ALMOST HOME – Post Scripts

ALMOST HOME is the story of my uncle, my mother’s only brother.

On these pages I offer post-scripts to my book–information that has come to my attention after its publication; and information I did not cover in my book.

First, I must begin with apologies to Austrian researcher Florian Traussig, whose name was mistakenly auto-corrected to Trussing in early editions. After overcoming some computer glitches, it has now been corrected.

Prof. Traussig and his colleague Prof. Robert Lackner have done extensive research on Austrian refugees who fought Nazism while serving with the U.S. Army. Some, like my uncle, were Ritchie Boys. Others were trained at Camp Sharpe to provide intelligence and propaganda services. Yet others served as Alpine soldiers in the last months of the war. My uncle was a Ritchie Boy who also did a few propaganda broadcasts.

In a lengthy report on Attacks on American Troops in Postwar Germany compiled by Perry Biddiscombe of the University of Victoria in September 2003, Biddicombe states that in November 1945, when my uncle disappeared, the 3rd Army reported “many assaults on troops” but suggested that most soldiers were not injured.

He is the author of several books including WERWOLF

In his report Dr. Biddiscombe includes a list of incidences from early November to 17 November, but there is no mention of a soldier gone missing. Although there were a number of instances in the months of March and April 1946, even when no injuries were incurred, there was no mention of a soldier’s body being found in the Mittenwald area.

At the same time, the report states that in November 1945, despite fewer attacks, there was a growing reluctance to accept the defeat of Germany as final. This was evidenced b a resurgence of Nazi trends…The meekness and complacent acceptance of the Occupation which first characterized the people’s attitude is definitely being replaced by arrogance and open defiance of authority, as the sting of humiliating defeat wears off.

In December 1945, despite the superficial improvement in security, the U.S. Military Governor reported that the mood of the German people was deteriorating.

To me this–and the fact that Otto was found far from his base–indicates that it was more than likely that his disappearance and subsequent death was not an accident, but was caused by deliberate action against an American.

To compound the mystery is the fact that I have been unable to find any documents or reports that mention whether his colleagues were questioned, whether an abandoned jeep was found or driver questioned; and whether, other than searching for him, his disappearance was fully investigated. 

I was always deeply moved by Lt. Hauser’s very kind letter to my grandmother, Otto’s mother. When I googled him I found this, translated from the German wikipedia description:

First Lieutenant (later Captain ) Ernest F. Hauser was the eldest son of the university professor Ernst Hauser (1896-1956) and his first wife, Susanne née Devrient, a daughter of the Burgtheater actor Max Devrient . His mother died half a year after his birth on December 17, 1920 in Vienna under unclear circumstances. [1] Since Professor Ernst Hauser was of Jewish descent, the family emigrated to America in the 1930s. After the Second World War , Ernest F. Hauser was stationed in Schongau . He had known Franz Josef Strauss since he was a district administrator in the Schongau district. When Strauss was Secretary of Defense , he wrote to Lockheed CEO Robert E. Gross [2] asking Hauser to represent him. From 1961 to 1964, Hauser was a representative for Lockheed in Europe. Strauss was best man at Hauser’s wedding in 1948 and godfather to the Hauser child Ernest Alfred Franz Josef in 1963. [3] Strauss explained that there could be no question of friendship with the American. [4] [5] In 1961 or 1962, one million dollars was paid into Fred C. Meuser’s account by Lockheed. According to his own statements, he did not pass it on to Bernhard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld . [6] [7]After his release from Lockheed in 1964, he suffered a heart attack. [8] Hauser was sentenced in 1972 by the Bonn district court to one year in prison with probation for breach of trust and forgery . Hauser has lived in the USA since 1972 . Stern magazine reported in December 1975 on a sworn testimony by Hauser, before the Senate subcommittee chaired by Frank Church on Lockheed’s acquisition practice, that in the early 1960s at least ten million US dollars were spent in connection with the Lockheed F-104 procurement for the German armed forces -Dollar bribe to theCSU had flowed, and handed over his diary from that time with appropriate entries. [9] [1

It’s interesting to note the six degrees of separation in all this — that both Hauser and Gruenbaum were both in the Class 20 at Camp Ritchie.  Both from Austria, Gruenbaum, a Master Sergeant, specializes in IPW/German, Hauser, a 2nd Lieutenant, attends three training Classes (14, 15 & 20), specializes in German/interpreter. Gruenbaum goes to the 14th Armored, U.S. 7th  Army, as an IPW team interrogator, while Hauser joins an MII unit attached to the U.S. 9th Army HQ. Gruenbaum goes south, with Patch & Truscott, Hauser goes north, with Simpson & Montgomery. Then, after hostilities coming together again at Schongau, assuming CIC duties, where Hauser acquires as an “aide-de-camp” Franz Josef Strauss, a former soldat with the 6th Army at Stalingrad. Fast-forward to 1976 and Hauser provides blockbuster testimony of Strauss’s venality to a Senate Sub-Committee chaired by yet another Ritchie Boy, Lieutenant Frank Church, Class 15, who’d been posted to the CBI as an Order of Battle team leader. Hauser blew the lid off the palm-greasing activities of Lockheed, incriminating Strauss, Prince Bernhard, American Air Force officers, Military Advisory Assistant Groups, U.S. Embassy staff, and high-ranking people in just about every country where American Fortune 1,000 corporations do business.

You’d think Hauser might have gotten the Medal of Freedom for his role, and while he didn’t, he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The whole story is told in the book THE GREASE MACHINE – The Inside Story of Lockheed’s Dollar Diplomacy by David Boulton.

Although their accomplishments were recognized by the Army, THE RITCHIE BOYS first gained national and international attention when Christian Bauer’s documentary The Ritchie Boys was released in 2004. In May 2021, their story was presented on CBS’ 60 Minutes. In August 2021, they were honored in a congressional Resolution. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum subsequently honored them with the Elie Wiesel Award.

The Ritchie Museum will highlight the efforts of the Ritchie Boys and the role they played in defeating Hitler and Nazism. Korean War Veterans will also have a place in the museum to ensure that the “Forgotten War” is forgotten no longer. From 1926-1998, thousands of soldiers trained at Ritchie to keep the country safe. Others still who lived locally made the ultimate sacrifice. The Museum fully intends to honor them all. Thousands of documents have already been digitalized.

And, of course, there are books:

which was later reissued in paperback as THE RITCHIE BOYS.

RITCHIE BOY SECRETS by Beverley Driver Eddy

INVISIBLE INK, A Memoir by Guy Stern

IMMIGRANT SOLDIER, The Story of a Ritchie Boy by K. Lang-Slattery

 A RITCHIE BOY, A Novel by Linda Kass

and with the hope that these important books will soon be translated into English:

By Florian Traussnig:


By Robert Lackner:

Carnegie Hall

In the fall of 2022, I got in touch with Carnegie Hall and New York’s Town Hall to see if by chance recordings were made of my uncle’s recitals.

Carnegie Hall replied immediately. No recordings. In fact, their archives only dated back to the 80s. They asked if I had a program I could send them, which I did, so now Otto Gruenbaum is in the archives of Carnegie Hall. My grandmother would be so pleased.

Town Hall did not reply, but on youtube I found lovely recordings of Sarah Gorby, whom my uncle had accompanied, singing Yiddish songs.

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