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WATCH: The refugees who helped us win World War II
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.
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 ushmm.org/campaign
to learn more.