From various news services, with the original
and in chronological order:
U.S. Captain & G.I. Defect;
Ask East German Asylum
The New York Times (front-page story on May 7, 1963)
Berlin, May 6, 1963: East Germany reported today that
a United States Army captain deserted from his post in West Germany
on Saturday [May 4] and asked for political asylum.
The official press service, A.D.N., identified the man as
Captain Alfred Svenson, deputy commander of the 2nd Tank Battalion,
First Cavalry Regiment, of the United States 3rd Armored Division.
Capt. Svenson was stationed at Giessen, close to the East-West
German border, A.D.N. said.
United States Army Headquarters in Heidelberg confirmed the
incident and said a "full-scale investigation" had
A.D.N. said that the flight of Captain Svenson followed by
a day the defection to East Germany of another United States
serviceman [not from the 3rd Armored Division], who was identified
as Sgt. Benjamin Cain. The press service reported that Cain was
stationed with the 6th Infantry in West Berlin and had sought
asylum in East Berlin with border guards there.
Svenson was understood to be the first United States officer
to defect to East Germany since the end of World War II. Soldiers
of the Western garrisons in Berlin have in the past occasionally
gone to East Germany, usually to escape punishment for offenses
committed in the service.
Army officials said that Cain, 35 years old, was employed
as a supply sergeant at the Army's McNair barracks in Berlin.
His home address was given as Frederica, Delaware.
Heidelberg headquarters said the home address of Svenson,
30, was 20787 North Main Avenue, Scranton, Pa. He was born in
Lithuania in 1932. The captain is not married. He was graduated
from the University of Scranton and is reported to have a Bachelor
of Science degree.
The army said that his mother, Mrs. Antonia Svenson, lives
at 611 Maryland Avenue, Washington, D.C.
A.D.N. said Svenson crossed the border to East Germany near
Eisenach, Thuringia, during the end, and gave himself up to East
German border guards. He was in full uniform and riding a military
vehicle, A.D.N. said.
According to official East German sources, both Americans
are being interrogated by Soviet and East German military and
Captain's Mother Shocked
United Press International
Washington, D.C., May 7, 1963: Mrs. Antonia Svenson,
the mother of Captain Alfred Svenson said today: " I have
nothing else to live for. My life is my boy. I hope it isn't
Mrs. Svenson was tearful and nearly incoherent when told that
her son had asked asylum in East Germany.
"The military has done something to my boy," she
U.S. Army Defector Says German
Reds Balk Return
Berlin, September 3, 1963: A man who identified himself
as Alfred Svenson, a United States Army captain who defected
to East Germany, said in East Berlin today that he is trying
to return to the West.
The man got in touch with the Reuters office in East Berlin
and said he had been manhandled by East German policemen when
he attempted to cross to West Berlin.
He asserted that he remembered nothing about his crossing
into East Germany on May 4th. He said that the last thing he
remembered was having a meal at a West German inn south of Kassel,
which is near the East-West German border.
G.I.'s Fail to Find Defector
Attempting to Flee Reds
The New York Times
Berlin, September 4, 1963: United States officials
were unable to day to find an American in East Berlin who identified
himself as Alfred Svenson, an Army defector, who said yesterday
he was desperately trying to return to the west.
The man visited the East Berlin office of the Reuters news
agency and told the correspondent in charge that East German
border guards had beaten him when he tried to cross to West Berlin
at Checkpoint Charlie, and the East-West crossing in Berlin for
According to Jack Altman, the correspondent, the man's shirt
was bloodstained and his face was bruised and cut. The man said
the guards had broken one of his front teeth in the scuffle.
A United States Army patrol went into East Berlin this morning
in an attempt to meet to Svenson at the place he designated,
but he was not there. The Reuters correspondent said the visitor
had told him he did not remember anything about his crossing
into East Germany and asserted he must been drugged and taken
Svenson, born in Lithuania in 1932, immigrated to the United
States in 1949. He received United States citizenship after serving
with the Army during the Korean war.
U.S. Defector Plans to Stay
The New York Times
Berlin, September 30, 1963: Captain Alfred Svenson
said today that he had deserted for political reasons and intended
to stay in East Berlin. He was interviewed in his apartment by
American newsmen, who had been invited there by the East German
Svenson said he was now employed by East Germany's foreign-language
Western officials believed the interview was arranged to counter
the story Svenson had told a British correspondent in East Berlin
earlier this month. Svenson was reported to have said that he
was desperately seeking to return to the West.
In denying this today, he said that he had been drinking heavily
when he visited the East Berlin office of the Reuters news agency
on September 3.
U.S. Captain Sent Back by
Soviets in Germany
Heidelberg, May 7, 1964: The United States Army announced
that Captain Alfred Svenson, who crossed into East Germany a
year ago, was sent back today by the Soviet authorities. Informants
hinted that his return was not voluntary. The captain is now
in military custody in West Germany while his case is being investigated.
Berlin Reds Accuse Expelled
The New York Times
Berlin, May 8, 1964: The East German Communists said
today that they had "expelled" Captain Alfred Svenson,
on the ground that he had committed criminal offenses.
United States officials here felt that the Russians had pressed
the East Germans to return Svenson to the west.
The United States Army said that Svenson been taken to a military
hospital for a check-up while his case was being investigated.
Army Opens Trial of U.S. Defector
The New York Times
Frankfurt, June 29, 1964: Court-martial proceedings
opened in Frankfurt today against Captain Alfred Svenson, a United
States Army intelligence officer, who left his unit in May, 1963,
for a year's stay in Communist East Germany.
Svenson testified at the opening session that Army Counter-intelligence
Corps agents had told him they had defense evidence, but that
it would be suppressed at the trial. The captain's Defense Counsel
submitted a request that the "voluminous C.I.C. file"
on the case be made available.
Svenson Tells Court of Red
Threat to Try Him
Frankfurt, June 30, 1964: Captain Alfred Svenson testified
today that Communist officials had threatened him with a "show
trial" as an American spy if he refused to cooperate in
being drilled for an interview with two American newsmen.
Svenson said he was held in solitary confinement for most
of September, 1963, in a room with no windows and a bright electric
light burning all the time.
His testimony before the law officer, with the tribunal not
present, was to determine whether a tape recording of the interview
with the newsmen could be admitted as evidence. After hearing
the recording, Lt. Col. Warren Taylor, law officer, ruled it
could be admitted.
Ex-G.I. Testifies Captain
Drove Into East Germany
United Press International
Frankfurt, July 2, 1964: A former United States Army
jeep driver told a court-martial today that when he refused to
accompany Captain Alfred Svenson into Communist East Germany,
the officer cursed him and drove across the frontier himself
under Communist gunfire.
The driver, Edward G. Rowland, 20, of Fall Branch, Tenn.,
said Svenson "cursed me and said it was an order" to
ram their jeep through barbed wire into East Germany on May 4,
Mr. Rowland, a construction worker since his honorable discharge
from the Army, said he refused and hopped out of the jeep. He
said, "Captain Svenson took the wheel, put on a steel helmet,
bent over the wheel, and rammed through the barbed wire."
Army Defector Is Found Guilty
Frankfurt, July 8, 1964: Captain Alfred Svenson, the
United States Army officer defected to East Germany only to be
expelled a year later, was found guilty today of desertion and
larceny. The 31-year-old officer from Scranton, Pa., will be
sentenced tomorrow. The two charges carry a maximum penalty of
eight years in prison, five for the theft of the jeep in which
he fled to the Communists and three for desertion.
A general court-martial deliberated for two hours and five
minutes before finding the officer guilty. Svenson rammed the
jeep through a fence at the border between East and West Germany
on May 4, 1963. He was returned to the West on May 7, 1964, after
the Communists pronounced him "unfit to be granted asylum."
Svenson Given 7 Years For
Desertion and Theft
Frankfurt, July 9, 1964: Captain Alfred Svenson was
sentenced today to seven years at hard labor for having deserted
to East Germany and stolen a jeep. Svenson, the only United States
Army officer to be tried for desertion to the Communists, also
was dismissed from the service. He will reportedly be incarcerated
at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.