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Out of the Archives: “The Ritchie Boys”
by Kevin Schlottmann, Levy Processing Archivist, Center for Jewish History

Werner Erwin Stark (1921 – 1995) was born in Munich, Germany, into a Jewish family of textile merchants. Together with his older brother Walter, he escaped to the United States via France in 1938.

During World War Two, Stark enlisted in the US Army and was trained in counterintelligence at Fort Ritchie, Maryland. He served in Europe as one of the so-called “Ritchie Boys,” a group of mostly Jewish German and Austrian young men whose language and cultural skills proved valuable to the Army in Europe.

Stark performed a variety of counterintelligence tasks, including being dropped into Germany behind enemy lines and there assuming a false name. According to a summary of an oral history, which Stark provided to the Holocaust Memorial Center, Zekelman Family Campus, in Michigan, he also “[served] as an interpreter at the Nuremberg trials of war criminals, … [interrogated] the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele, and [provided] surveillance of the former girlfriend of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, chief of the German Security Service as related to her associations with American army officers." 

The above image is Stark’s counterintelligence ID card, from the Leo Baeck Institute’s Werner Erwin Stark Collection ([AR 11946; click here]).

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