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September 12, 2013 8:38 am

Archive of Jewish WWII Heroine Spy, Original ‘Bond Girl,’ Captures Renewed Interest at London Museum (VIDEO)

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In a photograph taken after WWII, Christine Granville smiles in a never-before-seen picture that is part of the archive at London's Imperial War Museum. Photo: Imperial War Museum.

In a photograph taken after WWII, Christine Granville smiles in a never-before-seen picture that is part of the archive at London's Imperial War Museum. Photo: Imperial War Museum.

The archive, including never-before-seen photographs, of a Jewish heroine from World War II, and the likely model for Ian Fleming’s female spy, Vesper Lynd, in the original James Bond title, “Casino Royale,” has captured renewed interest at London’s Imperial War Museum, where a presentation about her heroic and exciting life will be held next week at its Churchill War Rooms.

Born Krystyna Skarbek, in Poland, her Jewish mother was killed at a Nazi concentration camp, according to a report in the UK’s Daily Mail. After Poland fell to the Nazis, she enlisted with the British Army in ‘Section D’ – for destruction – later called the Special Operations Executive (SOE), to run espionage, reconnaissance and sabotage missions in occupied territory. She was given the cover name of Christine Granville, which she adopted permanently after the war.

Her escapades, which include bombing bridges in France, escaping with a Polish officer from a Gestapo jail by convincing their jailers that she had tuberculosis by pretending to cough up blood (through biting her tongue), and rescuing her superior officer, and lover, from a Nazi field prison by running mental circles around his captives, earned her military honors, including an OBE, Croix de Guerre, George Medal and a Polish Patriot Shielf.

Although as a spy, she always kept a knife strapped to her thigh, after the war, in 1952, she was killed by a single thrust of the blade by a jealous, jilted lover, George Muldowney, who was hanged for his crime.

A year later, Ian Fleming published “Casino Royale,” featuring the first Bond girl, a dark-haired and enigmatic European beauty named Vesper Lynd. “Though rumours abound that he and Christine were lovers, there is no evidence the two ever even met. But it is clear that Fleming knew of Christine’s exploits in the war, and held her in incredible esteem. In a series of interviews in the U.S. ahead of Casino Royale’s publication, Fleming speaks at length about Christine – the only female agent he mentions – suggesting heavily that she was the prototype who would define the our ideas of the female special agent forever,” the Daily Mail said.

One of the reasons her story has become obscured over the years is that a movie about her life was axed shortly after her death, out of respect for her service to the country and concern over what secrets might be revealed.

“A committee of veterans who had served with her, many of them former lovers, had requested that production be halted, possibly because they thought details of her tumultuous love life would damage her reputation if widely known,” the Daily Mail said.

The movie was meant to star Winston Churchill’s daughter Sarah, who said, at the time, that her father had long been a fan of the Jewish female spy.

Clare Mulley, who wrote a biography of Christine called “The Spy Who Loved,” will be giving the talk at the Imperial War Museum.

Watch a similar lecture by Mulley about “The Spy Who Loved” at Britain’s National Army Museum, below:


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