Noor Inayat Khan‘s identity as a Muslim woman did not stop her from signing up to join the fight against the Nazis. Motivated by her faith, Noor’s worldview was based on a respect for all faiths against Hitler’s ideology of ethnic and religious extermination. She suffered the same fate as millions of Jews.
Noor was the daughter of a Muslim musician and Sufi teacher from India, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and his American wife Ora Ray Baker. After Noor’s birth in Moscow in 1914, the family moved to England and then to Paris, where she was raised.
In June, 1940, the Nazis invaded France. Noor fled to England, where she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and trained as a wireless operator in the ranks of Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). Throughout the war, this organization secretly undermined the Axis powers in occupied Europe through espionage and covert disruption. In early 1943, Noor was dropped into France behind enemy lines as a secret agent and wireless operator. From Paris, she transmitted messages back to Britain, saving countless lives.
For a period she was the only link between the U.K. and the French Resistance. Pursued by the Gestapo, she was finally betrayed by French collaborators. The Nazis arrested and imprisoned her in Paris, where she resisted her captors, refused to name names, and twice attempted to escape. Too unruly for the Parisian authorities, she was shipped to a German prison and then to the infamous Dachau concentration camp. There she remained uncooperative and was finally killed in the last months of the war.
Opening remarks by Alex Kronemer.
Free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.