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Troop X was comprised of 87 volunteers, mainly Jewish refugees from Germany or Austria

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Prof. Leah Garrett’s book X Troop was lauded as “the first full account of a remarkable group of Jewish refugees—a top-secret band of brothers—who waged war on Hitler.” (Photo: goodreads.com)

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Any social scientist, experts in social psychology, experts who treat us when stuff inside our minds go wacky, the people we often turn to help us emerge from a blue funk of various kinds, they all talk about how hating is bad for us. We are ourselves the beneficiaries, they say, when we give up harboring these negative feelings about people and events that have caused us pain. They even say we should find it in our hearts to forgive and forget. That may work for some things and for some people.

But for me, there are things for which forgiving and forgetting just doesn’t work. That is particularly true when opportunities exist to right the wrongs that have been experienced. And that is particularly true for me when there are opportunities for revenge.

Some time ago there was a movie that came out, called “Inglourious Basterds”*, which recounts the tale of a Jewish/American commando squad sent into Europe to work behind the lines to find and kill Nazis. Their relentless, and horrific actions, were presented as a “what if” story, involving a plot to kill all the top Nazi leaders, including Hitler, and thus end the war. I always wondered if such a revenge-motivated unit ever existed.

It turns out that it really did. And their actions may really have helped shorten the war.

Declassifying records have revealed that a commando group, designated Troop X, or officially, “No .10 (Inter-Allied) Commando 3 Group”, was set up by the British during the war. It was composed of 87 individual volunteers, mainly Jewish refugees from Germany or Austria, who had seen their families and communities destroyed. Some were survivors of incarceration in Nazi concentration camps. They were all hell-bent on exacting revenge on the Nazis.**

Sworn to secrecy about their true identities, they all adopted English names. After a year and a half of intensive training, they were assigned to spearhead the Allied forces that invaded Europe. Some, on the bicycles they brought with them during the invasion, were the first to go into occupied territory. Using their native knowledge of German, using advanced combat and intelligence techniques, they infiltrated behind enemy lines. They captured and interrogated enemy personnel, providing crucial intelligence to the Allied war effort.

How many brave soldiers’ lives were salvaged from the information these heroes provided? How much did they help speed our efforts to a victorious solution?

This effort did not go without cost. Many of the group did not survive the war and there is a memorial to them in Aberdovey, Wales, where the Troop trained. There is no detail available as to the specifics of the Troop’s activity as so generously provided by Tarantino in his film.

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I recall my days as a youngster, listening to the grim news during the early days of the War, and then my horror and rage, as the news leaked out as to the wholesale murder of Jews carried out by the Nazis, I try to imagine today how satisfied it must have been for those teenagers turned commandos to exact some measure of revenge by their actions.

For the participants, particularly the survivors, recapturing normal lives, knowing how they had transformed themselves from victims to fighters exacting some measure of retribution, it must have been enormously satisfying.

Recounting this little bit of history, known by so few, I, personally draw a measure of satisfaction, quelling somewhat the rage that burns inside me to this day. I know that most of the perpetrators, those of the crimes I weep about, have found shelter in their graves by this time. Nevertheless, whenever I meet someone of my age or older, of a European origin, now very few, I instantly speculate and wonder, what were they doing during those years. I know it is illogical, but the instinct persists. I was eleven at War’s end.

I will never have the solace that these brave souls enjoyed in carrying out the heroic tasks they did. I will never enjoy their satisfactions, risking their own lives to exact revenge in their acts of retribution. But I draw some pleasure from the story of their exploits. Their revenge is good for my soul. Stories of IDF accomplishments in the Middle East, and elsewhere, help me personally as well..

*Inglourious Basterds, produced by Universal Pictures, (among others), starring Brad Pitt, in 2009. The title was inspired by an Italian war movie of similar name which appeared in 1978.

**XTroop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of WWII, Leah Garrett. Ms Garett is a Professor at Hunter College, (NYC) and The Director of the Jewish Studies Center. On July 12 there is a free Zoom event with her, tickets are available here: https://jewishbookweek.com/event/x-troop-the-secret-jewish-commandos/

Max Roytenberg is an author, poet and blogger, with many published articles in Jewish periodicals in Dublin, New York, Winnipeg and Vancouver. After a career as an Economist and Executive in the Food Industry, in Canada and abroad, he writes, and lives with his Bride, in Vancouver. He has children and grandchildren in the US, Canada, China and Israel. His last book, “Hero In My Own Eyes”, is available through major booksellers and on Amazon.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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