November 29, 2011
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A "Ritchie Boy" comes to UMD
On Monday, December 5, Minnesota's own "Ritchie Boy," Walter Schwarz, will tell about his experiences as one of the mostly Jewish men who fled Nazi Germany only to return to Europe as soldiers in U.S. uniforms. His remarks follow the screening of The Ritchie Boys at 3:00 p.m. in Montague 80 on the UMD campus.
Schwartz will offer comments about his experience with this unusual group of soldiers. Schwarz writes: "The army was combing its training camps for men who spoke German. One day my company commander called me into his office and said "Pack your duffel bag, you're shipping out!" That night I was driven by truck to Camp Ritchie, Maryland... I was shipped to Europe, and landed in France in October, 1944. Five years earlier, I was being chased out of the country by the Nazis. Now, I was the chaser."
UMD's Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee is sponsoring the special screening of The Ritchie Boys.
ABOUT THE FILM
The Ritchie Boys begins in Camp Ritchie, Maryland, the birthplace of modern psychological warfare, and ends with the defeat of Germany in May of 1945. After D-Day, the Ritchie Boys became a decisive force in the war. Nobody knew the enemy, his culture and language better than they did. Their mission: ascertain and break the enemy's morale. On the front lines from the beaches of Normandy onwards, the Ritchie Boys interrogated German prisoners, defectors and civilians and collected information about the inner workings of the Nazi regime. They produced radio broadcasts, drafted leaflets and published a German newspaper dropped behind enemy lines. In trucks equipped with amplifiers and loudspeakers, they went to the front lines and under heavy fire tried to persuade their German opponents to surrender. They fought in the Battle of the Bulge - in danger of being shot as spies by the Americans because of their accents, and by the Germans who might find out about their backgrounds.
The Ritchie Boys helped to shorten the war and save lives. The film tells the story of their bravery and the contribution the Ritchie Boys made to the victory over Nazi Germany. This is a deeply personal account of a decisive moment in history given by the last of the surviving Ritchie Boys.
For more information about The Ritchie Boys, go to: http://ritchieboys.com/EN/home.html