A secret group of soldiers, who are credited with shortening World War II by two years, is being honored locally. The group, known as Ritchie Boys, was part of the D-Day invasion and subsequent march across Europe to defeat the Nazis.
An exhibit highlighting the impact of the Ritchie Boys during World War II is on display at the Fort Ritchie Community Center. The exhibit was recently donated to the Community Center from the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The Ritchie Boys were a military intelligence unit trained in psychological warfare, counterintelligence, sabotage, and other skills at Camp Ritchie in Cascade (later renamed Fort Ritchie).
The Ritchie Boys consisted primarily of German-born soldiers, many of whom were also Jewish, that had fled Europe to the United States before the war. Because of their knowledge of the German culture and language, the U.S. Army used the Ritchie Boys for a variety of intelligence tasks, including interrogating prisoners of war, deciphering German communications, and various forms of psychological warfare. The name Ritchie Boys was bestowed upon the group due to their time being trained at Camp Ritchie.
Guy Stern, a Ritchie Boy and former college professor, designed the exhibit using his firsthand knowledge, as well as access to other Ritchie Boys. Following its display at the Holocaust Memorial Center, the exhibit was placed into storage. At Stern’s suggestion, the museum agreed to donate the exhibit to the Fort Ritchie Community Center, where it will be open to the public. The exhibit will be available for viewing during the Community Center’s regular business hours for several weeks.
The size of the exhibit is so large, the Community Center will not be able to keep it on display in its entirety indefinitely. The plan, however, is to feature parts of the exhibit in the museum, located in the Community Center. Photos of the complete exhibit will be available for viewing so that guests may still experience the impact the Ritchie Boys had during and after the war.
Please visit www.thefrcc.org for more information on the Ritchie Boy exhibit and the Fort Ritchie Community Center.
One of the Ritchie Boys in Germany.