It was the perfect revenge.
They were Jews who fled Nazi persecution and came to America, where they joined or were drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II.
Because they knew the language and culture of the enemy better than anyone, they were sent to a Maryland military intelligence training center called Camp Ritchie (now Fort Ritchie) and taught to interrogate or wage psychological warfare against the Nazis.
History knows them as the Ritchie Boys.
Jerry Lieberman of Charlotte was one. Recently, he and a dozen other Ritchie Boys were reunited and honored at the unveiling of a traveling exhibit called "Secret Heroes: The Ritchie Boys" at the Holocaust Memorial Center in suburban Detroit.
Raised in Munich, Germany, Lieberman and his family fled in early 1939, before the killing of the Holocaust began in earnest.
As a Jew, his part as a Ritchie Boy still stirs enormous pride.
"I was able to use my language skills and education in an interesting way to fight the enemy," Lieberman, now 87, said. "At the time, we didn't know what was happening in the ghettos and camps. Once we did, it struck a great pride to be a Jew and to be born a German."
His story is like many Ritchie Boys.
Lieberman's father, Leo, owned a paint and lacquer company in Munich, until the night of Nov. 9, 1938, when life for his family - like many European Jews - dramatically changed.
That was the infamous Kristallnacht, the night of Nazi violence that signaled the beginning of the Holocaust.
That night and spilling into Nov. 10, Nazi troops torched 2,000 synagogues, ransacked 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses and murdered scores of German and Austrian Jews. They rounded up 70,000 more Jews - mostly men - for the concentration camps.
One was Leo Lieberman, sent to Dachau, the first concentration camp opened in Germany.
But Leo was one of the fortunate ones. He had helped the American consul in Munich with the body of an American who had died in Germany.
At the consul's urging, the Nazis released Leo from Dachau after six weeks and the family was given a visa to leave Germany - first to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, ultimately to New York in spring 1939, where the family had relatives, including Jerry's older brother, Erich.
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