America’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS), put together during the World War II, was a revered national spy agency. 1944 was a year when it dominantly expressed its significance, employing as much as 13,000 people. Some of the OSS employees included Moe Berg, a former Major League baseball player, and Julia Child, who had yet to discover the passion for French cooking that would help turn her into a household name.
This article looks into the lives of these two.
Number 1: Moe Berg
Once a celebrated league baseball player, Moe turned into a secret agent for a body later on replaced by the CIA.
Berg’s birth place was New York but grew up in Newark, New Jersey. He attended Princeton and graduated with a degree in modern languages in 1923. He signed with Brooklyn Robins and got spots in Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox until 1939 when his career came to an end.
The United States joined the WWII during the early months of 1942 and Berg was taken into the Office of Inter-American Affairs, an agency established to fight against enemy propaganda in Latin America. OSS made him an officer in 1943 where his role included finding the facts of Nazi’s attempts to build an atomic bomb. Berg was stationed to Switzerland in 1944 with the job of possibly assassinating German physicist Werner Heisenber suspected to be spearheading efforts to build the bomb for Hitler.
Through his intelligence gathering, Berg learnt that the Nazis were nothing close to building such a bomb and chose not to assassinate the prominent physicist. Once the war came to an end, Berg was occasionally assigned by the CIA but couldn’t land a regular employment. He lived the remainder of his life with family and friends.
Number 2: Julia Child
Julia Child was not your regular TV chef. She at one point in her life held vital documents of national importance.
Born in California as Julia McWilliams, Child first experienced intelligence work in 1942 as a civilian volunteer. She was taken into Aircraft Warning Service whose job was to track shipping along the California coast so as to counter enemy attacks.
She made an application to join the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service but due to her being too tall, her application didn’t go through. But her determination to help in the war eventually saw Child join the OSS in Washington D.C. She was a research assistant for William Donovan, the agency’s leader.
She was relocated to the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section the following year. This department was in charge of developing ways downed pilots would survive in remote areas. Child assisted in developing a chemical shark repellent and between 1944 and 1945 took assignments in Sri Lanka (former Ceylon) and China where she worked as the head of OSS registry. This is a role that saw her get to hold top-secret documents. Technically speaking, Child was not in the field spying on other people but was labeled by the OSS a senior civilian intelligence officer.
Julia met Paul Child in Ceylon and the two got married in 1946. Paul Child, a fellow OSS officer, got a job at the U.S. Information Agency in France and Julia got to love the country’s cuisine. She joined Le Cordon Bleu for her studies and in 1961 published Mastering the Art of French Cookingim, a book that helped forge her career.