In this episode, you’ll meet Jennis, a young American woman who grew up in Middle America.
She chose to challenge the conventions of the 1940s by holding a sit-in to protest her university’s policy of not allowing women to study Japanese. WW 2 was underway and she wanted to help the war effort in a way that would maximise her contributions. She won her fight and learned Japanese.
After being vetted, she was recruited and trained by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to become an espionage agent in India, Burma and Ceylon.
Episodes include war-related content that some listeners may find disturbing and/or traumatizing. This content includes graphic references to sexual assault and suicide.
New: Support our nomination in the 16th annual Podcast Awards – voting if free but do it before July 31. Details here.
- Visiting temples in India
- How Jennis’s espionage experience was so different than the other women
- How Diane’s journey unfolded after doing the research
- Jennis: Growing up in Kansas
- Two degrees, but still not allowed to study Japanese at university because she was a woman
- A one-person sit-in at the classroom finally wins the day
- Recruited by the OSS after learning Japanese
- Translating Japanese documents, newspapers and confiscated articles
- Sent to India, doing research and analysis
- Travelling and learning Hindi, moving in with an Indian family
- Meeting Gandhi
- Fascinated by Satyagraha, becoming “violently non-violent”
- Using Satyagraha to diffuse a dangerous personal situation
- Back in the US after the war, a PhD and a life long love and study of India
Links and Resources
A Largely Indian Victory in World War II, Mostly Forgotten in India (NY Times article, pay wall)
Strategic Operations Executive in India
Secret Agents, Secret Armies: The Short Happy Life of the OSS
The Burma Campaign
The Bizarre Ways America’s First Spy Agency Tried to Overthrow Hitler
The Women Whose Secret Work Helped Win World War II (NY Times article, pay wall)