Holocaust Heroine Motivated by Islam?

Deborah Weiss, Esq. is a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine and the Washington Times. She is a contributing author to “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network” and the primary writer and researcher for “Council on American Islamic Relations: Its Use of Lawfare and Intimidation.” You can find more of her articles on www.vigilancenow.org


Noor Inayat KhanIn a recently released film titled “Noor Inayat Khan:  Enemy of the Reich,” the heroine was touted as a devout Muslim, motivated by her Islamic faith to save Jews during the Holocaust.  But the truth is that Khan was not a practicing Muslim at all.

In 1940, Khan joined the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) and became a wireless operator.  Subsequently, she attended bomber training school and eventually became Assistant Section Officer.  Finally, she was recruited to join the SOE (Special Operations Executive) in France, where she was posted to the Air Ministry and adopted the code name “Nora Baker.”

During the course of her service as a wireless operator in Nazi-occupied France, Khan assumed numerous identities, among which were “Madeline” and “Jeanne-Marie Renier.” 

The work of wireless operators was critical in assisting the Allied cause.  The possibility of detection and capture by the SS was always lurking in the background.  Khan knew the dangers prior to accepting her mission, but went forward anyway. 

After all the other operators in her unit were arrested by the SD (Sicherheistdienst; i.e. the Nazi intelligence agency), Khan was offered, but declined an opportunity to return to Britain.  As the sole remaining French operator, she was sought after by the SD which tried to track her down in common everyday places like subway stations.  However, she moved from place to place under various assumed identities, thus avoiding arrest and furthering the cause of freedom.

Eventually, someone who knew Khan betrayed her and turned her in to the SD.  She was arrested by the Gestapo on September 13, 1943 and was interrogated for over a month.  She refused to provide the SS with any information.  Unfortunately, she had kept notebooks with records regarding her wireless messages to Britain.  The SD eventually seized the notebooks and continued sending messages to Britain under Khan’s code name.

On November 25, 1943, Khan made what constituted a second attempt to escape SD headquarters.  She was captured nearby.  The SD requested that she sign a declaration of refusal to make future escape attempts.  She declined and was therefore classified as “highly dangerous.” She was sent to Germany on November 27, 1943 where she was imprisoned at Pforzheim.  She was labelled as a “Nacht und Nebel” (Night and Fog), a designation for those who would disappear into the night. 

For ten months she sat in solitary confinement, with her hands and feet shackled.  A wire ran between her hands and feet, tying them together so she was curled up, unable to feed herself, clean herself or properly lie down.  Other prisoners were able to hear her cries at night, but in the presence of Nazis she remained stoic and refused to cooperate.

On September 11, 1944, Khan and three other SOE agents were taken to Dachau concentration camp. There is some contention about whether or not Khan was singled out for overnight torture or beating.  Two days later, the SOE agents were fatally shot in the back of their heads and subsequently cremated.  Khan’s last recorded word was “[L]iberté!”

She was 30 years old when she was executed at the hands of the Nazis.  She was posthumously given numerous awards including the British George Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.  She was commemorated on a British stamp themed “remarkable lives.” And, on November 8, 2012, a bust of Khan was unveiled in London’s Garden Square.

So what motivated Khan’s acts of bravery and courage? 

According to Unity Production Foundation’s (UPF) Alex Kronemer, a Muslim convert and the co-founder of UPF, Khan’s courage, integrity, and zeal in her quest against Nazism was motivated by her Muslim faith.  Though “Enemy of the Reich” does not expressly make this assertion, the film, which consists primarily of interviews, is replete with this insinuation.

Additionally, in his opening statements at the film’s Washington, DC screening in February, 2014 at the Warner Theatre, Kronemer asks why Khan would risk her life and what would compel her to put herself in potential danger to save the Jews.  His answer was her faith.  “What compelled her was her great sense of humanity for other people, religions, other races, and Nazi ideology was opposed to her beliefs.”   Kronemer explained that in recent years, some stories had come to his attention of Muslims hiding Jews to save them during the Holocaust.  He wondered why he had never heard of any stories about the role of Muslims in World War II.  He claims that he produced this film, as well as other pro-Muslim and pro-Islam films to “tell the full story” of Muslims.  Enemy of the Reich is the tenth such film.

Many interviewed in the film asserted that Khan’s motivation was “idealism” and “her ideology.”  She believed that all life has value and she had a tolerant view of all religions.  Her nephew, who is Sufi, assumed “it must have been her faith.  Only that faith could have carried her….. Her message is that the human soul is of Divine Source, all humans must be free, and every human is sacrosanct.”  Indeed, prior to becoming a British spy, Khan built a career writing children’s stories, which taught that all conflict should be resolved through love and non-violence.

However, there are numerous flaws with the film’s assertions.  While it is true that Khan appeared to be motivated by her belief system, as many people are, it is inaccurate to assume that only people of “faith” have virtue and courage.  And, research reveals that Khan was not a devout Muslim.

Khan grew up in a home with an Indian Sufi father and an American mother.  Her father’s brand of Islam was a far cry from traditional or authoritative Islam and indeed, it would be considered heretical by traditional Islamic standards. 

Contrary to the film’s proclamation that “Sufis are first and foremost Muslim,” Khan’s father’s version of Sufism expressly disavows belonging to any particular religion including Islam.  He belonged to the Christi Order within the mystic tradition, which emphasizes love, tolerance and openness.  It is known for welcoming seekers of all faiths, and confines itself to no particular doctrine or ideology.  It emphasizes the universality of all faith traditions, not favoring one over another.  It seeks to spread the message of unity and the divinity in all living beings.  Her father believed that there is really only one universal religion and there are many paths to God and he was primarily concerned with inner soul.  So even if Khan were “religious” in the same sense that her father was, it would be inaccurate to conclude that her faith was “Islamic” in any true meaning of the word.

The producer of the film could only conclude that Khan was Muslim by assuming that all Sufis are Muslim and then extrapolating that Khan’s father was Sufi and thus Muslim, so Khan must have been also.  However, according to Sharabani Basu, author of Khan’s biography titled “Spy Princess: the life of Noor Inayat Khan,” Khan was not a “practicing Muslim” despite the fact that she was influenced by her liberal Sufi upbringing. 

Additionally, the film conspicuously omits the fact that Khan was engaged to a Jew prior to the outbreak of World War II.  It’s hard to believe that this was an accidental oversight on the part of UPF, rather than the intentional omission of information that would tip off the audience to the fact that Khan could not have been the devout Muslim that UPF claims she was.  Islamic doctrine dictates that while Muslim men are permitted to marry Jewish or Christian women, Muslim women are confined to marry Muslim men only.

That Khan’s marriage to her fiancé never came to fruition is of no consequence.  What is important is the fact that Khan, while certainly motivated by a loving, virtuous ideology, was not motivated by Islam as UPF producers would have you think.  The film holds itself out as honoring this courageous Holocaust heroine.  But on some level, it stains her memory by attributing to her false motives, in a narrative that constitutes nothing more than an Islamist propaganda lie.

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  • CaoMoo

    Yeah if mohammed was known for anything it was his love of jews. I mean he called them apes and pigs so tsundere I mean monkeys and piggies are so cute! Yes he beheaded 900 or so unarmed jews but that was the islamic cure to relieve the suffering of chronic migraines. It was just a little misguided for lack of modern medical science. How could it not be islam that motivated her?

    • Judahlevi

      Any woman who dies with the words of “liberte” on her lips (assuming this is true) is not a ‘true’ Muslim.

      Islam is about forced conformity, not liberty.

  • tagalog

    Is she the same SOE “Madeleine” about whom the Brits made a movie (“Madeleine”) in the 1950s? Had some relationship to Winston Churchill’s nephew? Wait, never mind, I was thinking about the movie “Odette.” “Madeleine” is about the Madeleine Smith murder trial. David Lean. Duh.

    The Islam issue is far overborne by the fact that she appears to have been ruled by her sense of humanity, not by dogma.

    • pat

      Spy stuff is always confusing but this case particularly so. I too had vague memories about the female spy Madeleine. There seem to have been at least two and in what appears to be an amazing coincidence both were imprisoned in the same Nazi prison and shot on the same day. The Sufi Indian woman Khan had Madeleine as a code name while another spy had Madeleine as her real name. It doesn’t help either that the book “Churchill’s Favorite Spy’ was also written by a woman also named Madeleine.

      • tagalog

        Adding to the confusion for us movie buffs is the U.S. movie based on a true story of the OSS in World War II, starring James Cagney and Richard Conte, “13 Rue Madeleine.”

  • verneoz

    Ms. Weiss’s assertion that the Khans were Sufi Muslims and not militant is correct. Inyat Khan was born in Russia, lived, and was educated in France before the war. She spoke fluent French making her ideal for SOE covert missions in France. Therefore, she was westernized and had no radical Muslim roots. I read her biography and it was most interesting as were most of Vera Atkins’ girls in the SOE. Vera Atkins is another story into itself…a truly remarkable woman.

  • verneoz

    I forgot to mention this in my previous post. Kronemer is a revisionist trying to bend his fiction into fact. This is a common practice by professors teaching history in American colleges. This explains why most young Americans have knowledge or appreciation of American history and how many obstacles stood in our way becoming an independent, free, country. The left never fail an opportunity to take a grain of truth and make an ideological lie out of it.

  • liz

    What an insult to the memory of this brave heroine. So typical of Muslims to hijack something good and distort it to promote themselves, since there is absolutely nothing honorable or worthy of praise in their worthless religion.

    • Hina Latif

      So typical of non-Muslims to distort facts to try and cover what their ancestors did. Muslims did not play a role in the holocaust. Someone as ignorant as you should hang her head in shame, and get an education.

  • Capt Bob

    I would like to see you do a story about the 62,000 (According to HUD) Homeless American Veterans cold and hungry on the streets of the United States. They stood up for use WHY are we not standing up for them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/aemoreira81 aemoreira81

      One died in Rikers Island earlier this month (in NYC) after his cell was too hot. Making that death sadder is that he was only in that jail because he had been arrested for trespassing on one of the coldest days of the year (and was in desperate need of mental help; he was taking medication which made him more sensitive to heat).

    • objectivefactsmatter

      “They stood up for use WHY are we not standing up for them.”

      Because the Marxists have had too much influence here.

      • Capt Bob

        Right on Brother. I am a member of the Patriot Guard Riders and we Stand up for all Veterans. Look them up on the internet and find out how they got started. You will be surprised and ashame of the Hillsdale church. With or with out a motorcycle you can join us.

  • iluvisrael

    what have moslems contributed to the world other than the suicide belt, female genital mutilation, forced marriage of little girls and honor killings??

    • Tim

      Genocide, medicinal camel píss, cleaning your ánus with an odd number of rocks, a flat earth theory that defies modern science, airplane hijacking techniques, pressure cooker bombs, etc. They’re quite inventive!

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        Muslims also claim that when Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon in 1969, he “becam a Muslim”, heard the Muslim call to prayer on the Moon – and other nonsense.

  • Jay

    The idea that mystical is the same as tolerant is false. Sufis persecuted Hindus and destroyed temples in India: “Beauty and the Beast of Sufism”
    “…The great poet, sufi and artist Amir Khusro, full name Muhammad Hassan
    Yaminuddin (1253-1325) said to be a great human being because, he was
    the father of Qawwali, and he is even said to have invented the sitar
    and tabla, he loved India, and of course was tolerant and mystical.Yet in his own words he glorified how Islamic hordes had despoiled India , sacking the infidel Hindu shrines for the glory of the true faith, saturated the land with the blood of idol-worshippers, and jizya imposed. Khusro lamented that the sultans had adopted the Hanafi code because it allowed them to categorise Hindus as dhimmis; which meant a third-class existence as opposed to outright extermination. The Sufi preacher Sayyid Ali Hamdani came from Hamdan in fourteenth century to Kashmir where after making converts made moved to stop Hindus building temples and restrict their religious practices as they were forced into dhimmi status, including payment of jizya.

    Sufis fully supported the oppression and often forcible conversion of
    Hindus to Islam, accepting the gifts of adolescent boys and young women
    to their khanqahs and dargahs. Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Shah Jahan
    and rightful heir to the Mughal throne was perhaps the exception in
    trying to marry mysticism within Islam and Hinduism, such as translating
    the Upanishads into Persian. Of course he was killed by his younger
    brother Aurangzeb who was himself a Sufi, a follower of the
    Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi method and disciple of Khwaja Muhammad Masoom, the
    third son and successor of the founder of Mujaddidi order Shaykh Ahmad
    Sirhindi. That shaykh sent his fifth son, Khwaja Saif ad-Din Sirhindi,
    to instruct Aurangzeb in the strict application of sharia law such as
    banning musical instruments….” http://www.chakranews.com/beauty-and-the-beast-of-sufism/2454

  • no dhimmi

    IF muslims are so friendly to people of all creeds and races, why do they burn, torture and murder Christians and Jews (and fellow muslims) on a daily basis in their countries?

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Sharia is friendly. Islam is peace.

  • knowshistory

    while we agonize over one particular holocaust (there have been many), our enemies are sharpening their scimitars for the next holocaust. keep one thing in mind. all those who are whining about past holocausts (there have been many) are actually survivors of the holocausts of the past. they are not necessarily chosen to survive the next holocaust, which is being prepared by our peaceful muslim friends whom we are so eager to invite to invade our remaining non-muslim countries. if you are concerned about holocaust, it would be far better to start sending our peaceful muslim friends home to countries they have already despoiled, than to invite them to holocaust us in our own countries.

  • http://historyscoper.com/ T.L. Winslow
  • ObamaYoMoma

    But the truth is that Khan was not a practicing Muslim at all.

    That’s obvious.

  • Christopher Riddle

    Noor Inhayat Kiam was”Motivated”by her Love of HUMANITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • xyz

    Since when did holocaust start relating to Islam? A complete
    disregard for other religions and a superiority complex is what Hitler
    preached, thank you scumbags for keeping his teachings alive.

    Noor’s parents were Muslim, she was very much influenced but
    the teachings of Islam because Sufism is very much a part of our religion, it
    is evident in every step she took and this is not the first time a Muslim has
    stood up in what they believed in. She must be turning in her grave with all
    this hatred and sentiments from worthless, ungrateful bastards.