British secret agent during World War II. Born in Mlodziesyn, Poland, on May 1, 1915, Krystyna Skarbek was the daughter of a count who was a wealthy banker and his Jewish wife. Skarbek and her husband, Jerzy Gizycki, a Polish diplomat, were in Africa when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. They went to England where, under the name Christine Granville, she joined the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). One of the earliest agents to work for the SOE, Granville brought information to the Polish resistance against the Nazi occupation during World War II, and she helped set up escape routes for British prisoners of war to get from Poland to Athens and then to Britain (Binney 2002, 5). Although her native country did not recognize her contributions, the British government awarded her the George Medal and the Order of the British Empire (OBE). From France, Granville received the Croix de Guerre (Forty and Forty 1997, 156).
Granville was noted for her resourcefulness, resilience, and bravery. To distribute needed information to Polish resisters, she skied from
Hungary over the Tatras Mountains into Poland. When she returned from these trips, Granville also brought out intelligence for the British. On one trip back to her homeland, she tried to convince her widowed mother to leave Poland, but her mother refused. Later she found out the Nazis had captured her mother, and she never saw or heard from her again (Forty and Forty 1997, 155).
On her last trip into Poland in 1941, Granville and her colleague and companion Andrew Kowerski were arrested by the Hungarian police and handed over to the Gestapo for interrogation. They were soon released after she feigned tuberculosis, which she achieved by biting her tongue so that she seemed to be coughing blood. Granville and Kowerski were freed in part because of a sympathetic and convinced doctor but also because the authorities hoped they would lead them to their underground network, which did not happen (Binney 2002, 64).
Granville, who made her way back to England after her escape, was parachuted into occupied France on July 6, 1944. She was sent to the Jockey Network, headed by Francis Cammaerts, as a replacement for Cecily Lefort, who had been arrested. Granville was discharged in 1945, and soon afterward she became a British citizen. In 1951, Granville took a job as a stewardess on the Rauhine, sailing on its maiden voyage to Australia (Forty and Forty 1997, 156). On this ship, she met Dennis George Mul-downey, a man who became obsessed with her and murdered her on June 15, 1952.