Royal Inglorious Bastards
During World War II, the U.S. government's newly formed Office of Strategic Services trained thousands of men and launched hundreds of undercover missions. The Real Inglorious Bastards recounts the thrilling story of one of the most successful of these missions—Operation Greenup, comprised of two young Jewish refugees and one Wehrmacht officer. Three unlikely brothers-in-arms parachute one perilous winter night into the Austrian Alps, risking their lives to strike back at Nazi Germany.
Meet The Real Inglorious Bastards.
As a teenager, Hans Wijnberg is sent to America from Holland to escape Nazi aggression; Fred Mayer and his family flee Germany at the onset of war. Both enlist in the U.S. army and are recruited by the OSS. During training at a Washington DC country club turned OSS bootcamp, they become fast friends while learning guerilla warfare. “We put our hearts into it,” Mayer recalls in The Real Inglorious Bastards. “They told us the slim chance of survival, we were still willing to do it. None of us pulled out.”
Through vivid first-person accounts, re-enactments, CGI, archival material and historian commentary, The Real Inglorious Bastards tracks the two brothers-in-arms as they prepare for Operation Greenup, to be staged in the Austrian alpine state of Tyrol. The mission has two objectives: to monitor traffic in the Brenner Pass, the main supply route from Nazi Germany into Italy; and to investigate rumors of an Nazi stronghold in the Austrian Alps controlled by power-hungry Franz Hoffer and said to be Hitler’s last stand.
But to get there, they need an inside man. Mission leader Mayer meets POW and Tyrol native Franz Weber, a former officer and conscientious deserter from the Austrian Wehrmacht. Wijnberg, the mission’s radio-operator, recalls: “Franz was a devout Catholic. Freddy and I were Jews, and still we had absolutely no trouble trusting one another completely.”
The Real Inglorious Bastards dramatizes the intrepid trio’s hair-raising journey—starting with a night jump from a plummeting aircraft onto a glacier and ending in Oberperfuss, Weber’s home village in the Austrian Alps. His desertion is public knowledge—he will be executed if his whereabouts are discovered. But with the help of Weber’s sympathetic family, the trio starts gathering and sending back valuable intelligence. Mayer gets his hands on a German officer’s uniform. “The (Innsbruck) officers club was this watering hole and people talked about the great secrets of the war, right in front of this Jewish guy from Brooklyn,” explains historian Patrick O’Donnell.
New dangers arise when Mayer is assigned a side mission to infiltrate an underground Messerschmitt aircraft factory nearby. He is captured and tortured by the Gestapo, while Wijnberg and Weber flee to a safe haven. Then, in a scene reminiscent of Quentin Tarrantino’s fictional The Inglourious Basterds and surely one of the war’s great bluffs, Mayer offers Hoffer, Tyrol’s top Nazi, immunity in exchange for surrendering Innsbruck.
While Operation Greenup ends with Allied forces marching into Innsbruck without a shot fired, OSS agent Fred Mayer has a different take.
“I did my job, but it was my war,” he says. “I hated the Nazis and I loved America. It was as simple as that. It was a good feeling that we won. And the fact that Hans was where I could find him. And Franz was where I could find him, it was a good feeling. Happy ending.”