The young men who would become known as “The Ritchie Boys” arrived in America as “enemy aliens,” and although they were allowed to enlist in the U.S. military, they were distrusted by everyone. So, in effect, they became outsiders all over again. Until one day in 1942, when the Pentagon woke up to the incredible asset they had on their hands. These men knew the language, culture and psychology of the enemy better than any Americans and had the greatest motivation to fight Hitler’s anti-Semitic regime.
The Pentagon came up with a top-secret plan to harness their expertise by training them in the art of prisoner interrogation. And so off they were sent, back into the belly of the beast, Jews returning to Nazi Germany to occupy the very front lines of battlefields across Europe. Many of them re-entered Europe on D-Day. Their mission, to extract vital intel from freshly-captured POWs about troop movements and command structures and so on, was hugely successful and provided key information that led to victory by the Allied forces.
Meanwhile, few of these men knew what had happened to the families they left behind in Germany, families who had sacrificed to send them on to the safety of America. As the intelligence they gathered revealed increasingly horrific details about the Holocaust (most of which was only then beginning to come to light), they came to fear – and, in many cases, discovered – that the worst had befallen their own fathers and mothers and siblings.
About the Author
Bruce Henderson is the author or coauthor of more than twenty nonfiction books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell. He lives in Menlo Park, California.
Praise for Bruce Henderson:
`Bruce Henderson has told a wonderfully exciting story of one of war's greatest rescues with verve, style, and panache. I didn't even stop for coffee during my reading: it was so classically unputdownable' Simon Winchester
Praise for Son and Soldiers:
`The last great, untold story of WWII... highly compelling' Daily Mail
`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
`[A] highly readable, often thrilling narrative... A gripping addition to the literature of the period and an overdue tribute to these unique Americans' Kirkus (Starred Review)
`An inspiring story' Library Journal
`Henderson is a wonderful storyteller who has written a never-before-told chapter of the Second World War. Sons and Soldiers is a must-read' Jewish Book Council
`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
`This coming-of-age saga is a story of patriotism and courage unlike any other from World War II. An unforgettable story and a great read, told in Bruce Henderson's poignant and powerful style' Bill Sloan, author of Their Backs Against the Sea