Moments in Time

Dumbo the Would-be Mole


On May 9, 1945, the day after Germany surrendered to the Allies in World War II, a man identifying himself as William Walker appeared before American military officers at Templehof Airport in Berlin. Walker announced that after he had landed with U.S. forces in Normandy a year earlier, he had been held as a German POW and had subsequently fought alongside the Russian troops who had liberated him. Private Walker could identify New York City as his place of residence but claimed to otherwise have amnesia about his former life, a condition that U.S. Army doctors treating him in Paris attributed to "shell shock." Upon his return to the States, however, the FBI discovered that the 20 year old Walker was in fact Karl Horst Max Wacker, who along with his parents had been detained as enemy aliens in a U.S. internment camp before being repatriated to their native Germany in February 1944. As it turned out, Wacker had been recruited by the Nazis for espionage school, but the would be mole, nicknamed "Dumbo," evidently couldn't make the grade. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to impersonating a soldier, his exact motives uncertain. On September 20, 1945, he was sentenced to two years in prison.


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