Ambrose Fuller (1893-1974)
Ambrose Fuller was born in Sheldon, Iowa on March 17, 1893. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I before studying law at the University of Minnesota. An active student, he participated in the debate team, the Forum Literary Society, and the fraternities Tau Kappa Epsilon and Delta Sigma Rho. Earning a bachelor’s degree in law in 1923, Fuller remained at the university as coach of the debate team and Assistant in the School of Business Administration. Prior to the start of World War II, he worked at the American Municipal Association in Chicago, Illinois.
Fuller enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942. In September 1943 he joined the staff of the Allied Military Government (AMG) in Sicily. While not much is known about Fuller’s involvement with the MFAA, he was Commanding Officer of 1st European Civil Affairs Division (ECAD) Regiment in France toward the end of 1944. During the course of his duties, he investigated requests for reconstruction supplies, many of which were submitted on behalf of priests anxious to replace the shattered windows and collapsed roofs of local parish churches. Resources such as glass, lumber, skilled manpower, and transportation were highly sought-after commodities in postwar Europe. The MFAA and ECAD employed strict oversight to ensure that scarce resources were distributed to the locations that needed them the most. Fuller later became Acting MFAA Officer for the Office of Military Government for the Regierungsbezirk Niederbayern-Oberpfalz administrative district, Bavaria.
Fuller’s experience with public law, combined with his military government experience, earned him a position with the Military Government (MG) Courts. Following the German surrender, SHAEF established courts designed to restore and maintain law and order in the U.S. Zone of Occupation in Germany. Most of the tens of thousands of cases tried by American judges involved minor offenses, including curfew and travel violations, illegal possession of firearms, or false statements made on questionnaires during the denazification process. These same courts later assisted in the re-establishment and reorganization of the German judicial system. From 1947 to 1948, Fuller served as Chief of the MG Courts Branch of the Office of Military Government for Bavaria. In 1949 he was appointed as the U.S. High Commission Court (HCC) judge for Munich. One of his most notable cases involved the December 1944 trial of Irmgard Margarethe Schmidt, a German woman who used her beauty as a modern day Mata Hari to supply U.S. Intelligence secrets to Russia. Fuller reportedly had little sympathy for Schmidt’s tears of remorse, stating, “If these cases are serious enough to be tried, they are serious enough to be punished.”
Ambrose Fuller died on August 14, 1974.
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