Austrian exiles in WWII military intelligence of the US Army:
"The fabulous Ritchie Boys"


Website of the project by Florian Traussnig and Robert Lackner supervised by Siegfried Beer


During the Second World War, hundreds of Austrian exiles and refugees served in various military intelligence organizations of the US Army. When US soldiers with crucial skills such as native knowledge of German and detailed local familiarity (geographic, topographic, economic, and strategic) were located, they most often found themselves transferred to the Military Intelligence Training Center in Camp Ritchie, Maryland as well as Camp Sharpe, Pennsylvania. There they were instructed in how to operate as interrogators of prisoners of war and propaganda specialists. Upon graduation, they would primarily see service on the Western Front in Europe, providing as intelligence experts and resistance supervisors an important contribution to the defeat of the Nazi regime.

The purpose of this project is to collect and analyze selected biographies of these exiled Austrians. For the first time it will be determined how many of these Austrian "Ritchie Boys" were trained by the US Army, where they saw action in the war and how they can be typologically, politically and socially assessed.


494 Austrians received an intelligence or propaganda training at the MITC. Their names including further biographical data are available in an online database.


Between 1942 and 1945, 494 Austrians were trained at the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) in Camp Ritchie, MD and Camp Sharpe, PA, including well-known artists and intellectuals such as Hollywood producer Eric Pleskow or singer-songwriter Georg Kreisler. This is the result of a study by historians Florian Traussnig and Robert Lackner, which is based on the examination of thousands of personal files at the US National Archives.


In the Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies (JIPSS), Florian Traussnig and Robert Lackner provide a first insight into the goals and the protagonists of the project.


Please get in touch with the authors via e-mail:
f.traussnig(at)acipss.org or r.lackner(at)acipss.org.

© 2020 Robert Lackner und Florian Traussnig
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