Scrapbookpages Blog

August 9, 2015

In World War II, were there 2 Americans named Alfred DeGrazia?

During World War Ii, there were American soldiers known as

During World War Ii, there were American soldiers known as “the Ritchie boys.” (click to enlarge)

After a long e-mail exchange yesterday, with a reader of my blog, I have finally figured out that there must have been two American Jewish men, both with the exact same name: Alfred DeGrazia or Alfred de Grazia. One of these men was a member of “the Ritchie boys.”  The Ritchie boys now have their own Facebook page:

Wikipedia has a page about a man named Alfred DeGrazia which has the following information:

In World War II, Alfred de Grazia served in the ranks from private to captain, specializing in mechanized warfare, intelligence and psychological warfare.[14] He received training in this then new field at in Washington D.C. and the newly established Camp Ritchie, Maryland.[15][16][citation needed] He served with the 3rd, 5th and 7th US Armies and as a liaison officer with the British 8th Army.[citation needed] He took part in six campaigns, from North Africa to Italy (Battle of Monte Cassino) to France and Germany, receiving several decorations.[citation needed][17] He co-authored a report on psychological warfare for the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force.[18] By the end of the war, he was Commanding Officer of the Psychological Warfare Propaganda Team attached to the headquarters of the 7th Army.[19][citation

Yesterday, I received several e-mail messages from the son of  another Alfred DeGrazia, in which he claimed that his father was an ordinary soldier who participated in the liberation of Buchenwald and Auschwitz; he denied that his father was a member of a Psychological Warfare Propaganda Team.  He denied that his father, the other Alfred DeGrazia, was at Dachau. He denied that his father had posed for a photo in front of the outside wall of the Dachau gas chamber. I can’t show you the offensive photo because it shows the other Alfred DeGrazia.

The current Wikipedia page on Alfred DeGrazia, which has been modified, since I first read it, begins with this quote:

Alfred de Grazia (December 29, 1919 – July 13, 2014), born in Chicago, Illinois, was a political scientist and author. He developed techniques of computer-based social network analysis in the 1950s,[1] developed new ideas about personal digital archives in the 1970s,[2] and defended the catastrophism thesis of Immanuel Velikovsky.[3]

The current Wikipedia page on Alfred DeGrazia makes me think that there might have been two men with the exact same name.

Several years ago, I saw a film about the Ritchie Boys and I wrote about it on my website.  The following information is from my website:

The Ritchie Boys were a US special military intelligence unit in World War II composed mainly of German-speaking immigrants to the United States. They were predominantly Jews, most of whom had fled Nazi persecution. They were primarily utilized for interrogation of prisoners on the front lines and counter-intelligence in Europe because of their knowledge of the German language and culture.

The Ritchie Boys [film] is not your typical war-is-hell documentary; this is a feel-good film, suitable for the whole family. There is a noticeable lack of bitterness in the interviews with the Ritchie boys. There is no mention that any of them lost relatives in the Holocaust, although the official web site for the film says that the father of Werner Angress was “killed in Auschwitz.”

[In the film] We are spared the scenes of the emaciated survivors of the concentration camps. Only a brief glimpse of the gate into the Buchenwald camp is shown as one of the Ritchie boys, Si Lewen, talks about the effect that his visit to the Buchenwald camp had on him. [No mention of Alfred DeGrazia visiting Buchenwald]

At the start of the film, one of the Ritchie boys says that “Europe was raped.” This is a reference to the Nazi conquest of Europe, not the literal rape of millions of German women by Russian soldiers or the sodomy of captured German soldiers on the Eastern front. There are no scenes of dead German soldiers, lying face down with their trousers pulled down around their knees, that you see in other documentaries. Most of the old film footage shown in the documentary has never been seen before, but nothing in these scenes made the audience gasp.

A few mild scenes of the bomb damage in Germany are shown in the film, but no newsreel footage of mile after mile of destruction in Berlin. No photos of the ruins of the magnificent cathedrals in Cologne, Dresden and Nuremberg are included.

It was important to [German] film-maker Christian Bauer to show the Jews as the “victors,” not as the “victims.” At the same time, Bauer was careful not to show the Germans as victims in this disingenuous documentary which gives a completely false picture of World War II.

During the Boelke Kaserne segment in the documentary [film], a shot of the crematorium at Dachau is shown with bodies piled up against the wooden structure in front of the outside wall. Then another shot of some sick prisoners in wagons, which was taken at Dachau, is shown. [No photo of one of the Ritchie boys standing in front of the Dachau gas chamber wall]

This footage [of Dachau] is from the film entitled “Nazi Concentration Camps,” which was made by Lt. Col. George C. Stevens a day or two after Dachau was liberated; it was shown during the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. Christian Bauer obtained the film clips for his documentary from the US Archives.

[During World War II] There was a “recuperation camp” near the town of Nordhausen, where the [Jewish] factory workers were sent to recover when they were too sick to work in the underground factory. In the last months of the war, Jewish prisoners who had been evacuated from Auschwitz were brought to this sub-camp of Nordhausen, which was called Boelke Kaserne by the Germans.

A few days before the recuperation camp was liberated, it was bombed by American planes and around 1500 prisoners were killed. There were other prisoners who had died of tuberculosis or typhus and when the liberators arrived, there were around 3,000 unburied bodies and around 700 sick and dying prisoners who had been left behind when the camp was evacuated.

Christian Bauer obtained the film clips for his documentary from the US Archives.  Bauer now lives in Munich, 18 kilometers from Dachau. Surely, he must have recognized that this footage [in his documentary film] was taken at Dachau and not at the Nordhausen sick camp. Perhaps he used the scenes from Dachau instead of Nordhausen because so many of the bodies found at the Nordhausen “recuperation camp” had been blown to pieces by American bombs.

Christian Bauer is from the generation of Germans born after the war. He grew up during the Cold War and the American occupation of West Germany when the Germans were happy to have protection from the Communists who were just across the border in Czechoslovakia, poised to attack at any moment. America and Germany were allies by that time. Some of the Nazis were even allowed to hold government positions in Germany after the war, which was pointed out by Morris Parloff in the film.

Bauer told an American journalist in a phone interview that he “tried to reconnect with those who had to leave Germany during the war” because he felt that “an invaluable part of Germany [the Jews] had been killed or driven out of the country.”

The Ritchie boys had left Germany before the war, but in making this documentary film, Bauer was careful to conceal the fact that American immigration laws prevented more of the Jews from escaping to freedom in America.