Even before U.S. involvement in World War Two, Nazi strategists—including Abwehr, the German intelligence agency—began inserting operatives into American cities or turning German-American citizens to the Nazi cause. The practice continued throughout the war. While there were some notable successes, especially prior to American involvement in the war, there were also some spectacular failures. Here are ten German spies and their plots, which occurred on U.S. soil during the 1930s and 1940s.
n June 1942, German submarine U-202 carried a small group of would-be saboteurs to a position off the coast of Long Island, New York. The four spies, led by George John Dasch, were expected to perform acts of violence including blowing up bridges, railways, and factories in New York City and the East Coast over a planned two year period. Dasch and his men comprised half of the assignment known as “Operation Pastorius” (see #4 for the other half), Hitler’s pet project which his intelligence advisors told him didn’t have a chance of success. The chosen men were inexperienced, and had very little training in intelligence operations.
The mission didn’t get off to a great start. The U-boat became stuck on a sandbar off Amagansett. Heavy swells made getting to shore in an inflatable raft an extremely hair-raising prospect. The men barely had enough time to bury their supplies—explosives, blasting caps, and timers—and strip out of their uniforms, when a Coast Guard patrolman, John Cullen, almost literally stumbled over them. A nervous Dasch lost his cool, threatened Cullen, and forced a significant cash bribe on him to keep his mouth shut.
Cullen did no such thing. He reported the suspicious incident. A little digging on the beach turned up four crates of explosives and equipment, German uniforms, and the stubs of German cigarettes. The FBI was brought into the case, and a search of Amagansett and Long Island began, but Dasch and his group had already made their way to New York City.
While the other three Nazi spies hid out in a hotel, Dasch went to Washington, DC, where he turned himself in and rolled over on his fellow saboteurs. He got a sentence of thirty years in prison, instead of being executed like six other members of the ill-fated Operation Pastorius. He received clemency in 1948, and was deported to West Germany.
Read About the Other 9 at Listverse