Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

                                TS Eliot

Fear grips us for even trivial of problems. Deliberately going in harm’s way like Noor Inayat Khan without any personal interest needs nerves of steel and extreme courage. It was 1943 with World War II in full swing and Nazis threatening entire Europe. France conquered and was riddled with German Army and feared Gestapo. Anyone could be picked up, tortured to death or sent to oblivion just on little suspicion.

Photo courtesy pictureshistory.blogspot.in

Volunteering for spying and that too as a wireless operator in such terrible circumstances required nerves of steel and unmatched courage. During those testing times, the life expectancy of any agent involved in wireless operating was considered to be six weeks and going for such a deadly mission was like inviting sure death. Stories of tortures by Gestapo used to send shivers down the spine even among the most seasoned spies.

Photo courtesy http://www.pbs.org. Still from the movie “Enemy of the Reich”

This is no fairy tale. It is the story of blood, sacrifice, courage, and selflessness of a young and beautiful princess named Noor Inayat Khan.

She was beautiful with an interest in music, Sufism and writing stories for kids. She does not even belong to Britain, but something inside inspired her to fight against tyranny and dictatorship. Maybe it is the legacy of her lineage traced back to Tipu Sultan, the 18th-century ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore or the habit of taking on responsibilities against all odds that started with the death of her father at a young age.

Photo courtesy themilieux.org

Whatever the reason, the beautiful princess decided to fight the tyranny and not to accept injustice lying down. At the age of 26, when the girls are dreaming of prince charming and a happy life, this fiery girl joins the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) at the peak of world war. Training as a wireless operator in occupied territory under the extreme conditions is tough, mentally demanding and only best of the best can make it.

Photo courtesy http://www.thehindu.com

The grueling sound of aircraft, an unpredictable future, hardened looks of soldiers, scary eyes of closed ones and own thumping heartbeat, nothing stops her. Courage against all odds, against all fears, against personal interests. On 16/17 June 1943, when an aircraft dropped her in France, she achieved a rare feat of being the first female radio operator sent to Nazi-occupied France, one of the most dangerous tasks of the times.

Despite her commanders urging her to return to England, she single-handedly ran a cell of spies across Paris, frequently changing her appearance and alias. Inayat Khan was betrayed to the Germans, by one of her co-agents and was arrested on 13 October 1943.

She was beaten, tortured and maybe raped continuously over a long grueling period of 10 months. Pain and sufferings were unimaginable but the fiery spirit refuses to give up. Maybe God wants to test the steel and the resolve of such higher spirits. Two escape attempts and not giving any piece of info to Germans, she was labeled as dangerous.

Photo courtesy www.worldreligionnews.com

On 13 September 1944, Guards at Dachau concentration camp came to take this brave girl on her last journey. Fiery and brave even in the face of death, she was shot dead by firing squad. Her final word – uttered as the German firing squad raised their weapons – was simple. “Liberte”

A movie has been made on the daring princess “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story” depicting her life and story.


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