By: Janet Dundee | Category: Education | Issue: March 2023
During World War II, an elite division of the U.S. Army known as the “Ritchie Boys” greatly aided Allied forces in their fight against Germany and other Axis nations. These soldiers, who trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland between 1942 and 1945, provided about 60 percent of the advanced intelligence on Germany’s war plans and tactics, which contributed to ending the war.
The Tulsa Council for Holocaust Education invites the public to the 25th Annual Interfaith Yom HaShoah/Holocaust Commemoration on Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at Temple Israel, 2004 E. 22nd Place. Featured speaker Landon Grove, director and curator of the Ritchie History Museum in Smithsburg, Md., will address the topic “Moral Courage: The Story of the World War II Ritchie Boys.” The commemoration is free and recommended for ages 12 and older.
Grove, a historian who trained at Indiana University Bloomington, will speak about the Ritchie Boys and their commitment to defeat the German aggression at great risk to themselves. Of the nearly 20,000 Ritchie Boys soldiers, about 2,000 of them were Jewish German-speaking immigrants who fled Nazi-controlled Germany, which was systematically killing Jews. In 2022, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recognized the Ritchie Boys with the Elie Wiesel Award, the highest award given by the museum, for the “unique role they played serving the United States and advancing our victory over Germany.”
The Tulsa commemoration will feature an exhibit of entries from the 2023 Yom HaShoah Art Contest created by Oklahoma students of the Holocaust and a candle lighting ceremony in honor of six Oklahoma Jewish Ritchie Boys. In addition, Elliott Wulff, outreach artist with Tulsa Opera; Kara Staiger, owner of Overture Music Theatre Training; and Rick Fortner, music director for All Souls Unitarian Church, will perform a selection of theme-related music. The Tulsa City-County Library will have available for checkout many Holocaust books and media.
For the 25th commemoration of Yom HaShoah (Day of Remembrance), the Council has commissioned a new candelabrum designed by Tulsans Bob Bulick, Master Carpenter and Seth Martenus, a metal artist. The candelabrum will become a fixture for future Council for Holocaust Education programs.
Oklahoma middle and high school students are encouraged to enter the 2023 Yom HaShoah Art Contest. Cash prizes are awarded to the winners and their teachers. Ten Honorable Mention awards will be given.
Entries should represent the theme of Moral Courage and should reflect a response to the courage displayed by the Ritchie Boys or any other courageous response during the Holocaust. The deadline to enter the contest is April 3. Visit www.jewishtulsa.org for competition details.
To complement the commemoration, the Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis Ave., will screen the 2004 documentary “The Ritchie Boys” on Sunday, April 16 at 2 p.m.; Monday, April 17 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Tuesday, April 18 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; and Wednesday, April 19 at 2 p.m. Ticket cost is $5, except all middle and high school students, teachers, military and seniors get in free.
At the Sunday, April 16 matinee of the documentary, Keith Meyers will display his collection of World War II memorabilia and be available to discuss the artifacts in the collection.
The Holocaust Commemoration is presented by the Tulsa Council for Holocaust Education of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa in partnership with the Tulsa City-County Library, Circle Cinema, Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, Congregation B’nai Emunah and Temple Israel.
Contact Chloe Kirk at eat1@eau1eav1eaw1 or 495-1111 for information on the Art Contest.
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