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Blowing Up Hitler’s Yacht

The life and times of Isaac Shushan

Adam Chandler
April 15, 2013


Matti Friedman, who spoke with Sara Ivry in a stellar Vox Tablet podcast last year about the Aleppo Codex, has a piece out today about the life of spy Isaac Shushan.

In addition to being blessed with one of the best names of all time, the Syrian-born Shushan participated in countless dangerous missions in Lebanon during the early years of the Jewish state. One such task involved blowing up a yacht that formerly belonged to Adolf Hitler.

The boat, the Aviso Grille, carried senior German officers throughout the war and, in 1940, appears to have been intended to convey Hitler in triumph to London after the planned Nazi conquest of Britain.

Headquarters seemed to think the Lebanese meant to arm the Aviso Grille with cannon and use it to attack the Haifa port. (In fact, it appears the Lebanese buyer purchased it on behalf of the Egyptian king, Farouk, who then backed out of the deal and stranded it in Beirut.) It is also possible that a Nazi ship was too tempting and symbolic target to resist. The agents were ordered to put it out of action.

Isaac located the boat 500 yards offshore near a popular swimming beach. He reported back.

To find out what happens, you’ve got to read the rest. Great story.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

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