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In the war, famous poems were used to encrypt messages. This was, however, found to be insecure because enemy cryptanalysts were able to locate the original from published sources. Marks countered this by using his own written creations. The Life That I Have was an original poem composed on Christmas Eve 1943 and was originally written by Marks in memory of his girlfriend Ruth, who had just died in a plane crash in Canada. On 24 March 1944, the poem was issued by Marks to Violette Szabo, a French agent of Special Operations Executive who was eventually captured, tortured and killed by the Nazis.
It was made famous by its inclusion in the 1958 movie about Szabo, Carve Her Name with Pride, where the poem was said to be the creation of Violette's husband Etienne. (Marks allowed it to be used under the condition that its author not be identified.) In her 2002 biography Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have, author Susan Ottaway incorrectly asserted that the poem was actually written for the 1958 movie.[unreliable source?]
The text of the poem:
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