Was my father a Ritchie Boy? #general

Trudy Barch

Not surprising that you did not know.   About 15 years ago one of my genealogy members spoke about the Richie Boys.  He was part of this 'secret' group.  It was a group of German born boys - now Americans - who were trained to be American spies that spoke fluent German during WW2.  It was so private they were not allowed to speak about it (to anyone) until more recent times.  It was an extremely talk.   The book was probably written in the later 1900s with a lot of good research.

Trudy Barch,  FL

Deborah HOLMAN

Thank you for the information on the book "Sons and Soldiers" and the link to the list. I suspected my uncle Emile G Speeger was a Ritchie but it was great to actually see his name on the list! Now to read the book!

Deborah Samuel Holman
Woodbury, CT

EdrieAnne Broughton

My German professor in 1966 was undoubtedly a Ritchie boy.  Herr Spears was old...at least as old as my father and a bit deaf.  I think he might have been 50 (Dad was 43 and a veteran of WWII also).  Mr. Spears did tell us that he was raised in the Dakotas to a household where his mother did not speak English at all until he went to school and the language at home was German and the surrounding area was filled with German Russians and Germans who had immigrated from the same area due to political unrest.  This instructor didn't say so to us but I think he spoke Russian too and I think Yiddish, as well.  I have no idea as to his religion.  He did say that a large part of his wartime job was his languages.  Most of this was imparted to us after a powerful storm hit the West Coast and flattened trees all over campus.  We sat huddled in dark classrooms that morning in the cold and the lesson for the day was scrapped and he just talked.  I learned more about him that morning than I learned in 6 years about any of my college professors.  I told my dad what I remembered of the conversations.  My dad had been a weather observer.  These units were small and mobile and moved all around, just behind the fighting.  He came in contact with many units of Allied soldiers.  When I got done explaining he nodded and said.  "Yeah, we called them the 'interrogators' ".  He said that many of them were Jewish.  He might not have mentioned the last part except I'd grown up in a Jewish neighborhood in a city with many diverse enclaves.  So for a 'secret organization', they weren't completely secret.
EdrieAnne Broughton, California


It is my understanding that the Ritchie Boys were assigned in small groups - up to about 6 individuals - to various army units, so that as each unit came into contaqct with German POW's they would have interrogators or translators immediately on hand.

Shelley Mitchell

The list provided by Josh Freeling is the most extensive list I’ve ever seen. First one to recognize the father of my cousin, Seymour Steinberg as a participant. I believe he was an instructor. Thanks Josh. 

Shelley Mitchell, NYC


You can request your father's VA record and his military service records under the Freedom of Information Act. If he ever submitted a claim for Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, there is a good chance that his VA file may include his military service records. To request a copy of his VA file, call the VA's call center at 1-800-827-1000. They will guide you through the process. You may also request his military service records from the National Archives, using form SF180 (google it up and download).  You will probably need to attach a copy of his death certificate to any of the requests.  Lets hope that the VA has his service records, since a 1973 fire at the National Archives destroyed many Army and Air Force veterans records from WWI and WWII, unless they were transferred to the VA previously. Make sure to also request his Service Treatment Records (STRs) which are his military medial records. All these records may shed light on his service, units, training and deployments and may also contain some information relevant to family history, especially if he was an immigrant.

Dan Efrat
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA (originally from Israel)
Researching: Israelit/Israelite (Belarus, Latvia), Rabinowitz (Zhetl/Dyatlovo, Belarus), Goldblatt (Belarus, Lithuania), Pruss and Koyfman/Kaufman (Ukraine)

Josh Freeling

Dan Gross, who calls himself a “Wannabe Ritchie Boy” has done extensive research and have compiled a list of known Ritchie Boys. Your Dad is indeed listed as one. 

You may want to contact him to see if he has any information on your Dad  



Josh Freeling
North Carolina

Diane B

Hi Helen, The book is called "Sons and Soldiers" by Bruce Henderson. There is a list of Richie Boys in the book. The participants were sworn to secrecy. Your dad sounds like a hero! All the best~ Diane Berg, Long Island, New York


I am no expert, but if he was in this somewhat secret enterprise, the engineering info might have been a cover. 

There was at least one book on the Ritchie Boys fairly recently, I imagine you have already gone there.

Robert Roth
Kingston, NY

Friedman, H George

The two statements are not incompatible. The army might have wanted his translation and interrogation activities to be obvious. So they assigned him to the engineering company, but then detailed him to the work they had trained him for. I am guessing, of course, but it seems to me that this is at least plausible.

George Friedman
Champaign, IL, USA

Helen Gottesman

My father Helmut/Henry Dobrin was at camp Ritchie and he seems to have been trained in translation and interrogation for 10 weeks in 1943 according to the documents we have from the Army..
He never mentioned this. He had a plaque that said he served in the engineering corps, company b 1303.
How do these 2 things fit together?
Thank you
Helen Gottesman
Boca Raton, Fl

Helen Gottesman

Boca Raton, Florida

Searching Schwarz Roding Germany
Dobrin,Davidsohn,Segall. Lublinski in Bukofzer Tuchel/Tuchola  Poland/West Prussia
Greenhut/Grunhut Germany, Bohemia/Czechlovakia
Bukofzer, Zempelburg, West prussia/Poland