Harry Jacobs

* 1924

  • “When I was a freshman at the university in 1943, basically all my classmates applied for service in the army. I felt the duty to do the same and I thus volunteered for the army.”

  • “At first I went through a medical training in Camp Grand in Illinois. Due to my education at Georgetown, during the training I was selected and reassigned to the military intelligence, where I learnt a wide range of intelligence skills.”

  • “We set out for Normandy in a landing ship. We approached the Utah Beach, jumped to the water and waded to the land. The 4th armored division was not deployed at the time of the invasion. We arrived there several weeks later.”

  • “We were told that one German soldier was hiding in the vicinity. I volunteered to get him. I had my .45 caliber gun, carbine, and grenades. But it was not necessary to use the weapons. When he saw me, he surrendered immediately. He was afraid of surrendering to the French. I took him to a POW camp and that was it. He was the only soldier whom I have personally taken captive during the war.”

  • “We were advancing southward towards Czechoslovakia. We crossed the border near a small town, the name of which I have already forgotten. We reached the Sudetenland area. The villages were intact, but nearly without any people. The first larger town was Sušice, but we eventually ended up a bit further east, in Strakonice.”

  • “On May 10th, our small intelligence unit No. 24 received an order to cross the demarcation line and to find the staff of the German eastern army, which was to retreat somewhere east of Prague. There was supposed to be an archive there, which contained information about the Red Army during the entire eastern campaign.”

  • “We got all the way to the Germans and we had their intelligence officer summoned. At first I wanted to know who they actually were. They told me that they had retreated from eastern Prussia and that they were the last operating staff of the German army. Then they led us to a row of trucks, and there we met a colonel whom we informed that we had been ordered to find out what documents about the Russians they had. He was very pleased. He led us to the truck where he showed us documents about the command structure of the Red army, records about the enemy units, their weaponry, strength, and other intelligence documents. They had a full truck of it. We told him that we were taking the truck and that two people were able to go with us. He and the driver. He was very happy.”

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    Washington DC, 26.02.2008

    duration: 39:41
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We are here at the direct order of general Eisenhower

jacobs dobovy orez.jpg (historic)
Harry Jacobs
photo: Adam Hradilek

  Harry Jacobs graduated from Georgetown University and American University in Washington. During WWII he served in the military intelligence of the U.S. Army. He was trained in the Army Intelligence Training Centre in Camp Ritchie in Maryland and in the British Order of Battle School in London. During his service he was decorated with five Battle Stars, the Bronze Star for Heroism, and the French war cross Croix de Guerre. In April 2001 he published the article Operation Strakonice: In Pursuit of the Soviet Order of Battle in The Journal of Military History, which describes a special mission that he took part in at the very end of the war in Czechoslovakia. On May 11, 1945 he received an order to cross the demarcation line and to get hold of the archive of the German army which was somewhere between Strakonice and Prague. The archive contained German information about the Red Army on the eastern front. With his friends from the special unit he really managed to obtain the archive and transport it back to the American sector. The information on the Soviet army contained in the archive was a precious catch which was important for the upcoming Cold War. In 2008 Harry Jacobs published a novel based on his war experience from the intelligence service titled The Pentagon Brank. Adam Hradílek depicted his adventurous mission in the article From the Utah Beach to Strakonice (in Pamět a dějiny, 04/2011). Harry Jacobs lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C.