Inside Figueres Prison, Spain (Courtesy Flickr)

A typical cell in Figueres Prison.

The dark, dank walls of Figueres Prison held a strange assortment of inmates: thieves, murders, political prisoners on the wrong side of Generalissimo Franco’s politics–and Virginia was certain British Intelligence would come to her rescue. But days turned into weeks and Virginia had extra reason to be alarmed by the delay in her release: she was carrying very secret, time-sensitive intelligence on the French Vichy Government’s likely response to Germany’s recent aggression in taking over the whole of France.

  • Would the Vichy government, now without any territory at all, capitulate fully or join the Allies and fight to rid their country of the Nazi menace? Virginia knew the answer, critically important to the Allies’ war effort, and drafted a coded message urgently needed by London.

But how could Virginia get this top-secret intelligence information out of Figueres Prison? Virginia’s cell-mate, a Spanish prostitute jailed for turning tricks without making the payoff to authorities, was about to be released and Virginia had a coded message smuggled out.

After more than a month in jail, the American consulate showed up and had Virginia released from Figueres. But that’s not the end of the story. ┬áDespite the dangers–Gestapo Chief Klaus Barbie still was hunting her–Virginia desperately wanted to continue her mission and return to France.

See the original coded message unearthed from the British archives in my first blog post, “Help Me Crack the Code”–and the Washington Post article on the first page of this website that tells of my archival discovery.

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