The Ritchie Boys
German filmmaker spent a decade making this captivating, entertaining, and good-natured documentary about a little-know batch of World War II intelligence officers. When many young European Jews immigrated to America during the 1930s they were classified as aliens—“enemy aliens” if they were German—and, ergo, disqualified from military service in the 1940s. Except for a handful, who were sent to Camp Ritchie in Maryland’s Catocin Mountains near the Pennsylvania border, where the U.S. Army based its Military Intelligence Training Center. Here, these unlikely soldiers—primarily intellectual German Jews—learned psychological warfare and intelligence gathering for which they were ideally suited: they already spoke foreign tongues and were familiar with the geography. Bauer tracks down many surviving members of this unique unit, who share their great war remembrances in witty, lively anecdotes—everything from shuffling Marlene Dietrich off to entertain German soldiers after she appeared for the Allies to the Abbott and Costello interrogation stories of Guy Stern and Fred Howard, who comically used German fear of Russians as a ploy.