Sons and soldiers The untold story of the Jews who escaped the Nazis and returned with the U.S. Army to fight Hitler

Bruce B. Henderson, 1946-

Book - 2017

As Jewish families were trying desperately to get out of Europe during the menacing rise of Hitler's Nazi party, some chose to send their young sons away to uncertain futures in America, perhaps never to see them again. As these boys became young men, they were determined to join the fight in Europe. Known as the Ritchie Boys, after the Maryland camp where they were trained, these army recruits knew what would happen to them if they were captured. Yet they leapt at the opportunity to be sen...t in small, elite teams to join every major combat unit in Europe, where they collected key tactical intelligence on enemy strength, troop and armored movements, and defensive positions. A post-war army report found that nearly 60 percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys. Drawing on original interviews and extensive archival research, Henderson vividly re-creates the stories of six of these men in an epic tale of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will not soon be forgotten. --

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Subjects
Published
New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2017]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
Includes photographic images on end papers.
Physical Description
xii, 429 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 411-418) and an index.
ISBN
9780062419095
0062419099
9780062670304
9780062803849
0062803840
Main Author
Bruce B. Henderson, 1946- (author)
  • Prologue: Germany 1938
  • Saving the children
  • Escaping the Nazis
  • A place to call home
  • Camp Ritchie
  • Going back
  • Normandy
  • The breakout
  • Holland
  • The forests
  • Return to Deutschland
  • The camps
  • Denazification
  • Going home.
Review by Booklist Reviews

When the Nazis in 1933 and quickly implemented anti-Jewish measures, many Jewish citizens sought refuge elsewhere in Europe and in the U.S. But America's restrictive immigration policy made it difficult for families to stay together. Many Jewish parents chose to send their eldest sons, reasoning they had the best chance of adapting to a new life. These young men were often viewed with suspicion by federal agents, but once the nation went to war, German speakers of military age were suddenly seen as assets. In 1942, l,985 German-born Jews were trained as intelligence operatives. Henderson (Rescue at Los Baños, 2015) tells their story, focusing on a dozen men. He chronicles how, despite great personal risk if their Jewish identity was discovered, these soldiers were on the front lines in Europe, gathering crucial intelligence on Nazi troop strength, movements, and tactical plans. Some were motivated by devotion to their adopted country, others hoped to "get even" with the Nazi regime, and many hoped to rescue family survivors. Henderson presents an inspiring account of a little-known aspect of WWII. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In 1942, the U.S. Army trained nearly 2,000 German-born Jews in special interrogation techniques and sent them to gather intelligence from German POWs. From the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling And the Sea Will Tell; with a 200,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Discriminatory laws and increasing violence forced many Jews to flee Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Families made heart-wrenching decisions to split up, knowing they might never see one another again. Henderson (And the Sea Will Tell) tells the untold story of the sons of these families who joined the U.S. Army after the outbreak of World War II. Recruited for their knowledge of German language, culture, and psychology, these Camp Ritchie boys, as they came to be known in their training center in western Maryland, endured intense instruction in order to gather intelligence. They fought in every major battle from D-Day until the defeat of Germany in 1945. According to an army estimate, 60 percent of all credible intelligence during World War II resulted from work done by the Camp Ritchie boys. VERDICT An inspiring story about a group of men who took up arms for their adopted country against their former countrymen. Fans of Stephen Ambrose and World War II histories will enjoy this look into a little-known aspect of U.S. Army operations. [See Prepub Alert, 2/6/17.]—Chad E. Statler, Lakeland Community Coll., Kirtland, OH Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Military historian Henderson (Rescue at Los Baños) shares the story of eight of the 1,985 young German and Austrian Jewish men who escaped the Nazis, emigrated to America, joined the U.S. Army, and returned to Europe to interrogate German POWs, largely during the last year of WWII. Called the Ritchie Boys after the military camp where they underwent eight weeks of intensive training, this group of young men proved highly effective in their work because of their accent-free German and knowledge of the nuances of German culture. Yet their activities were also risky because they were Jewish. For example, in December 1944 two Ritchie Boys, Kurt Jacobs and Murray Zappler, were captured in the Ardennes while fighting alongside other American soldiers and were separated from their comrades and shot. Henderson does well to humanize the story of the boys, although he occasionally gets bogged down in the details of particular battles. He also opens the book by overstating the number of victims of the November 1938 German national pogrom known as Kristallnacht. Despite these shortcomings, this is an ably researched and written account of a previously unknown facet of the American-Jewish dimension of WWII. Agent: Writers House. (July) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Drawing on veteran interviews and archival research, an account of the lesser-known contributions of the German-born Jewish-American soldiers known as the Ritchie Boys describes how they risked their lives to join major combat units and gather crucial intelligence from German POWs. 200,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Drawing on veteran interviews and archival research, an account of the contributions of the German-born Jewish-American soldiers known as the Ritchie Boys describes how they risked their lives to join major combat units and gather crucial intelligence from German POWs.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller"An irresistible history of the WWII Jewish refugees who returned to Europe to fight the Nazis.' 'NewsdayThey were young Jewish boys who escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe and resettled in America. After the United States entered the war, they returned to fight for their adopted homeland and for the families they had left behind. Their stories tell the tale of one of the U.S. Army's greatest secret weapons.Sons and Soldiers begins during the menacing rise of Hitler's Nazi party, as Jewish families were trying desperately to get out of Europe. Bestselling author Bruce Henderson captures the heartbreaking stories of parents choosing to send their young sons away to uncertain futures in America, perhaps never to see them again. As these boys became young men, they were determined to join the fight in Europe. Henderson describes how they were recruited into the U.S. Army and how their unique mastery of the German language and psychology was put to use to interrogate German prisoners of war.These young men'known as the Ritchie Boys, after the Maryland camp where they trained'knew what the Nazis would do to them if they were captured. Yet they leapt at the opportunity to be sent in small, elite teams to join every major combat unit in Europe, where they collected key tactical intelligence on enemy strength, troop and armored movements, and defensive positions that saved American lives and helped win the war. A postwar army report found that nearly 60 percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys.Sons and Soldiers draws on original interviews and extensive archival research to vividly re-create the stories of six of these men, tracing their journeys from childhood through their escapes from Europe, their feats and sacrifices during the war, and finally their desperate attempts to find their missing loved ones. Sons and Soldiers is an epic story of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will not soon be forgotten.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

New York Times BestsellerThe definitive story of the Ritchie Boys, as featured on CBS's 60 Minutes"An irresistible history of the WWII Jewish refugees who returned to Europe to fight the Nazis.” —NewsdayThey were young Jewish boys who escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe and resettled in America. After the United States entered the war, they returned to fight for their adopted homeland and for the families they had left behind. Their stories tell the tale of one of the U.S. Army’s greatest secret weapons.Sons and Soldiers begins during the menacing rise of Hitler’s Nazi party, as Jewish families were trying desperately to get out of Europe. Bestselling author Bruce Henderson captures the heartbreaking stories of parents choosing to send their young sons away to uncertain futures in America, perhaps never to see them again. As these boys became young men, they were determined to join the fight in Europe. Henderson describes how they were recruited into the U.S. Army and how their unique mastery of the German language and psychology was put to use to interrogate German prisoners of war.These young men—known as the Ritchie Boys, after the Maryland camp where they trained—knew what the Nazis would do to them if they were captured. Yet they leapt at the opportunity to be sent in small, elite teams to join every major combat unit in Europe, where they collected key tactical intelligence on enemy strength, troop and armored movements, and defensive positions that saved American lives and helped win the war. A postwar army report found that nearly 60 percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys.Sons and Soldiers draws on original interviews and extensive archival research to vividly re-create the stories of six of these men, tracing their journeys from childhood through their escapes from Europe, their feats and sacrifices during the war, and finally their desperate attempts to find their missing loved ones. Sons and Soldiers is an epic story of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will not soon be forgotten.