Hate on Hitler

The Ritchie Boys

Authors: Christian Bauer. No genre - ARD - 2004 - 45 min

They were young. The world’s most unlikely soldiers. As teenagers they had escaped the Nazis. They trained in intelligence work and psycho-logical warfare, and returned to Europe as US soldiers - with the greatest motivation to fight this war: They were Jewish. They called themselves “The Ritchie Boys”.

Christian Bauer´s film “The Ritchie Boys” tells a story that’s never been told before. It begins in Camp Ritchie, Maryland, the birthplace of modern psychological warfare, and it 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 his language better than they. Their mission: ascertain and break the enemy’s morale.

In ”The Ritchie Boys” these remarkable, funny, sharp, brave men share their memories with us. They tell about a war, quite different from the one we have known so far, a war of words. They had no idea what it would be like to see their homeland again, they did not know what had happened to the families and friends they had left behind. On the front lines from the beaches of Normandy onwards, the Ritchie Boys interrogated German prisoners, defectors and civilians, collected information of tactical and strategic importance: about troop size and movements, about the psychological situation of the enemy, and the inner workings of the Nazi-regime. They drafted leaflets, produced radio broadcasts and even 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.

Their effort shortened the war and saved many lives on both sides. However, the story of their heroism, their achievements and their long-term impact on military tactics remained forgotten. The film “The Ritchie Boys” not only tells the story of their bravery, it also reveals 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. In “The Ritchie Boys” they once again show their determination, courage, humor, and imagination.