“We were raised to resist tyrants and dictators–and against any and all that used brutality and force to gain their goals.” - Eric Erickson
Eric Erickson was America’s best weapon during World War II. Without him, the war might have dragged on longer, or as some say, we might have lost the war. Stephen Talty goes deeper into Erickson’s profile in his Amazon book, The Secret Agent.
Eric Erickson made lots of money on the oil fields. While making a living in Sweden, this American didn’t have any problem selling oil to Germany who was fast becoming a problem to the world. It wasn’t until his brother, a soldier in the U.S. military, wrote a convicting letter to Erickson that Erickson began to see himself as he truly was–a man without morals. To make things right, Erickson turned to the U.S. OSS and began act Nazi to infiltrate German leadership so he can let the Allied bombers know the locations of the German synthetic oil plants.
Germany was the leading developer of synthetic oil. Oil would determine the war’s end. Hitler’s planes and tanks used oil in the thousands of gallons. So Germany had to figure out a way to synthetically produce the oil or their pantzers could run out of oil during a crucial battle. Eric Erickson began a Nazi makeover that astonished his wife and friends. Because Erickson could not tell anyone of his plans to feed information to the bombers, Erickson lost friends and family as people he loved angrily distanced themselves from him. People believed he was a Nazi. His wife, Talty reports, even went insane from the sudden change in her husband. Erickson would later regret not telling his wife. Erickson’s Jewish friend was also outraged, but Erickson told him, “…please believe in me.”
Erickson dined with Nazi’s, made crude jokes as a Nazi would make, and even hung a portrait of Hitler in his livingroom, but still, he could not breach the inner circle. The people in Sweden weren’t aware of the locations of the synthetic oil plants. Erickson knew he’d need to go to Berlin to gain that information. He asked his friend, a prince, to join him. Berlin loved royalty. So the American OSS made the Prince a spy, and together, he and Erickson began to charm the Germans. Many harried moments put Erickson in danger of being sent to concentration camps designed especially for spys.
In fact, a spy who got caught would have a special execution–he would be led to the guillotine, and instead of lying face down, the spy would be turned to watch the blade come down on his neck. Erickson met a female spy in Berlin and fell in love.
Both agents had a secret affair in Berlin until his girlfriend made a fatal mistake–in her love letters to him, she revealed too much information and was sent to Dachau. Mysteriously, Erickson was forcibly brought to Dachau and watched as they hanged his girlfriend. Then, he was released. Erickson had no idea why they had him watch his girlfriend die.
Stephen Talty does a wonderful job detailing Eric Erickson’s life before, during, and after World War II. A few grammar mistakes peppered the book, like a word that didn’t belong in the sentence structure, extra spaces before a period, etc. At the end, when the book discussed the Hollywood movies about Erickson, the book moves from impassive historian to passionate conversationalist, slipping in a curse word. Because of these mistakes, I gave this book four stars.