Jewish Soldiers on a Mission
Millions of Jews, many of them children, fled or were displaced from Nazi holdings after Adolf Hitler's rise to power. A few of them were given a chance to return and make a difference.
The 3 Troop of the Tenth Inter-Allied Commandos, or "X-Troop," was a top secret commando unit of the British army founded in 1942 and was composed mostly of native German speaking Jewish refugees. Some of the refuges were Holocaust survivors who came to the UK as part of the Kindertransport, and some were German political refugees. Each was given a British cover persona and left all their personal possessions that might identify them behind.
They served as commandos on missions to capture or kill Nazi targets and in counterintelligence, often interrogating enemy soldiers. One member, part of the deception mission, tried to convince the Germans that the D-Day landing would be at Pas de Calais instead of Normandy. 130 men served in the X-Troop, and twenty-one of them were killed in the course of the war. The X-Troop was disbanded on September 4, 1945. Its existence wasn't made public until 1980.
The US Army had a similar unit with high numbers of Jewish refugees. Beginning June 19, 1942, candidates were sent for training at Camp Ritchie. In addition to their intelligence training, they practiced combat techniques and interrogation in mockups of German villages, some populated by German POWs. These "Ritchie Boys" were Military Intelligence Service officers who engaged in psychological warfare, interrogation, espionage, and intercepting enemy communications.
Of the approximately 15,200 men who served as Ritchie Boys, close to 2200 were Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi occupied lands as children or teenagers and knew both the language and the culture. It is estimated that they were responsible for sixty percent of actionable intelligence gathered on the battlefield. They dropped leaflets and broadcast radio messages encouraging German soldiers to surrender and disseminated disinformation. They sometimes posed as Nazi officers, or even as Soviet officers, as Nazi soldiers were afraid to end up as Russian prisoners. Many were part of the Normandy invasion and the push into Germany.
After the war they hunted down Nazi war criminals, served as interrogators during the Nuremberg trials, and cataloged and translated captured German military documents. In August 2021, US Senate passed Resolution 349 which honored the contributions of the Ritchie Boys.
WIKIPEDIANo. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando was a commando unit of the British Army during the Second World War, recruited largely from non-British personnel from German-occupied Europe. This unit was used to help co-ordinate attacks with other allied forces.
The No. 3 Troop, better known as "X" Troop
Possibly the strangest unit in the British Army, since it consisted mostly of personnel who were technically enemy aliens - German and Austrian Jews - under the command of Captain Bryan Hilton-Jones. However, its first members, in July 1942, were eight men from Czechoslovakia. The troop was also known as the "English Troop", "Jewish Troop" or "British Troop", and was officially renamed the "Miscellaneous Troop" in 1944.
Most members of the troop were Jews of German, Austrian or Eastern European origins. Other members were German political refugees, or members of other religious minorities persecuted by the Nazis in Germany. At least one member had been imprisoned in Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.
All members of the troop adopted British names and false personal histories. A total of 130 men served in X Troop; they never fought as a complete unit but provided valuable service to other formations as interpreters and interrogators. The troop lost 21 men killed and 22 wounded.
James Leasor first revealed the existence of X-Troop in 1980 in his book, The Unknown Warrior,. Leasor had heard the story about the unit from Colonel Sir Ronald Wingate and had it confirmed by Admiral Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who suggested that he write the book. Many of the members of the troop were still alive at the time of writing and so the author was able to carry out interviews with them and others involved, as acknowledged in the book. However many still wished to remain anonymous, fearing retribution for what they did, even though it was 35 years after the end of the war. The book tells the true story of "X" Troop commando Stephen Rigby, a.k.a. Stefan Rosenberg and "Nimrod", a German Jew by birth. He is chosen for a secret and dangerous part in the deception plans to persuade the Germans that the D-Day invasion would take place near Calais and not in Normandy. His secret mission saw him dropped in France, pursued by both the Resistance and the Germans, and eventually briefing in person first Rommel and then Hitler before escaping to return to British forces.
Three members of this troop wrote books on its history: Ian Dear's Ten Commando, 1942-1945 (1987), Peter Masters' Striking Back: A Jewish Commando's War against the Nazis (1997) and Peter Leighton-Langer's X steht fur unbekannt: Deutsche und Österreicher in den britischen Streitkraften im Zweiten Weltkrieg (1999) and The Kings Most Loyal Enemy Aliens (2006).
Leah Garrett's history X Troop: the secret Jewish commandos of World War II, published in 2021, found a previously classified report about X Troop's part in the disastrous and unsuccessful Dieppe raid of 19 August 1942. Five X Troop members, all Sudeten Germans, were ordered to enter the German HQ and "pick up all documents, etc of value, including, if possible, a new German respirator" with the inference that 'respirator' referred to the Enigma cypher machine. It has been suggested that the whole large military operation was cover for the objective of securing Enigma materials.
WIKIPEDIAThe Ritchie Boys
They were a special collection of soldiers, with sizable numbers of German-Austrian recruits, of Military Intelligence Service officers and enlisted men of World War II who were trained at Camp Ritchie in Washington County, Maryland. Many of them were German-speaking immigrants to the United States, often Jews, who fled Nazi persecution. They were used primarily for interrogation of prisoners on the front lines and counter-intelligence in Europe because of their knowledge of the German language and culture. They were also involved in the Nuremberg trials as prosecutors and translators.
The Ritchie Boys consisted of approximately 20,000 servicemen, and 200 Women's Army Corps members who were trained for U.S. Army Intelligence during WWII at the secret Camp Ritchie training facility. Most of the men sent to Camp Ritchie for training were assigned there because of fluency in German, French, Italian, Polish, or other languages needed by the US Army during WWII. They had been drafted into or volunteered to join the United States Army and when their ability to speak the language of an enemy was discovered, they were sent to Camp Ritchie on secret orders.