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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Ritchie Boys At Holocaust Memorial Center

One of the Detroit area's hidden gems (well, it isn't that hidden) is the Holocaust Memorial Center. A fascinating, if grim, museum of Holocaust history with stunning architecture.

The HMC debuted a new exhibit this last weekend, about the Ritchie Boys, a unit of soldiers who were trained in intelligence gathering and interrogation techniques at the Army's Fort Ritchie, before being sent to Europe to help with the invasion. Many of the Ritchie Boys were Jews who had German language skills.

I went to the opening and shot a few photos.

Out front, a pair of (Brits!) WWII reenactors set up a very nice mini-camp, featuring a lovingly restored Jeep, as well as some excellent replica Browning machine guns, real Garands, and some token barbed wire.

Some old timers

A member of the Jewish War Veterans honor guard

One of the Ritchie Boys, Si Lewen, was an artist and sketched what he saw during the invasion

One of the Ritchie Boys tells his story

One of their misions was propoganda. The would drive around in a truck with a huge amplifier to broadcast German language de-motivation. This was dangerous work, as the Germans would often shoot towards the sound, and they eventually learned to run wires to the speaker some distance away, to draw the fire from the truck.

Paratooper uniform

My favorite part of the exhibit... they should have had more guns. They should have had a Colt 1911 and a Garand, at least.

Infantry uniform

Guy Stern, one of the Ritchie Boys, and also a director of the HMC, speaks about his experience

Class notes from Fort Ritchie, about identifying German weapons and units.

Tools of the trade.

Memorial Flame

A few more Jeep photos

If you haven't gone to the Holocaust Memorial Center, I suggest you take half a day and visit. It is pretty heavy, depressing stuff, but it is a good experience.

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