Wars are fought by elite, highly trained, barrel-chested soldiers with steely eyes and jawlines you could open a can of tuna with. At least that's what the movies would have us believe. No one pictures their sweet grandma strafing the border with an AK-47 in one hand and a Molotov cocktail in the other, raining down death and destruction as epic as her homemade apple pie. But it does happen ...
5 The Churchill Club: Rebels, Nazi Fighters, Teenagers
In 1941, a small band of ragtag misfits led by Knud Pedersen, a teenager with no experience in arms or fighting, became the very first Danish Resistance group. The Winston Churchill-inspired Churchill Club took out dozens of Nazi vehicles, stole loads of Nazi weapons, spread anti-Nazi propaganda, and just generally made the Nazis feel about as wanted as that kid on the bus who wore way too much Axe body spray.
Or the Danish school bus equivalent. Say, the kid with too many tulips.
The Nazis were crotchety old Mr. Wilson, and the Churchill Club was their Dennis the Menace. Through a series of wacky shenanigans, the club built up an arsenal of stolen weapons ... which they gave to the adults to use. Because stopping the war machine is no excuse for underage unsupervised gun use. No joke: Their motto was "If the adults won't do something, we will!"
Mette Lind Jorgensen
Ooh, those little rascals.
The Churchill Club kept right on spitting in those Nazi cornflakes until they were finally busted in 1942 ... after they set an entire freight train full of munitions on fire. Dang, those youthful shenanigans escalated quickly. Some members later established more formal resistance, while Pedersen himself went on to a life of helping young artists make a name for themselves in the Copenhagen area. Without his help, we might not have the works of Arthur Kopcke or ... Yoko Ono.
Hell, we almost forgive him for it.
4 Three Medical Students Ambush a Nazi Death Train
Youra Livchitz, Robert Maistriau, and Jean Franklemon were medical students dissatisfied with a career of saving lives one at a time, so they decided to operate in bulk. The friends set up a plan to ambush the XXth Convoy to Auschwitz -- the train line that transferred Jewish captives to their deaths at the Nazis' most infamous concentration camp.
The Nazis died out. The train lived on.
Yep: Three untrained civilians essentially set up the great Nazi train robbery.
On April 19, 1943, the XXth Convoy was carrying 1,631 prisoners to their likely demise, and three students were all that stood between them and the worst shower this side of a dorm. Armed with a hurricane lamp, red tissue paper, a pair of pliers, a pistol, and balls the size of planetoids, the students set about stopping the train to Auschwitz. They knew that engineers would slow the train if they saw an emergency signal on the track, so they glued the red tissue paper around a hurricane lamp, placed it on a bend in the track, and forced the train to a halt.
Livchitz volunteered to stop it with his bare hands, but the others just really loved lamps.
Step 1 complete! Now, on to Step 2: Dealing with the 15 trained soldiers and their commander, who were guarding the prisoners.
Clearly, this operation had a rather steep difficulty curve.
So the plan was for Livchitz to take on any Nazi soldiers with just a pistol, while Maistriau and Franklemon used the pliers to get the transport car doors open? How bloody improbable does that sound? Toss a mohawked black dude into that mix, and you've got one of the less believable episodes of The A-Team. And yet the three students managed to get 115 people off of that train, and to freedom. You gotta love it when a plan comes together.