Monday, May 2, 2022

WATCH: The refugees who helped us win World War II


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

They knew the threat the Nazis posed; it did not deter them. The Ritchie Boys, a World War II US military intelligence unit, included Jewish refugees who fled Nazism. Because of their knowledge of languages and cultures, the Ritchie Boys received special training in intelligence techniques before many were sent back to Europe to fight. Today, the Ritchie Boys will receive the Museum’s highest honor, the Elie Wiesel Award, for their heroism and singular contributions to defeating Nazism. Here are just a few of their stories from our collection.







United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Photos: Aaron Finger’s military identification card, dated October 18, 1945. USHMM, gift of Susan Bliss; Identification portrait of Charles Stein, circa 1934–38. USHMM, courtesy of Charles Stein; The Kovary family circa 1945. From left to right, Olivio, Tom, Esther, and Ernest. USHMM, gift of Myra Kovary and Vally Kovary; Ellen Kaufmann, 20 years old, circa 1940, three years before she joined the Women’s Army Corps. USHMM, gift of Anita Boucher; Otto Perl’s identification photo, dated January 7, 1939. USHMM, gift of Otto and Susanne Perl; Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus (center) posing with the 50 Austrian Jewish children they brought to the US. Hugo Zulawski is the boy on the right inside the life preserver ring. USHMM, courtesy of Steven Pressman; Halina Litman stands between her aunt, Irena Keh, and mother, Olga Litman, in a prewar photograph, circa 1934–39. Halina’s aunt was killed during the Holocaust. USHMM, courtesy of Halina Peabody; Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, a former Nazi, receives a federal civilian service award from President Dwight D. Eisenhower circa 1959. Alamy


Keep Holocaust memory alive to inspire citizens and leaders to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity in a constantly changing world. Visit to learn more.

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