Updated: Sep 21
Born in Vienna Austria, Eric Waldmann attended the University of Vienna where he receive his PhD in Biology. After Hitler marched into Austria on March 13, 1938, Eric had already decided his plan was to immigrate to the United States. This plan was put into motion and he set sail from Trieste, Italy in September 1938 arriving in New York October 13th, 1938 at the age of 24. When the Americans declared war on Germany Eric felt it was his patriotic duty to return to Germany to fight Hitler. He initially joined the U.S. Army 1942, changing his name slightly as many Ritchie Boys did to a more Americanized version. In this case, Erich became Eric and one of the 'N's from Waldmann was dropped. He graduated from OCS in the Field Artillery and ultimately was transferred to Camp Ritchie's Military Intelligence Training Center where he graduated from the 10th Class and specialized in German tactics. As a second Lieutenant, he then became an instructor at Camp Ritchie.
A sketch by Eric Waldman of his bunk at Camp Ritchie
From 1944-1945 he was in the Military Branch, G2 of the War Department as a specialist in German tactics. At the end of the war in May 1945 he was transferred to a section which was to product a handbook on the Soviet Army for the Pentagon. In June 1945 he was informed by his superior, Dimitri Shimpkin, that a group of high ranking German General Staff officers (POWs) from Fremde Heere Ost (FHO) would be arriving. Captain Waldman was transferred to Fort Hunt to take charge of them and the Bolero Group.
Brigadier General Reinhard Gehlen had managed the German Eastern Front Intelligence Service from 1942 until the very end of the war. He along with his officers group arrived and were placed in the stockade at Fort Hunt near Alexandria, which was under the Captured Personnel and Materials Branch. Since Fort Hunt’s address was P.O. 1142, Alexandria, Virginia, it was commonly called “1142.” P.O. Box 1142 was a secret American military intelligence facility that operated during World War II. The American Military Intelligence Service had two special wings, known as MIS-X and MIS-Y.
Waldman, seated, on the job interrogating a Prisoner of War
Gehlen had brought with him a large amount of German intelligence files and promptly set to work writing studies for G-2, which, because it had very little information on the USSR, was delighted. "Against Hitler's orders," said Waldman in a 1997 article, "they had saved all their documentation which was very risky for them." Studies, such as “Methods of the German Intelligence Service in Russia,” “Development of the Russian High Command and its Conception of Strategy During the Eastern Command,” and “Development and Establishment of the Russian Political Commissars within the Red Army” gave the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies a jump start in understanding what potential threats the Soviet Union might pose in the near future. The original decision to make use of Gehlen, his people and files had probably been made by Brig. Gen. Edwin Sibert, G-2, USFET. Capt. John Boker, a Soviet OB specialist stationed in Europe.
Photo of Eric Waldman with his SHAEF Patch and Dog Tags
Captain Waldman was uniquely qualified to deal with Gehlen and his group. An intellectual and student of German political and military history, Waldman had retained his objectivity about political realities. Despite his own tragic Jewish family history, the fact that he was Austrian by birth gave him not only a linguistic and cultural advantage in working with the Germans. It gave him an appreciation of the depth and strength of forces at work in Europe. Army Intelligence needed to have an operating arm in Germany. Not only did Waldman believe that Gehlen’s people should be pressed into service in interpreting their documents, he fully supported the concept of reconstituting the group as an operating arm of American Intelligence in Germany.
German Major General Reinhard Gehlen in 1945
Waldman had left Gehlen behind in Fort Hunt and arrived at Oberursel in June 1946, to scout out the land and take stock of the situation. Shortly before Gehlen’s ship was due to dock Waldman discovered their destination and immediately set out to foil any possible “kidnaping” attempt by the French. He flew to Paris, then took a car to Le Havre, where with bluff and bravado he had his charges off the ship and safely in American custody within minutes of the gangplank being lowered. He was stationed over in Germany from 1946 to 1949 with G-2 Army Intelligence working with the Gehlen Organization.
When the CIA took over the operations, Captain Waldman chose to leave the military and return to the U.S. to pursue his academic career. Between 1950 and 1955, he earned his BA, MA and Ph.D. degrees in Philosophy while working with the War Documentation Project in Alexandria, VA. Lecturer at George Washington University in Political Science till 1955. From there he went to Marquette University in Milwaukee as Professor, Director of Political Science. In 1967, he along with his family moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada teaching as a Professor Political Science until 1979 at the University of Calgary. At which time he became Professor Emeritus, he continued to teach at the University for a few more years.
He passed away on October 08th 2007, in Sundre Alberta Canada.
Eric and JoAnn Waldman, (Note: In Waldman's illustration above, he sketches a heart around the name "Jo")