Diplomatic Career

Diplomat Sam Woods descends the steps from an Eastern Air Lines airplane.

In 1917, Woods worked at Mississippi Normal College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he established the manual arts program. Toward the end of the war, Woods was called to serve in World War I in the Marine Aviation Corp. After the war, he received an opportunity to teach in France as a teacher with the Army Education Corp. This experience in Europe led to a lifetime of working abroad for the United States government. 

Over 30+ years, Woods held a number of diplomatic positions including asssitant trade commissioner in Czechoslovakia; commercial attache in Prague; commercial attache at large in Berlin; consult general in Switzerland; and consul general with personal rank of minister in Germany. In these roles, Woods became immersed in the diplomatic society making many contacts.

In August 1939, Woods became the commercial attache at the Berlin embassy. Most of his work included compiling bland economic reports about Germany. In this position, he spent a lot of time entertaining and getting to know the movers and shakers in Berlin. Through his job, Woods met a prominent financial advisor, Erwin Respondek. A friendship emerged that evolved into a fight against Nazi Germany.

Erwin Respondek was a Catholic economist who was linked toseveral groups involved in the Nazi resistance. He had been working with U.S. diplomats on providing information about the Nazi's activities. The relationship between Respondek and Woods was a fruitful one. Because of Respondek's ties in Berlin's financial world and the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, a German science organization that worked with the Nazis on research during the war, he was able to provide Woods with information about German atomic experiments and Hitler's plan to invade the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). Due to the intelligence received by Woods from Respondek, he was able to supply valuable information to the United States government, which in the case of Operation Barbarossa, was passed onto the Soviet Union.