Fred W. Kaltenbach: Wikis


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Frederick Wilhelm Kaltenbach (March 29, 1895 - 1945 (est.)) was an American citizen of German descent who served the Nazis as radio broadcaster. Broadcasting English-language shortwave radio programs from Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Kaltenbach earned the nickname "Lord Hee Haw" from his folksy attempts to win converts to Nazism in the American Midwest. Indicted for treason by the United States in 1943, he died in Soviet hands before U.S. prosecutors could take him into custody.


Family background

The eldest child of John Kaltenbach, Frederick Kaltenbach was born in Dubuque, Iowa, and was raised in Waterloo, Iowa.[1] Kaltenbach had three brothers and one sister.

1914: Detention by the German Empire

After he graduated from East High School in Waterloo, Kaltenbach and his brother Gustav went on a bicycle tour of Germany, and were in the country when World War I broke out in August 1914.[1] The two were detained by German authorities on suspicion of espionage until December when they were released.[1] Despite the problems the Kaltenbach encountered, he became quite fond of Germany and its people.

1915-1933: Education and military service in the United States

When he returned home, Kaltenbach enrolled in Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and studied there for three years.[1] In June 1918 he entered joined the United States Army, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Coast Artillery.[1] Kaltenbach did not leave the country during his army service, and the war ended shortly after his commissioning.[1] In the downsizing of the military that followed, Kaltenbach was honorably discharged in April 1919. Kaltenbach then resumed his education at the Iowa State Teachers College, and earned a Bachelor's degree in 1920.[1]

Kaltenbach worked for the next seven years as an appraiser before becoming a teacher.[1] His first teaching assignment was in Manchester, Iowa. In 1931 Kaltenbach was offered a position at Dubuque's Senior High School - teaching business law, economics, and debate.[1] During the early 1930s, he earned a Master's Degree in History from the University of Chicago.

1933-1935: Study in Nazi Germany

In 1933, Kaltenbach took a leave of absence from his position to pursue his Doctorate at the University of Berlin, and while in Germany became infatuated with the Nazi movement.[1]

1935-1936: Nazi-style educator in Dubuque, Iowa

Upon his return to the United States, Kaltenbach resumed teaching in Dubuque. In 1935, Kaltenbach began a club for boys based on the Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend) model.[1] Kaltenbach called the club "The Militant Order of Spartan Knights." He demanded the boys wear brown shirts and participate in shooting practice with .22 rifles. The concern of parents became such that Kaltenbach was dismissed at the direct order of the school board in June 1936.[1]

1936-1945: Broadcasting propaganda from Berlin

After he was fired from his teaching position, Kaltenbach left for Germany.[1] He began reading English press releases for the Nazis in 1936. He married Dorothea Peters, member of a German military family and former secretary to the editor of a German aviation magazine published by Field Marshal Hermann Göring.[2]

During World War II, Kaltenbach was working for the German propaganda ministry as a radio broadcaster.[1] He became one of Joseph Goebbels' favorite broadcasters, and was considered one of the most notorious Nazi propagandists. Kaltenbach's voice was heard several days a week. He used a homey style, and frequent stories addressed to his "old pal Harry back in Iowa,"[3] as propaganda techniques that were carefully planned to gain listener confidence.[1] Kaltenbach was given the name "Lord Hee Haw" by British listeners after they compared his speech patters with "Lord Haw Haw" - who was the British Nazi broadcaster William Joyce.

On July 26, 1943 Kaltenbach, Jane Anderson, Douglas Chandler, Edward Delaney, Constance Drexel, Robert Henry Best, Max Otto Koischwitz and Ezra Pound were indicted by a District of Columbia grand jury on charges of treason.[1][4]

After the Nazi government fell in May 1945, Mrs. Kaltenbach reported that her husband had been arrested by Soviet troops in Berlin on June 14, 1945.[2] Many of Kaltenbach's broadcasts had been strongly anti-Soviet.[1] The Soviets refused American requests to return Kaltenbach to them, and Kaltenbach is believed to have died in a Soviet prison in October 1945.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Goebbel’s Iowan: Frederick W. Kaltenbach and Nazi Short-Wave Radio Broadcasts to America, 1939-1945, Annals of Iowa, Summer 1994 (State Historical Society of Iowa).
  2. ^ a b "Iowa Traitor Disappears from Berlin Home; Wife Says Soviets Arrested Him," Mason City Globe-Gazette, 1945-07-12, at 8.
  3. ^ Canine Cat, Time Magazine, 1940-01-08.
  4. ^ "8 Americans Indicted for Treason: Charged with Aiding Enemy in Radio Jobs," Waterloo Daily Courier, 1943-07-26 at 1.


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