Britain's First Female WWII Spy Is Finally Getting The Recognition She Deserves

Polish countess and British spy Krystyna Skarbek, better known as Christine Granville, is finally getting a bust in Great Britain after almost being denied citizenship in the country after the war. Find out more here.

Scarlet Olsen
Created By Scarlet Olsen
On May 10, 2017
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After the Nazi invasion of Poland, Polish Countess Krystyna Skarbek was so outraged by her native country's occupation that she demanded the British Secret Service take her on as a spy. Sadly, although she was Britain's first female spy in WWII and although she served them well during the war, she was almost denied citizenship at the end of it, and spent her last days cleaning toilets on a train before her murder in 1952 by a coworker. Now, however, 65 years later, Skarbek is finally getting the recognition she deserves in death in the form of a biography by Clare Mulley and a bust in the Polish Hearth Club in London where she would often go after the war to dance and tell stories of her wartime adventures.

According to Skarbek's biographer, Clare Mulley, it's astounding that she has not had more attention drawn to her.

She was a remarkable woman, it is ludicrous that she is not better known. That is not to take anything from all the other women and men who served, but her story is incredible and she has just not been honored as she should be.
She was a remarkable woman, it is ludicrous that she is not better known. That is not to take anything from all the other women and men who served, but her story is incredible and she has just not been honored as she should be.
Clare Mulley, The Guardian, May 9, 2017

That story includes such adventures as skiing out of Poland with microfilm footage hidden in her gloves that showed the first evidence of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi plans to invade the Soviet Union. This earned her the position of Winston Churchill's favorite spy. In 1944, after parachuting into France, she single-handedly secured the defection of an entire German garrison, and when she later learned two of her colleagues had been captured and were due to be executed, she biked 25 miles into a German camp and intimidated their captors into a stay of execution.

She basically terrified him with exaggerated claims of how soon the allies would be there and how she would get him shot if the men were not released.
She basically terrified him with exaggerated claims of how soon the allies would be there and how she would get him shot if the men were not released.
Clare Mulley, The Guardian, May 9, 2017

And yet, after the war ended, she was told that she "was no longer wanted" by Britain and was nearly denied citizenship. She was also unable to get a position in the government and ended up cleaning toilets on trains for a living, where no one believed her when she wore all of her medals, except possibly one man, Dennis Muldowney, who, when their friendship ultimately soured in 1952, stalked and murdered her. Now, though, she is finally getting the recognition she deserves in the form of a bronze bust, made by her husband from Polish soil and British soil, which will sit in her beloved Polish Hearth Club.

She is literally cast in the soil of her native country and the country she adopted after war, countries she fought so hard and courageously for. I think it is beautiful.
She is literally cast in the soil of her native country and the country she adopted after war, countries she fought so hard and courageously for. I think it is beautiful.
Clare Mulley, The Guardian, May 9, 2017

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