From U-Boats To The City, The Nazi Spies Who Made It Into America.

by Daniel Russ on December 18, 2011

George Dasch and Ernst Burger

On June 12th, 1942 A German U boat, enshrouded by night and shallow waters of the continental shelf and with orders not to engage, placidly slipped through defenses and brings her engines to a halt just east of Amagansett, Long Island. Four Germans, highly trained at Quentz Lake, outside of Berlin, make it to shore wearing German Naval uniforms. They are laden with 20 pounds of plastic explosive, various timers and fuses, maps and civilian clothes. They were George John Dasch, Heinrich Harm Heinck, Richard Quirin, and Ernst Burger. They dashed to the beach, changed into their American clothing, and they were caught actually by a Coast Guard named John C. Cullen. Dasch first threatened Cullen then paid him off and stuffed $260 into Cullen’s hand. Cullen reported the sighting and when soldiers returned to find the men they had already fled into Manhattan.



This was Operation Pastorius, a combination sabotage and espionage campaign launched against specific targets and enough of them o allow the teams to be flexible and choose the ones most likely to succeed. Hitler ordered it after feeling that a clash between the United States and Germany was fated. He sent men into America knowing that our industrial might needed scrutiny, and interdiction. The men were prepared to cut the rail lines of the Chesapeake Ohio Line that brought coal from the mines of west Virginia to the steel mills in Pennsylvania. They intended to take C-4, paint it black so it looked like coal and place it in the coal bins to detonate in the furnace of the train. A wrecked train inside a mountain railway that would be quite disastrous.



They intended to hit the Alcoa aluminum plant in Ohio, plants in Cincinnati, the electrical grid in Niagara Falls, the railways in Altoona, Newark and Massena. They were also looking at the Horseshoe Curve, a railway in Pennsylvania, a cryolite plant in Philadelphia and Hell Gate Bridge.


Coal Bomb


In Jacksonville, Florida, another four men, Werner Thiel, Herman Otto Neubauer, Edward Kerling, and Heinz Haupt, also trained in the Abwehr counter saboteur unit of the German government were secreted onto Ponte Vedra Beach near Jacksonville off of U-584.



Dasch was hiding from everyone the fact that years before he had become a rogue anti Nazi. He hated what the Germans were doing and what they had become. Who knows the damage he could have caused if he was truly a dedicated Nazi. But he wasn’t and he turned tail. He immediately headed to Washington DC and walked into the FBI office and asked to see J. Edgar hoover. They dismissed him as a crackpot, not a German spy. Then he threw $84,000 on the table.



They interrogated him and he spilled the beans. None of his companions were aware of the betrayal.  Within weeks all the men in the men operation were in custody. They were tried and the daring mission and the trials stole headlines away from things like the Battle of Midway and the German invasion of Russia. Burger also confessed his anti Nazi leanings and cooperated. They received prison time and eventually clemency and deportation. The others were electrocuted on August 8th, 1942.


Speedy trial indeed.


J. Edgar Hoover made good use of the scare to make sure Americans were spying on each other as well.


 Wikipedia, Military Channel


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