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your mobile phone. like this device to increase volume on your cell phone. - ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program visit right now or call during business hours. and ford. we go further, so you can. >> nine years of work, seven minutes of terror. >> he's talking about the recent descent and landing of the "perseverance" rover on mars. >> execute entry descent and landing on her own! >> and there goes the descent stage. >> wow! >> big sigh of relief. i almost collapsed over this console. >> part of its mission: to drop off "ingenuity," a mini helicopter that would take off and navigate in the martian atmosphere, much to nasa's delight. ( cheers and applause ) ( ticking ) >> think you know all about world war ii's greatest heroes? ( explosion ) think again. tonight, you'll meet three surviving members of a secret group called the ritchie boys-- 11,000 american soldiers, many of them jews who had f fled nazi germrmany and wewere trained in espionage and psychological
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warfare. how effective were they at gathering intelligence? >> they were incredibly effective. 60+% of the actionable intelligence gathered on the battlefield was gathered by ritchie boys. they made a massive contribution to essentially every battle that the americans fought, the entire sets of battles on the western front. ( ticking ) >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm jon wertheim. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories and more, tonight, on "60 minutes." ( ticking ) michael: this is the story of two brothers. david: my grandfafather, pincnchas.
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>> anderson cooper: we first told you about the tiny helicopter "ingenuity" and the one-ton rover "perseverance" nearly a year ago, before they left earth, but they've come a very long way since then. in february, they landed in a hazardous and previously unexplored part of mars called the jezero crater, where "perseverance" will be looking for signs of ancient life. last month, "ingenuity" disconnected from "perseverance's" belly and made history, performing the first flights ever in the atmosphere of another planet. it's hard to imagine but worth remembering as you watch what we're about to show you, that this all happened millions of miles away, in outer space.
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last month, in this desolate martian crater 170 million miles from earth, "perseverance" posed for a selfie with "ingenuity," the little helicopter it had just dropped off. two weeks later, the rover's cameras recorded "ingenuity's" historic first flight, hovering ten feet off the ground for 30 seconds. it may not look like much, but, for those who'd worked so long to make it happen... ( cheers and applause ) ...it was a reason to rejoice. ( cheers and applause ) project manager mimi aung led the team at nasa's jet propulsion laboratory in california that's been working on "ingenuity" for six years. how hard is it to fly a helicopter on mars? >> aung: very, very, very hard. ( laughs ) we really, truly started with the question of, "is it possible?" >> cooper: a lot of people thought it-- it could not be done? >> aung: because it's really counterintuitive. i mean, you need atmosphere for the blades to push atmosphere to get lift, and the... >> cooper: the atmosphere on mars is completely different. >> aung: the atmosphere on mars is so thin. i mean, the room we're in,
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right, it's compared to that. it was 1% of the atmospheric density over there. so, the question of, really, can you generate enough lift, you know, to really build-- to lift up anything, that was the fundamental question. >> cooper: in subsequent flights, "ingenuity" has gone longer and farther, traveling for about two minutes and nearly the length of three football fields. it is a triumph not only for nasa but for its partners in the private sector who helped make various parts of the helicopter. >> matt keennon: don't let it go. don't freak out. >> cooper: matt keennon has a history of making unusual things that can fly. he's an engineer at a company called aerovironment, which produces drones for military and civilian use. i mean, that's incredible. ten years ago, for a military research project, keennon and his team created this robotic hummingbird, which has a tiny camera onboard. whoa! ( laughs ) >> keennon: there it is. >> cooper: oh, my god. that's amazing. keennon and engineer ben
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pipenberg led the aerovironment team that created "ingenuity's" rotors, motors, and landing gear. why was this so challenging? >> pipenberg: because it has to be a spacecraft as well as an aircraft, and-- and flying it as a-- as an aircraft on mars is pretty challenging because of the density of the air. it's similar to about earth at 100,000 feet. >> cooper: how do you go about it? >> pipenberg: well, so, building everything extremely lightweight is really, really critical. >> cooper: the helicopter's blades, for example, are made of a styrofoam-like material coated with carbon fiber. ( tapping ) they're stiff and strong... >> pipenberg: you get a sense of how lightweight and stiff that is. >> cooper: it weighs nothing. >> pipenberg: yeah, it weighs nothing. >> cooper: ...but incredibly light. >> keennon: here we go, taking off. >> cooper: this is the first time they've shown an outsider this version of "ingenuity," which they plan to use for education and research. they call it "terry." >> lift-off. >> cooper: here on earth, "terry's" blades are spinning at
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about 400 revolutions per minute. on mars, in the thin atmosphere, they'd have to spin six times faster to generate the same lift. >> and then land. >> cooper: "ingenuity" cost $85 million to build and operate; "terry," a lot less. but it's still nerve wracking to be handed its controls. >> keennon: all right, go ahead. you've got it. slide it right. you can push it all the way to the right if you want. slide left. >> cooper: wow. >> keennon: i'll bring it up a little bit. now stop. >> cooper: the joysticks we used to fly "terry" are of no use on mars. radio signals take too long to get there. >> keennon: all right. let me take over now. i've switched you out. and we'll go back to the... ( laughter ) >> cooper: even someone as good at flying drones and hummingbirds as matt keennon couldn't fly a helicopter on mars. here's what happened in 2014, in a test chamber that replicated the atmosphere on mars, when keennon tried to use a joystick to fly an early version of "ingenuity." >> aung: surprise. >> cooper: wow. ( laughs )
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so much for that vehicle! so, this very quick demonstration must have showed you a human being can't respond quickly enough to control it. >> aung: exactly. >> cooper: so, engineers at the jet propulsion laboratory equipped "ingenuity" with a computerized system that allows it to stabilize itself and navigate on its own. in 2016, the new system aced the chamber test. >> aung: the blades are being commanded, you know, 400 or 500 times per second. >> cooper: they proved it could fly. but "ingenuity" still had to weigh under four pounds and fit in the belly of "perseverance." >> five, four, engine ignition, two, one... >> cooper: and it had to be tough enough to survive the journey to mars. >> ...and lift-off... >> cooper: on july 30, 2020, "perseverance" and "ingenuity" took off from cape canaveral. nearly seven months later, as this simulation shows, the spacecraft's heat shield hit the martian atmosphere going 12,000 miles per hour. >> announcer: "perseverance" ready to execute entry, descent,
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and landing on her own. >> cooper: as he sat in the control room, al chen, the leader of the landing team, had absolutely no control. radio signals would take about 11 minutes to travel from earth to mars. the spacecraft was pre- programmed to descend, maneuver, and pick a landing site on its own. all the work his colleagues hoped to do on mars would be impossible if his part of the mission failed. how long have you been working on this mission? >> chen: coming up on nine years or so. >> cooper: really? that's a lot of work for seven minutes of... >> chen: yep. nine... >> cooper: ...terror. >> chen: nine years of work, seven minutes of terror. ( laughter ) >> cooper: it's done if the parachute doesn't work. >> chen: that's right. you know, no one wants to be that-- the guy the drops the baton. >> cooper: no landing by a spacecraft has ever been recorded as well as this one. there were six cameras capturing it all from different angles. the parachute deployed, then the heat shield fell away like a lens cap, and "perseverance" got its first look at the ground. this is not a simulation. this is what it looks like to
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parachute onto mars. how fast is it moving at this point? >> chen: yeah, we're still going about 350 miles an hour and still slowing down. >> cooper: so, it looks gentle here, but, in fact, you're-- the-- it's falling at more than 300 miles an hour. >> chen: that's right. we're heading straight down at-- at near-racecar speeds. >> cooper: below lay a series of safe landing spots, but the wind was blowing the spacecraft towards more treacherous territory to the east, and "perseverance" sent a message to earth saying the thrusters it needed to slow down might not be working properly. so, you get a reading saying the jets that are going to help it slow down and control the landing, that they're not working? >> chen: the stopping power. >> cooper: so, what do you do? >> chen: there's nothing you can do, right? everything already happened. that's the mind-bending part of this, right? >> cooper: you are sweating now. you were just talking about it. >> chen: yeah, exactly. i'm right back there again. ( laughter ) so, yeah. >> announcer: altitude, about 300 meters. >> cooper: to al chen's relief, "perseverance's" computerized landing system did what it was designed to do: it found a suitable landing spot even in rocky terrain.
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and, despite the warning, the thrusters worked. you can see them kicking up dust as they fire to slow the spacecraft down. >> announcer: skycrane maneuver has started. >> cooper: the descent stage known as the "skycrane" lowered "perseverance" to the ground. it hovered for a moment then flew off to crash a safe distance away. >> chen: and there goes the descent stage. >> cooper: wow. >> announcer: touchdown confirmed-- "perseverance" safely on the surface of mars. ( applause ) >> chen: at that point, big sigh of relief, you know? i almost collapsed over this console. ( cheers and applause ) >> cooper: ever since "perseverance" landed on the red planet, a team of engineers, programmers, and scientists here on earth have been living on mars time. it's their job to monitor the rover's health and tell it where to go and how to search for signs of life. while "perseverance" sleeps to conserve energy during the freezing martian nights, the team on earth analyzes the photographs and instrument readings it's sent back. they then prepare a list of things for it to do the following morning when it wakes up. >> matt wallace: and so it's just after midnight on mars.
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the vehicle's asleep. >> cooper: project manager matt wallace explained that a day on mars is 40 minutes longer than on earth. the team's schedule is constantly changing. so, people here are-- are mars night shift workers. >> wallace: ( laughs ) yeah, that's a good way to think of it. >> cooper: but, i mean, working night shift is tough enough, but this is a night shift that's constantly shifting. >> wallace: constantly moving. >> cooper: yeah. >> wallace: that's right. yeah. >> cooper: on "perseverance's" fourth day on mars, it swiveled the powerful camera on its mast and took a look around. a space enthusiast named sean doran put the images together, set them to music, and posted the movie on youtube. even one of the top scientists on the project was moved when he saw it. >> ken farley: i went and got a beer and watched this thing scroll by. and that...that was the moment-- click-- when i felt like i was there. >> cooper: ken farley leads the science team that will direct "perseverance" through the jezero crater. it's an area that scientists have long wanted to search for
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signs of ancient life that may be hidden in the rocks. >> farley: the oldest evidence of life on earth is about 3.5 billion years old. those rocks were deposited in a shallow sea. this crater that you see here was a lake 3.5 billion years ago. so, we are looking at the same environment in the same time period on two different planets. >> cooper: and if it's determined, however long in the future, that, "no, there was not ever life," what does that mean? >> farley: the place where "perseverance" landed, here in jezero crater, is the most habitable time period of mars and the most habitable environment that we know about. this is-- this is as good as it gets, at least with our current understanding of what mars has to offer. and if we don't find life here, it does make us worry that perhaps it doesn't exist anywhere. >> cooper: "perseverance" hasn't strayed far from its landing site yet, but its telescopic camera has already spotted a large number of boulders that ken farley says he didn't expect
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to see in the middle of an ancient lake. so, this has surprised you. >> farley: absolutely, yeah. >> cooper: so, what did those boulders tell you? >> farley: the most reasonable interpretation is a flood. you don't have fast flowing water out in the middle of a lake. you get fast flowing water in a river. and so, what that's telling us is, there was a river that was capable of transporting boulders that were this big. >> cooper: so, what, the lake would have gone down, perhaps, and then later on there was a flood? >> farley: yeah. exactly. >> cooper: "perseverance" was supposed to leave "ingenuity" behind after a 30-day demonstration of its flying ability, but nasa officials recently said they'll keep the duo together for another month to explore how rovers and helicopters might work together in the future. the fastest that "perseverance" was designed to travel is a tenth of a mile per hour. "ingenuity" has already gone 80 times faster, according to project manager mimi aung. >> aung: adding an aerial vehicle, a flying vehicle for space exploration, will be game
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changing. >> cooper: it frees you, in a way. >> aung: absolutely, yes. so, a flying vehicle, a rotorcraft, would allow us to get to places we simply can't access today, like sites of steep cliffs, you know, inside deep crevices. >> cooper: after "perseverance" explores the floor of jezero crater, it'll head towards what's believed to be the remnant of an ancient river delta where, billions of years ago, conditions should have been ripe for microorganisms to exist. as this simulation shows, the rover's robotic arm can collect about 40 core samples of rock that'll be sealed in special tubes and left on the planet's surface. nasa plans to send another mission to mars to retrieve the tubes and bring them back to earth. in about ten years, ken farley says, scientists examining those samples may be confronted with a new and perplexing question. >> farley: how do you look for life that may not be life as you know it? we've never had to do that before. we've never had to actually ask the question. >> cooper: "is there a form of
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life that we can't even conceive of?" >> farley: yeah. we're going to have to conceive of it. i think that's the whole point of this: we're going to have to start conceiving of life as we don't know it. >> cooper: if all goes according to plan, "perseverance" will be making tracks on mars for years to come. since it's carrying the first working audio microphones on the red planet, we leave you with what it sounds like as the one- ton rover slowly moves across the vast, lonely expanses of mars. ( clank, clank, clank ) ( ticking ) >> explore the martian surface. >> this is something that we've never done before. >> at 60minutesovertime.com. sponsored by ibrance. ♪ thouousands of w women with metastatatic breast t cancer are e living in n the moment and d taking ibrbrance. ibrarance with a an aromatae inhibibitor is for posostmenopausasal won or for menen with hr+,+,
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as we often toss around the word "hero," sometimes, no lesser term applies. tonight, we'll introduce you to members of a secret american intelligence unit who fought in world war ii. what's most extraordinary about this group? many of them were german-born jews who fled their homeland, came to america, and then joined the u.s. army. their mission: to use their knowledge of the german language and culture to return to europe and fight naziism. the ritchie boys, as they were known, trained in espionage and frontline interrogation. and, incredibly, they were responsible for most of the combat intelligence gathered on the western front. for decades, they didn't discuss their work. fortunately, some of the ritchie boys are still around to tell their tales, and that includes the life force that is guy stern, age 99. you work six days a week, you swim every morning, you lecture. any signs of slowing down? >> guy stern: well, i think not.
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( laughs ) but i don't run as fast, i don't swim as fast. but i feel happy with my tasks. >> wertheim: a few months shy of turning 100, guy stern drips with vitality. he still works six days a week, and if you get up early enough, you might catch him working out at his local park in the detroit suburbs. but, ask him about his most formative experience, and he doesn't hesitate. it was his service in the military during world war ii. what was it like for you, leaving nazi germany, escaping as a jew, and the next time you go back to europe it's to fight those guys? what was that like? >> stern: i was a soldier doing my job, and that precluded any concern that i was going back to a country i once was very attached to. i had a war to fight, and i did it. >> wertheim: this is guy stern 80 years ago.
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he is among the last surviving ritchie boys-- a group of young men, many of them german jews, who played an outsized role in helping the allies win world war ii. they took their name from the place they trained: camp ritchie, maryland, a secret american military intelligence center during the war. starting in 1942, more than 11,000 soldiers went through the rigorous training at what was the army's first centralized school for intelligence and psychological warfare. >> david frey: the purpose of the facility was to train interrogators. that was the biggest weakness that the army recognized that it had, which was battlefield intelligence, and the interrogation needed to talk to, sometimes civilians, most of the time prisoners of war, in order to glean information from them. >> wertheim: david frey is a professor of history and director of the center for holocaust studies at the u.s. military academy a west point. how effective were they at gathering intelligence?
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>> frey: they were incredibly effective. 60%-plus of the actionable intelligence gathered on the battlefield was gathered by ritchie boys. >> wertheim: 60% of the actionable intelligence? >> frey: yes. they made a massive contribution to essentially every battle that the americans fought. the entire sets of battles on the western front. >> wertheim: recruits were chosen based on their knowledge of european language and culture, as well as their high i.q.s. essentially, they were intellectuals. the largest set of graduates were 2,000 german-born jews. >> frey: if we take camp ritchie in microcosm, it was almost the ideal of an american melting pot. you had people coming from all over, uniting for a particular cause. >> wertheim: all in service of winning the war? >> frey: all in service of winning the war. and there's nothing that forges unity better than having a common enemy. you had a whole load of immigrants who really wanted to get back into the fight.
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>> wertheim: immigrants like guy stern. he grew up in a close-knit family in the town of hildesheheim, germanany. whenen hitler totook power in 1, stern saysys the climamate grew increasingly hostile. >> stern: my fellow students-- it was an all-male school-- withdrew from you. >> wertheim: because you were jewish, you were ostracized? >> stern: that is correct. i went to my father one day and i said, "classes are becoming a torture chamber." >> wertheim: by 1937, violence against jews was escalating. sensing danger, stern's father tried to get the family out, but the sterns could only send one of their own to the u.s. they chose their eldest son. do you remember saying goodbye to your family? >> stern: yes. >> wertheim: what do you remember from that? >> stern: handkerchiefs. i couldn't know at that point that i would never see my siblings or my parents again,
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nor my grandmother, and so forth and so on. >> wertheim: guy stern arrived in the u.s. alone at age 15, settling with an uncle in st. louis. when the japanese bombed pearl harbor in 1941, stern, by then a college student, raced to enlist. >> stern: i had an immediate, visceral response to that, and that was this is my war for many reasons. personal, of course, but also this country-- i was really treated well. >> wertheim: in new york, paul fairbrook had a similar impulse. now 97, fairbrook is the former dean of the culinary institute of america. his jewish family left germany in 1933 when he was 10. why did you want to enlist, initially? >> paul fairbrook: look, i'm a german jew, and there's nothing that i wanted more, is to get some revenge on hitler, who
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killed my uncles, and my aunts, and my cousins. and there was no question in my mind, and neither of all the men in camp ritchie. so many of them were jewish. we were all on the same wavelength. we were delighted to get a chancece to do somomething foroe unitited states.s. >> werththeim: at ththe time, thouough, the mimilitary wouoult take volunteers who weren't born in the u.s. but, within a few months, the government realized these so- called enemy aliens could be a valuable resource in the war. >> fairbrook: you can learn to shoot a rifle in six months, but you can't learn fluent german in six months. and that's what the key to the success was. you really know an awful lot of the subtleties when you're having a conversation with another german, and we were able to find out things out in their answers that enabled us to ask more questions. you really have to understand, it helps to have been born in germany in order to-- in order to do a good job.
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>> wertheim: both refugees like fairbrook and stern, as well as a number of american-born recruits with requisite language skills, were drafted into the army and sent to camp ritchie. how did you find out you were going to go to camp ritchie? >> stern: i was called to the company office and told, "you're shipping out." and i said, "may i know where i'm going?" and he said "no, military secret." >> wertheim: they swore you to secrecy? >> stern: yes >> wertheim: originally a resort, camp ritchie was a curiously idyllic setting to prepare for the harshness and brutality of war. nestled in the blue ridge mountains of maryland, it was away from prying eyes and prying spies-- but close enough to decision-makers at the pentagon. give us a sense of the kinds of courses they took. >> frey: well, the most important part of the training was that they learned to do interrogation, and in particular of prisoners of war. techniques where you want to get
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people to talk to you. you want to convince them you're trustworthy. but they also did terrain analysis, they also did photo analysis, and aerial reconnaissance analysis. they did counterintelligence training. >> wertheim: this was really a broad range of intelligence activities. > frey: it was a very broad range, and they did it all generally in eight weeks. >> wertheim: what you describe, it almost sounds like these were precursors to c.i.a. agents. >> frey: they were, in fact. some of them were trained as spies, and some of them went on to careers as spies. >> victor brombert: my parents were pacifists, so the idea of my going to war was, for them, calamitous. however, they realized that it was a necessary war, especially for us. >> wertheim: victor brombert, now 97 years old, is a former professor of romance languages and literature at yale, and then princeton. he was born in berlin to a russian jewish family. when hitler came to power, the bromberts fled to france, and then to the u.s.
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eager to fight the nazis, he too joined the army. after recruiters found out he spoke four languages, they dispatched him to camp ritchie, where strenuous classroom instruction was coupled with strenuous field exercises. >> brombert: there were long and demanding exercises, and close combat training. "how to kill a sentry from behind." i thought, "i'm never going to do that," but i was shown how to do it. >> wertheim: so, physical combat training as well as intelligence? >> brombert: yes-- well, with a stick. you sort of swing it around the neck from behind, and then pull. >> wertheim: among the unusual sights at ritchie? a team of u.s. soldiers dressed in german uniforms. the ritchie boys trained for war against these fake germans with fake german tanks made out of wood. another unusual sight: towering over recruits, frank leavitt, a world war i veteran and pro- wrestling star at the time, was among the instructors. training was designed to be as
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realistic as possible. the ritchie boys practiced street-fighting in life-size replicas of german villages, and questioned mock civilians in full-scale german homes. some of the prisoners were actual german p.o.w.s brought to the camp so the ritchie boys could practice their interrogation techniques. i understand you-- you had sparring partners. you play-acted. >> brombert: one had to playact with some of the people were acting as prisoners and some of them were real prisoners. >> wertheim: by the spring of 1944, the ritchie boys were ready to return to western europe-- this time, as naturalized americans in american uniforms. still, if they were captured, they knew what the nazis would do to them. some of them requested new dog tags-- with very good reason. this dog tag says "hebrew." did your dog tag identify you as jeish? >> stern: i preferred not having it. i asked them to leave it off.
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>> wertheim: you didn't want to be identified as jewish, going back to western europe. >> stern: no, because i knew that the contact with germans mighght not be v very nice.. >> wertheim: on june 6, 1944, d- day-- the allies launched one of the most sweeping military operatations in hihistory. a a mighty onsnslaught of f morn 160,000 memen, 13,000 0 aircraf, and 5,000 0 vessels. >> stern: we were on a p.t. boat taking off from southampton, and we all were scared. we were briefed that the germans were not going to welcome us greatly. as a jew, i knew i might not be treated exactly by the geneva rules. >> wertheim: divided into six- man teams, the ritchie boys were attached to different army units. when thehey landed o on the beas of normandy, wehrmacht troops were waiting for them-- well- armed and well p prepared.
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vivictor brombmbert was wiwith e first amamerican armrmored divin to land d on omaha b beach. he is stilill haunted d by whate experienced that day. >> brombert: i saw immense debris. wounded people. dead people. i remember being up on a cliff the first night, over omaha beach. and we were strafed and i said to myself, "now, it's the end," because i could-- you could feel the machine gun bullets. >> wertheim: is that when you first realized, "i'm-- i'm in a war here?" >> brombert: yes, i realized that i was afraid. i never calculated that there is such a thing as terror, fear. so i experienced viscerally, fear. >> wertheim: on the front lines from normandy onwards, the ritchie boys fought in every major battle in europe, collecting tactical intelligence, interrogating prisoners and civilians, all in service of winning the war.
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when we come back, we'll hear about some of the surprising ways they forged connections with the enemy in order to extract strategic information. ( ticking ) managingng type 2 didiabete? you'u're on it.. staying fifit and snacacking li? yup, o on it therere too. you may ththink you'rere dog all l you can toto manage typepe 2 diabetetes and heart disesease... ...b.but could y your medicationon do more to lower y your heart t ris? jajardiance cacan reduce te ririsk of cardrdiovasculararh for adadults who a also hae known n heart disesease. soso, it couldld help saveve yoe fromom a heart a attack or s . anand it lowerers a1c. jardiance e can cause e seriouse efeffects inclcluding dehyhyd, ...genitital yeast o or ururinary tracact infectioi, and susudden kidneney proble. ketoacididosis is a a serios side e effect thatat may be f. a rarare but lifife-threateng bacterial l infectionn in t the skin ofof the e perineum c could occu. stop takaking jardiaiance ad call y your doctoror right ay if you havave symptomsms of this bacteterial infecectio, ketoacididosis,
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the 7pm news, weeknights on kpix 5. ( ticking ) >> wertheim: in 1944, the ritchie boys headed to europe to fight in a war that was, for them, intensely personal. they were members of a secret group whose mastery of the german language and culture helped them provide battlefield intelligence that proved pivotal to the allies' victory. the ritchie boys landed on the beaches of normandy on d-day, and helped liberate paris. they crossed into germany with
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the allied armies, and witnessed the horrors of the nazi concentration camps. all the while, they tracked down evidence and interrogated nazi criminals, later tried at nuremberg. it was also in europe that some of them, like guy stern, learned what had happened to the families they y left behinind. > newsreel l announcer:r: ths it, , they're onon the beachch. >> w wertheim: b by the summmmef 1944, gegerman troopops in normy werere outnumberered and overpowered. the allies liberated paris in august... >> newsreel announcer: the date was august 25. >> wertheim: ...and drove nazi troops o out of franance. but t hitler wasas determinenedo continueue the war.. in the a ardennes reregion of belgiuium, the gerermans mountna mamassive coununter-offensnsiveh becameme known as the battle of the bulge. i see a tent in the background of that photo right in front of you. >> stern: yes, that's my interrogation tent. >> wertheim: so, this is you on the job. you're in belgium? >> stern: yes, doing my job interrogating. right.
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>> wertheim: amid the chaos of war, guy stern and the other ritchie boys had a job to do. embedded in every army unit, they interrogated tens of thousands of captured nazi soldiers, as well as civilians, extracting key strategic information on enemy strength, troop movements, and defensive positions. they then typed up their daily reports in the field to be passed up the chain of command. >> brombert: our interrogations, it had to do with tactical immediate concerns, and that's why civilians could be useful and soldiers could be useful. "where is the minefield?" very important because you save life if you know where the mine, "where is the machine gun nest?" "how many machine guns do you have there?" "where are your reserve units?" and if you don't get it from one prisoner, you might get it from the other. >> wertheim: 97-year-old victor brombert says they relied on their camp ritchie training to get people to open up.
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>> brombert: we improvised according to the situation, according to the kind of unit, according to the kind of person we were interrogating. but certainly what did not work was violence, or threat of violence. never. what did work is complicity. >> wertheim: what-- what do you mean? >> brombert: by complicity, i mean, "oh, we are together in this war. you on one side and we on this side. isn't it a miserable thing? aren't we all, sort of, tired of it?" >> wertheim: the shared experience? >> brombert: the shared experience, exactly. giving out some cigarettes also helps a lot. a friendly approach. trying to be human. >> wertheim: the ritchie boys connected with prisoners on subjects as varied as food and soccer rivalries, but they weren't above using deception on difficult targets. the ritchie boys discovered that
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the nazis were terrified of ending up in russian captivity, and they used that to great effect. if a german p.o.w. wouldn't talk, he might face guy stern dressed up as a russian officer. >> stern: i had my whole uniform with medals, russian medals, and i gave myself the name commissar krukov. >> wertheim: that's what you called yourself? >> stern: that was my pseudonym. >> wertheim: how did you do commissar? >> stern: thank you for asking. ( laughs ) i gave myself all the accouterments of looking like a fierce russian commissar. and some we didn't break, but 80% were so darned scared of the russians and what they would do. >> wertheim: so there's a real element of costumes and deception and accents. >> stern: yes, and it's
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theatrics in a way, yes. >> wertheim: their subjects ranged from low-level german soldiers to high-ranking nazi officers, including hans goebbels, brother of hitler's chief propagandist, joseph goebbels. another bit of indispensable ritchie boy handiwork: the order of battle of the german army. paul fairbrook helped write this compact manual-- known as the red book-- which outlined in great detail the makeup of virtually every nazi unit, information every ritchie boy committed to memory. >> fairbrook: when the soldiers said, "i'm not going to talk," they could say, "wait a minute. i know all about you. look, i got a book here, and it tells me that you were here and you went there and your boss was this." and they were impressed with that. >> wertheim: so it sounds like this gave the officers in the field a guide to the german army so they could then interrogate the german p.o.w.s more efficiently. >> fairbrook: that's exactly right. >> wertheim: the ritchie boys earned a reputation for
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delivering important tactical information fast, making a major contribution to every battle on the western front. their work save lives? >> frey: absolutely. they certainly saved lives. i think that that's quantifiable. >> wertheim: david frey teaches history to cadets at the u.s. military academy at west point. >> frey: part of what the ritchie boys did was to convince german units to surrender without fighting. >> wertheim: and you're saying some of that originated at camp ritchie? >> frey: much of it originated at camp ritchie, because it had never-- it hadn't been done before. how do you appeal to people in their own language? knowing how to shape that appeal was pretty critical to the success of the mobile broadcast units. >> wertheim: in trucks equipped with loudspeakers, ritchie boys went to the front lines, under heavy fire, and tried, in german, to persuade their nazi counterparts to surrender. they also drafted and dropped leaflets from airplanes behind enemy lines. this was one of the leaflets that was dropped out...
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>> stern: ...out of a plane. i have some that were shot. this one was our most effective leaflet, and why was that? because eisenhower had signed it and the germans had an incredibly naiiïve approach to everything that was signed and sealed. >> wertheim: and you think because it had that signature, somehow that certified it? >> stern: yes, that carried weight, and the belief in the printed matter was very great. >> wertheim: that's the kind of thing you would know... >> stern: yes. >> wertheim: ...as a former german who understood the psychohology and t the mentalil. >> s stern: thatat's correctct. >> werertheim: apapart from thte fifighting, ththere were o other threats s confrontining the rite boys. given their foreign accents, they were in particular danger of being mistaken for the enemy by their own troops, who instituted passwords at checkpoints. >> brombert: what happened to one of the ritchie boys-- at night, on the way to the latrine, he was asked for a
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password and he gave the name, the word, for the password-- but with a german accent. he was shot right away and killed. >> wertheim: did you ever worry your accent might get you killed? >> brombert: yes, of course. you know, i don't talk like an alabama person or a texan. >> werertheim: by y the springnf 1945, , allied fororces neareded beberlin, and d hitler tooook he in his underground bunker. germany surrendered on may 8 of that year. what do you remember feeling that day? >> stern: elated. it was absolutely, "we won, kid!" ( laughs ) >> wertheim: and those are your, those are your comrades? >> stern: yes. >> wertheim: those are your guys. >> stern: yes. >> wertheim: but joy turned to horror as allied soldiers-- and the world-- learned the full scale of the nazi mass extermination. guy stern recalls arriving at buchenwald concentration camp three days after its liberation, alongside a fellow american
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sergeant. >> stern: we were walking along and you saw these emaciated, horribly looking, close to death people. and so i fell back behind because i didn't want to be seen crying to a hardened soldier, and then he looked around to look where i was, how i was delayed, and he, this good fellow from middle of ohio, was bawling just as i was. >> wertheim: a few days later, stern returned to his hometown, hoping to reunite with his family. but hildesheim was now in ruins. a childhood friend described to stern how his parents, younger brother and sister had been forced from their home and deported. >> stern: they were killed either in warsaw or in
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auschwitz. none of my family survived. i was the only one to get out. >> wertheim: did you ever ask yourself, why me? why were you the one that made it to the united states? >> stern: yes, even last night. and i said, "well, huh, in slang, there ain't nothing special about you, but if you were saved, you got to show that you were worthy of it." and that has been the driving force in my professional life. >> wertheim: so, as a way to honor your family that perished? >> stern: yeah. >> wertheim: after the war, guy stern, victor brombert and paul fairbrook came home, married, and went to ivy league schools, on the g.i. bill. guy stern became a professor for almost 50 years. they all rose to the top of
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their fields, as did a number of other ritchie boys, says history professor david frey. i understand there are some ritchie boys that became fairly prominent figures. >> frey: there are a whole variety of prominent ritchie boys. >> wertheim: it turns out author j.d. salinger was a ritchie boy. so was archibald roosevelt, grandson of theodore roosevelt. as was philanthropist david rockefeller. >> frey: some became ambassadors. some became critical figures in the creation of the c.i.a. others were actually really important in american science. >> wertheim: so there's all sorts of impact, years and years and years after the war, from this-- this camp in maryland? >> frey: it was not only the short-term impact on the battlefield-- it was an impact on war crimes. they were critical in terms of arresting the-- some of the major figures, and gathering the evidence for nuremberg. then, shaping the cold-war era, they really played a significant
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role. >> wertheim: how do you think we should be recalling the ritchie boys? >> frey: i think we look at this group and we see true heroes. we see those who are the greatest of the greatest generation. these are people who made massive contributions. who helped shape what it meant to be american, and who-- in some cases-- gave their lives in service to this country. >> wertheim: this-- this is a remarkable story. why do so few americans know about this? >> frey: because it involves military intelligence, much of it was actually kept secret until the-- the 1990s. a lot of what was learned and the methods used are important to keep secret, and only in the early 2000s did we begin to see reunions of the ritchie boys. >> wertheim: now in their late 90s, these humble warriors still keep in touch, swapping stories about a chapter in american history now finally being told. what is it like when you get together and reflect on this
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experience going on 80 years ago? >> stern: we always find another anecdote to tell. ( laughs ) >> wertheim: you have a smile on your face when you think back. >> stern: yes, this is what happens. >> wertheim: it was hard for us not to notice that beyond the stories runs a deep sense of pride. >> fairbrook: ( laughs ) you bet your life i'm proud of the ritchie boys. it was wonderful to be part of them! i was proud to be in the american army, and we were able to do what we had to do. i don't think we're heroes. but the opportunity to help fight and win the war was a wonderful way. i can look anybody straight in their eye and say, i think i've earned the right to be an american. and that's what-- that's what it did for me. ( ticking ) >> cbs sports presented by
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>> cooper: streaming now on "60 minutes+": correspondent seth doane dives below the bay of naples and deep into history, exploring the ancient, now- sunken city of baia, once the playground of ancient rome's elite. he joins underwater archeologist barbara davidde and her team as they rediscover ancient rome's las vegas. >> doane: davidde's underwater mapping has allowed them to create these 3d models to visualize the more than 400 acres of lavish villas and spas where emperor nero and julius cesar had homes. baia was a seaside escape for the ultra-wealthy, with extravagant offerings including
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