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The true story behind “Inglourious Basterds”






True story
of Nazi
behind new
Tarantino thriller

By Robbie Collin

August 9th, 2009

News Of The World


A NEW blockbuster

Quentin Tarantino movie tells

the story of the Nazi hunters –

bands of Jewish soldiers and

Holocaust survivors who roamed

the planet after World War Two

taking their brutal unofficial

revenge on the monsters who

murdered six million men,

women and children.

But as our extracts from

a gripping new book

reveal today,

Inglourious Basterds –

starring Brad Pitt –

could never match the chilling

reality of what REALLY happened

when the Revenge Squads

found their prey …

FUGITIVE Nazi mass murderer

Aleksander Laak stretched out

in his leather armchair and

grinned to himself.

Life was good.

It was just over 20 years

since he had slaughtered

100,000 Jews –

men, women and children –

in his death camp during

a three-year wartime

reign of terror.

He used women who caught

his eye as sex slaves –

and killed them if they resisted.

His loved watching

his guards at play . . .

tossing Jewish babies into

the air and shooting them.

And when World War II

was over,

Laak escaped with his

life to Canada.

No Nuremberg trial for him.

The past was safely buried.

But in the next second

a knock at the door

changed everything.

For outside was Death in

the shape of burly Arnie Berg –

a member of a secret

Jewish Revenge Squad

combing the world to

bring the likes of Laak,

the commander of Jagala

concentration camp in Estonia,

to justice.

Two hours later,

the Nazi’s wife returned

home from a trip to the

cinema to find her husband

dangling from a rope

in the garage –

a look of terror on his face.

One more dead among

the hundreds tracked down.

In Quentin Tarantino’s new

epic, out this month,

the oddly- spelled

Inglourious Basterds,

Brad Pitt stars as leader of

a crack team of Jewish-Americans

hell-bent on revenge.

But the movie can only skim

the surface of what really

happened in a fight for justice

that spread across the globe.

The real-life Jewish revenge

squads killed 1,500

high-ranking Nazis,

starting in 1944 and not

giving up for 16 years.

And their

methods were chilling.

“First we put a bullet

through their heads,”

says Meir Zorea,

a second lieutenant in one

of the bands of assassins.

“Then we strangled them

with our bare hands.

We killed them like

you would kill a bug.”


Another comrade,

Zeer Keren, says:

“We were quite happy to

do to the Nazis what

they did to Jews.

I strangled them myself

once we got them into

a forest.

It took three to four minutes.

“We weighted the bodies

with heavy chains and

threw them into lakes,

rivers, streams.

We left no trace

of our activities.”

Their stories are told in

a gripping new book,

The Jewish Brigade,

tracing the avengers’

post-war adventures.

Also known as ‘Din’ –

the Hebrew word

for judgement –

the squads of three or

four members were made

up of Jewish Allied soldiers,

and, later,

Holocaust survivors.

Some were in the Brigade –

a unit set up by Prime

Minister Winston Churchill

in 1944,

made up of more than

6,000 volunteers.

He said:

“It seems to me indeed

appropriate that a special

unit of the race which

has suffered indescribable

treatment from the Nazis

should be represented

in a distinct formation

among the forces gathered

for their final overthrow.”

The following year,

the Brigade was in the

front line for the Allies’ final

push against the Nazi menace

and worked with the rest

of the British Army in

the immediate aftermath

of the war.

Official orders dictated

that any Nazis captured

should be interrogated,

not executed.

But the revenge squads

within Brigade ranks

had other ideas.

Officer Israel Carmi

was one of three fighters

who obtained a hit list of

SS top brass from a

Nazi party member.

He recalls:

“We had a tip-off about

a house in Austria.

When we got there we were

amazed at the treasure trove

of clothes and jewellery

we found.


“The woman there was brazen.

She said it had all belonged

to Jews.

We told them that we would

execute them there and then

for crimes against humanity.”

But her husband

begged for a deal.

Next morning,

he handed Carmi a list

of SS NCOs and officers –

complete with names,

ranks, home addresses,

dates of birth and their

roles in the Holocaust.

“We passed the names

over to British intelligence,”

said Carmi.

“But we kept back the

highest-ranking SS because

we wanted to deal with

them ourselves.”

Carmi revealed the revenge

squads would sometimes

use disguises to fool

their Nazi prey.

“We would put on British

Military Police helmets,”

he said.

“Then we would enter the

home and take the suspects,

saying we wanted them

for interrogation.

Once in the car we told

them who we were.

Some admitted guilt.

Others kept silent.

We did the job.”

In the Tarantino film,

the Basterds

scalp their victims,

carve swastikas into their

foreheads and execute them,

either at gunpoint or by

beating them to death

with baseball bats.


For the real-life revenge squads,

retribution was every bit

as gruesome.

Shmuel Givon describes

the moment he hurled two

SS men off the top of a cliff

in the Austrian Alps and

watched their bodies splinter

on the jagged rocks below.

“They admitted they

had done terrible things

to Jews,”

he said.

“We pushed them

over the edge.

They must still be there.”

Others were hanged,

like Aleksander Laak,

in their own garage.

Revenge squad members

would force a Nazi to stand

on the roof of his car while

a noose tied to the ceiling

was slung round his neck.

Then they would

drive the car away.

The revenge squads soon

realised their Nazi enemies

were stricken with fear at

the thought of falling

into their hands.

“When the bastards

realised we were Jews,

you could almost

smell their funk,”

says one Brigade member

who was born in Berlin’s

Jewish ghetto.

“I did take great pleasure

in making them kneel and

pointing my gun at them.

I made more than one

member of the master race

mess his pants with fright.”

Some Holocaust survivors

formed revenge squads

of their own.

One such group took bloody

revenge on the SS slave drivers

at a munitions factory in Saxony,

southeast Germany.

Jewish captives there were

forced to make ammo

for the Nazis.

They were fed starvation

rations and slept crammed

into kennels three

feet tall.

Many committed suicide.

Escapees were torn apart

by the SS officers’ dogs.


At the end of the war the

factory was abandoned –

but the swaggering SS

officers soon returned to the

remote nearby village,

planning a life of rural bliss.

One chill morning,

ten Jewish men went into

the village to ask for food,

water and milk for a group

of refugees camped nearby.

About ten SS men

killed six of them,

chasing the others

into the hills.

The former factory chief

called a meeting in the

village hall,

where around 36 SS argued

what to do about the rest

of their visitors.

Little did they know,

the remaining Jews

were already outside –

20 of them,

armed to the teeth with


rifles and machine pistols.

At a signal,

the avengers flung

open the doors,

hurled in grenades

and opened fire –

raking the lines of Nazis.

When the refugees

left the village,

their trucks were loaded

with cheese, milk, bread,

meat, butter, eggs and wine.

“The Jews,

particularly the young,

had changed,”

says author Morris Beckman.

“The elderly had no

chance of escape,

but the young had witnessed

death and were not

afraid of it.

Now they lived only

for the chance to kill Germans.”

The revenge squads’ numbers

swelled and ever-grander

schemes were concocted in

the final days of the war.

Between 300 and 400 Germans

died when a five-strong squad

broke into a bakery outside

Nuremberg in April 1945

and poisoned 3,000 loaves

of bread.

A senior Gestapo officer

was waiting for a minor

operation in hospital

when he suddenly died.


paraffin oil had found

its way into his bloodstream.

However far the Nazis fled,

the revenge squads


Some travelled as

far as Spain,

South America and Canada

until at least 1960,

when Aleksander Laak

met his grisly fate.

Among the 1,500 killed

there were some major

Nazi scalps.

Dr Ernst-Robert Grawitz

was the demonic chief medical

officer of Hitler’s SS.

It was his vile suggestion,

in 1941, that gas chambers

would be ideal for

exterminating the Jewish race.


He carried out diabolical

experiments on camp inmates,

testing their resistance

to freezing,

various diseases and

drinking sea water.

Nazi records say Grawitz

commited suicide on

April 24, 1945,

by bizarrely exploding two

grenades while he ate supper

with his wife and two children.

But the revenge squads

claimed responsibility for

Grawitz’s death –

along with other Nazi

‘suicide’ cases including

Paul Giesler,

the Nazis’ boss in Munich,

SS Colonel Dr Hans Geschke

and SS Lieutenant

Kurt Mussfeld,

who supervised the ovens

of Auschwitz.

The revenge squads

never had any regrets.

Brigade member

Moshe Tavor shrugs:

“I knew that my uncles

and my grandparents and

other relatives had been

annihilated in the camps.

“To say I feel guilty at what

I did to them is wrong.

I feel guilty for what

we DIDN’T do to them.”

Words that could have come

straight out of the script

of a Tarantino movie.

But with an impact no

Hollywood actor could match.

THE Jewish Brigade

by Morris Beckman,

published by Spellmount,

is out now.

For more information

visit the Jewish

Military Museum online:

www.ajex.org.uk .



________Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino's new film








11 Responses to “The true story behind “Inglourious Basterds””

  1. Im curious to know if the depiction of sHitler
    dying by gunfire to the basterds in the theatre
    is true or not.

    I was raised to believe the
    monster commited suicide.

    Please email me back.
    Thank you.

    • Wow. Thank you for that confirmation. I hope schools now a days are teaching our kids the right truth. Otherwise, how can we believe everything they teach in history?

  2. i like war movies and inglourious basterds is one of the movies that i really love ~“

  3. Didnt know much of resistance groups/ groups that were in the nazi killin’ business before this movie, but I’ve started to read alot more about them on the net, and its quite interesting!
    But where did you get your information? Just curious..
    And the scalping in the movie was pretty grose, usually dont get disgusted by anything, but that just seemed a bit sick!

    oh and btw, would be pretty cool to be in one of these groups at that time! (yeah, I actually think so)

  4. Wow, I LOVE the Basterds.
    I am a women whose grandmother was a Jew,
    hid that fact and married an abusive German.
    Talk about conflicted!

    The Basterds are awesome
    and I’m watching it right now –
    for about the 20th time.

    I hate that my gramma had to hide her true self.
    I go back and forth about my grampa.

    Am getting the book asap, too.

    Another great Jewish revenge movie –
    Munich with Eric Bana.
    AWESOME those guys.

    BTW, not my real name.
    Anti-semites trying to run me out
    of my house for six months now in TX.
    I have had to use an alias.
    I understand gramma now.

    • I loved that movie
      and would like to
      read the book.

      Wow Tia,
      you’re story
      sounds like
      a screenplay –
      very cool and interesting –
      thank you for sharing and
      THANK YOU for reading 22MOON!



  6. i agree an eye for an eye

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