'Our interrogations .. certainly what did not work was violence or threat of violence. Never.'

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'Amid the chaos of war, Guy Stern and the other Ritchie Boys had a job to do. Embedded in every army unit, they interrogated tens of thousands of captured Nazi soldiers as well as civilians – extracting key strategic information on enemy strength, troop movements, and defensive positions. They then typed up their daily reports in the field to be passed up the chain of command.

Victor Brombert: Our interrogations - it had to do with tactical immediate concerns. And that's why civilians could be useful and soldiers could be useful, "where is the minefield?" very important because you save life if you know where the mine – "where is the machine gun nest?" "How many machine guns do you have there?" "where are your reserve units?" and if you don't get it from one prisoner, you might get it from the other.

97-year-old Victor Brombert says they relied on their Camp Ritchie training to get people to open up.

Victor Brombert: We improvised according to the situation. According to the kind of unit, according to the kind of person we were interrogating. But certainly what did not work was violence or threat of violence. Never. What did work Is complicity.

Jon Wertheim: What -What do you mean?

Victor Brombert: By complicity I mean, "Oh we are together in this war. You on one side and we on this side. Isn't it a miserable thing? Aren't we all sort of, tired of it?"

Jon Wertheim: The shared experience?

Victor Brombert: The shared experience, exactly. Giving out some cigarettes also helps a lot. A friendly approach - trying to be human.

The Ritchie Boys connected with prisoners on subjects as varied as food and soccer rivalries but they weren't above using deception on difficult targets. The Ritchie Boys discovered that the Nazis were terrified of ending up in Russian captivity and they used that to great effect. If a German POW wouldn't talk, he might face Guy Stern dressed up as a Russian officer.

Guy Stern: I had my whole uniform with medals. Russian medals and I gave myself the name Commissar Krukov.

Jon Wertheim: That's what you called yourself?

Guy Stern: That was my pseudonym.

Jon Wertheim: How did you do commissar?

Guy Stern: Thank you for asking (laugh) I gave myself all the accouterments of looking like a fierce Russian commissar.

Guy Stern: And some we didn't break but 80% were so darned scared of the Russians and what they would do.

Jon Wertheim: So there's a real element of - costumes and deception and accents.

Guy Stern: Yes and it's theatrics in a way yes.'

- Ritchie Boys: The secret U.S. unit bolstered by German-born Jews that helped the Allies beat Hitler, May 9, 2021


Nuremberg chief prosecutor .. his motto is “law not war”..'