American Held By Reds Denies Spying Charge

U.S. Officials Say 3 Seized on East German Highway Had a Right To Be There
From Herald Tribune
August 25, 1952

BERLIN, Aug. 24, 1952 (UP).—American officials today rejected a Soviet charge that three Americans arrested in East Germany were spies and counter-charged the Russians with violating an agreement in seizing them.

Capt. William R. Croucher, one of the three who where held by the Russians for thirty-six hours, called the spy charge a trumped up afterthought, voicing amazement that he had been accused of spying.

“The Russians told the United States mission after our release," he said, "that we had been arrested for speeding in retaliation for the arrest of a Russian lieutenant colonel in West Germany by American military police on a speeding charge."

The three Americans were Capt. Croucher, of Baltimore; Lt. Col. Gerald Duin and PFC Arnold P. Swenson, an Army driver, from Texas.

Pact Violation Charged

American officials said their arrest Aug. 15 and ouster from the American military mission to the Soviet zone violated a Soviet-American agreement guaranteeing military missions the right of free transit in each nation's zone of occupation.

A forty-man Russian armed patrol arrested the three on a highway in the Soviet zone about 100 miles north of  Berlin in the vicinity of a Soviet airfield.  American officials said the three men had a right to be there.

Gen. Vassily Chuikov, Soviet commander in Germany, in a note of Aug. 21, charged that the Americans entered a Soviet military installation with "espionage intentions."  He demanded their recall from the mission.

Capt. Croucher said today in Berlin that at no time while he and the other two Americans were held did the Russians accuse them of spying or prefer any charges against them.

He said they were questioned during their detention.  Capt. Croucher himself, who speaks no Russian, was questioned for about thirty minutes in English.  Col. Duin was questioned for a longer time in Russian.

Prisoners Treated Well

"We were put in a small room in a Soviet officers' billet and were treated well," Capt. Croucher said.  "They put three cots in the room so we could sleep.  We were fed well, although Russian mealtimes evidently do not correspond to the American.  Breakfast was served at 9 a. m., lunch at 3 p. m., and dinner at 9 p. m."

He said the Russians refused to permit them to communicate with any one.

The room in which they were held was guarded by armed Russian soldiers who from time to time opened the door and looked in, Capt. Croucher said.

The mission still has about ten members, and the three barred from the zone by the Soviet seizure of their passes will be replaced.

Col. Duin is said to be on vacation, and his whereabouts are not known.  Pvt. Swenson is said to be back in West Berlin, but the Army and acquaintances said they did not know where he could be reached.

Gerald H. Duin, then a LtCol., was the Deputy Chief of USMLM in 1952 until he was expelled by the Russians on charges of espionage.  He retired as a Colonel in 1959.
USMLM Association
News clipping courtesy Geof Duin and Arnold Swenson
Feedback/comments to 

A private, not for profit organization

 Copyright © 1999-2001 USMLMA, Inc. All rights reserved