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Erica Glaser Wallach; Evaded Nazis, Spanish Fascists

January 20, 1994

Erica Glaser Wallach, 71, who evaded Nazis in Germany, fascists in Spain and a Soviet death sentence. At the height of the Cold War, Mrs. Wallach spent five years in Communist prisons on fabricated espionage charges. She was released in 1955 after the Soviets, without explanation, declared her innocent. A nurse for the loyalist side in the Spanish civil war, she tried to flee to France after fascist Francisco Franco's victory, but was placed in an internment camp. She was rescued by Noel Field, a member of the Disarmament Committee of the League of Nations. During World War II, Mrs. Wallach worked in Switzerland for the anti-German Resistance and, for a year after the war, for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA) in Germany. In 1950, she traveled to East Berlin to obtain information about Field and his wife, who had been arrested, and was arrested herself. She was sentenced to death on espionage charges in 1952, but after Soviet leader Josef Stalin died her sentence was commuted to 15 years in a Siberian labor camp. Mrs. Wallach came to the United States in 1957 and wrote a popular book about her life, "Light at Midnight." Her story has also been the subject of a documentary and play. A second documentary is planned. In Warrenton, Va., on Dec. 22 of cancer, her son announced Friday.

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