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Home » Werner Krenzer

"I said to myself, 'I'm a soldier. Now I've got to wipe noses of little orphans that I have to pick up on the street.' That was quite a change for a military man." (Audio interview, 46:33)

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   Werner Krenzer
Image of Werner Krenzer
Werner Krenzer, detail from television program "The Strange War of Sergeant Krenzer" [1955]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Army; Army
Unit: Service Company, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division
Service Location: Philippines; Japan; Rome, Italy; United States; also: Korea; Taiwan; Pakistan
Rank: Sergeant First Class; Sergeant First Class
View Full Description

Werner Krenzer was a veteran of two wars who never fired a shot but was immortalized in a TV drama. He was born in Germany in 1926; his family emigrated to America following Hitler's rise to power. He was made an American citizen after he was drafted to serve in the latter days of WWII. Krenzer re-enlisted after that war ended and during the Korean War, he was assigned to work with orphaned Korean children. His persistence and tireless devotion to the children did not go unnoticed. Several magazines told his story, and a TV producer soon contacted him for permission to portray his work. In 1955, the Armstrong Circle Theater presented "The Strange War of Werner Krenzer," with Richard Kiley. Krenzer's collection includes a complete version of the program.

Multimedia Recordings
»TV program "The Strange War of Sergeant Krenzer".  (58 min.)

Download: video
Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview  (94 min.)

Download: audio(1) | audio(2)
»Transcript
  Photos
»Photo Album (6 photos)
 Official Documents
»View List (7 items)
 Personal Correspondence
»Letter from Mercer C. Walter [December 22, 1959]
 Other Materials
»View List (4 items)
More like this
»10th Anniversary
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
In the Philippines in summer 1945 as a replacement soldier in the infantry; when he heard about the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, he wondered if the fallout would reach the islands; instead of going home, his unit went to Japan as part of the occupation; returned to US in 1947, when he re-enlisted; at outset of Korean War, he was part of the honor escort which accompanied the remains of the war dead when they came into New York City to the proper cemetery in the U.S. (02:52) Called to duty in Korea, landing in Pusan in November 1952; assigned to UNCACK, United Nations Civil Assistance Command Korea, a civilian group; put on a security assignment as a classified courier which required a lot of flying time over water; told (but not trained) to use a parachute, which he never had to do; assigned to civilian aid work with orphans; his work got noticed and written up back in the States in several different outlets; began receiving letters of support; he had found a way to feed the orphans; had 34 orphanages set up by the time he left to go back to the U.S.; a TV show in 1955 dramatized his story, with Richard Kiley playing Krenzer; assigned to Military Assistance Groups in Taiwan and Pakistan, doing the same kind of work; met a German missionary nurse who would become his wife in 1958. (13:22) After final assignment in Rome, retired from the military in 1965; is still astounded at how lucky he was to be in the right place so many times. (02:01)
Background on the photos in his collection. (02:20) Media coverage of his story: New York Times, True Confessions, Reader's Digest, and Collier's--all in 1953; then the TV show in 1955. (01:50) 
  
 Official Documents (7 items)
Letter of recommendation from A. T. Nielsen, Senior Welfare Officer, Seoul, Korea [November 8, 1953] Letter of welcome to the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group to Pakistan [September 10, 1957] DD Form 96 requesting permission to conduct a welfare program to help the needy children of Karachi, Pakistan [January 26, 1958]
DD form 96 requesting permission to conduct a social welfare program in Rome, Italy [October 10, 1961] Certificate of Training, Instructor Training Course, [October 1965] Diploma designating Krenzer an Instructor
Notice and record of personnel action  
  
 Other Materials (4 items)
Outline of events leading up to the telecast of "The Strange War of Sergeant Krenzer" Memo from Ruth Shortell of CARE Clipping, "American decorated for welfare work in Pakistan"
Note from Principal of Redford High School, Detroit [June 2, 1967]  
  
 
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  October 26, 2011
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