UP Men Practiced Dramatics in Germany, Russia

Here's one of the "Gems from Wire Service History" compiled by the late Unipresser Richard Harnett of San Francisco:



After the Russian revolution in 1917, Frank J. Taylor of United Press defied a ban and sneaked into Russia in a boxcar full of Russian prisoners being returned from Germany. He was held in house arrest at the Metropole Hotel. He became friends with his woman guard and they saw the sights of Moscow together.

Taylor negotiated a deal with ROSTA, the Russian news service. But when he sent it to New York, company executives ignored it, thinking that the new Soviet government would not last long. After several months Taylor departed for Finland.

The next UP man in Moscow was John Graudenz. He was from Milwaukee, Wis., where he worked for a socialist newspaper. He was hired by Karl Bickel with Russia in mind, knowing that Graudenz was probably a communist. However he was first posted to the Berlin bureau, where he became known as quite a swinger, with assorted female pursuers. Bickel said one reason he wanted to go to Russia was to escape the Berlin women.

In 1922 Graudenz became the first news agency correspondent in Moscow authorized by the Soviets.

After about two years, Graudenz vanished without notice -- from UP and from everybody who knew him. Later it was said that he took up quiet residence with a new life in suburban Moscow.

That was not the end of John Graudenz. He reappeared in Germany in the 1930s. An acquaintance said he was not working in the news business but sometimes hung around news bureaus and acted very paranoid.

With good reason.

Theodore E. Krulak, while researching his book Two Faces of Tass, in the late 1950s came across the name Johann Graudenz among defendants in an espionage case in Berlin in 1942. He was accused of posing as a salesman of automatic brakes to get information from the German Air Ministry.

The trial record identified him as a former United Press correspondent in Berlin and Moscow.

The Nazis executed him on Dec. 22, 1942.