TV documentary tells tale of real ‘Inglorious Bastards’
October 31, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
TORONTO – A new documentary tells the true WWII story of two European-born Jewish men who left the safety of America to infiltrate and spy on the Nazis behind enemy lines.
The Real Inglorious Bastards, which will have its world TV premiere on the History channel on Nov. 8, uses first-person accounts, interviews with historians, archival material and re-enactments to depict the successful covert mission, called Operation Greenup, run by the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
Operation Greenup consisted of a three-man team: Fred Mayer and Hans Wijnberg, young Jewish men who had fled Europe during Hitler’s rise to power, and Franz Weber, an Austrian Catholic who had deserted from his position as an officer in the Wehrmacht (German army). Mayer and Wijnberg are featured in the documentary (Wijnberg died the day after he was interviewed by the filmmakers). The late Weber is represented in audio from a 1977 interview.
Fred Mayer was 17 years old in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany for the United States. He enlisted in the army the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour.
“We were able to come to the United States just in time,” Mayer says in the documentary. “From then on, until the war ended, Germany was my enemy and I had no scruples doing my utmost to destroy them.”
Hans Wijnberg and his twin brother were 16 in 1939 when their father sent them from Holland to the US. They were the only members of their family who were able to get out; their parents and brother were murdered by the Nazis. As soon as he became an American citizen, Wijnberg enlisted in the army.
Both Mayer and Wijnberg were recruited by the OSS and spent almost a year being trained in guerilla warfare before they were taken to Europe and paired with Weber. Mayer was the leader of Operation Greenup and Wijnberg was the radio operator. Weber provided valuable local knowledge and contacts; in addition, members of his family, as well as his fiancé’s family, also risked their lives to help in the mission.
The Real Inglorious Bastards describes the dangerous and sometimes breathtakingly daring manoeuvres undertaken by these courageous men after they parachuted into the Austrian Alps.
“This is almost like a suicide mission. It’s a situation where the truth is way stranger than fiction,” Patrick O’Donnell, author of the book, They Dared Return: The True Story of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in Nazi Germany, states in the film.
The documentary will air at 9 p.m. on Thurs., Nov. 8. For more information visit www.realinglorious.com.