X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos Who Helped Defeat the Nazis by Leah Garrett - review by Richard Overy

Richard Overy

Refugees into Royal Marines

X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos Who Helped Defeat the Nazis


Chatto & Windus 351pp £20

It is well known that in the summer of 1940 thousands of Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia were arrested on Churchill’s orders and sent to detention camps for enemy aliens. Less well known is the decision a year or so later to recruit some of those same individuals to commando units designed to undertake dangerous missions in occupied Europe and to make use of them as frontline interrogators. Using those British records that are now in the public domain – not all of them are – and the recollections of survivors, Leah Garrett tells the story of the recruitment, training and operations of one particular unit, known as X Troop, composed entirely of German-speaking Jews.

The British trained eighty-seven Jewish refugees for this unit, selecting only those who were fit, clever and resourceful. Around half were killed, wounded or captured fighting at the sharp end of the conflict. Garrett’s book concentrates on three of the X Troopers who survived: Peter Arany, who escaped from Vienna

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