In June of 1942, amid Third Reich victories everywhere, Winston Churchill and his chief of staff formed an unusual plan. They would shape a new commando unit made up of German and Austrian Jewish refugees who had escaped to Britain.
Deemed “enemy aliens,” these detainees were given a choice: continue to languish in a detention camp or go fight the Nazis.
The resulting volunteers were a motley group of intellectuals, artists, and athletes. Many had lost their families, their homes—their whole worlds. They would stop at nothing to defeat the Nazis. Trained in counterintelligence and advanced combat, this top-secret unit would become known as X Troop.
Lauren Gilbert, Senior Manager for Public Programs at the Center for Jewish History said, “Many books are marketed as ‘untold stories,’ but that is rarely as accurate as it is here. Leah Garrett has done incredible research and detective work to uncover this history, piecing together the important role these soldiers played in the war effort.” Gilbert will speak with Leah Garrett, author of X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II, on Thursday May 27th at 4pm ET. The program will stream live.
Drawing on extensive original research, including interviews with the last surviving members, historian Leah Garrett, Professor and Director of Jewish Studies at Hunter College, 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 the Terezin concentration camp—the scene of one of the most dramatic, untold rescues of the war.
This program is presented with the Leo Baeck Institute. It is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.