I just finished reading Patrick O’Donnell’s THEY DARED RETURN, and I feel obliged to tell everyone about the book. It is an amazing story of five Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany who joined the U.S. Armed Forces and volunteered for incredibly dangerous work, even while their families were being rounded up for death camps. After intensive OSS (predecessor of the CIA) training, the men jumped behind enemy lines in the late stages of the war and wreaked havoc on the Nazis. Most inconceivably, joined by deserters from the Wehrmacht, the Jews co-opted the Germans into surrendering strategic Austrian strongholds, thus shortening the war and probably saving hundreds of lives.
What is disturbing to me is that — although I lived through World War II as one of Europe’s “hidden children” and did extensive research on the war for my memoir — I had never before heard this amazing story. Hollywood should be all over it, and more books, with additional insights into the personalities and lives of the men, should be written. The most heroic of these men, Fred Mayer, is deserving of the Medal of Honor, and a statue of all these Jewish soldier-heroes should be erected in our nation’s capital.