U.S. Army JAG School Oral History Interview Conducted With Colonel (Ret.) Frederick Bernays Wiener

Authors:Kelleher , Michael J. Trimble, Dan

Colonel Wiener began his life in 1906. His early childhood and schooling were spent in and around the New York City area. After a year's sojourn to a school in Switzerland in 1921, he returned to the United States and finished his preparatory training at Dwight School in New York. After graduation he attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he successfully completed the requirements for a PhB in 1927. From 1927 to 1930 he attended Harvard Law School where he worked on the Law Review, becoming Note Editor in 1930. He graduated with an LL.B the same year.

Following law school, Colonel Wiener entered private practice with the prominent Providence law firm of Edwards and Agell. Among other things, he worked on the Gillette Safety Razor Co. case involving director impropriety and a subsequent stockholder suit. After three years in Rhode Island he decided to move on, and in 1933 he began his long career with the federal government.

During his first appointment with the Public Works Administration, he reviewed the eligibility of project proposals. Transferring to the Department of the Interior in 1934, he became involved in a near armed rebellion in the Virgin Islands between the Territorial Governor and a Federal Judge. In 1937 he transferred to the Department of Justice. Among his more significant cases there are the defense of claims arising out of the World War I seizure of a German-owned sugar company in Hawaii and the enjoining of the Governor of Oklahoma from using his National Guard to stop the building of a federally-owned dam.

In 1935 Colonel Wiener satisfied his intense interest in the military by joining the U.S. Army Reserve as a Captain in a Judge Advocate position in the Justice Department. In 1941, however, he was called to full time active duty and assigned to OTJAG. Soon he volunteered for duty in Trinidad as the judge advocate for the Base Command. He remained on the island for seventeen months and was duty officer on Pearl Harbor day. During World War II, Colonel Wiener also saw duty in New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, and was present during the invasion of Okinawa where he worked on establishing the occupational government.

Interspersed with his overseas duty were assignments in Washington. He was assigned to the War Plans Division, OTJAG, from October 1942 until April 1943. He was also detailed to the Liaison Section for the Operations Division, War Department General Staff. In late 1944, he served briefly with the War Crimes Division, OTJAG.

After being relieved from active duty in December 1945, Colonel Wiener remained in the Active Reserve until 30 June 1961. His active duty tours during the post-war period were in G-1, War Department General Staff, later known as DCSPER. He was also a consultant-adviser at the Army War College in 1954. Additionally, he gave numerous lectures to the Judge Advocate General's School when it was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Charlottesville, VA.

The day after his release from active duty in December 1945, Colonel Wiener went to work for the Solicitor General's Office. His tenure there lasted three years, terminating in 1948. He became immediately involved in the Yamashita and Homma cases and other alleged Filipino war criminal reviews. He also argued the appeal of Wade v. Hunter, which has become famous for his use of demonstrative evidence (maps) during oral argument.
Colonel Wiener left federal service in 1948 to open a private practice specializing in federal appellate cases. During the next 25 years he argued many well-known cases in front of the Supreme Court. The highlight of his career was his oral arguments in Reid v. Covert. This case is the first and only time since 1790 that the Court has reached a different result in the same case following a published opinion without a controlling change in its membership.

During his lengthy legal career, Colonel Wiener found time to write and teach. His list of publications is long and impressive. Among the most noteworthy of these are: Effective Appellate Advocacy (1950), Civilians Under Military Justice (1957), A Practical Manual of Martial Law (1940), and Military Justice for the Field Soldier (1943, rev. ed. 1944). His teaching accomplishments include serving as Professional Lecturer in Law at George Washington University during the 1950s.

In 1973, Colonel Wiener and his wife Doris moved to Arizona and retired. His retirement, however, was not idle. In 1986 he submitted written testimony to the 99th Congress addressing the issue of "redress" legislation for Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. A truly remarkable man, Colonel Wiener left his indelible mark on the legal profession and the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Excerpt from Introduction (p.3-6)

Judge advocates , United States, Interviews, Wiener, Frederick Bernays, 1906-1996
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Source Citation:

Kelleher, Michael J., Dan Trimble. U.S. Army JAG School Oral History Interview Conducted With Colonel (Ret.) Frederick Bernays Wiener. Charlottesville, Va., 1987

The Judge Advocates Generals School
Published Date:

Series JAGC Regimental Oral History 1987 Wiener

Early life
Harvard Law School
Private practice in Providence, Rhode Island
Federal service
Army Reserve duty before World War II
Active military service
Solicitor General's office
Private practice in Washington, DC
Arguments before the Supreme Court
Testimony before Congress
Army Reserve duty after World War II
Military legal history
Justice Felix Frankfurter

Box also contains two other unbound copies, a copy on two 5 1/2" diskettes, and an incomplete set of cassette tapes (10 out of 19).