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Krystyna Skarbek

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Krystyna Skarbek

Krystyna Skarbek
Born Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek
(1908-05-01)1 May 1908
Warsaw, Poland
Died 15 June 1952(1952-06-15) (aged 44)
London, England
Occupation Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent

Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek, also known as Christine Granville,[1] GM, OBE, Croix de guerre (Polish pronunciation: ; 1 May 1908[2][3][4] - 15 June 1952) was a Polish agent of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War. She became celebrated especially for her daring exploits in intelligence and irregular-warfare missions in Nazi-occupied Poland and France.

She became a

  • Biography of Christine Granville,; accessed 27 June 2014
  • Photographs of Krystyna Skarbek at "Special Forces Roll of Honour",; accessed 27 June 2014
  • Online Biography,; accessed 27 June 2014
  • Clare Heal, "Glamorous Wartime Spy Who Loved Life... and Dashing Men",, Home of the Daily and Sunday Express, 8 July 2012.
  • "Glamorous wartime spy who loved life...and dashing men", The Spy Who Loved, by Clare Mulley: review by Nigel Jones, The Telegraph, Saturday, 14 July 2012.

External links

  • Marcus Binney, The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Women Agents of SOE in the Second World War, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 2002, ISBN 0 340 81840 9. (A fifth of the book is devoted to Krystyna Skarbek; includes a few more recently available documents, but largely draws on Madeleine Masson's work.)
  • Xan Fielding, Hide and Seek: The Story of a War-Time Agent, London, Secker & Warburg, 1954. (Dedicated to Krystyna Skarbek; includes the Digne incident.)
  • Christopher Kasparek, "Krystyna Skarbek: Re-viewing Britain's Legendary Polish Agent", The Polish Review, vol. XLIX, no. 3 (2004), pp. 945–53.
  • Christopher Kasparek, letter to the editor (corrigenda to Kasparek's article in vol. XLIX, no. 3, 2004, and response to Ronald Nowicki's letter in vol. L, no. 1, 2005), The Polish Review, vol. L, no. 2 (2005), pp. 253–55.
  • Jan Larecki, Krystyna Skarbek: agentka o wielu twarzach (Krystyna Skarbek: Agent with Many Faces), Warsaw, Książka i Wiedza, 2008, ISBN 978-83-05-13533-7.
  • Madeleine Masson, Christine: A Search for Christine Granville, G.M., O.B.E., Croix de Guerre, with a Foreword by Francis Cammaerts, D.S.O., Légion d'Honneur, Croix de Guerre, U.S. Medal of Freedom, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1975. (Republished by Virago, 2005.)
  • Clare Mulley, The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville, Britain's First Special Agent of World War II, London, Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4472-2565-2.
  • Ronald Nowicki, "Krystyna Skarbek: a Letter", The Polish Review, vol. L, no. 1 (2005), pp. 93–101.


  1. ^ Clare Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, 2012, p. 1.
  2. ^ "Perhaps appropriately for a secret agent, the deceptions and confusions that surround Christine's life start with her birth.... In fact [she] arrived in the world on Friday 1 May 1908." C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, 2012, p. 1.
  3. ^ In January 1941, when Britain's ambassador to Budapest, Sir Owen O'Malley, produced passports in false names for Skarbek and her partner Andrzej Kowerski, the two Poles chose the names "Christine Granville" and "Andrew Kennedy". Skarbek "took the opportunity to knock seven years off her age. From then on [she] would always give 1915 as her birth year." C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, 2012, pp. 100-101.
  4. ^ Jan Larecki, Krystyna Skarbek: agentka o wielu twarzach (Krystyna Skarbek: Agent with Many Faces), 2008, pp. 31, 123.
  5. ^ Marcus Binney, The Women Who Lived for Danger, pp. 4–5.
  6. ^ C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, pp. 3, 287, 333.
  7. ^ Four different places have been cited as her birthplace. According to Larecki, her true birthplace was the home of her Goldfeder grandparents at ulica Zielna 45 in Warsaw. Larecki, Krystyna Skarbek, pp. 32–34.
  8. ^ It has been alleged that her father's branch of the Skarbek family had not obtained confirmation of the title of count in the 19th century from the Russian Imperial court. Ronald Nowicki, "Krystyna Skarbek: a Letter", The Polish Review, vol. L, no. 1 (2005), p. 100.
  9. ^ The name "Goldfeder" is of German origin and translates into English as "Goldfeather."
  10. ^ C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, p. 5.
  11. ^ Madeleine Masson, Christine, p. 3.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Jarosław Krawczyk, "Wielkie odkrycia ludzkości. Nr 17", Rzeczpospolita, 12 June 2008.
  14. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 7.
  15. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 12.
  16. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 17.
  17. ^ M. Masson, Christine, pp. 20–21.
  18. ^ M. Masson, Christine, pp. 22-23.
  19. ^ a b M. Masson, Christine, p. 24.
  20. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 32.
  21. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 104.
  22. ^ M. Masson, Christine, pp. 39–40.
  23. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 68.
  24. ^ (Polish)
  25. ^ Christopher Kasparek, "Krystyna Skarbek: Re-viewing Britain's Legendary Polish Agent", The Polish Review, vol. XLIX, no. 3 (2004), p. 950.
  26. ^ Ronald Nowicki, "Krystyna Skarbek: a Letter", The Polish Review, vol. L, no. 1 (2005), p. 99. Christopher Kasparek, letter to the editor, The Polish Review, vol. L, no. 2 (2005), pp. 253–55.
  27. ^ WW II German Infantry Anti-Tank Weapons at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
  28. ^ M. Binney, The Women Who Lived for Danger, p. 325.
  29. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 116.
  30. ^ Quoted in M. Binney, The Women Who Lived for Danger, pp. 71–72.
  31. ^ Christopher Kasparek, "Krystyna Skarbek: Re-viewing Britain's Legendary Polish Agent", The Polish Review, vol. XLIX, no. 3 (2004), p. 949.
  32. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 131.
  33. ^ Read, Anthony, and David Fisher, Operation Lucy: Most Secret Spy Ring of the Second World War, New York, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1981; ISBN 0-698-11079-X.
  34. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 127.
  35. ^ M. Masson, Christine, pp. xxvii, xxx.
  36. ^ M. Masson, Christine, p. 205.
  37. ^ M. Masson, Christine, pp. 205–206.
  38. ^ Francis Cammaerts, who after the war kept in touch with Max Waem, in Belgium, gave his account to the sound archives of the Imperial War Museum.
  39. ^ Guideline of events surrounding Operation Freston,; accessed 1 July 2014.
  40. ^ Christopher Kasparek, "Krystyna Skarbek: Re-viewing Britain's Legendary Polish Agent", The Polish Review, vol. XLIX, no. 3 (2004), p. 947
  41. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37959. p. 2249. 20 May 1947. Retrieved 3 April 2010.
  42. ^ M. Masson, Christine, facing p. 219.
  43. ^ Xan Fielding, Hide and Seek, pp. 254–55.
  44. ^ C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, pp. 326-35.
  45. ^ Find A Grave profile: Christine Granville,; accessed 27 June 2014.
  46. ^ C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, p. 345.
  47. ^ FILMFAX Magazine, October 2003 – January 2004.
  48. ^ C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, pp. 342-43.
  49. ^ C. Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, p. 338.


See also

  • Madeleine Masson, Christine: a Search for Christine Granville, OBE, GM, Croix de Guerre (1975, republished 2005);
  • Jan Larecki, Krystyna Skarbek, Agentka o wielu twarzach (Krystyna Skarbek, Agent of Many Faces, 2008);
  • Clare Mulley, The Spy Who Loved: the Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville, Britain's First Special Agent of World War II (2012);
  • Ronald Nowicki, The Elusive Madame G (2013).

There have been four published biographies of Skarbek:

Nearly five decades later, in 1999, Polish writer Maria Nurowska published a novel, Miłośnica (The Lover) — an account of a fictional female journalist's attempt to probe Skarbek's story.

As her life became so wildly reported, Andrzej Kowerski (Andrew Kennedy) asked their mutual friend, W. Stanley Moss, to write something definitive; a series of four illustrated articles by Moss were published in Picture Post in 1952.[49]

It has been said that Ian Fleming, in his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953), modeled Vesper Lynd on her. According to William F. Nolan, Fleming also based Tatiana Romanova, in his 1957 novel From Russia, with Love, on Skarbek.[47] Skarbek biographer Clare Mulley, however, wrote that, "if Christine was immortalized as the carelessly beautiful double agent Vesper Lynd, Fleming is more likely to have been inspired by the stories he heard than the woman in person.... [H]e never claimed to have met her, even in passing."[48]

Popular culture

Granville was interred in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, northwest London.[45] Following Andrzej Kowerski (Andrew Kennedy)'s death from cancer in Munich, Germany, in December 1988, his ashes were flown to London and interred at the foot of Skarbek's grave.[46]

Christine Granville was stabbed to death in the Shelbourne Hotel, Earls Court, in London, England, on 15 June 1952. She had commenced work as a liner stewardess some six weeks earlier with the Union-Castle Line and had booked into the hotel on 14 June, having returned from a working voyage out of Durban, South Africa, on the Winchester Castle. Her body was identified by her cousin, Andrzej Skarbek. Her assailant was Dennis Muldowney, an obsessed Reform Club porter and former merchant marine steward whose advances she had previously rejected. After being tried and convicted of her murder, Muldowney was hanged on the gallows at HMP Pentonville on 30 September 1952.[44]


Skarbek's grave, London
After the physical hardship and mental strain she had suffered for six years in our service, she needed, probably more than any other agent we had employed, security for life. […] Yet a few weeks after the armistice she was dismissed with a month's salary and left in Cairo to fend for herself ... [Alt]hough she was too proud to ask for any other assistance, she did apply for […] a British passport; for ever since the Anglo-American betrayal of her country at Yalta she had been virtually stateless. But the naturalization papers […] were delayed in the normal bureaucratic manner. Meanwhile, abandoning all hope of security, she deliberately embarked on a life of uncertain travel, as though anxious to reproduce in peace time the hazards she had known during the war; until, finally, in June 1952, in the lobby of a cheap London hotel, the menial existence to which she had been reduced by penury was ended by an assassin's knife.[43]
: "To the memory of Christine Granville", and dedicated Hide and Seek, whom she had saved at Digne, wrote in his 1954 book, Xan FieldingAfter the war, Skarbek was left without financial reserves or a native country to return to.


French recognition of Skarbek's contribution to the liberation of France came with the award of the Croix de Guerre.[42]

For her work in conjunction with the British authorities, in May 1947 she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE),[41] an award normally associated with officers of the equivalent military rank of lieutenant-colonel, and a level above the most usual award of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) given to other women agents of SOE.

Skarbek's exploits at World War II veteran that, during her negotiations with the Gestapo, she had been unaware of any danger to herself. Only after she and her comrades had made good their escape did it hit home: "What have I done! They could have shot me as well."[40]


The women of SOE were all given military rank, with honorary commissions in either the Women's Transport Service (FANY - originally the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry), officially part of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) though a very elite and autonomous part, or the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). Skarbek appears to have been a member of both. In preparation for her service in France, she appears to have been with FANY. On her return, she seems to have transferred to the WAAF as an officer until the end of the war in Europe: 21 November 1944 to 14 May 1945. She was one of the few SOE female field agents promoted beyond subaltern rank to captain, or the Air Force equivalent: flight officer, the WAAF counterpart of the flight lieutenant rank for male officers. Skarbek, like Pearl Witherington, the courier who had taken command of a group when the designated commander was captured, and Yvonne Cormeau, the most successful wireless operator , ended the war as honorary flight officers.

Skarbek's service in France restored her political reputation and greatly enhanced her military reputation. When the SOE teams returned from France (or in some cases, were given 24 hours to depart by de Gaulle), some of the British women sought new missions in the Pacific War, since the Empire of Japan still held on; but Skarbek, as a Pole, was ideally placed to serve as a courier for missions to her homeland in the final missions of SOE. As the Red Army advanced across Poland, the British government and Polish government-in-exile worked together to leave a network in place that would report on events in the People's Republic of Poland. Kowerski and Skarbek were now fully reconciled with the Polish forces and were preparing to be dropped into Poland in early 1945. In the event, the mission, called Operation Freston, was canceled because the first party to enter Poland were captured by the Red Army (they were released in February 1945).[39]


After Cammaerts and the other two men were released, Captain Schenck was advised to leave Digne. He did not and was subsequently murdered by a person or persons unknown. His wife kept the bribe money and, after the war, attempted to exchange it for new francs. She was arrested, but was released after the authorities investigated her story. She was able to exchange the money for only a tiny portion of its value.[38]

For three hours Christine argued and bargained with him and, having turned the full force of her magnetic personality on him... told him that the Allies would be arriving at any moment and that she, a British parachutist, was in constant wireless contact with the British forces. To make her point, she produced some broken... useless W/T crystals.... 'If I were you,' said Christine, 'I should give careful thought to the proposition I have made you. As I told Capitaine Schenck, if anything should happen to my husband [as she falsely described Cammaerts] or to his friends, the reprisals would be swift and terrible, for I don't have to tell you that both you and the Capitaine have an infamous reputation among the locals.' Increasingly alarmed by the thought of what might befall him when the Allies and the Resistance decided to avenge the many murders he had committed, Waem struck the butt end of his revolver on the table and said, 'If I do get them out of prison, what will you do to protect me?'[37]

On 13 August 1944, at Digne, two days before the Allied Operation Dragoon landings in southern France, Cammaerts, Xan Fielding—another SOE agent, who had previously operated in Crete—and a French officer, Christian Sorensen, were arrested at a roadblock by the Gestapo. Skarbek, learning that they were to be executed, managed to meet with Capt. Albert Schenck, an Alsatian who acted as liaison officer between the local French prefecture and the Gestapo. She introduced herself as a niece of British General Bernard Montgomery and threatened Schenck with terrible retribution if harm came to the prisoners. She reinforced the threat with a mercenary appeal — an offer of two million francs for the men's release. Schenck then introduced her to a Gestapo officer, Max Waem, a Belgian.[36]

After the two invasions, the distinctions became irrelevant, and almost all the SOE Sections in France would be united with the Maquis into the Forces Francaises de l'Interieur (FFI). (There was one exception: The EU/P Section, which was formed by Poles in France and remained part of the trans-European Polish Resistance movement, under Polish command.) Skarbek, as "Pauline Armand", parachuted into southeastern France on 6 July 1944 and became part of the "Jockey" network directed by a Belgian-British lapsed pacifist, Francis Cammaerts. She assisted Cammaerts by linking Italian partisans and French Maquis for joint operations against the Germans in the Alps and by inducing non-Germans, especially conscripted Poles, in the German occupation forces to defect to the Allies.

The SOE had several branches working in France. Though most of the women in France answered to F Section in London, Skarbek's mission was launched from Algiers, the base of AMF Section. This factor, combined with Skarbek's absence from the usual SOE training program, sometimes intrigues researchers. AMF Section was only set up in the wake of Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa, partly with staff from London (F Section) and partly with staff from Cairo (MO.4). AMF Section served three purposes: (1) it was simpler and safer to run the resupply operations from Allied North Africa than from London, across German-occupied France; (2) since the South of France would be liberated by separate Allied landings there (Operation Dragoon), SOE units in the area needed to be transferred to have links with those headquarters, not with forces for Normandy; (3) AMF Section tapped into the skills of the French in North Africa, who did not generally support Charles de Gaulle and who had been linked with opposition in the former "Unoccupied Zone".

Skarbek's situation changed greatly in 1944, with a turn of events that would lead to some of her most famous exploits. Fluent in French, she was offered to SOE's teams in France, under the nom de guerre "Madame Pauline". The offer was timely: SOE was running short of trained operatives to cover the increased demands being placed on it in the run-up to the invasion of France. New operatives were already in training, but the work took time. If inserted into occupied Europe before they had absorbed the numerous physical and intellectual skills required for survival, the operatives could compromise not only themselves but their SOE colleagues already in place and French Resistance members. Skarbek had a track record of successful courier work in occupied Europe and would need only a little "refresher" work and some guidance about working in France. There was one particular need that required urgent attention: the replacement of a lost courier on a busy circuit that would be among the first to meet the proposed Allied landings. Skarbek was selected to replace SOE agent Cecily Lefort, who had been captured, tortured, imprisoned and executed by the Gestapo.


When Skarbek's husband, Jerzy Giżycki, was informed that Skarbek and Kowerski's services were being dispensed with, he took umbrage and abruptly bowed out of his own career as a British intelligence agent. When Skarbek told her husband that she loved Kowerski, Giżycki left for London, eventually emigrating to Canada.[34] The couple were formally divorced at the Polish consulate in Berlin on 1 August 1946. Skarbek was sidelined from mainstream action. Vera Atkins, assistant to the head of F Section, later described Skarbek as a very brave woman, but a law unto herself and a loner.[35]

It could not but have helped that, in the meantime, Germany had started Operation Barbarossa, an invasion of the Soviet Union (22 June 1941), as her intelligence obtained from the Musketeers had predicted.[32] It is now known that advance information about Operation Barbarossa had also been provided by a number of other sources, including Ultra.[33]

Kowerski eventually cleared up any misunderstandings with General Kopański and was able to resume intelligence work. Similarly, when Skarbek visited Polish military headquarters in her British Royal Air Force uniform, she was treated by the Polish military chiefs with the highest respect.[31]

Last year […] a Polish citizen named Kowerski was working with our officials in Budapest on Polish affairs. He is now in Palestine […]. I understand from Major [Peter] Wilkinson [of SOE] that General [Stanisław] Kopański [Kowerski's former commander in Poland] is doubtful about Kowerski's loyalty to the Polish cause [because] Kowerski has not reported to General Kopański for duty with the [Polish Independent Carpathian] Brigade. Major Wilkinson informs me that Kowerski had had instructions from our officials not to report to General Kopański, as he was engaged […] on work of a secret nature which necessitated his remaining apart. It seems therefore that Kowerski's loyalty has only been called into question because of these instructions.[30]
: Władysław Sikorski Premier—to be, from September 1943, head of SOE—in a letter of 17 June 1941 to Polish Commander-in-Chief and Colin Gubbins by General LondonThere were also specific suspicions about Kowerski. These were addressed in

Upon their arrival at SOE offices in [28] Another source of suspicion was the ease with which she had obtained transit visas through French-mandated Syria and Lebanon from the pro-Vichy French consul in Istanbul. Only German spies, some Polish intelligence officers believed, could have obtained the visas.[29]

Gen. Gubbins, executive head of SOE from 1943


Skarbek helped organize a system of Polish couriers who brought intelligence reports from Warsaw to Budapest. Kowerski (Kennedy)'s cousin, Ludwik Popiel, managed to smuggle out a unique Polish anti-tank rifle, model 35, with the stock and barrel sawed off for easier transport. Skarbek, for a time, concealed it in her Budapest apartment. However, it never saw wartime service with the Allies, as the designs and specifications had deliberately been destroyed upon the outbreak of war and there was no time for reverse engineering. Captured stocks of the rifle were, however, used by the Germans and the Italians.[27]

In Hungary, Skarbek met a Polish army officer, Andrzej Kowerski (1912–1988), who would later use the British nom de guerre "Andrew Kennedy". Skarbek had first met him as a child and briefly encountered him again before the war at Zakopane. Kowerski, who had lost part of his leg in a pre-war hunting accident, was now exfiltrating Polish and other Allied military personnel and collecting intelligence. Skarbek showed her penchant for stratagem when she and Kowerski were arrested by the Gestapo in January 1941; she won their release, feigning symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis by biting her tongue until it bled. Skarbek was distantly related to the Hungarian regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, since a cousin from the Lwów side of the family had married a relative of Horthy.[26] The pair escaped from Hungary via the Balkans and Turkey.

An incident that probably dates to Skarbek's first visit back to Poland in February 1940 illustrates the hazards she faced while working in her occupied homeland. At a Warsaw café, she was hailed by a woman acquaintance: "Krystyna! Krystyna Skarbek! What are you doing here? We heard that you'd gone abroad!" When Skarbek denied that her name was Krystyna Skarbek, the lady answered that she would have sworn she was Krystyna Skarbek; the resemblance was positively uncanny! After the woman left, Skarbek, to minimize suspicion, tarried a while before leaving the café.[25]

Skarbek went to Hungary; and, in December 1939, she persuaded Polish Olympic skier Jan Marusarz, brother of Nordic skier Stanisław Marusarz, to escort her across the snow-covered Tatra Mountains into Poland. Arriving in Warsaw, she pleaded with her mother to leave Nazi-occupied Poland, in vain.[23] Stefania Skarbek refused; she was determined to stay in Warsaw to continue teaching French to small children and soon died at the hands of the occupying Germans in Warsaw's Pawiak prison. Ironically, the prison had been designed in the mid-19th century by Skarbek's great-great-uncle Fryderyk Florian Skarbek, a prison reformer and Frédéric Chopin's namesake and godfather, who had been tutored in French language by Chopin's father.[24]

Hungary and Poland

Upon the outbreak of World War II, the couple sailed for London, where Skarbek sought to offer her services in the struggle against the common enemy. The British authorities showed little interest but were eventually convinced by Skarbek's acquaintances, including journalist Frederick Augustus Voigt, who introduced her to the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).[22]

Journalist Frederick Voigt introduced Skarbek to SIS


World War II

On 2 November 1938, Krystyna and Giżycki married at the Evangelical Reformed Church in Warsaw.[19] Soon after he accepted a diplomatic posting to Ethiopia, where he served as Poland's consul general until September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland.[20] Skarbek later said of Giżycki: "He was my Svengali for so many years that he would never believe that I could ever leave him for good."[21]

One day, on a Zakopane ski slope, Krystyna lost control and was saved by a giant of a man who stepped into her path and stopped her descent. Her rescuer was Jerzy Giżycki, a brilliant, moody, irascible eccentric, who came from a wealthy family in Ukraine. At fourteen, he had quarrelled with his father, run away from home, and worked in the United States as a cowboy and gold prospector. He eventually became an author and travelled the world in search of material for his books and articles. He knew Africa well and hoped one day to return there.[19]

On 21 April 1930, Krystyna married a young businessman, Gustaw Gettlich at the Spiritual Seminary Church in Warsaw. They proved incompatible, and the marriage soon ended without rancor. A subsequent love affair came to naught when the young man's mother refused to consider the penniless divorcée as a potential daughter-in-law.[18]

The 1920s left the family in straitened financial circumstances, and they had to give up their country estate and move to Warsaw.[16] In 1930, when Krystyna was 22, Count Jerzy died. The Goldfeder financial empire had almost completely collapsed, and there was barely enough money to support the widowed Countess Stefania. Krystyna, not wishing to be a burden to her mother, worked at a Fiat car dealership, but soon became ill from automobile fumes and had to give up the job. At first she was thought, on the basis of shadows on her chest x-rays, to be suffering from tuberculosis, which had killed her father. She received compensation from her employer's insurance company and took her physicians' advice to lead as much of an open-air life as she could. She began spending a great deal of time hiking and skiing the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland.[17]

At the family stables Krystyna met Andrzej Kowerski, whose father had brought him over to play with ten-year-old Krystyna while he and her father, the Count, discussed agricultural matters.[15]

The couple's first child, Andrzej (Andrew), took after the mother's side of the family. Krystyna, their second child, took after her father and his liking for riding horses, which she sat astride rather than side-saddle as was usual for women. She also became an expert skier during visits to Zakopane in the Tatra mountains of southern Poland. From the start, there was a complete rapport between father and daughter, who needed little encouragement to become a tomboy.[14]

Notable relations included the composer Fryderyk Chopin, Chopin's godfather and prison reformer Fryderyk Skarbek, and United States Union General Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski.[12][13]

Skarbek was born in 1908 in Warsaw,[7] to Count Jerzy Skarbek,[8] a Roman Catholic, and Stefania (née Goldfeder),[9] the daughter of a wealthy assimilated Jewish family.[10] Marrying Stefania in late December 1899, Jerzy Skarbek used her dowry (her father was a banker) to pay his debts and continue his lavish life-style.[11]

The Skarbeks' Habdank coat-of-arms

Early life


  • Early life 1
  • World War II 2
    • London 2.1
    • Hungary and Poland 2.2
    • Cairo 2.3
    • France 2.4
    • Dénouement 2.5
    • Decorations 2.6
  • Postwar 3
  • Death 4
  • Popular culture 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

[6] as a British subject in December 1946.naturalisation, a name which she legally adopted upon Christine Granville nom de guerre In 1941 she began using the [5]

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