Tuesday, March 1, 2016

History Geek Out/Ballsy Jewish Warrior/Great Escape Post!

OH MAH GOODNESS this is quite a story. 

"A man who decided to research his late British father's RAF wartime past was stunned to discover that he was actually a German Jew whose battles against the Nazis inspired the film The Great Escape."

"Marc Stevens was just 22 when his hero dad Peter passed away in 1979 having emigrated to Canada in the 1950s.

"All Mr Stevens knew of his father, who spoke with a perfect English accent, was that he had been born Georg Franz Hein, in Hanover, Germany, to Christian parents. He also knew his dad had gone to England at the outbreak of war to join the RAF as a bomber pilot to fight the Nazis and that later he had served in MI6."

"Before joining the RAF and piloting a Hampden twin engine bomber with a crew of four, Peter had stopped using his German name and adopted that of a friend in England who had passed away.
Peter had married Mr Stevens' mother - a French-Canadian Catholic - and passed himself off in later life as an Englishman once he moved to Canada in 1952."

"But after his death Mr Stevens was fascinated to discover why his dad was one of just 69 members of the RAF to be awarded Britain's Military Cross for valour in the Second World War. His father also later worked for MI6 - a fact kept within the family until after his death, when it was corroborated by his former colleagues. Like his determined father Mr Stevens stopped at nothing getting secret files opened early, testimonies and debriefs from his dad's own war record to find out more."

"The ripples of that light shone on Peter's past have even changed his ethnicity and inspired him to publish the book 'Escape, Evasion and Revenge'. Mr Stevens, from Toronto, Canada, said: 'Dad spoke with a highly-cultured British accent, and passed himself off as an Englishman.

'The fact that he had served as an RAF bomber pilot only helped to reinforce that cover story. What I didn't know, and only discovered in 1996, was that my father had been born Jewish."

'It all began with a lot of letter writing. Initially to an author of POW escape books in England."

'He was the first to tell me that my father was actually Jewish, but I thought he was dead wrong about that."