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Operation Pastorius: Germany's failed American sabotage scheme in World War II



When Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Germany declared war on the United States, his hatred of America was downright cruel. When his military intelligence chief, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris of the Defense, proposed a means to break into the American heartland, crippling the industry and terrorizing the population, he immediately agreed. It was planned to recruit German men, former residents of the United States, to launch a campaign of terrorist attacks on American infrastructure, including transportation facilities, manufacturing facilities, power distribution grids, and other occasional destinations. It was named Operation Pastorius and was named after the founder of America's first German settlement, Germantown, Pennsylvania.

The first bomber team was followed by a second, then a third, and support for the bombers was obtained from Nazi sympathizers in America following the plan developed by Canaris and led by a member of parliament, Walter Kappe. His agents were trained to identify and specifically target Jewish businesses in American cities that Hitler believed had exerted excessive influence on the American government. Operation Pastorius was not a single wave of terrorist attacks, but a series of terrorist attacks aimed at paralyzing the United States' ability to go to war by tensing up the industrial muscle. It was betrayed by at least one of the agents involved, and J. Edgar Hoover took advantage of the betrayal.

1
0th The Germans planned a terror wave in the Northeast and Midwest

German military planners of the defense chose the main objectives for the first wave of the Operation Pastorius . This included the hydropower plant in Niagara, which supplied power to much of the northeastern United States. The Hell Gate Bridge complex, an important rail link between New York and New England, was to be bombed and disrupt freight and passenger traffic. America's aluminum industry has played an important role in the target list, including a cryolite processing plant in Philadelphia (cryolite is essential to the melting of metal) and several aluminum plants in Tennessee, Illinois and New York.

Railway repair facilities and railway stations as well as locks, which were of crucial importance for the navigation of barges on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers . During their preparation, the agents selected for Pastorius were trained to identify and bombard potential targets. They should be selected for their economic value and their terror effect. These included department stores and restaurants, train stations, airports, subways and assembly venues. The defense planners planned a two-year operation in the US with minimal communication between the agents and the planners in Germany. The agents were trained to recognize emerging goals and act accordingly.

9. Eight agents were recruited and trained by the Abwehr.

Originally, 12 men were recruited by the Abwehr, selected by Walter Kappe from lists of men who had been repatriated from the United States. Four dropped out of the program quickly, and eight were sent in April 1942 for a three-week training in a defense facility. They were trained in dealing with explosives and timers, making bombs and ammunition and their maximum placement. They also received training on target selection, small arms and other aspects of espionage. The training was carried out in a defense facility about 80 km from Berlin, with part of the instructions was given by employees of the Irish Republican Army in collaboration with the defense.

All selected men had lived in the United States for some time and at least two were American citizens. Two others had served in the US Army or National Guard. During the training, the Abwehr provided life stories for each of them, giving them a fictional background based on their American experience and the documents needed to maintain the charade. Driving licenses, birth certificates, passports, social security cards and letters from friends and family were prepared for the men they carried with them during their mission in the United States. When the training was completed, the men traveled to L'Orient in France, from where the navy took them to America.

8. They were landed in the United States by two separate submarines.

The agents were brought to the United States by submarines and split into two four-man teams – one by George John Dasch, the other by Edward Kerling. The first reached Long Island at Montauk in the early morning of June 13, 1942 . Dasch's team went ashore in German uniforms. The uniforms and explosives they brought ashore were buried near their landing spot to be recovered later, and the four men went to nearby Amagansett, where they boarded a Long Island Railroad train to New York. which was unremarkable among the commuters in the early morning. When they arrived in New York, the authorities were aware of their presence in America.

The second team, led by Kerling, was landed on the beach at Ponte Vedra near Jacksonville, Florida Dark with swimming trunks and German uniform cap. They arrived on June 16. They dressed on the beach, buried their explosives and went to a Greyhound bus stop, where they took a bus to Jacksonville. From there, they traveled by train to Cincinnati, where they split in pairs, with two moving to Chicago and the other two, including Kerling, traveling to New York. All eight agents were to clarify their objectives and meet on July 4, 1942 in Cincinnati to coordinate the bombing to ensure maximum terrorism.

7. The teams planned a sabotage campaign for a period of two years.

The teams went ashore with explosives for their first bomb blast on targets determined by the defense. In Germany, Walter Kappe was already planning to send more teams to America, including his own. After the success of the first wave, he planned to establish a headquarters for sabotage and espionage in the United States. With the support of Canaris, he sent the first team of agents to America, well equipped to support themselves and their operations for two years. Each team leader – Dasch and Kerling – carried with them a list of contacts known to sympathize with the Nazis. The lists were written in invisible ink on a handkerchief.

The team leaders were to contact the Nazi sympathizers known to the defense and the Gestapo and build up and use a network of post offices and contacts through which other teams could communicate. Major German communities in cities should be used to support German operations. The support of the German municipalities was considered necessary for the long-term maintenance of the teams. The United States had not yet found a complete warfare base on the arrival of the men in America, and security was still relatively slack, which, according to the defense, allowed for easy assimilation of their agents in the German territories.

6. The sabotage teams had false documents and American money.

The teams, under the control of the team leader, carried $ 50,000 in denominations of $ 50 or less to use for travel, purchase of additional explosive and, if necessary, bribes from officials or supporters. Each man was also allocated $ 9,000 – about half of which was controlled by the team leader, the rest was carried by the agents in money belts. Each member had another $ 400 ready for immediate use. The entire money was real to avoid the unnecessary risks associated with the use of counterfeit money.

Kerling's team was tasked to bombard the Newark Station of the Pennsylvania Railroad, repair facilities near Altoona, Pennsylvania, the Hell Gate, Bridge and Ohio River dams and locks between Cincinnati and Louisville. It was designed to target Niagara electrodynamics facilities, multi-state Alcoa facilities, and the cryolite processing plant in Philadelphia. Wherever possible, both teams should target department stores and major train stations in order to create terror in the population. The agents all carried false documentation that supported their carefully crafted background stories in their free movement to accomplish their tasks.

. 5 The New York team was approached by the Coast Guard, escaped, and a search began.

When Dasch and his team buried their explosives on the beach around 2:30 pm on the morning of June 13, he noticed someone on the beach staring at him. It was US Coast Guardsman John Cullen . That told Cullen that he and his party were fishing despite the lack of fishing tackle. When Cullen looked suspicious, Dasha threatened him and tried to bribe him with $ 260. Cullen promised to forget what he had seen and returned to his station in Amagansett, where he informed his superiors about what he had seen and, more importantly, heard. While Dasch spoke to him, Cullen heard the others speak – in German.

When the Coast Guard returned to the site, the Germans had disappeared, but they found evidence of the digging and when they returned to their station it was with the information that explosives and German uniforms were buried on the beach. Before Dasch's team reached Penn Station in New York, the FBI in Washington knew of the discovery on Long Island. Dasch and his team split up in New York, signing up in pairs in two hotels that were safely hidden in the crowd of the city. In Washington, the information was filed accordingly. Kerling's team had not landed yet when Dasch arrived in New York.

4. The teams planned a meeting in Cincinnati to begin their attacks on July 4, 1942.

The following day, Dasch informed the agent he was traveling with that had no intention of carrying out the attacks. [19659012] and instead wanted to inform the FBI about the entire operation. Burger had the choice of either working together or being thrown out of the upper window of his hotel room. Dasch called the FBI on June 15 and was disregarded as a nutmeg. The next day he traveled to Washington, checked in at the Mayflower Hotel, and went with his information to the FBI. After presenting the large amount of American cash he carried, he became aware of the office. The fact that his story confirmed the results on Long Island was also noted. Within hours, using his information, the FBI had the rest of his team in custody. Kerling's team landed in Florida the same day.

Dasch could not give the FBI much information about the whereabouts of the second team, only that the teams should meet in Cincinnati on July 4th. He told the FBI about the invisible ink on the handkerchief. He could not remember how he could reveal the ink. The FBI allowed Dasch to stay in his Mayflower hotel room, where he was closely watched as he quickly solved the secret of the invisible ink that reacted to ammonia. The listed contacts in several cities were monitored around the clock. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered the seizure of Dasch's team to be kept secret in order not to alarm the remaining four German saboteurs.

. 3 The remaining Germans were rounded up in New York and Chicago

. Kerling and his colleague Werner Thiel traveled from Cincinnati to New York, where Kerling contacted Helmut Leiner, whom he knew from his previous life in America. Leiner's name was on the list provided to the FBI and he was under surveillance. From then on, the FBI Kerling followed and when he met Thiel a few days later in a bar, they promptly arrested the couple and released only two of the German agents. Although the FBI did not know, they were in Chicago, where one of them, Herbert Laupt, had also decided to renounce his mission.

Laupt had grown up in Chicago since he was five and could not register for the design in 1940, as required by law. Desiring to marry his girlfriend, he went to the FBI office in Chicago and informed them that he had contacted his design director. The FBI recognized his name and let him go, hoping he would lead her to the only remaining German agent. After following him for three days, they arrested Laupt for espionage. Laupt, hoping for leniency, told them they could find Operation Pastorius's last agent, Hermann Neubauer, at the Sheridan Plaza Hotel. He was arrested by the FBI the same evening when he returned from a movie. Dasch was arrested as soon as the news of the Chicago arrests reached Washington.

. 2 The Germans were tried by a military court as spies.

Hoover proudly announced the arrest of the team of German saboteurs as a result of an FBI operation, failing to mention Dasch's role as he addressed the story to the bureau. He favored the public and the Germans believed in the efficiency of American security efforts. For the same reason, he called on the Germans to be secretly tried by the Military Tribunal and to tell President Roosevelt that a public trial would reveal too much of the FBI's methods. Roosevelt agreed, and the eight were brought to justice by a tribunal of seven army generals, with United States Attorney General Francis Biddle acting as prosecutor. The trial was a foregone conclusion. All Germans were convicted under the death penalty which they were on 27 July. The court recommended the death penalty, although Biddle recommended mercy for Dasha and Burger. The entire court record, which spanned more than 3,000 pages, was sent to Roosevelt, who was authorized to enforce the court's recommendation or impose lower penalties. Roosevelt's review of the documents revealed that Hoover's reports on the role of the FBI in overcoming the German plan were somewhat exaggerated. Dasch's role in exposing the plot remained hidden from the public.

1. All were sentenced to death by the Tribunal, but Roosevelt accepted Biddle's recommendation backed by Hoover, and granted mercy to Burger and Dasch, who was sentenced to forced labor, sentenced to 30 years in prison. His decision was announced on August 7, 1942. The following day, the remaining six German agents were executed in the District of Columbia jail using the electric chair. They were less than two months in the US. An angry Hitler banned Canaris from carrying out further sabotage operations in the United States when he learned that all eight agents had denounced National Socialism at the FBI. Truman later converted the verdicts of Burger and Dasch and ordered their deportation to occupied Germany.

Even in Germany, where they were generally slandered as traitors, they were not welcomed. Das tried several times during his lifetime to return to the US, but Hoover blocked his efforts each time. Dasch reported that Hoover had given him immunity to prosecution in return for sharing the story with the FBI. Hoover steadfastly denied that he had done it. In 1959 Dasch published a book entitled Eight Spies Against America which described his side of the story. It did not sell well, nor did it support the search for forgiveness of the President, as he had hoped. Dasch died in 1992 in Germany and was still convicted there as a traitor.

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