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The Nazi Hunter

November 8, 2017

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Irv Refkin, one of the most successful OSS agents of World War II,  passed away this week. He was 93. Irv was born in Milwaukee in 1921 to Russian Jewish immigrants. At age 4, his parents were killed in a car accident. He was raised in an orphanage by German Catholic nuns and learned to speak German like a native.  At age 14 and at the height of the great depression, he left the orphanage and ventured out into the world. In 1940 he joined the U.S. Army. He was sent to Canada for explosives training.  Upon completion of his course, an unfriendly Canadian officer put him on a plane to the United Kingdom. The British assumed that the recently arrived explosives expert was Canadian and Irv was deployed on three missions to France with British special operations teams before they discovered that he was an American. Irv soon embarked on a series diverse missions for the American OSS - the predecessor of the CIA. He blew up train tracks and trains ahead of the Normandy invasion, smuggled weapons and radio equipment to the French Resistance, was tasked with delivery of highly sensitive communications to allied generals,  and went on several missions behind enemy lines disguised as a German Corporal - His job was the elimination of key enemy officers. After the war, Irv raised a family, was a successful businessman and an outspoken advocate for the national recognition of former OSS veterans from World War II. He was given the Distinguished Service Award by The OSS Society in 2014. He was living in San Diego when he passed away.

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