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U.S. Army Captain Defects to East Germany

May 6, 1963 - East Germany reported today that a U.S. Army captain deserted his post in West Germany Saturday and asked for political asylum. The East German press service, ADN, identified the man as Capt. Alfred Svenson (pictured), deputy commander of the Second Tank Battalion, First Cavalry Regiment, in the Third U.S. Armored Division. Captain Svenson was stationed at Giessen, close to the East-West border. U.S. Army headquarters in Heidelberg confirmed the incident and said a “full-scale investigation” had been ordered. Captain Svenson was understood to be the first U.S. 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 to escape punishment for offenses committed in the service. ADN said Captain Svenson, who was born in Lithuania in 1932 and graduated from the University of Scranton, crossed the border near Eisenach, Turingia, and gave himself up to East German border guards. He was in full uniform and riding a military vehicle. Mrs. Antonia Svenson, mother of Capt. Svenson, was tearful and nearly incoherent when told that her son had asked for asylum in East Germany. “I have nothing else to live for,” she said. “My life is my boy. I hope it isn’t true. The military has done something to my boy.”


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