Dad Was a Ritchie Boy

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            Dad never referred to himself as a Ritchie Boy, although I know he was invited to a reunion in Washington DC, a few years before his death in 2019. It’s just as well. I wouldn’t have had a clue what it meant. That is, not until I recently saw the 60 Minutes special about that WW2 special project. Apparently, dad was not alone in being a German born, specially trained Intelligence officer during the war. Camp Ritchie, which was located in a secret and secluded former resort, in the Blueridge mountains of Maryland, served as the training ground for Intelligence services during the war. Many of those trained were, as my father, highly intelligent recently immigrated German born Jews.

            It was believed that this specialized group, who spoke the language, had shared and understood German heritage, lifestyle, and ways of thinking, would make excellent intelligence officers. From what I have learned, they were correct. According to the 60 Minutes special, around half of the intelligence information gathered during the war originated from this very special group of soldiers.

            I always knew dad was intelligent. His IQ was tested at 147 (genius min. 140). I guess that kind of smarts skips a generation or two. Furthermore, he was an excellent communicator, and could converse with almost anyone on numerous topics. On our trips to Germany, his in-depth knowledge of German lore, history, and the people was amazing. It was like traveling with a tour guide.

             I can definitely see why such a combination of skills would make him an excellent interrogator. Our book contains several very specific examples of his group’s information gathering, interrogation techniques and post-war capture of NAZI war criminals.

            After his service ended, he was offered a position in the OSS, which later became the CIA. If he hadn’t met my mom, he could have become a spy. And then where would I be? Thankfully, he met and married mom. She didn’t want to marry a spy. Personally, I think they made the right choice.

            If you would like to see the special, composed mainly of interviews with surviving Richie Boys, simply Google “60 Minutes Richie Boys”.

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