E-mail: hfield@bicnet.net


Noel & Herta Field:

       In preparing the frame-up of Hungary's communist leaders, Stalin needed the image of American anti-Soviet intrigue as the supposed trigger for massive subversion within his ranks.  The focus fell on Noel Field.

Noel and Herta Field in Warsaw ruins, click to see the larger imageHe seemed an ideal target: his U.S. State Department background during the 1930's, reputed left wing ideology, extensive rescuing of communist refugees during the war involving contacts with Allen Dulles, and his post war efforts for the return of these to eastern Europe.  He was lured in the spring of 1949 into Communist territory, abducted in Prague under instructions of Beria and shipped unconscious by car to Budapest.  He was tortured and held in solitary for all of five years, often at the edge of death.  Although never produced at a trial he was declared a master U.S. spy who had recruited all those who Stalin wished to liquidate both in Hungary and later in Czechoslovakia.  His wife, Herta, who had in desperation also gone to Prague to try to find him, was similarly abducted and held in Budapest in solitary all those years.

       On their release in 1954 after Stalin's death , they decided not to return to America, in part afraid of the rampant McCarthyism of that time.  They asked for asylum and permanent residence in Hungary, their political views unchanged by what had happened to them.  Noel died in 1970 and Herta ten years later.

Schweizer film poster, click to enlarge       Noel's complex and tragic story became the subject of an outstanding documentary by the Swiss film producer Werner Schweizer, with awards at almost every film festival in Europe.  For the first time it broke through many of the mysteries of the Field disappearances.  Through access obtained by Hermann Field in Budapest to the entire secret police files on his life and interrogations, the film provided insights hitherto unavailable into Noel's troubled life and the circumstances of his five year mistreatment.  It's title is NOEL FIELD DER ERFUNDENE SPION (Noel Field the invented Spy).  It is now also available in an English language version.  Before the appearance of this documentary, still the best source on Noel was Flora Lewis' book RED PAWN which appeared first in 1963 and had a number of foreign language translations.
Erica Wallach:

       Erica (Glaser) Wallach was condemned to death by a Soviet military court in Berlin in 1950 and subsequently shipped to Moscow's Lubianka prison for execution. Alive still at Stalin's death, her sentence was reduced to hard labor in Vorkuta, in the Soviet Arctic.

Erica at Warrenton, 1962, click to enlargeErica came into the Field orbit in the 1930's through a last minute rescue by Noel during his role as League of Nations evacuation commissioner following the defeat of the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War in l938.  Daughter of a German physician who had left Germany in opposition to Hitler and settled in Spain's Majorca with his family, her father volunteered as physician to the international brigades.  His 14 year old daughter threw herself into assisting the sick and wounded, and after months in impossible conditions, was carried acutely sick by Noel in his car across the frontier into France.  He took her on for recovery in his and Herta's home in Geneva.  The intent was to reunite her with her parents who had fled to England.  The outbreak of war in September 1939 changed all that, and Erica became a permanent member of the Field home, in effect their foster daughter.

       After Noel's disappearance in May of 1949 Erica, now living in Paris with her GI husband, Robert Wallach, and their two small children, felt driven to find information about her missing foster father, and in 1950 made the mistake of following a baited lead to East Berlin.  She was seized by communist secret police and disappeared as had Noel and Herta and his brother Hermann before her in 1949.  Like Kate with her two small boys, Bob Wallach with their daughter and son now became part of a five year ordeal of uncertainty and search.

Erica's book cover       In 1954, both Noel and Herta, as well as Hermann, were found alive in Budapest and Warsaw respectively. Hermann was reunited with his family.  Noel and Herta chose asylum in Hungary.  From Erica, aside from a postcard out of Vorkuta in 1954, there was no forward movement until a year later when she was suddenly sprung in Moscow and made her way West. However, reunion with her family in America eluded her another two years due to the McCarthy atmosphere here at the time.  In l967 she published the account of her years as Stalin's prisoner in the book LIGHT AT MIDNIGHT, appearing In U.S. and a number of foreign editions.  Still today it represents one of the most intimate accounts of the underworlds of both Europe at war and Stalin's Cold War riposte.

       Erica died at her home in Warrenton Virginia in 1992.
Copyright © 1999, 2000 Hermann & Kate Field, All rights reserved.
E-mail: hfield@bicnet.net

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