America’s Foreign Legionnaires
The Lodge Act Soldiers, Part I
After World War II, some fourteen million refugees formed a huge stateless population in Western Europe. The Western Allies simply referred to them collectively as “displaced persons,” or “DPs.” Many released prisoners of war (POWs) trying to get home or into Western zones of Germany chose to join the population Diaspora. To provide the stability necessary for postwar economic recovery, Western Allies resettled or repatriated the bulk of them between 1945 and 1947. However, a large East European population refused to return to their Soviet-occupied countries. These people filled DP camps throughout West Germany.1 A U.S. senator who had seen how foreign units had been integrated into the German and Russian militaries envisioned the creation of similar postwar units in West Germany.2
1 James Jay Carafano, “Mobilizing Europe’s Stateless: America’s Plan for a Cold War Army,” Journal of Cold War Studies 1:2 (1999) 61.
2 Carafano, “Mobilizing Europe’s Stateless,” 66.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., the Republican junior senator from Massachusetts, had been pushing to form a Volunteer Freedom Corps (VFC) since 1948. A VFC, filled with stateless males, would serve as a bulwark against Communism in Europe. Although some American legislators perceived its merit, postwar Western European governments regarded it as a possible economic burden and potential threat. Interest at home was not that great either.
The first and only step towards a VFC was passed by Congress on 30 June 1950, five days after North Korea invaded the South. The initial act [the Lodge-Philbin Act (U.S. Public Law 597, 81st Congress, 2nd Session), referred to as the Lodge Act] authorized the voluntary enlistment of 2,500 unmarried foreign national males in the U.S. Army.3 This act provided more than a hundred Eastern European soldiers to Army Special Forces and Psychological Warfare units between 1951 and 1955.4
3 Senator Henry Cabot Lodge initiated the bill in the U.S. Senate and Congressman Philip J. Philbin, a Democrat from Massachusetts introduced the Alien Enlistment (Lodge) Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Credit rightfully belongs to the Senator, hence it has been referred to as the Lodge Act. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lodge-Philbin_Act.
4 James B. Jacobs and Leslie Anne Hayes, “Aliens in the U.S. Armed Forces: A Historico-Legal Analysis,” Armed Forces and Society, 7:2 (Winter 1981) 197.
The purpose of this first installment of a two-part article is to explain the Lodge Act, to show why enlistment goals were not met, to describe the recruiting, testing, selection, enlistment and preparation for service in Army replacement centers in Germany, and the shipment of the alien enlisted soldiers to the United States for basic recruit training. Very few of the Eastern European native speakers in Special Forces (SF) in the early days were Lodge Act men. Little more than 100 of the more than 800 recruited under the Lodge Act served in SF.5 Timing was poor for several reasons: the postwar world was split by an ideological Cold War that would last more than forty years; America was in the throes of an anti-Communist Red Scare and war in Korea; and the military was slowly complying with a presidential order to racially integrate.
5 Jacobs and Hayes, “Aliens in the U.S. Armed Forces,” 197.
Like many Congressionally- mandated programs, alien enlistment got lukewarm support from the Pentagon and Army commanders in Europe. Army Regulation (AR) 601-249, Alien Enlistment, provided general guidance to enlist 2,500 Eastern European males.6 Because recruiting was a mission of the Army Adjutant General (AG), the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) AG was given the task. That headquarters staff element instituted an enlistment process that was based on individual applications by alien volunteers. Advertisement became the responsibility of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and USAREUR Public Information Offices (PIO). The foreign labor service units supporting the American and British forces in Germany and France were the easiest to target for recruits.7
6 Letter, Lodge to General James Lawton Collins, Army Chief of Staff, 26 November 1951, Henry Cabot Lodge II Papers, Legislative Subject Files, Box 39, Massachusetts Historical Society cited in Carafano, “Mobilizing America’s Stateless,” 69.
7 The British Pioneer Corps had afforded refugees from Nazism during World War II a chance to fight against Adolf Hitler. They ultimately had fifteen battalions. H.W. Brands, Jr., “A Cold War Foreign Legion? The Eisenhower Administration and the Volunteer Freedom Corps,” Military Affairs 52 (January 1988), 7-8.
Although two-thirds of the postwar American labor force hired in Germany and Austria were natives, the U.S. Army also managed labor service (LS) elements of displaced Polish, Latvian, Czech, Lithuanian, Estonian, Albanian, and Bulgarian males, trained and organized as paramilitary guard, engineer, transportation, and public health medical units by nationality.8 In northern Germany, the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) recruited aliens, like Henry M. Kwiatkowski from Poland, for its auxiliary service units.9 The first step was to distribute bulletin board notices to the U.S. Army personnel in charge of the LS units in Germany and France.
8 Resume of Army Roll-Up Following World War II, File 39, US Army Center of Military History, 83-87, and Top Secret Supplement, Annual Historical Report, Headquarters, US Army Europe (U), 1 January 1953-30 June 1954, 75, US Army Center of Military History cited in Carfano, “Mobilizing America’s Stateless,” 69.
9 Lodge Act soldier Henry Kwiatkowski from Poland served in the British Auxiliary Service in the 317th Tank Transport Company at Berkhausen, Germany. Retired SFC Henry Kwiatkowski telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 3 and 21 October 2008, Silver Springs, MD, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Kwiatkowski interview with date.
Vaclav Hradecky from Bilenice, Czechoslovakia, was assisted by his labor service unit commander, Captain (CPT) Karel Cerny, a WWII Czech Army major, and CPT Price, the U.S. Army advisor. Price’s secretary, who spoke Czech, typed up Hradecky’s application.10 *George S. Taylor, Poznan, Poland, had the program explained to him by LT Merritt from Texas. He helped Taylor with his application and arranged the CIC (Counter-Intelligence Corps) interview.11 Frantisek “Frank” Jaks from Jablonc, Czechoslovakia, was in a LS unit in Nuremberg, Germany, waiting approval to emigrate to Australia, when he applied for enlistment.12 Not everyone who wanted to join the U.S. Army received support from their LS chain of command.
10 Retired LTC Vaclav Hradecky, telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 9 September 2008, New Ipswich, NH, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, hereafter cited as Hradecky interview with date.
11 Retired CSM George S. Taylor, telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 11 September 2008, Hopedale, MA, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Taylor interview with date.
12 Retired MAJ Frantisek (Frank) Jaks interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 14 June 2007, Fort Bragg, NC, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter as Jaks interview with date.
“When I got back to France [after taking the entrance exams in Germany], I discovered that my Labor Service lieutenant had charged me as AWOL [absent without leave],” said Jan Wiatr from Welnowiez, Poland. “But CPT Sanders, an American officer of Polish descent who had befriended me, smoothed that over. However a month later when I got the letter to report to Sonthofen for in-processing into the U.S. Army, that lieutenant really went crazy. CPT Sanders ignored his protests and even had his driver take me to Sonthofen in the staff car. I left Captieu ‘in style.’ I found out later that four guys from my platoon in France, were accepted,” laughed Wiatr. “That’s why he was so mad.”13
13 Retired SFC Jan Wiatr, interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 2 October 2007, Fayetteville, NC, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Wiatr interview with date.
A few months after applying, Henryk “Frenchie” Szarek got a letter from USAREUR headquarters to report to the 4097th Polish LS Battalion in Pirmasens, Germany, to demonstrate his suitability for military service. After two months guarding ammunition bunkers and motor pools in a blue dyed Army enlisted man’s uniform, the ex-French Foreign Legion paratrooper and Indochina veteran finally gave the American captain in charge an ultimatum: “If I’m not accepted for U.S. Army enlistment in two weeks, I’m quitting [the LS unit] and going back to France. I didn’t come here to pull guard in a ‘fireman’s uniform.’”14 Recruiting and selection from LS units was not sufficient to fill the requirement for 2,500 single Eastern European men.
14 Henryk Szarek, interview by Robert Seals, Arlington, MA, 27 August 2006, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Szarek interview with date and Headquarters, 4097 Labor Service Battalion, APO 189, US Army Europe, Certificate of Discharge dated 22 June 1953, signed by Captain Zadzislaw Baraniecki. Henryk Szarek personal files, copy in USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.
The USAREUR PIO extended their advertising campaign to Austria, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg, in 1951. Press releases and news film clips were sent to European and Allied-approved German and Austrian newspapers, news magazines, and to movie theaters. The semi-monthly HUETE, a German photo magazine, and the monthly news magazine, Der Monat, produced by EUCOM contained articles on Lodge Act enlistment.15 The notices did produce some results.
15 “Stateless Europeans Enlist,” U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Information Bulletin (September 1951). Armed Forces Information and Education Division, EUCOM (Frankfurt, Germany), September 1951, link dated 30 January 2009 and “Aliens Start Army Training,” EUCOM Information Bulletin (November 1951), link dated 30 January 2009.
Polish volunteer *Stanley Minkinow saw a poster in the Munich train station.16 A news clip about the Volunteer Freedom Corps showing in a local movie theater got the attention of Peter V. Astalos from Cernauti, Romania working in a German coal mine in the British zone, and *Stanley Skowron from Podgorzc, Poland working in a Dutch coal mine in Limburg. Teodor Padalinski, another Pole from Zyrardow learned of the Lodge Act program in 1950, working in Holland. “But, no specifics for application were given; no address, nothing. It wasn’t until I joined a Polish Labor Service unit in France that I got any specifics.”17
16 Retired MAJ Stanley Minkinow, telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 23 October 2008, Huntsville, Al, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Minkinow interview with date, “Stateless Europeans Enlist,” U.S. EUCOM Information Bulletin (September 1951) and “Aliens Start Army Training,” U.S. EUCOM Information Bulletin (November 1951).
17 Retired SGM Peter V. Astalos, interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 25 June 2008, Fayetteville, NC, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Astalos interview with date, retired SFC Stanley Skowron, interview by Dr. Briscoe, 21 September 2008, Fayetteville, NC, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Skowron interview with date; retired SFC Teodor W. Padalinksi, telephone interview by Dr. Briscoe, 18 July 2008, Boulder, CO, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Padalinski interview with date.
Latvian *John C. Anderson had emigrated to Belgium in 1947 to work three years in the coal mines to get citizenship. When the government reneged on its promise, Anderson returned to Germany to join a LS Company in Ludwigsburg. There, he applied for enlistment and was in the second group.18 Voice of America and Radio Free Europe explained the Lodge Act incentives to Eastern Europeans listening covertly. Rudolf “Rudi” G. Horvath heard a Voice of America broadcast in Budapest, Hungary.19 But the men not working for the U.S. military had a more difficult time applying for enlistment.
18 Retired SGM John C. Anderson, telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 26 June 2008, Denver, CO, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Anderson interview with date.
19 Astalos interview, 25 June 2008, Rudolf G. Horvath, telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 15 May 2008, Dumont, NJ, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC; Horvath, “Escape from Behind the Iron Curtain: The Odyssey of a Lodge Act SF Soldier” Special Warfare, Vol. 16, No. 1 (April 2003), 37.
Because Lodge Act recruiting was a staff-managed program, it did not receive command emphasis from Army leaders and the chain of command. After swimming the Danube River at Linz, Austria, to escape in July 1950, Rudi Horvath spent months trying to locate an American soldier in Munich who knew anything about the program. He could not find one of the “special recruiting offices opened in the U.S. zone that processed some 2,600 applicants by September 1951.”20 By then the quota had been raised to 12,500. Horvath finally found a clerk typist who had heard about it. “He was working late, so I asked him to type up an application for me. When he said that he did not have the required form, I suggested that he improvise using a standard request form with my personal data and add that I was applying for enlistment under the Lodge Act. When he was done, the clerk agreed to send the ‘doctored up’ form to Heidelberg for me,” said Horvath.21 Then, Rudi returned to washing the cars of American servicemen to survive. Other young men were more fortunate.
20 “Stateless Europeans Enlist,” U.S. EUCOM Information Bulletin (September 1951).
21 Horvath interview, 15 May 2008, Horvath, unpublished memoir, 15, and Horvath “Escape from Behind the Iron Curtain,” 43.
*Andre Carson from Löm, Bulgaria, was in his final semester at the University of Munich when the U.S. Army colonel in charge of the supply depot asked him about his future plans. After the American officer explained the Lodge Act enlistment incentives, Carson decided to apply. His emigration to Australia like that of Czech Frank Jaks was still in process.22 John Koenig from Yugoslavia was working in the heating plant of the American kaserne in Hoescht, Germany. The officer in charge of the facility, Warrant Officer Senior Grade (CWO) Mussard from Massachusetts took him to the Army Test Station in Frankfurt.23 Still, “getting the word out” in Western Europe was only part of the enlistment problem.
22 Retired Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4) Andre Vasilev Carson, interviews by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 28 November and 7 December 2007, Fayetteville, NC, digital recordings, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Carson interview with date; Jaks interview, 14 June 2007.
23 Retired MAJ John Koenig, interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 4 September 2008, Fayetteville, NC, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Koenig interview with date.
Unbeknownst to most applicants, the Army Counter Intelligence Corp. (CIC) was conducting security investigations. How long these background checks took depended on how long the applicant had been living in Western Europe. Obviously, life behind the Iron Curtain could not be investigated. “Street work” for investigations required time and was not a high priority for State and Defense Departments that were being rocked by the Red Scare.24
24 H.W. Brands, Jr., “A Cold War Foreign Legion”, 8.
“Background investigations were done to determine if parents, relatives, or friends were associated with the Communist Party. CIC agents acted like there was a ‘Commie’ behind every bush,” remembered Czech Vaclav Hradecky. “My German identification (ID) card listed me as Yugoslavian. Still, the CIC talked with the Austrian farmer that my family worked for during the war,” said John Koenig.25 “The German farmer in Kleinhirschbach where I had done forced labor for two years was questioned,” said *Walter J. Smith from Majdan, Poland.26 It was a bit different for Julius “Bear” Reinitzer from Prague, Czechoslovakia.
25 Koenig interview, 4 September 2008.
26 Walter J. Smith, telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 28 July 2008, Lochbuie, CO, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Smith interview with date.
Reinitzer used a “blue chip” with the CIC. After escaping in late 1949, he accepted a job secreting agents across the border for them. On his third trip he was caught after the agent was wounded. Reinitzer was sentenced to 14 years of hard labor in the Kachomvich, Czechoslovakia uranium mine. After two unsuccessful attempts, the “Bear” finally got away and reached West Germany on 22 June 1952. CIC arranged for the aptitude tests in Munich.27 But his case was atypical.
27 Retired SGM Julius Reinitzer, telephone interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 25 August 2008, Hudson, NH, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter Reinitzer interview and date.
Another problem that plagued the administrators was determining appropriate aptitude tests for the alien applicants. Unlike in the United States, schooling was interrupted for most children in occupied European countries for seven years. Thus, the majority of candidates had not graduated high school. It was several months before “approved” applicants received a letter to report to an Army Test Station. Those rejected for security reasons never got a response.28
28 U.S. Army CIC agents interviewed Ruhr coal mine supervisors, miners, and families where Peter V. Astalos worked until 1952. Checking Labor Service (LS) references simply entailed talking with American military officer supervisors, ethnic company chains of command, and reviewing personnel records at the LS Basic Training Center in Mannheim. They interviewed the German farmer for whom Walter J. Smith (Wladyslaw J. Naumowicz), a Pole, had worked during WWII. Smith interview, 28 July 2008, Astalos interview, 27 June 2008, Padalinski interview, 18 July 2008, retired MSG Frank Kokosza, interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 26 June 2008, Fayetteville, NC, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC, hereafter cited as Kokosza interview with date, Horvath interview, 16 May 2008; Carson interview, 28 November 2007.
The aptitude tests and qualification criteria for aliens proved to be a “work in progress” for the five-year duration of the Lodge Act enlistment program. Determining which military aptitude test to administer was tough for Army Test Centers in Europe. The first group was given the exams for Officer Candidate School. Topics ranged from mathematics, science, and basic geography to English grammar and reading comprehension. The tests were in English. Since what little English most applicants knew was spoken, German-speaking U.S. soldiers were provided to assist. Unfortunately, every candidate did not speak German.29
29 Wiatr interview, 2 October 2007; Horvath interview, 16 May 2008.
“The first part of testing there was a lot of sign language being used for instructions. All exams were extremely tough and there were time limits. When there were multiple choices for answers and true/false questions, I gambled to complete on time,” remembered Rudi Horvath. “Mathematics and science are universal languages so my high scores in them probably balanced the low English reading test results. That’s how I think that I passed.”30 Frank Jaks, a Czech, reached the same conclusion.31
30 Horvath interview, 16 May 2008.
31 Jaks interview, 14 June 2007.