Sons and soldiers book review

Training of German-born Jewish knowledge troops at Maryland’s Camp Ritchie aimed at realism—and also sometimes alarmed the neighbors. (U.S. Military Signal Corps)

UNITED STATE Military Signal Corps

Jacob Heilbrunn December 2017


Sons and also Soldiers:The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and also Returned through the UNITED STATE Army to Fight HitlerBy Bruce Henderkid. 448pp. William Morrow, 2017. $28.99.

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AFTER WORLD WAR II, the U.S. Army lugged out a examine referred to as “The Military Intelligence Service in the European Theater of Operations.” The dry-sounding report revealed the efficacy of experts who were trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland and concluded that they were “exceptionally helpful to all regulates to which they were attached.” A few of the the majority of remarkable of the intelligence experts recognized as the Ritchie Boys were the 1,985 German-born Jewish soldiers who had trained at the camp. These men played an essential role in returning to their previous homeland to take the fight straight to the Nazis.

In Sons and also Soldiers, Bruce Henderson offers an exceptional account of these males. Using research gathered through numerous interviews via surviving veterans and also archival information, Henderson expertly delineates the stays and valor of the Ritchie Boys, from flourishing up in Germany type of to battling Nazis.

War planners in the Pentagon easily realized that German-born Jews currently in Amerideserve to unidevelop could develop a crack pressure. The Ritchie Boys were attached to frontline devices, parachuting in on D-Day and racing with General George S. Patton’s tanks throughout Europe. According to Henderson, they “took component in every major battle and campaign of the battle in Europe, collecting useful tactical knowledge around opponent stamina, troop motions, and also protective positions and also foe morale.” After the war, they interrogated tens of thousands of former Third Reich soldiers.

As Jews, the Ritchie Boys challenged an extra collection of threats while battling the Nazis: not just did they risk being killed by their previous compatriots in fight, yet additionally, if recorded, they would certainly confront certain execution. As an outcome, Henderson notes that many Ritchie Boys altered their German or Jewish names before heading overseas and also were cautious to ruin “clues to their past such as addresses, photographs, and letters, which could not be found on them should they come to be POWs.” Indeed, they did not soptimal to each various other in German.

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However, also once the Ritchie Boys overcame those threats, the results of battle never left them. When the men triumphantly went back to Germany as liberators, the endure of witnessing the hellish results of the concentration camps confirmed traumatizing to many kind of. Take, for instance, Guy Stern, whose parental fees had actually shipped him off to the USA in 1937 to live through his aunt. Stern had constantly hoped he would certainly view his family members aacquire, but what “he experienced at Buchenwald ripped at his heart and also took ameans what hope stayed,” Henderchild writes. Several years later on Stern would learn that his family had actually perished at the Treblinka concentration camp.

That horror, among other reasons, drove the guys to view that justice was done after the war. Henderchild recounts their initiative to encertain that one German officer who had actually ordered the murder of 2 Ritchie Boys ended up being executed by firing squad in June 1945.

In all, Sons and Soldiers is filled with gripping stories that carry us right into a higher expertise of just how the Ritchie Boys risked a lot to confront the evils of the Third Reich.—Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of the foreign plan magazine the National Interemainder, and also author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons (2008).

This review was originally publimelted in the December 2017 problem ofWorld War IImagazine. Subscribebelow.