Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Ambassador Alfred Puhan
Before World War II or before we entered the war, I think most of us who were in the academic field were asked to sign some sort of a questionnaire asking what particular qualifications we had that might be of use in case we were in the war and I had put down that I knew German and French. I received a telegram at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ from something called, I think at the time, Coordinator of Information or some such name and asked to come to New York. This was in May of 1942.
I went there and that evening was an announcer in the German language over the facilities of the BBC. I had to ask what the BBC was and when told that it was the British Broadcasting Corporation I asked what it was doing in New York. I was told that the Voice of America, which this was, was in its infancy, still had no facilities of its own and was using the BBC facilities.
I moved rather rapidly from announcer to producer to scriptwriter and producer/scriptwriter and spent the next 11 years at the Voice of America.
Q: Did you go overseas at anytime? I presume this ultimately merged into the OWI, Office of War Information. Did you take any overseas assignment in the Voice?
PUHAN: Yes, my first check was paid by something called Short-Wave Research, Inc. which I believe was part of Wild Bill Donovan's operation, OSS. This was to become shortly thereafter the Office of War Information with headquarters in New York City.
1944: Assigned To Head German Language BroadcastingFrom American Broadcasting Station In Europe (ABSIE)
Yes, I went overseas in 1944 to head the German language broadcast at the American Broadcasting Station in Europe, the acronym is ABSIE, and spent most of 1944 there. This was during WWIIthe Blitz was over of course, but the V-1's had just begun, were just beginning while I was over there. I had a brief respite at home at Christmas time '44 and then went overseas again in February or March of 1945, first to London and then to head German Broadcasting from Radio Luxembourg which, as you probably know, was to become the sort of forerunner of the German post-World War II network.
Vehicular Accident Derails Prospective AssignmentAs Head Of New German Radio Network
I stayed there until September. In September of 1944 I accompanied three other officers in a jeep. We went to Frankfurt to look into the setting up of Frankfurt as the headquarters of the German network. And I suppose I was destined to become the head of the new German radio network under Allied, under American control.