Episode 30: Crime-Fighting Broads 004: The Nazi-Killers

There were plenty of jobs for women in WW2: nurse, ambulance driver, factory worker. But then there were the other jobs, the ones no one really talked about. Spy. Resistance fighter. Killer.

These are the stories of five women—Nadezhda Popova, Vitka Kempner, Noor Inayat Khan, Nancy Wake, and Lyudmila Pavlichenko—who fought the Nazis. They terrorized them from the sky, blew up their trains, endured their torture, rode bikes through their territory, and shot them down with their rifles. In a world that threatened to be consumed by evil, they fought back.


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“Nadezhda Popova, WWII ‘Night Witch,’ Dies at 91,” New York Times, 14 July 2013

“Nadezhda Popova, celebrated Soviet ‘Night Witch’ aviator of World War II, dies at 91,” The Washington Post, 13 July 2013

“Vilna Jewish Partisans Led By Young Girl,” The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, 8 Sept 1944

“VITKA KEMPNER-KOVNER,” The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

“Vitka Kovner, partisan, passes away at the age of 92,” Yad Vashem, 15 Feb 2012

“Overlooked No More: Noor Inayat Khan, Indian Princess and British Spy,” New York Times, 28 Nov 2018

“One Woman, Many Surprises: Pacifist Muslim, British Spy, WWII Hero,” NPR, 6 Sept 2014

“Noor Inayat Khan: The Indian princess who spied for Britain,” BBC, 8 Nov 2012

“Nancy Wake, Proud Spy and Nazi Foe, Dies at 98,” New York Times, 13 Aug 2011

“Farewell to Nancy Wake, the mouse who ran rings around the Nazis,” The Guardian, 8 Aug 2011

“War hero Nancy Wake's ashes scattered in France,” ABC Australia, 10 Mar 2013

“Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper,” Smithsonian, 21 Feb 2013

“The life and myths of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Soviet Russia's deadliest sniper,” Public Radio International, 9 March 2018

“By the Numbers: End of World War II,” CNN, 2 Sept 2013

World War II Foundation (for statistics)


“Guilty” by Richard A. Whiting, Harry Akst, and Gus Kahn, sung by Anna Telfer

“Shake It and Break It” by Lanin's Southern Serenaders, licensed under a Public Domain / Sound Recording Common Law Protection License

“Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 16” by Sergei Rachmaninoff (Sviatoslav Richter, piano; Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Stanislaw Wislocki, cond.), via archive.org.

Samples played from “Miss Pavlichenko” by Woody Guthrie and Inglorious Bastards by Quentin Tarantino.

Tori Telfer