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June 6: D-Day and the Ritchie Boys

June 6, 2013

Untitled-Sequence.01_0082-602x420The Ritchie Boys, an American military intelligence unit consisting of 9,000 (some sources say 16,000) mostly German-speaking Jewish refugees from Nazism — including hundreds who had come in the early 1930s as child refugees, often without parents — landed with Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy on this date, D-Day, in 1944. Trained in interrogation and psychological warfare at Camp Ritchie in Maryland, they were used primarily to interrogate German prisoners and defectors on the front lines, and for counter-intelligence, planting information and disinformation and urging Germans to lay down their arms and not to resist the Allied invasion. After the war’s end in 1945, many of the Ritchie Boys served as interrogators and translators, and several participated in the Nuremberg Trials. The first-ever reunion of the Ritchie Boys took place in July 2011, at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. A 2004 film by Christian Bauer, The Ritchie Boys, was shortlisted for an Academy Award. You can watch the trailer below.

“We worked harder than anyone could have driven us. We were crusaders. This was our kind of war.” —Prof. Guy Stern, Wayne State University

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