Skarbek, Krystyna

SECRET AGENT (POLAND)
BORN 1 May 1908, Warsaw - DIED 15 Jun 1952, London
GRAVE LOCATION London: St. Mary's Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green (Grave no. 1062 NE)

Krystyna Skarbek was the daughter of count Jerzey Skarbek and held the title of countess herself. Her mother Stefania Goldfeder was the daughter of a Jewish banker. But her father spent her mother's fortune and after he died she had to work for the money.

In 1930 she was married to the businessman Karol Getlich for a short time and in 1938 she married the author Jerzy Gizycki, with whom she moved to East Africa. After the German invasion of Poland they went to London, where she offered her services against the Germans. She worked as a secret agent for Britain in Poland, Hungary, Egypt and France. During that time she closely worked together with Andrzej Kowerski.

Shortly before France was invaded by the Allied Forces in 1944 the pacifist Francis Cammaerts, another agent was and a French officer were arrested by the Gestapo. When she heard this she managed to meet Gestapo officer Albert Schenck and scared him by claiming that she was a niece of Montgomery and that retributions would be terrible if any harm would come to the prisoners. She also claimed that Cammaerts was her husband and she would pay a large sum for his release. They were released instead of executed and she received a George Medal and in 1947 she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. For her work for the liberation of France, where she had used the name Christine Granville, she received the Croix de Guerre.

After the war she told Gizycki that she loved Kowerski and in 1946 she was divorced. The country that she had served for six years dismissed her without providing any financial security. During the next years she travelled around in poor circumstances. She met the author Ian Fleming and it was rumoured they had an affair. In 1952 she was stabbed to death in a cheap hotel in London by Dennis Muldowney, an obsessed merchant-marine whose advances she had declined. Muldowney went to the gallows. In 1988 the ashes of Kowerski were buried beside her at St. Mary's Cemetery at Kensal Green, London.

Sources
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Images

The grave of Krystyna Skarbek at St. Mary's Cemetery, Kensal Green, London.
Picture by Androom (26 Jun 2009)

 


Skarbina, Franz

Published: 6 Aug 2010
Last update: 22 Apr 2017