The Museum’s special summer exhibit, The Ritchie Boys, will come to life on August 9 when one of the few remaining Ritchie boys, Guy Stern, PhD, will speak at a special program at the Museum.
Stern, 90, will speak at 6 pm in the the theater of the Museum, 211 N. Record Street. The Ritchie Boys exhibit continues at the Museum through August 27.
The Ritchie Boys were a group of young, mostly Jewish, mostly German and Austrian boys who had immigrated to the United States. They were drafted into the United States Army, often after first being rejected as “enemy aliens,” and were trained at Camp Ritchie, the Military Intelligence Training Center, in Maryland.
They were there because they knew German language, culture, and mentality better than most American-born soldiers. Their existence was a well-kept secret and, to this day, the exploits and strategic importance of the Ritchie Boys is virtually unknown. This is the first exhibit telling the tales of these brave newcomers to America and how their willingness to join the fight against their homelands helped save the world from the scourge of Nazi terror.
The Ritchie Boys became a decisive weapon for the Allies, assigned mostly throughout the European Theater. Some entered Europe beforeD-Day (June 6, 1944). They became a primary source of intelligence about German troops, weaponry, equipment, and strategic plans.
Guenther Stern, born 1922 in Hildesheim, Germany is the only member of his family of five who was able to emigrate to the USA in 1937. In the following years he continuously attempted to provide affidavits for the rest of his family—without success.
After High School, Guenther, who goes by Guy, enrolled at a university but was inducted in the U.S. Army in 1942. After his basic training he is transferred to Camp Ritchie and became a POW interrogator. Two days after D-Day, Guy Stern arrived in Normandy. Together with Fred Howard, also a Ritchie Boy, he interrogated German prisoners in France and Germany and received the BronzeStar for his “method of mass interrogation”.
After Germany’s capitulation, Guy searched for his family. Sadly, he learned that his parents, his brother and sister all perished in the Warsaw-Ghetto. He returned to the U.S. in late 1945 to continue his studies and became an instructor in German Language and Literature at Columbia University. Later, he became a Distinguished Professor for German at Wayne State University in Detroit. His universities and the Federal Republic of Germany have bestowed several high-ranking awards on him.
Admission to the special event is $10 for Museum members and professional educators; $20 for non-members and free for Circle of Remembrance Museum members.