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The Ritchie Boys, Nisei, and WWII: The Language of War

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0698
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Ritchie Boys group photo, 1939–1945–Military Intelligence; Camp Ritchie, MD (Western Maryland Regional Library)

Between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. military established the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC), which recruited an unusual group of soldiers: refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe, Japanese Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, women, artists, intellectuals, and others.

David Frey, a professor of history and director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Point, spotlights two groups possessed of invaluable linguistic skills who processed through the MITC. Among the “Ritchie Boys,” named for the secret Camp Ritchie facility in Maryland, were young Jewish refugees mostly from Nazi Germany and Austria. They returned to Europe after being trained in how to gather battlefield intelligence. Second-generation Japanese Americans or Nisei also trained at the camp, serving as translators, interpreters, and interrogators.

Frey tells the story of the recruits’ wartime contributions and their enduring effects on the culture and politics of the Cold War-era—and on what it meant to be an American.

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