Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned With the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler – Bruce Henderson
Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned With the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler – Joining the ranks of Unbroken, Band of Brothers, and Boys in the Boat, the little-known saga of young German Jews, dubbed The Ritchie Boys, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, came of age in America, and returned to Europe at enormous personal risk as members of the U.S. Army to play a key role in the Allied victory.
In 1942, the U.S. Army unleashed one of its greatest secret weapons in the battle to defeat Adolf Hitler: training nearly 2,000 German-born Jews in special interrogation techniques and making use of their mastery of the German language, history, and customs. Known as the Ritchie Boys, they were sent in small, elite teams to join every major combat unit in Europe, where they interrogated German POWs and gathered crucial intelligence that saved American lives and helped win the war.
Though they knew what the Nazis would do to them if they were captured, the Ritchie Boys eagerly joined the fight to defeat Hitler. As they did, many of them did not know the fates of their own families left behind in occupied Europe. Taking part in every major campaign in Europe, they collected key tactical intelligence on enemy strength, troop and armored movements, and defensive positions. A postwar Army report found that more than sixty percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys.
Bruce Henderson draws on personal interviews with many surviving veterans and extensive archival research to bring this never-before-told chapter of the Second World War to light. Sons and Soldiers traces their stories from childhood and their escapes from Nazi Germany, through their feats and sacrifices during the war, to their desperate attempts to find their missing loved ones in war-torn Europe. Sons and Soldiers is an epic story of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will not soon be forgotten.
Sons and Soldiers tells the remarkable story of how 2,000 German-born Jews were able to get the crucial intelligence that saved American lives and helped win World War II. … The message of their courage and patriotism should not be lost in today’s war on terrorism. (Leon Panetta, Former Director of the CIA and Former Secretary of Defense)
Henderson is a skilled storyteller. Sons and Soldiers records concrete acts of courage, commitment, compassion… and, of course, unspeakable cruelty. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Highly compelling. … The Ritchie Boys… are the unsung heroes who saved so many American lives and helped win the war. (Daily Mail (London))
Riveting. … Richly detailed. … Puts readers alongside the Ritchie Boys in some of the darkest moments of history. … A spellbinding account of extraordinary men at war. (USA Today)
Gripping. … A story of courage and determination, revenge and redemption. … Opens a window into a much-ignored aspect of the war. … A magnificent story, one crying out to be told, and one that is told very well. (Boston Globe)
Thrilling. … Gripping. … An overdue tribute to these unique Americans. (Kirkus Reviews (starred))
Harrowing. … No small amount of courage was needed for [the Ritchie Boys’] work. … Their contribution to victory is undeniable. (New York Post)
[A] mesmerizing account of how frightened boys grew into fearless men… to fight Nazi barbarianism. (San Antonio Express-News)
An irresistible history of the WWII Jewish refugees who returned to Europe to fight the Nazis. (Newsday)
A revelatory work about a group of Jewish men whose World War II journeys are so implausible and heroic it’s difficult to understand why so few of us knew about them before now. A book of fear, flight and almost divine retribution. (Steve Twomey, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Countdown to Pearl Harbor)
From the Back Cover
They 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 des-perately 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 sacri-fices 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.
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