Striking Back

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In all probability, the Nazis' greatest enemies were Jews who gave up everything but their lives to flee the deadly persecution they were enduring in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. Unknowm to everyone except military personnel with a "need to know," eighty-seven of these escapees were recruited into a commando unit in the British Army unlike any othercomprised almost entirely of Jewish refugees. Author Peter Masters, born Peter Arany, was an Austrian Jew who, following the Anschluss, fled from his home in ...
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Overview

In all probability, the Nazis' greatest enemies were Jews who gave up everything but their lives to flee the deadly persecution they were enduring in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. Unknowm to everyone except military personnel with a "need to know," eighty-seven of these escapees were recruited into a commando unit in the British Army unlike any othercomprised almost entirely of Jewish refugees. Author Peter Masters, born Peter Arany, was an Austrian Jew who, following the Anschluss, fled from his home in Vienna to England. During the invasion scare following the fall of France in June 1940, Peter, along with many other refugees, was rounded up as an enemy alien and placed in an internment camp. Later, following his release from the camp, Peter enlisted in the British Army. At first, restricted to an unarmed labor battalion, the young man continously volunteered for combat duty only to be turned down again and again. Then, the commandos came looking for native German speakers to perform hazardous duty. The Jewish refugees of 3 Troop, 10 Commando all spoke German fluently. These men provided invaluable service both as front-line interrogators and intelligence operatives attached to other commando units, and as clandestine raiders behind Nazi lines. Because the chances were high that 3 Troop commandos might be captured, an elaborate scheme was implemented to hide their true identities and the very existence of their unit. Their training was concluded and assignments were made for the cross-channel invasion on June 6, 1944, where they were among the first troops ashore in the British assault force at Normandy. After the ferocious combat in France, Masters and his fellow soldiers continued to fight the Nazis in Holland and ultimately, in Germany.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Masters, a member of 3 Troop, 10 Commando<-->a small British Army Commando unit comprised almost entirely of Jewish refugees<-- >discusses how the unit formed, how members had to change their names and conceal their identities, the elaborate and grueling training sessions which prepared them for their part in the D-day invasion, and numerous battles and reconnaissance missions, offering glimpses into battlefronts in France, Italy and Holland. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
Masters, an Austrian-born Jew originally named Peter Arany, has an unusual war story to tell, one that has not been told before.

Masters was one of 87 Jewish refugees from Hitler who volunteered for military service in Troop 3, No. 10 Commando, an elite unit of the British army. Troop 3 was unusual in that almost all of its members were Austrian and German Jews, men who spoke German fluently and who would be trained in the ways and means of the German army (to the extent that, Masters notes wryly, they probably knew more about German weaponry and organization than most German soldiers). For these men, some of them concentration camp survivors, this assignment represented a unique opportunity to fight back against the Nazis. Ironically, nearly all of them had previously been interned by the British as "friendly enemy aliens" when the war broke out. When they were recruited for "special and hazardous duty," they were required to assume new identities, with elaborate cover stories to explain their oddly accented English. Thus, Arany became Masters, Geiser became Gordon, Abramowitz Arlen, and so on. Masters recounts their grueling training with wit and gusto, leaving readers with little doubt that these men were ready for combat. And with the Normandy invasion, they saw plenty of it. Masters and other members of Troop 3 fought in Normandy for three long months; he would return to action in the Netherlands and participate in the final invasion of Germany. His narration of his combat experiences is vivid yet low-key. He never sugarcoats the reality of the violence he witnessed, but the book is leavened by a goodly mix of humor and a warm feeling for his compatriots.

An admirable war memoir from a man who was neither a professional soldier nor a professional writer but who has acquitted himself nicely in both roles. There is a foreword by noted historian Stephen E. Ambrose.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780891416296
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/23/1997
  • Pages: 320
  • Lexile: 1070L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.81 (h) x 1.27 (d)

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