The New York Times headline on July 4, 1942, was almost jubilant, an Independence Day gift to a country in the throes of war: “Nazi Saboteurs Face Stern Army Justice.” The article described a plot thwarted and an FBI that was vigilant against threats to public safety. It included a line drawing of J. Edgar Hoover on an important phone call.
The article was also terrifying. Eight agents of Nazi Germany were in custody, caught on American soil with detailed plans to sabotage key infrastructure and spread panic.
In late June, two squads of German saboteurs had landed on American beaches, ferried by U-boats to Long Island and Florida’s coast.
The saboteurs had enough explosives for two years of mayhem, with immediate plans to blow up a critical railway bridge, disrupt New York’s water supply and spread terror. They were stopped in the nick of time.
The reality was even scarier than the Times reported, and strikingly different from the story presented by the FBI: a defense system caught unawares, plotters who were merely human, and a confession nearly bungled by the agency.
While Hoover and his FBI painted the arrests as a great coup, in fact it was mere chance that brought the Nazi plot to light.
That’s not to say Hoover’s crew wasn’t looking for Nazis. The FBI had been alert to schemes on U.S. soil since the Pearl Harbor attack jolted the nation’s defense system. The agency had even infiltrated a ring of Nazi spies based in New York and arrested them the year before, in 1941.
That ring was led by a man named Frederick “Fritz” Duquesne, a South African who had lived in New York for over 30 years.
With a shell business in Manhattan and orders from Berlin, Duquesne assembled a network of operatives including one who obtained information about shipping targets and was preparing a fuse bomb. Another plotter designed power plants for utility companies in New York.
By the fall of 1940, they were mapping industrial targets in the Northeast. The arrests of Duquesne and his ring in June 1941 had been a publicity windfall for Hoover and a wake-up call for the nation.
The problem was that after Pearl Harbor, the FBI was looking in many wrong directions for saboteurs, including a misguided dragnet effort against immigrant families on both coasts.
This new batch of saboteurs, all long-time U.S. residents, were trained for their mission in Germany at an estate called Quentz Lake outside Berlin.
Hitler’s generals had been clamoring for sabotage operations and that pressure worked down to Walter Kappe, an army lieutenant who had lived in Chicago and New York in the 1930s before returning to serve the Reich.
Kappe began recruiting in 1941 from among other Germans who had also repatriated from America. Leading the group was the oldest, George Dasch, age 39, a long-time waiter in New York who had served in the U.S. Army. Others included Ernest Berger, who had gone so far as to obtain U.S. citizenship.
Kappe’s plan was to send the team ahead to settle in before he arrived in Chicago to direct sabotage operations. They would be paid handsome salaries, be exempt from military service, and receive plum jobs after Germany won the war.
George Dasch, lead saboteur (Public Domain)
All the agents Kappe selected had lived in the United States for years – two had U.S. citizenship. Their training was rigorous and they practiced their fake identities, rehearsing every detail.
There was even a built-in protocol to protect the operation from the temptation to defect, as William Breuer notes in Nazi Spies in America: “If any saboteur gave indications of weakening in resolve… the others were to ‘kill him without compunction.’”
Their operation was dubbed Pastorius, named for the founder of the first German settlement in America (Germantown, later absorbed into Philadelphia).
The eight secret agents would sail in two groups from a submarine base in Lorient, France. The first group boarded the night of May 26 and U-201 submerged for the voyage.
U-202 followed two nights later, less than six months after the U.S. and Germany declared war on each other.
On the beach of Long Island’s south fork on June 12, the night of the Pastorians’ arrival, was not the FBI but a young Coast Guard recruit named John Cullen, strolling the sands near Amagansett.
Cullen was understandably stunned when he spotted four men in German uniforms unloading a raft on the beach. Cullen, 21, was unarmed.
Wearing the fatigues was a tactical choice: If the men were captured in them, they would be treated as prisoners of war rather than spies subject to execution.
He rushed toward the group and called out for them to stop. Dasch went for the young man and grabbed his arm, managing to threaten and bribe him at the same time. Dasch shoved a wad of cash into Cullen’s hand, saying in clear English, “Take this and have a good time. Forget what you’ve seen here.
” The young man raced off back in the direction of the Coast Guard station, while Dasch and his team quickly buried their uniforms and stash of explosives and detonators to retrieve later.
When Cullen returned to the beach at daylight with several Coast Guard officers, they found footprints that led to the cache.
But the Germans had gotten away. At Amagansett they boarded a Long Island Railroad train into the city. Dasch bought four newspapers and four tickets, and the saboteurs blended into the Manhattan-bound commuters on the 6:57 a.m. train. When they reached the city they split into two groups: two agents checked into a hotel across from Penn Station, and the other two headed for a second hotel.
A few days later, on June 17, off the Florida coast just below Jacksonville, U-201 surfaced and deposited the second quartet of saboteurs before dawn.
Following procedure, they buried their explosives and uniforms near the beach, walked to nearby Highway 1, and caught a Greyhound for Jacksonville. Within a day, two were bound for operations in Chicago, and the other two headed for Cincinnati.
Their list of targets included the complex systems of canal locks in Cincinnati and St. Louis at the heart of commerce on the Mississippi and aluminum factories in Philadelphia.
Operation Pastorius appeared to be on track.
The New York plotters chose their targets for maximum suffering and symbolism. The Hell Gate Bridge carried four vital rail arteries – two for passengers, two for freight – across the most densely populated and economically important passage of the Northeast. The bridge was also an icon of American engineering.
Other transportation targets were Newark Penn Station and the “Horseshoe Curve” on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad at Altoona, Pennsylvania. Another big target was the New York water supply, a gem of public utilities and health.
The state’s Board of Water Supply, aware of the vulnerability, had boosted wartime security for the system to include 250 guards and more than 180 patrolmen.
Once the plotters confirmed logistics, they would retrieve their cache of explosives near Amagansett.
When Dasch checked into the hotel with fellow conspirator Berger, though, he used the moment to tell Berger that he planned to call the FBI and expose their scheme. He told Berger he could either join his planned defection or Dasch would kill him. Then Dasch made a phone call to the local FBI office.
He never wanted to return to Germany; he thought if he turned the operation in, he could stay in America and perhaps resume his life. Dasch had originally stowed away on a freighter headed for the U.S., arriving in 1922. He and his Pennsylvanian wife both pined to stay in the States. If Dasch hadn’t given himself up, would they have been successful? The odds were in their favor.
Dasch told the FBI agent who answered that a Nazi submarine had just landed and he had important information. “I’ll be in Washington within the week to deliver it personally to J. Edgar Hoover,” he said, then hung up.
The FBI had received hundreds of many prank or misguided calls since the war started, and this seemed to be one more. But when the same office got a call from the Coast Guard about the Long Island episode and the stash of explosives retrieved on the beach, the FBI took the anonymous call seriously.
Dasch soon broke free from his team in New York, however, and boarded a train for Washington, D.C. He phoned FBI headquarters when he got there. “I’m the man who called your New York office,” he said. “I am in Room 351 at the Mayflower Hotel.” He asked to speak with Hoover. He was not put through.
For the next two days, dumbfounded FBI agents interrogated Dasch in his hotel room with a stenographer taking down his story: from the sabotage training outside Berlin to the targets identified by both teams, and contacts’ addresses in America. He also handed over all the cash the German government had provided to bankroll years of chaos: over $82,000. Within 14 days, all eight saboteurs were in jail, a string of arrests from New York to Chicago.
None of the infrastructure targets were hit. Public alarm, however, skyrocketed when the news broke. Roosevelt ordered a military tribunal, as the Times headline noted, the first time one had been called since Lincoln’s assassination. All eight defendants pled not guilty, saying they had volunteered for the operation only to get back to their families in America.
Photo from the military trial (Public Domain)
Hoover knew the only way to catch up was to manage the spin. He stage-managed the press details of the case, framing the captures as brilliant police work, when in fact Dasch had volunteered the names and addresses. In newsreels produced through the war, Hoover looked into the camera and addressed GIs overseas, assuring them that the FBI was their capable ally in the war to protect America.
Dasch hoped the risks he took to alert authorities to the scheme would get him clemency, but they were lost in accounts of a triumphant FBI. The Washington Post reported only that Dasch “cooperated with United States officials in procuring evidence against the others.”
That July even Hoover reportedly wavered on executing the man who handed the case to him on a platter. In the end, Attorney General Francis Biddle requested leniency for Dasch. The military tribunal found all eight guilty and sentenced them to death. Dasch’s sentence was reduced to 30 years in prison, and Berger’s sentence reduced to life.
On August 8, the six condemned to die were taken to the District of Columbia Jail and executed by electric chair. Prison officials were concerned about the power surge – the chair was relatively untested locally. Each execution took 14 minutes. News cameras filmed the ambulances bearing the bodies away afterward.
(UPDATE, June 26, 2017: The Washington Post recently reported that in 2006, the National Park Service uncovered a clandestine memorial to the six Nazi spies.)
After serving six years of their sentence, Dasch and Berger were released. Dasch’s lawyer repeatedly applied for his client’s amnesty, and by 1948 President Truman leaned toward a pardon. Still, Hoover argued against it. Dasch accepted deportation as a condition of pardon, and both prisoners were released and sent to what was then West Germany, where they were treated as pariahs.
Dasch settled with his wife in a small town and started a small business, only to have news coverage expose him. They had to flee crowds threatening vigilante justice to the “traitor” and start over in another town. A friend told him, “It’s a good thing you weren’t there. They would have killed you.
” Dasch later published a memoir laying out his side of the story, but it was mostly ignored.
Hoover made sure the FBI would not pay the price of the American public’s fears. That would be borne by immigrant families caught up in the national security dragnet that swept both coasts.
Within a few months after Pearl Harbor, the FBI arrested 264 Italian-Americans, nearly 1,400 German-Americans and over 2,200 Japanese-Americans. Many were never shown evidence leading to their arrest. Beyond those initial arrests, however, came a much heavier cost.
Throughout the war, approximately 100,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps, and 50,000 Italian-Americans were similarly relocated.
For years after the war, Dasch petitioned the U.S. government for a full pardon that would allow him to return, as David Alan Johnson notes in Betrayed, his book about Hoover and the saboteurs. Every time Hoover blocked the request.
While Operation Pastorius may have been the most tangible Nazi threat to unfold on American shores, it was not the last. In January 1945, with Hitler’s regime in its last throes, the U.S. Army uncovered a plan for buzzbomb attacks on the East Coast, providing the New York Times with another bone-shivering headline: “Robot Bomb Attacks Here Held Possible.”
What Was Operation Pastorius?
Hitler himself had dreamed up the plan to attack America from within. According to Albert Speer, he was obsessed with the idea of ‘the downfall of New York in towers of flames’.
But Operation Pastorius was to run into trouble from the very outset and would have an ending that no one expected, least of all Adolf Hitler.
The operation began in the small hours of June 13 1942, when the German submarine U-202 managed to land four Nazi agents at a village on Long Island.
They were led by George Dasch, a thirty-nine-year-old saboteur equipped with enough explosives to conduct a two year campaign against the United States.
His three accomplices were Ernst Burger, an American citizen, Richard Quirin and Heinrich Heinck.
The mission got off to an unfortunate start. George Dasch and his party almost drowned while struggling to get ashore in their inflatable raft. But they eventually made it to the beach, where they buried their stash of explosives amidst the sand dunes. Dasch got accidentally separated from the others and was spotted wandering among the dunes by an American coast- guard named John Cullen.
When Cullen approached him and started to ask questions, Dasch pretended to be a fisherman. But he realized that his interrogator was not fooled and shoved $260 into his hand, telling him not to breathe a word. Then he ran off down the beach.
Nazi Saboteurs and George Dasch | Federal Bureau of Investigation
Shortly after midnight on the morning of June 13, 1942, four men landed on a beach near Amagansett, Long Island, New York from a German submarine, clad in German uniforms and bringing ashore enough explosives, primers, and incendiaries to support an expected two-year career in the sabotage of American defense-related production. On June 17, 1942, a similar group landed on Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, Florida, equipped for a similar career in industrial disruption.
The purpose of the invasions was to strike a major blow for Germany by bringing the violence of war to our home ground through destruction of America’s ability to manufacture vital equipment and supplies and transport them to the battlegrounds of Europe; to strike fear into the American civilian population; and to diminish the resolve of the United States to overcome our enemies.
By June 27, 1942, all eight saboteurs had been arrested without having accomplished one act of destruction. Tried before a military commission, they were found guilty. One was sentenced to life imprisonment, another to 30 years, and six received the death penalty, which was carried out within a few days.
The magnitude of the euphoric expectation of the Nazi war machine may be judged by the fact that, in addition to the large amount of material brought ashore by the saboteurs, they were given $175,200 in United States currency to finance their activities. On apprehension, a total of $174,588 was recovered by the FBI—the only positive accomplishment of eight trained saboteurs in those two weeks was the expenditure of $612 for clothing, meals, lodging, and travel, as well as a bribe of $260.
So shaken was the German intelligence service that no similar sabotage attempt was ever again made. The German naval high command did not again allow a valuable submarine to be risked for a sabotage mission.
On September 1, 1939, World War II opened in Europe with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. The United States remained neutral until drawn into the world conflict by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. War was declared against Japan by the United States on December 8, 1941; and, on the 11th, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States.
During the early months of the war, the major contributions of the United States to oppose the Nazi war machine involved industrial production, equipment, and supplies furnished to those forces actively defending themselves against the German armed forces. That industrial effort was strong enough to generate frustration, perhaps indignation, among the Nazi high command; and the order was given, allegedly by Hitler himself, to mount a serious effort to reduce American production.
German intelligence settled on sabotage as the most effective means of diminishing our input.
In active charge of the project was Lieutenant Walter Kappe, attached to Abwehr-2 (Intelligence 2) who had spent some years in the United States prior to the war and had been active in the German-American Bund and other efforts in the United States to propagandize and win adherents for Nazism among German Americans and German immigrants in America. Kappe was also an official of the Ausland Institute, which, prior to the war, organized Germans abroad into the Nationalsozialistiche Deutshe Arbeiterpartei, the NSDAP or Nazi Party, and during the conflict, Ausland kept track of and in touch with persons in Germany who had returned from abroad. Kappe’s responsibility concerned those who had returned from the United States.
Early in 1942, he contacted, among others, those who ultimately undertook the mission to the United States. Each consented to the task, apparently willingly, although unaware of the specific assignment. Most of the potential saboteurs were taken from civilian jobs, but two were in the German army.
The trainees, about twelve in all, were told of their specific mission only when they entered a sabotage school established near Berlin which instructed them in chemistry, incendiaries, explosives, timing devices, secret writing, and concealment of identity by blending into an American background. The intensive training included the practical use of the techniques under realistic conditions.
Subsequently, the saboteurs were taken to aluminum and magnesium plants, railroad shops, canals, locks, and other facilities to familiarize them with the vital points and vulnerabilities of the types of targets they were to attack.
Maps were used to locate those American targets, spots where railroads could be most effectively disabled, the principal aluminum and magnesium plants, and important canals, waterways, and locks. All instructions had to be memorized.
On May 26, 1942, the first group of four saboteurs left by submarine from the German base at Lorient, France, and on May 28, the next group of four departed the same base. Each was destined to land at points on the Atlantic Coast of the United States familiar to the leader of that group.
Four men, led by George John Dasch (pictured), age 39, landed on a beach near Amagansett, Long Island, New York, about 12:10 a.m., June 13, 1942. Accompanying Dasch were Ernest Peter Burger, 36; Heinrich Harm Heinck, 35; and Richard Quirin, 34.
On June 17, 1942, the other group landed at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, south of Jacksonville. The leader was Edward John Kerling, age 33; with Werner Thiel, 35; Herman Otto Neubauer, 32; and Herbert Hans Haupt, 22. Both groups landed wearing complete or partial German uniforms to ensure treatment as prisoners of war rather than as spies if they were caught in the act of landing.
Having landed unobserved, the uniforms were quickly discarded, to be buried with the sabotage material (which was intended to be later retrieved), and civilian clothing was donned. The saboteurs quickly dispersed. The Florida group made their way to Jacksonville, then by train to Cincinnati, with two going on to Chicago and the other pair to New York City.
The Long Island group was less fortunate; scarcely had they buried their equipment and uniforms, in fact, one still wore bathing trunks, when a Coast Guardsman patrolling the shore approached.
He was unarmed and very suspicious of them, more so when they offered him a bribe to forget they had met. He ostensibly accepted the bribe to lull their fears and promptly reported the incident to his headquarters.
However, by the time the search patrol located the spot, the saboteurs had reached a railroad station and had taken a train to New York City.
Dasch’s resolution to be a saboteur for the Fatherland faltered—perhaps he thought the whole project so grandiose as to be impractical and wanted to protect himself before some of his companions took action on similar doubts. He indicated to Burger his desire to confess everything.
On the evening of June 14, 1942, Dasch, giving the name “Pastorius” called the New York Office of the FBI stating he had recently arrived from Germany and would call FBI Headquarters when he was in Washington, D.C., the following week.
On the morning of Friday, June 19, a call was received at the FBI Washington from Dasch, then registered at a Washington hotel. He alluded to his prior call as “Pastorius” (of which Headquarters was aware) and furnished his location.
He was immediately contacted and taken into custody.
During the next several days he was thoroughly interrogated and he furnished the identities of the other saboteurs, possible locations for some, and data which would enable their more expeditious apprehension.
The three remaining members of the Long Island group were picked up in New York City on June 20. Of the Florida group, Kerling and Thiel were arrested in New York City on June 23, and Neubauer and Haupt were arrested in Chicago on June 27.
The eight were tried before a military commission, comprised of seven U.S. Army officers appointed by President Roosevelt, from July 8 to August 4, 1942. The trial was held in the Department of Justice Building, Washington, D.C.
The prosecution was headed by Attorney General Frances Biddle and the Army Judge Advocate General, Major General Myron C. Cramer. Defense counsel included Colonel Kenneth C. Royall (later Secretary of War under President Truman) and Major Lausen H.
Stone (son of Harlan Fiske Stone, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court).
All eight were found guilty and sentenced to death. Attorney General Biddle and J. Edgar Hoover appealed to President Roosevelt to commute the sentences of Dasch and Burger. Dasch then received a 30-year sentence, and Burger received a life sentence, both to be served in a federal penitentiary. The remaining six were executed at the District of Columbia Jail on August 8, 1942.
The eight men had been born in Germany and each had lived in the United States for substantial periods. Burger had become a naturalized American in 1933. Haupt had entered the United States as a child, gaining citizenship when his father was naturalized in 1930.
Dasch had joined the Germany army at the age of 14 and served about 11 months as a clerk during the conclusion of World War I. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1927 and received an honorable discharge after a little more than a year of service.
Quirin and Heinck had returned to Germany prior to the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and the six others subsequent to September 11, 1939 and before December 7, 1941 apparently feeling their first loyalty was to the country of their birth.
Postwar debriefing of German personnel and examination of records confirmed that no other attempt was made to land saboteurs by submarine; though in late 1944, two persons, William Curtis Colepaugh and Erich Gimpel, were landed as spies from a German submarine on the coast of Maine in a rather desperate attempt to secure information. They, too, were quickly apprehended by the FBI before accomplishing any part of their mission.
In April, 1948, President Truman granted executive clemency to Dasch and Burger on condition of deportation. They were transported to the American Zone of Germany, the unexecuted portions of their sentences were suspended upon such conditions with respect to travel, employment, political, and other activities as the Theater commander might require, and they were freed.
Although many allegations of sabotage were investigated by the FBI during World War II, not one instance was found of enemy-inspired sabotage. Every suspect act traced to its source was the result of vandalism, pique, resentment, a desire for relief from boredom, the curiosity of children “to see what would happen,” or other personal motive.
For more information:– FBI Case Records on the American Nazi Party
When the Nazis Invaded the Hamptons
Edward John Kerling and George John Dasch, two of the eight Nazi saboteurs captured by the FBI.
(Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)
The night was especially dark as U.S. Coast Guard seaman John Cullen patrolled the sand dunes of Amagansett, New York, shortly after midnight on June 13, 1942.
Regulations in effect after the United States entered World War II six months earlier had already imposed blackouts on the village nestled in the Hamptons, and the thick fog that blanketed the east end of Long Island made it even more difficult for Cullen to see.
The 21-year-old “sand pounder” listened to the Atlantic Ocean lap up on the shore when the figures of four suspicious men suddenly crystallized in the fog. Of course, any men on the beach in violation of the nighttime curfew were by definition suspicious, but something was particularly odd about these men who claimed to be local fishermen who had run aground.
Mugshots of saboteurs George John Dasch, Geinrich Harm Heinck and Richard Quirin.
(Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)
The group’s leader, who gave his name as George John Davis, didn’t seem dressed for the part in his fedora, red zippered sweater and tennis shoes. The self-proclaimed fisherman then refused to return to the nearby Coast Guard station with Cullen.
Perhaps realizing that there was nothing more he could possibly do to arouse suspicion, the ringleader blurted, “Look, I wouldn’t want to kill you. You don’t know what this is all about.
” The faux fisherman pulled out a wad of bills from a tobacco pouch lodged in a pocket of his wet pants and said, “Forget about this, and I will give you some money and you can have a good time.”
World War II: German Saboteurs Invade America in 1942
Normandy. Anzio. Guadalcanal. Okinawa. Those are some of the historic landing sites for World War II invasions, legendary names that should never be forgotten. But there were lesser landings, as well, such as at Amagansett, New York, and Ponte Verdra Beach, Florida. That’s right. There were at least two mini-landings in America, engineered by Germans, of course, not Allies.
In the midst of World War II, two German submarines actually put men ashore at both of those locations. The invaders did not arrive with the intent of seizing and occupying territory, however. Their mission was sabotage.
Their targets were some of the crown jewels of America’s industrial might: major hydroelectric plants, important aluminum factories, critical railroad tracks, bridges and canals–and the water supply system of New York City.
Well-trained and well-supplied, the saboteurs had good reason to be confident, but in the end they failed utterly. How and why that happened is a fascinating tale, partly because of what it reveals about the character of the two warring nations.
The story begins shortly after Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States, just four days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Eager to prove to the United States that it was vulnerable despite its distance from Europe, Hitler ordered a sabotage operation to be mounted against targets inside America.
The task fell to the Abwehr (defense) section of the German Military Intelligence Corps.
The job was right up the Abwehr’s alley. It already had conducted extensive sabotage operations against the Reich‘s European enemies, developing all the necessary tools and techniques and establishing an elaborate sabotage school in the wooded German countryside near Brandenburg.
Lieutenant Walter Kappe, 37, a pudgy, bull-necked man, was given command of the mission against America, which he dubbed Operation Pastorius, after an early German settler in America. Kappe was a longtime member of the Nazi party, and he also knew the United States very well, having lived there for 12 years.
Sabotage on the Home Front: Operation Pastorius
Operation Pastorius Background:
With the American entry into World War II in late 1941, German authorities began planning to land agents in the United States to collect intelligence and carry out attacks against industrial targets.
Organization of these activities was delegated to the Abwehr, Germany's intelligence agency, which was headed by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Direct control of the American operations was given to William Kappe, a long-time Nazi who had lived in the United States for twelve years.
Canaris named the American effort Operation Pastorius after Francis Pastorius who led the first German settlement in North America.
Utilizing the records of the Ausland Institute, a group that had facilitated the return of thousands of Germans from America in the years before the war, Kappe selected twelve men with blue-collar backgrounds, including two who were naturalized citizens, to begin training at the Abwehr's sabotage school near Brandenburg. Four men were quickly dropped from the program, while the remaining eight were divided into two teams under the leadership of George John Dasch and Edward Kerling. Commencing training in April 1942, they received their assignments the following month.
Dasch was to lead Ernst Burger, Heinrich Heinck, and Richard Quirin in attacking the hydroelectric plants at Niagara Falls, a cryolite plant in Philadelphia, canal locks on the Ohio River, as well as Aluminum Company of America factories in New York, Illinois, and Tennessee.
Kerling's team of Hermann Neubauer, Herbert Haupt, and Werner Thiel were designated to strike the water system in New York City, a railroad station in Newark, Horseshoe Bend near Altoona, PA, as well as canal locks at St. Louis and Cincinnati.
The teams planned to rendezvous at Cincinnati on July 4, 1942.
Operation Pastorius Landings:
Issued explosives and American money, the two teams traveled to Brest, France for transport by U-boat to the United States. Embarking aboard U-584, Kerling's team departed on May 25 for Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, while Dasch's team sailed for Long Island aboard U-202 the next day.
Arriving first, Dasch's team landed on the night of June 13. Coming ashore on a beach near Amagansett, NY, they wore German uniforms to avoid being shot as spies if captured during the landing. Reaching the beach, Dasch's men began burying their explosives and other supplies.
While his men were changing into civilian clothes, a patrolling Coast Guardsman, Seaman John Cullen, approached the party. Advancing to meet him, Dasch lied and told Cullen that his men were stranded fisherman from Southampton.
When Dasch refused an offer to spend the night at the nearby Coast Guard Station, Cullen became suspicious. This was reinforced when one of Dasch's men shouted something in German. Realizing that his cover was blown, Dasch attempted to bribe Cullen.
Knowing he was outnumbered, Cullen took the money and fled back to the station.
Alerting his commanding officer and turning in the money, Cullen and other raced back to the beach. While Dasch's men had fled, they saw U-202 departing in the fog. A brief search that morning unearthed the German supplies which had been buried in the sand.
The Coast Guard informed the FBI about the incident and Director J. Edgar Hoover imposed a news blackout and commenced a massive manhunt. Unfortunately, Dasch's men had already reached New York City and easily evaded the FBI's efforts to locate them.
On June 16, Kerling's team landed in Florida without incident and began moving to complete their mission.