Mar 29th 2016 by johncardinalli • 25 Questions • 649 Points
I was sworn to secrecy for 65 years and can finally talk about my life as an OSS agent. I've seen it all from behind the enemy line.
This is my second AMA. I did one 6 months ago, but I had no idea so many questions would come in and I didn't dedicate time to it. So many questions went unanswered. I'm honored to see so many questions and interest.
I will be here for the next 2 hours to answer your questions. I'll do the best to answer as many as I can. I'll do my best to check-in over the next few days and answer anymore questions that come in.
NOTE: I am not savvy enough on the computer, so my grandson is typing as I answer your questions. He also is taking care of posting the pictures.
Grandson here - the last AMA was under "ossjohncardinalli". We didn't write the password down and there wasn't an email on file to reset it. So, I had to create a new account. We had to do the same for imgur. I have reused some of the pictures in the previous AMA and posted a new "proof" photo taken today. Anything that isn't spoken or answered by my grandfather, I will always put "Grandson here" before I write it, so you know the source.
My grandfather was taken from his Austrian farm and drafted into the Nazi infantry when he was 17. He never liked to speak much of the war except with my grandmother. I never felt proud of him but I respected him for what he did to keep his family safe, especially given that he lost his arm in Norway. He lived in the US most of the latter part of his life and never had any run ins that I'd heard of regarding his past (although he wasn't too vocal like I said).
Anyways, did you ever meet a former Nazi in person? If so, how was that encounter? What were you feeling at the time? Did meeting that person change your perspective?
If not, how do you think you would've reacted had you met a former Nazi in person? Would you still harbor ill-will?
I never met a Nazi in person. I can't say I would have any ill-will. Being on the ground, I took orders and had a job to do. They took orders and had a job to do. I'm talking like to like. I am not talking about those who made orders. That is another story.
Can you elaborate on your support for waterboarding? I was under the impression that such techniques are ultimately unreliable and counterproductive (aside from the moral aspects). I'd love to gain some insight from you on this.
This is a wonderful AMA, btw. I'm fascinated. Thank you for, well... everything!
I am back. I'll be here for another 30 minutes or so.
Hey ! Thanks for your service sir ! My question is : is all the hype around spies' gadgets carried by cinema justified by reality ? If so, what's the coolest gadgets you ever used ?
Other than portable radios, it was very low tech. We were on the ground and moving around at all times.
Have you seen the movie "saving private ryan"? If so, did it actually resemble WW2 warfare as accurately as they say it did?
The movie was done very well. As far as the accuracy, I will say it showed how difficult war was for everyone.
Hello, and thank you for this "Ask Me Anything". Did you ever go back to France, England or Germany after the war? If so, what was it like?
Yes. I went back to Holland and Belgium in the 60's. I went to visit an old friend that I met in Holland while in the OSS. He was chief of police in a small village in Holland named who gave me a map. Many of us were in Holland at some point during the OSS and I needed to post my agents in various areas. We talked about if I was caught with that map, it would have cost the lives of many. That map was my bible. Yellow circles are where I placed agents. Here are some pictures of the map:
When you stop to reflect on your life, are you pleased with how everything has gone and do you feel your life has been something to be proud of?
I am proud of my life and what I have accomplished.
How important were letters from the homefront, when it was strangers sending them? Did you ever get packages from school kids or anything like that in WW2?
We never got letters or packages from strangers or school kids. Only from family. It just reminded me of my wife sending me salami a few times. It took a month or two to get, so it was all rotten and moldy. I got a note from the postal man to tell my wife not to send anymore salami. I still laugh about this.