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Horace Hahn

Los Angeles High School yearbook photo taken the year he appeared in the film This Day and Age (1933).
Born July 23, 1915(1915-07-23)
United States
Died January 31, 2003 (aged 87)
San Diego, California,
United States

Horace L. Hahn (July 23, 1915 - January 31, 2003) was an American best known for working with Cecil B. DeMille on several films as a young man, including a supporting role in This Day and Age (1933). He also served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII, and assisted Justice Robert H. Jackson as an interrogator in connection with the prosecution of Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials.


Early life

Hahn was born in Colorado in 1915, and was adopted at a very early age by William and Lois Hahn. William Hahn was the Maytag Corporation representative in Denver. The family later moved to Los Angeles, California, where Hahn attended John Burroughs Middle School and Los Angeles High School. He placed first in the city-wide Shakespeare Competition in 1932, and was the winner of the Herald Oratorical Contest in 1933.[1] He then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was the national forensic debate champion, graduating with an A.B. in Political Science. After graduating from Stanford Law School, he embarked on a national speaking tour with Helen Gahagan Douglas, the wife of actor Melvyn Douglas. Gahagan was elected to the United States House of Representatives from California's 14th congressional district as a liberal Democrat in 1944, and served three full terms. In 1950, Gahagan Douglas ran for the United States Senate against Republican U.S. Representative Richard M. Nixon.[2] In the race against Nixon, Gahagan Douglas coined a nickname for Nixon which became one of the most recognized in American politics: "Tricky Dick".[3]

Service in WWII

Hahn was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army in 1942. He was recruited into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) by Maj. Gen. William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, a New York antitrust attorney before the war, who founded the OSS.[4]

Many of the military personnel in the OSS served in the agency's airborne commando teams, known as operational groups (OGs). In July 1942 Donovan obtained the approval of General George C. Marshall, the Army's chief of staff, to form units of bilingual volunteers that would organize and supply guerrilla bands, gather intelligence, and carry out commando operations behind enemy lines. These men formed cells, each containing two sections of two officers and thirteen enlisted men, although the actual size of the teams in the field would vary greatly. Primarily infantrymen and demolitions experts, they also contained medical technicians and radio operators.[5]

Hahn parachuted behind enemy lines into Czechoslovakia, and later received an award from the Czechoslovakian Government in exile for his services in capturing a Nazi gauleiter in that country.[6]

Nuremberg War Trials

One source identifies Hahn as the chief attorney for Justice Robert H. Jackson during the Nuremberg Trials.[7] Another source states that Hahn aided Justice Robert H. Jackson.[6] Justice Jackson had several assistants at the Nuremberg Trials, including Colonel Telford Taylor, who was the U.S. prosecutor in the High Command case. The indictment in this case called for the General Staff of the Army and the High Command of the German Armed Forces to be considered criminal organizations; the witnesses were several of the surviving German Field Marshals and their staff officers.[8]

Captain Hahn conducted interrogations, including that of Colonel of the Luftwaffe Bernd von Brauchitsch, who served on the staff of Reich Marshal Hermann Göring. Justice Jackson referred to Hahn's interrogation during the cross examination of Colonel von Brauchitsch.[9] Colonel von Brauchitsch was interrogated by Hahn about the deaths of 50 Allied Air Force officers who were supposedly shot trying to escape. This incident was portrayed in the film The Great Escape (1963), an American film starring Steve McQueen about an escape by Allied prisoners of war from a German POW camp during World War II. The film was based on the book The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill, which is a novelization of the true story of a mass escape from Stalag Luft III.

When Justice Jackson resigned his position as prosecutor after the first (and only) trial before the IMT and returned to the U.S., Colonel Telford Taylor was promoted to Brigadier General and succeeded him on October 17, 1946, as Chief Counsel for the remaining twelve trials before the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals. In these trials at Nuremberg, 163 of the 200 defendants who were tried were found guilty in some or all of the charges of the indictments. It is not known if Captain Hahn assisted Taylor during these trials.

When World War II came to an end the Allies competed for access to top Nazis. SS General Walter Schellenberg was one of the most important (General Schellenberg was Adolf Hitler's last Chief of Foreign Intelligence). The British took Schellenberg into custody before the Americans or Russians could reach him. Captain Hahn was one of the few Americans allowed to interrogate General Schellenberg.[10]

Acting and Film Career

Hahn acted in numerous Shakespeare stage productions during his years at Los Angeles High School, UCLA and Stanford Law School. Hahn also worked with Cecil B. DeMille on several films, including This Day and Age (1933), where he played the part of the student body president (at the time, Hahn was senior class president at Los Angeles High School). In his book Cecille B. DeMille's Hollywood, author Robert S. Birchard relates how DeMille wasn't sure screenwriter Bartlett Cormack's script had a sense of current slang, so he asked high school student Horace Hahn to read the script and comment.[11] While attending high school and college Hahn was asked to review additional scripts, and helped out backstage on other films by DeMille, along with his close friend and classmate Buck Houghton.

Law career

Hahn returned to Los Angeles by 1947, where he was a founding member and Director of the Los Angeles High School Alumni Association.[12] Hahn was a founding member of two prominent Los Angeles law firms where he practiced business law for five decades. During 1951, at the age of 19, jockey Bill Shoemaker was making so much money (as much as $2,500 each week) that Los Angeles Superior Court appointed Hahn as his guardian, with the consent of his parents. [13] One of Hahn's law partners was Charles Older, who was appointed to the bench of the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1967 and presided over the Charles Manson murder trial. Hahn also served on various professional, corporate and civic boards. They included the Maytag Corporation of Newton, Iowa, the Chart House restaurant chain, and the Boy Scouts of America. At age 70, Hahn suffered an almost complete loss of vision while hiking in the Himalayas. He became active in the San Diego Center for the Blind, eventually serving as Chairman of the Board.[7]


  1. ^ Los Angeles High School - Blue and White Yearbook (Los Angeles, CA) - Class of 1933, pp. 264–281, website of, Retrieved 1 March 2010
  2. ^ Kenneth Franklin Kurz, Nixon's Enemies, NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, 1998, p. 104
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hersch, Burton (2002), The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA, St. Perersburg, Florida: Tree Farm Books, p. 3
  5. ^ Aaron Bank, From OSS to Green Berets: The Birth of Special Forces (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1986), pp. 1-6
  6. ^ a b Stanford Lawyer Summer 2009, obituary page 87
  7. ^ a b Staff, Idyllwild Town Crier Online, Idyllwild Publications, Obituary Horace L. Hahn Jan. 31, 2003, Retrieved 1 March 2010
  8. ^ Guilt, responsibility and the Third Reich, Heffer 1970; 20 pages; ISBN 0-85270-044-X
  9. ^ [ Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 9 seventy-ninth day: Tuesday, 12 March 1946: Morning Session], Avalon Project, Yale University, Retrieved 1 March 2010
  10. ^ Doerries, Reinhard R. (2003), Hitler's last chief of foreign intelligence: Allied interrogations of Walter Schellenberg, Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass Publishers, p. 360, ISBN 0-7146-5400-0
  11. ^ Birchard, Robert S. (2004), Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood, Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, p. 262-263, ISBN 0-8131-2324-0
  12. ^ Article of Incorporation of the Los Angeles High School Alumni Association, L.A. High Roman Alumni, Retrieved 1 March 2010
  13. ^ Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Saturday, June 2, 1951, pg 11, "Shoemaker Makes Too Much Money"


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