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Anne Spoerry: The Kenya Flying Doctor with Nazi links and a wanted war criminal

By Amos Kareithi | Sep 29th 2021 | 2 min read
Dr. Anne Spoerry of Flying Doctors at the controls of her aircraft in October 1966 [File]

For close to 50 years, Kenyans celebrated a pioneer doctor who eased the suffering of impoverished patients in remote parts of Turkana and North Eastern Province.

At the time of her death in 1999, aged 81, Anne Spoerry was a veteran in Flying Doctor services. She is estimated to have treated 500,000 patients in 49 years. Unknown to her patients, every time the doctor packed her supplies, she ensured there was ammunition for her pistol, ready for use.

She was afraid of her past, for Mama Daktari, as she referred to herself in her autobiography, was not the angel she projected herself to be and neither was she licensed to practice medicine.

She arrived in Kenya in 1950 and settled on a 3,000-acre farm in Olkalou, Nyandarua. Had the colonial government done a background check with French authorities before employing her as a medical officer, they would have discovered that she was a war criminal who was unwanted in her motherland.

In May 1946, former French Résistance fighters who had fought the German occupation during the Second World War, tried Spoerry and found her guilty of impersonating a doctor, being a traitor to the French and bringing shame on France through inhumane behaviour.

Consequently, her medical degree was suspended by the French Faculty of Medicine and she was exiled from France for 25 years. This is why Spoerry fled to Kenya and started using her tropical medicine diploma, as John Hemingway wrote, A legendary flying doctor’s dark secret, for the Financial Times on May 22, 2010.

She was accused of administering lethal injections to hundreds of patients held by Nazis in a concentration camp in Ravensbrück prison in Northern Germany. Although Spoerry had heroically resisted the German occupation of France, she was betrayed by some of her friends to the Gestapo. She was detained in prison, where she met a female war criminal, Carmen Mory, and later became her lover.

During her trial in 1947 by a Swiss court, for she held dual citizenship, she admitted to killing prisoners and evidence adduced showed that she was Mory’s sex slave. Her rich father saved her from being sentenced to hang like her lover.

Mama Daktari, just like disgraced R&B singer R Kerry, believed she could fly - even though it was reported that she constantly fell asleep during some of her flights.

She had to be accompanied by a copilot while flying. She had just renewed her license days before she died of stroke. 


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