Saturday, June 12, 2021

Would Be Saboteurs

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During this week in 1942, four Nazi saboteurs invade mainland America. They’d traveled across the Atlantic aboard a German submarine, coming ashore near Amagansett, New York. Another submarine carrying four more Nazis would soon land in Florida.
These eight men were on a mission: They were supposed to sabotage American railroads, bridges, water facilities, and factories.
Adolf Hitler hoped to undercut America’s giant war production machine.
The eight men selected for “Operation Pastorius” were all German-Americans, specifically trained for the mission. When the first submarine surfaced in American waters just after midnight on June 13, it was carrying four saboteurs: George John Dasch, Ernest Burger, and two others. The saboteurs were to bury their explosives and other materials near the shore before making their way to New York. They could come back for the explosives later, when they were ready for them.
They were nearly foiled on the very first night.
U.S. Coast Guard Seaman John C. Cullen spotted the group while he was on patrol. The Germans told Cullen that they were fishermen, but Cullen was skeptical. Dasch first threatened to kill Cullen, then offered him a bribe to forget what he’d seen.
It was perhaps the first hint that Dasch wasn’t so loyal to the Nazis. If he’d been following orders, he would have killed Cullen instead.
Cullen took the money and left, but he had no intention of being bribed. He was going for reinforcements. It took too long, though. By the time a Coast Guard team returned to the beach, the Germans were already headed to New York City. Once there, they split up, with Dasch and Burger checking into a hotel together.
According to Dasch’s version of events, the two men soon figured out that neither had ever intended to help the German effort. Burger hated the Nazi Party! And Dasch felt that America was his adopted country. Instead, the two men hatched a plan: Burger would keep an eye on the other two German operatives while Dasch contacted the FBI.
Even then, the FBI nearly bungled the whole thing. The first agent Dasch called in New York thought he was a nut case. Dasch traveled to D.C., but agents there didn’t take him too seriously, either. In fact, no one really believed anything he had to say until, in a dramatic gesture, he dumped more than $80K in cash on a desk. It was the money that the German government had given him to finance the operation.
Finally, the FBI was ready to listen. Dasch was taken into protective custody, and he was grilled for days on end. With his help, the FBI found the remaining Nazis.
Dasch would later claim that he was promised a full pardon if he would stay quiet while they sent him to jail and pretended to press charges. He was told that the FBI needed help so it could fool the other German saboteurs and scare the German government.
The FBI has never confirmed that piece of the story.
Either way, all eight men were arrested, tried, and convicted. In the end, six were given the death penalty, but FDR commuted Burger’s sentence to life imprisonment and Dasch’s to 30 years in prison. President Truman would later give them executive clemency, conditioned on deportation back to Germany.
Hoover had wanted full credit with the American public—and with the President—for foiling the Nazi attempt. For years, he successfully downplayed Dasch's role in the FBI victory. But without Dasch, would the German sabotage attempt have succeeded?
Dasch passed away in 1992, still fighting for the pardon that he felt he deserved. 
 
from Facebook

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6 comments:

Cederq said...

If those two kept their mouths shut and quietly took a train to the west coast they would have melted in and no one would be the wiser... There are times to speak up and there are times to zip the trap and not say a word. They had $80,000 bucks, they weren't hurting for cash in those days.

Peteforester said...

The Coast Guard also caught Germans landing a mini sub on Long Island, and depth charged another sub in the Gulf Of Mexico that was sinking ships leaving Texas. In the latter event, the German sub also fatally wounded the Coat Guard cutter. The government refused to acknowledge the presence of a sub off of Texas, even though the locals would see ships leave, and then find debris with the ships' names on it washing ashore a few days later. The wrecks of both the cutter and the sub were found just a few years back. They were only a few hundred feet from each other.

Stuart said...

No good deed goes unpunished.

Gorges Smythe said...

Very true, C.

Yeah, we can't ever trust the government to tell us the truth, Pf, or even acknowledge it.

So it seems, Stuart.

Charlie said...

fbi, incompetent and crimnal then, incompetent and criminal now

Gorges Smythe said...

Yes, Charlie, J. Edgar Hoover was a crook in his own right.