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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

X-Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II

00:00 55:41
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The men of X Troop were the real Inglorious Basterds: a secret commando unit of young Jewish refugees who were trained in counterintelligence and advanced combat to deliver decisive blows against the Nazis. Today’s guest Leah Garrett draws on extensive original research, including interviews with the last surviving members of the X Troop unit, to share this untold story of forgotten WWII heroes. She follows this unique band of brothers from Germany to England and back again, with stops at British internment camps, the beaches of Normandy, the battlefields of Italy and Holland, and the hellscape of Terezin concentration camp—the scene of one of the most dramatic rescues of the war. We discuss the story of these secret shock troops and their devastating blows against the Nazis.

Other topics include:

● How Winston Churchill and his chief of staff convinced these mostly German and Austrian Jewish refugees, many of whom had been held in British internment camps due to their nationality, to fight for the Brits.
● The important roles these soldiers played in such major contests as D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, such as X Trooper Peter Masters' bicycle ride through occupied France, where he killed and interrogated Germany soldiers across Normandy. Nancy wake?
● The details of one of the most dramatic, little-known rescues of the war, in which X Trooper Freddie Gray drove a commandeered Jeep across hundreds of miles of German territory to free his parents from Theresienstadt concentration camp.
● The troubled legacy of the X Troop unit in England, where the commandos’ Jewish heritage has been largely ignored—and in some cases suppressed.
July 22, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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