Skip Navigation and Jump to Page Content    The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center  
Veterans History Project (Library of Congress) ABOUT  
Home » John W. Kluge

"I would take [the German generals] in my car and show them the Pentagon. And I said, 'You know, this is the annex. The big one makes this place look small.' You did all kinds of things with these people. You were working on their head." (Video Interview, 36:19)

   John W. Kluge
Collection image
John Kluge [2002]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: Quartermaster Corps and The War Department (Intelligence)
Service Location: Aleutian Islands; Washington, DC; Fort Hunt (PO Box 1142), Virginia
Rank: Captain
View Full Description

John Kluge's path to serving in a Washington-based intelligence unit was a winding one. Born in Germany, he and his family emigrated to America when he was eight years old. In 1940, at the age of 26, he enlisted in the Army, anticipating a year's service, which got extended after Dec. 7, 1941. After he graduated from Officers Candidate School, he was shunted off to Alaska's Aleutian Islands. His break came with his next assignment: a secret post not far from the newly constructed Pentagon. Thanks to his fluency with German, he spent the rest of the war interrogating captured German officers and translating captured Nazi documents.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (13 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (92 min.)
More like this
»Intel:Behind the Scenes
»10th Anniversary
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (13 items)
Thinking he would only be in the Army for a year, Kluge ended up staying for four and a half. (01:50) Kluge was assigned much drudge work in his first days in the Army. (00:54) An acquaintance reported him to the war department, thinking he was a spy. (01:28)
Transferred from the Aleutians to a military intelligence post in Washington, DC. (00:40) Witnessing a bombing raid in the Aleutians early in the war. (00:37) The Aleutians offered precious few diversions for the soldiers stationed there. (00:46)
Kluge had frequent contact with the Russians, who would stop in the Aleutians for refueling. (02:16) Interrogating captured German officers at a secret location (Post 1142) between Mount Vernon and the Pentagon. (02:25) His team obtained information in some unusual ways in order to construct the German Order of Battle. (04:02)
Believes he would have been dropped behind enemy lines, had someone not reported suspicions he was a spy. (01:10) In charge of an African American unit in California. (02:10) His anti-Hitler stance put him in conflict with his relatives in Germany. (02:41)
Reflections on what serving in the Army meant to him. (02:13)  

Home » John W. Kluge
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us