2012. március 4., vasárnap

The Spy Who Dazzled Churchill

Christine Granville, Pauline Armand, Krystyna Skarbek: a trinity of identities within one beautiful secret agent who risked her life throughout World War II for her country, Poland, and for Poland’s allies, Britain and France. For this, Britain awarded her the George Medal and made her an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and France awarded her the Croix de Guerre.
One of her colleagues at MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, was Ian Fleming, who later wrote the very successful James Bond spy thrillers. It is rumored that the two had an affair, though there is no evidence of that; still, her persona and her daring must have made a deep impression on him since it was she who was the inspiration for his first glamorous spy, Vesper Lynd, the double agent in Casino Royale. (“Vesper” was, apparently, her father’s nickname for her.) A journalist in London’s Daily Mirror referred to Skarbek as “the first Bond girl,” a demeaning phrase at best, but especially when applied to Skarbek, who was never anybody’s “girl.” One colleague at MI6, Vera Atkins, who headed the F Section of the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE), described Skarbek as a woman with tremendous guts who valued freedom above all else and would do anything to fight for it, for herself and for others. She was, said Atkins, “utterly loyal and dedicated to the Allies,” but at the same time, “a law unto herself.”

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