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"I think we had a harder time competing against [the F.B.I.] than we did against the Germans." (Video interview, Tape 1, 18:25)

   Rafael D. Hirtz
Collection image
Rafael Hirtz in uniform on his wedding day, New York, NY [1945]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: Army Signal Corp; Operational Forces, Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Service Location: European Theater; North Africa; China
Rank: Captain
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With his privileged upbringing--he was born to a wealthy French family, educated by private tutors, and grew up as a teenager around 1930s Hollywood--Rafael Hirtz might have found a way to coast through World War II. Instead, he volunteered for the fledgling Office of Strategic Services, even after he was told that field operatives had only a fifty percent chance of survival. Hirtz worked on three intelligence missions abroad, using his ability to speak fluent French in service to his adopted country.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (12 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 
Download: video(1) | 
Download: video(2) (65 min.)
»Photo Album  (8 photos)
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»On a Mission
»Voices of War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (12 items)
The beginnings of the OSS. (07:30) Training in Canada under the British. (01:26) The decency of the old OSS; turning down a mission. (03:21)
Working undercover; knowing his fate if captured. (07:13) The French Catholic Church and the Nazis. (02:21) Mission in China; training paratroopers. (02:43)
Second mission in France as a liaison with Underground. (03:30) Difficult living conditions in China. (01:49) Barely making it out of China; the morality of wartime. (01:46)
How the contemporary CIA differs from the OSS. (04:01) Contemporary terrorism's ability to disrupt. (01:33) Troubles with readjustment; meeting his future wife. (03:44)

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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