dancing and scantily clad risqué musical performances. Was one of the most well-known stars in all of Europe, Volunteered for the French Red Cross at the outbreak of the war between France and Germany in 1940. Was recruited by French Chief of Counterespionage Jacques Abtey to serve as a secret informer.

After the fall of France, Baker served as a member of the French Resistance. Relayed information to the French Resistance (as well as to British and U.S. agents) that she gleaned from conversations she overheard between German officers attending her performances. Also exposed French officials working for the Germans. Also smuggled secret documents written in invisible ink on her musical sheets. Was rewarded for her actions by the French government when she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Medal of Resistance in 1945 and was acknowledged by U.S. General George S. Patton for her valiant efforts.

Died in Paris in 1975.

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Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan - spymuseum.comBorn on January 1, 1914 in Russia, the daughter of an Indian father and an American mother. Her father was assigned to spread Sufi (a sect of Indian Muslim) philosophy and his travels took him to Russia where he became friends with the writer Leo Tolstoy and the mystic Rasputin. The family moved to London in 1917 and then settled in France in 1920.

After the death of her father in 1921, Inayat began attending school, eventually entering the Sorbonne where she studied juvenile psychology. Unfortunately she suffered a nervous breakdown at this time. She returned to academics entering Ecole de Langues Orientales at the University of Paris in 1937.

She began writing for children soon after, first for radio broadcast and then for a children’s newspaper she founded called Bel Age. Upon the German invasion of France in 1940 she fled to England with her family. Her brother joined the Royal Navy and she became a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

She entered the Special Operations Executive and was trained as a radio operator. She was inserted into France to work with the French underground using the codename “Madeline.” and radioed information to the allies regarding resistance activities as well as providing intelligence for allied operations.

Working under the name Jeanne-Marie Regnier she rode her bicycle to the National School of Agriculture at Grignon (which served as her spy network’s headquarters) everyday, delivering messages from London and receiving new messages to send back to London.

On July 1, 1943, Noor arrived at the headquarters late, only to see almost a hundred SS and Gestapo agents entering the building. She watched helplessly as they led her fellow comrades from the facility and took them into custody. Returning to Paris she reported what she had witnessed but it was too late to fully warn her superiors as additional raids occurred. Most of the top SOE officials and resistance workers had been captured and were now in custody.

Because she had become a key figure in the SOE work, Maurice Buckmaster, the Chief of SOE operations feared for Noor’s life and ordered her back to England. Noor refused, staying on in France, determined to continue acting as a much needed radio operator.- For the next three months, Inayat Khan moved from location to location, transmitting messages late in the night to avoid detection.

Noor Inayat Khan - spymuseum.comHer courage and quick thinking helped her to get out of predicaments several times but eventually she was betrayed by a French woman who reported her activity to the Gestapo for 500 pounds.She was caught in the act by Gestapo agents as she tried to send a message to London. She was taken into custody and immediately escaped through a window, trying to move from rooftop to rooftop but was recaptured.

Noor was subjected to extreme interrogation but refused to talk and bravely requested to be shot immediately. When the Gestapo confined her two a room in its headquarters, she collaborated with two other prisoners and escaped from the facility. Just as they were making their getaway from the compound, air raids sirens caused Germans officers to conduct a security check, exposing Noor and her compatriots and prompting their recapture.

Inayat Khan was transferred to Pforzheim Prison in Germany where she was kept manacled to the wall in order to prevent further escape attempts. She was later transferred to Dachau and was ordered to be executed by SS Chief Heinrich Himmler She was executed on September 12, 1944 along with three other women and was posthumously awarded the George Cross by the French government.


Noor Inayat Khan — A Life of Bravery


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Marthe Richard

Marthe Richard

Marthe Richer - spymuseum.comBorn Marthe Betenfeld in Blamont, France on August 15, 1889, the daughter of a brewer.

An excellent student, she excelled at languages, eventually learning to speak English, Spanish and German in addition to her native French. She was also adventurous, excelling as an aviator, almost unheard of for a woman at that time.

Married Henri Richer, a pilot serving in World War I, in 1914. Was approached by French counter-intelligence at about this time and was recruited for service based on her language skills as well as her daring personality. After her husband was killed in battle, Marthe distracted herself from her grief by traveling to Spain to undertake intelligence duties Richard as an adaptation of her late husband’s name). Became a familiar face within the social elite of German society within Spain and was introduced to the acting chief of the Abwehr. He suggested to Richer that she should work as an agent of the Abwehr, returning to France and spying on behalf of the Germans. Richer told him that she would only consider doing so if the offer was extended by the head of the Abwehr in France himself. So eager were the Germans that they agreed and the offer was so extended. Fortuitously, the Abwehr chief in France, Baron Hans Kron. Kron, who was also the German naval attache in Madrid, fell in love with Richer and they became lovers soon thereafter.

Richer was shipped off to France to gain information on armaments production. She was provided with a new kind of security device, an invisible ink that was contained within a capsule the size of a grain of rice. Upon arrival, she disclosed the invisible ink to her French superiors and informed them that she was involved with Kron. She was given doctored information about armaments production and was sent back to Spain.

In Spain, she re-established her relationship with her lover. She also learned that he had been involved with Mata Hari, the notorious spy who was staying at the same hotel as Richer. Threatening to break off her relationship with Kron, Richer was able to draw the lovestruck attache even deeper into her web, thus gaining access to even more secret information, which she passed back to the French, including revelations about submarine development.

Richer was sent across the globe on missions but eventually grew tired of the deception and the pressure. Eventually she decided to return home to France but first confessed her duplicity to Baron Kron. After retiring from active service, Richer was generally ignored by the French government, based in part from unfavorable attention to her long-running relationship with the German attache. Eventually, however, her services were recognized and she was awarded the Legion of Honor medal in 1933.

Took part in the French resistence during World War II and died in 1982.

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