Jordan Peele, one of the busiest men in Hollywood, has a new television project. The Get Out director is developing a TV series about Nazi hunters in the United States, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The untitled project is reportedly the subject of a bidding war between multiple networks and streamers. It will follow “a diverse band of Nazi hunters in 1970s America as they set out on a quest for revenge and justice—tracking and killing hundreds of Nazis who, with the unconscionable help of the US government, escaped justice and embedded themselves in American society.”
The show is apparently inspired by true events. But as far as a band of Nazi hunters in America who hunted down and killed Nazis in America, that didn’t happen—that we know of, at least.
It is true that after World War II, various groups were formed all over the world with the mission of tracking down escaped Nazis and bringing them to justice. In most cases, captured Nazis were brought to trial, but there were some instances of vigilante groups killing (or torturing) Nazis on sight.
The most infamous group was probably the Nakam, or the “Jewish Avengers,” a team of assassins comprised mostly of Jewish former British soldiers and the remains of resistance organizations from the war. They are believed to have located and executed hundreds of Nazi war criminals across Europe.
Israel’s main intelligence agency, Mossad, which formed shortly after the war, were also in the Nazi-hunting business. In 1965, Mossad agents assassinated Herberts Cukurs, a member of the notoriously brutal Latvian Nazi unit, Arajs Kommando. Mossad was also responsible for capturing Adolf Eichmann, one of Hitler’s highest-ranking lieutenants who orchestrated the the deportation of Jews to extermination camps.
Hundreds of private citizens—many of whom were Holocaust survivors—took it upon themselves to track down Nazi war criminals. The most well known was Simon Wiesenthal, a Jewish Austrian survivor who devoted the rest of his life following the war to bringing Nazis to justice. The Los Angeles-based center named in his honor still seeks to prosecute surviving Nazis to this day.
Peele could be appropriating some of these true stories and moving them to 1970s America. It wouldn’t be so farfetched: The Simon Wiesenthal Center believes there could be hundreds of Nazis living in the US today, and in the 1970s, it could have been thousands. (This estimate only counts Nazis who actually participated in the Holocaust, not all neo-Nazis or Nazi sympathizers.)
After the success of his social thriller Get Out earlier this year, Peele has become Hollywood’s go-to filmmaker for political satire. He’s already signed on to produce the HBO series Lovecraft Country, an anthology horror series about 1950s Jim Crow America. Peele is also producing Spike Lee’s film Black Klansman, the true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.
Whether this new show is an alternate history, a speculative thought experiment, or just a loose interpretation of true events, it’s clear that the story is unfortunately as timely today as it’s been in many years.