Operation Pastorius was a failed German intelligence plan for sabotage inside the United States during World War II. The operation was staged in June 1942 and was to be directed against strategic American economic targets. The operation was named by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of the German Abwehr, for the leader of the first organized settlement of Germans in America. Despite the Quaker sympathies of Francis Daniel Pastorius (1651–1720), his name was appropriated in 1942 by the German Abwehr as the codename of the Operation in the USA known as Operation Pastorius.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, followed by Nazi Germany’s declaration of war on the United States four days later (and the United States’ declaration of war on Germany in response), Hitler authorized a mission to sabotage the American war effort and to make terrorist attacks on civilian targets to demoralize the American civilian population inside the United States.
The mission was headed by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of the German Abwehr. Canaris recalled that during World War I, he organized the sabotage of French installations in Morocco, and entered the United States with other German agents to plant bombs in New York arms factories, including the destruction of munitions supplies at Black Tom Island, in 1916. He hoped that Operation Pastorius would have the same kind of success they had in 1916.
Recruited for Operation Pastorius were eight German residents who had lived in the United States. Two of them, Ernst Burger and Herbert Haupt, were American citizens. The others, George John Dasch, Edward John Kerling, Richard Quirin, Heinrich Harm Heinck, Hermann Otto Neubauer, and Werner Thiel, had worked at various jobs in the United States. All eight were recruited into the Abwehr military intelligence organization and were given three weeks of intensive sabotage training in the German High Command school on an estate at Quenz Lake, near Berlin, Germany.
The agents were instructed in the manufacture and use of explosives, incendiaries, primers, and various forms of mechanical, chemical, and electrical delayed timing devices. Considerable time was spent developing complete background ‘histories’ they were to use in the United States. They were encouraged to converse in English and to read American newspapers and magazines so no suspicion would be aroused if they were interrogated while in the United States.
Their mission was to stage sabotage attacks on American economic targets: hydroelectric plants at the Niagara Falls; the Aluminum Company of America’s plants in Illinois, Tennessee, and New York; locks on the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky; the Horseshoe Curve, a crucial railroad pass near Altoona, Pennsylvania, as well as the Pennsylvania Railroad’s repair shops at Altoona; a cryolite plant in Philadelphia; the Hell Gate Bridge in New York; and Pennsylvania Station in Newark, New Jersey.
The agents were also instructed to spread a wave of terror by planting explosives on bridges, railroad stations, water facilities, and public places. They were given counterfeit birth certificates, Social Security Cards, draft deferment cards, nearly $175.000 in American money, and driver’s licenses, and put aboard two U-boats to land on the east coast of the US. Before the mission began, it was in danger of being compromised, as George Dasch, head of the team, left sensitive documents behind on a train, and one of the agents when drunk announced to patrons at a bar in Paris that he was a secret agent.
During the night of June 12, 1942, the first submarine to arrive in the US, the U-202, landed at Amagansett, New York, which is about 100 miles east of New York City, on Long Island, at what today is Atlantic Avenue beach. It was carrying Dasch and three other saboteurs (Burger, Quirin, and Henck). The team came ashore wearing German Navy uniforms so that if they were captured, they would be classified as prisoners of war rather than spies. They also brought their explosives, primers, and incendiaries, and buried them along with their uniforms. They, then put on civilian clothes to begin an expected two-year campaign in the sabotage of American defense-related production. After their landing, Dasch was discovered amidst the dunes by an unarmed Coast Guardsman, John C. Cullen.
Dasch seized Cullen by the collar, threatened him, and stuffed $ 260 into Cullen’s hand. Cullen reported the encounter to his superiors after returning to his station. By the time an armed Coast Guard patrol returned to the site, the Germans, weary from their trans-Atlantic trip, were gone and had taken the Long Island Rail Road train from the Amagansett station into Manhattan, New York City, where they checked in and stayed at a hotel. The Coast Guard then discovered German equipment buried in the beach and reported it to the office of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and to the FBI. A massive manhunt for the German agents was conducted; however, they did not know where exactly the Germans were going.
This group came ashore wearing bathing suits but wore German Navy hats. After landing ashore, they threw away their hats, put on civilian clothes, and started their mission by boarding trains to Chicago, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio. The two teams were to meet on July 4th in a hotel in Cincinnati to coordinate their sabotage operations.
(Mission Betrayed) Dasch called Burger into their upper-story hotel room and opened a window, saying they would talk, and if they disagreed, only one of them will walk out that door while the other will fly out the window. Dasch told him he had no intention of going through with the mission, hated Nazism, and planned to report the plot to the FBI. Burger agreed to defect to the United States immediately. On June 15, Dasch phoned the New York office of the FBI from a pay-telephone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side explaining who he was and asked to convey the information to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. When the FBI agent was trying to figure out if he was talking to a crackpot, Dasch hung up. Four days later, he took a train to Washington DC and checked in at the Mayflower Hotel. Dasch walked into FBI headquarters, asked to speak with Director Hoover. He eventually spoke to Assistant Director D. M. Ladd.
He finally convinced the FBI by dumping his mission’s entire budget of $ 84.000 on the desk of Assistant Director D. M. Ladd. At this point, he was taken seriously and interrogated for hours. Besides Burger, none of the other German agents knew they were betrayed. Over the next two weeks, Burger and the other six were arrested. FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover made no mention that Dasch had turned himself in, and claimed credit for the FBI for cracking the spy ring.
(Trial and Execution) Fearful that a civilian court would be too lenient, Roosevelt issued the Executive Proclamation 2561 on July 2, 1942, creating a military tribunal to prosecute the Germans. Placed before a seven-member military commission, the Germans were charged with the following offenses : (1) Violating the law of war; (2) Violating Article 81 of the Articles of War, defining the offense of corresponding with or giving intelligence to the enemy; (3) Violating Article 82 of the Articles of War, defining the offense of spying; and (4) Conspiracy to commit the offenses alleged in the first three charges.
The trial was held in Assembly Hall #1 on the fifth floor of the Department of Justice building in Washington DC on July 8, 1942. Lawyers for the accused, who included Lauson Stone and Kenneth Royall, attempted to have the case tried in a civilian court but were rebuffed by the United States Supreme Court in Ex parte Quirin, 317 US 1 (1942), a case that was later cited as a precedent for the trial by military commission of any unlawful combatant against the United States.
The trial for the eight defendants ended on August 1, 1942. Two days later, all were found guilty and sentenced to death. Roosevelt commuted Burger’s sentence to life in prison and Dasch’s to 30 years because they had turned themselves in and provided information about the others. The others were executed on August 8, 1942, on the electric chair on the third floor of the District of Columbia jail and buried in a potter’s field in the Blue Plains neighborhood in the Anacostia area of Washington.
(Aftermath) The failure of Operation Pastorius led Hitler to rebuke Admiral Canaris and no sabotage attempt was ever made again in the United States. During the remaining years of the war, the Germans only once more dispatched agents to the United States by submarine. In November 1944, as part of Operation Elster, a German submarine, the U-1230, dropped two RSHA spies off the coast of Maine to gather intelligence on American manufacturing and technical progress. The FBI captured both men shortly after.
These agents benefited from the calmer state of public nerves in the later years of the war and received prison sentences rather than execution. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman granted executive clemency to Dasch and Burger on the condition that they are deported to the American Zone of occupied Germany. They were not welcomed back in Germany, as they were regarded as traitors who had caused the death of their comrades. Although they had been promised pardons by Hoover in exchange for their cooperation, both men died without ever receiving them. Dasch died in 1992 at the age of 89 in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Burger died in 1975.
The Duquesne Spy Ring is the largest espionage case in United States history that ended in convictions. A total of 33 members of a German espionage network headed by Frederick ‘Fritz’ Joubert Duquesne were convicted after a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Of those indicted, 19 pleaded guilty. The remaining 14 were brought to a jury trial in Federal District Court, Brooklyn, New York, on September 3, 1941, and all were found guilty on December 13, 1941. On January 2, 1942, the group was sentenced to serve a total of over 300 years in prison.
The agents who formed the Duquesne Ring were placed in key jobs in the United States to get information that could be used in the event of war and to carry out acts of sabotage. One opened a restaurant and used his position to get information from his customers; another worked on an airline so that he could report Allied ships that were crossing the Atlantic Ocean while others, worked as delivery people as a cover for carrying secret messages. William G. Sebold, who had been blackmailed into becoming a spy for Germany, became a double agent and helped the FBI gather evidence. For nearly two years, the FBI ran a shortwave radio station in New York for the ring. They learned what information Germany was sending its spies in the United States and controlled what was sent to Germany. Sebold’s success as a counterespionage agent was demonstrated by the successful prosecution of the German agents. One German spymaster later commented the ring’s roundup delivered the death blow to their espionage efforts in the United States. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called his concerted FBI swoop on Duquesne’s ring the greatest spy roundup in US history.
On January 2, 1942, 33 members of a Nazi spy ring headed by Frederick Joubert Duquesne were sentenced to serve a total of over 300 years in prison. They were brought to justice after a lengthy espionage investigation by the FBI. William Sebold, who had been recruited as a spy for Germany, was a major factor in the FBI’s successful resolution of this case through his work as a double agent for the United States.
A native of Germany, William Sebold served in the German army during World War I. After leaving Germany in 1921, he worked in industrial and aircraft plants throughout the United States and South America. On February 10, 1936, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Sebold returned to Germany in February 1939, to visit his mother in Mulheim. Upon his arrival in Hamburg, German,y, he was approached by a member of the Gestapo who said that Sebold would be contacted in the near future. Sebold proceeded to Mulheim where he obtained employment.
In September 1939, a man named Dr. Gassner visited Sebold in Mulheim and interrogated him regarding military planes and equipment in the United States. He also asked Sebold to return to the United States as an espionage agent for Germany. Subsequent visits by Dr. Gassner and another man named Dr. Renken, later identified as Maj Nickolaus Ritter of the German Secret Service, persuaded Sebold to cooperate with the Reich because he feared reprisals against family members still living in Germany. Since Sebold’s passport had been stolen shortly after his first visit from Dr. Gassner, Sebold went to the American Consulate, in Cologne, Germany, to obtain a new one.
While doing so, Sebold secretly told the personnel of the American Consulate about his future role as a German agent and expressed his wish to cooperate with the FBI upon his return to America. Sebold reported to Hamburg, Germany, where he was instructed in such areas as preparing coded messages and micro-photographs. Upon completion of training, he was given five micro-photographs containing instructions for preparing a secret code and detailing the type of information he was to transmit to Germany from the United States. Sebold was told to retain two of the micro-photographs and to deliver the other three to German operatives in the United States.
After receiving final instructions, including using the assumed name of Harry Sawyer, he sailed from Genoa, Italy, and arrived in New York City on February 8, 1940. The FBI previously had been advised of Sebold’s expected arrival, his mission and his intentions to assist them in identifying German agents in the United States. Under the guidance of Special Agents, Sebold established residence in New York City as Harry Sawyer. Also, an office was established for him as a consultant diesel engineer, to be used as a cover in establishing contacts with members of the spy ring. In selecting this office for Sebold, the FBI Agents ensured that they could observe any meetings taking place there.
In May 1940, a shortwave radio transmitting station operated by FBI Agents on Long Island established contact with the German shortwave station abroad. This radio station served as the main channel of communication between German spies in New York City and their superiors in Germany for 16 months. During this time, the FBI’s radio station transmitted over 300 messages to Germany and received 200 messages from Germany.
Sebold’s success as a counterespionage agent against Nazi spies in the United States is demonstrated by the successful prosecution of the 33 German agents in New York. Of those arrested on charges of espionage, 19 pleaded guilty.
The 14 men who entered pleas of riot guilty were brought to trial in Federal District Court, Brooklyn, in New York on September 3, 1941, and they were all found guilty by a jury on December 13, 1941. The activities of each of these convicted spies and Sebold’s role in uncovering their espionage activities for the Reich follow.
Frederick Fritz Joubert Duquesne Born in Cape Colony, South Africa, on Sep 21, 1877, Duquesne emigrated from Hamilton, Bermuda, to the United States in 1902 and became a naturalized United States citizen on Dec 4, 1913. Duquesne was implicated in fraudulent insurance claims, including one that resulted from a fire aboard the British steamship Tennyson’ which caused the vessel to sink on Feb 18, 1916. When Duquesne was arrested on Nov 17, 1917, he had in his possession a large file of news clippings concerning bomb explosions on ships, as well as a letter from the Assistant German Vice Consul at Managua, Nicaragua. The letter indicated that Capt Duquesne was one who has rendered considerable service to the German cause.
When Sebold returned to the United States in January 1942, Duquesne was operating a business known as the Air Terminals Company in New York City. After establishing his first contact with Duquesne by letter, Sebold met with him in Duquesne’s office. During their initial meeting, Duquesne, who was extremely concerned about the possibility of electronic surveillance devices being present in his office, gave Sebold a note stating that they should talk elsewhere. After relocating to an Automat, the two men exchanged information about members of the German espionage system with whom they had been in contact.
Duquesne provided Sebold with information for transmittal to Germany during subsequent meetings, and the meetings which occurred in Sebold’s office were filmed by FBI Agents. Duquesne, who was vehemently anti-British, submitted information dealing with national defense in America, the sailing of ships to British ports and technology. He also regularly received money from Germany in payment for his services. On one occasion, Duquesne provided Sebold with photographs and specifications of a new type of bomb being produced in the United States. He claimed that he secured that material by secretly entering tire DuPont plant in Wilmington, Delaware.
Duquesne also explained how fires could be started in industrial plants. Much of the information Duquesne obtained was the result of his correspondence with industrial concerns. Representing himself as a student, he requested data concerning their products and manufacturing conditions. Duquesne was brought to trial and was convicted. He was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison on espionage charges, as well as a 2-year concurrent sentence and payment of a $2000 fine for violation of the Registration Act.
Paul Bante A native of Germany, Paul Bante served in the German army during WW-1. He came to the United States in 1930 and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1938. Bante, formerly a member of the German-American Bund, claimed that Germany put him in contact with one of their operatives, Paul Fehse, because of Bante’s previous, association with someone named Dr. Ignatz T. Griebl.
Before fleeing to Germany to escape prosecution, Dr. Griebl had been implicated in a Nazi spy ring with Guenther Gustave Rumrich, who was tried on espionage charges in 1938. Bante assisted Paul Fehse in obtaining information about ships bound for Britain with war materials and supplies. Bante claimed that as a member of the Gestapo his function was to create discontent among union workers, stating that every strike would assist Germany.
Sebold met Bante at the Little Casino Restaurant, which was frequented by several members of this spy ring. During one such meeting, Bante advised that he was preparing a fuse bomb, and he subsequently delivered dynamite and detonation caps to Sebold. Entering a guilty plea to a violation of the Registration Act, Bante was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment and was fined $1000.
Max Blank – Max Blank came to the United States from Germany in 1928. Although he never became a United States citizen, Blank had been employed in New York City at a German library and at a book store that catered to German trade. Paul Fehse, a major figure in this case, informed Germany that Blank, who was acquainted with several members of the spy ring, could secure some valuable information but lacked the funds to do so.
Later Fehse and Blank met with Sebold in his office. They told Sebold that Blank could obtain details about rubberized self-sealing airplane gasoline tanks, as well as a sew braking device for airplanes, from a friend who worked in a shipyard. However, he needed money to get the information. Blank pleaded guilty to violation of the Registration Act. He received a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment and a $1000 fine.
Alfred E. Brokhoff – a native of Germany, came to the United States in 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. He was a mechanic for the United States Lines in New York City for 17 years prior to his arrest. Because of his employment on the docks, he knew almost all of the other agents in this group who were working as seamen on various ships. Brokhoff helped Fehse secure information about the sailing dates and cargoes of vessels destined for England. He also assisted Fehse in transmitting this information to Germany.
Also, another German agent, George V. Leo Waalen, reported that he had received information from Brokhoff for transmittal to Germany. Upon conviction, Brokhoff was sentenced to serve a five-year prison term for violation of the espionage statutes and to serve a two-year concurrent sentence for violation of the Registration Act.
Heinrich Clausing – In September 1934, German-born Heinrich Clausing came to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1938. Having served on various ships sailing from New York Harbor since his arrival in the country, he was employed as a cook on the USS Argentine at the time of his arrest. Closely associated with Franz Stigler, one of the principal contact men for this spy ring. Clausing operated as a courier. He transported microphotographs and other material from the United States to South American ports, from which the information was sent to Germany via Italian airlines. He also established a mail drop in South America for the expeditious transmittal of information to Germany by mail. Claising was convicted and was sentenced to serve eighth years for violation of the espionage statures. He also received a two years concurrent sentence for violation of the Registration Act.
Conradin Otto Dold – came to the United States from Germany in 1926. He became a United States citizen in 1931 under the Seamen’s Act. Prior to his arrest, he was Chief Steward aboard the SS Siboney of the American Export Lines. Dold was related to people holding high positions in Germany and was closely associated with other members of the espionage group who worked on ships sailing from New York Harbor. As a courier, Dold carried information from Nazi agents in the United States to contacts in neutral ports abroad for transmittal to Germany.
Dold was sentenced to serve ten years in prison on espionage charges and received a two-year concurrent sentence and a fine of $1,000 for violation of the Registration Act.
Rudolf Ebeling – After leaving Germany for the United States in 1925, Rudolf Ebeling became an American citizen in 1933. He was employed as a foreman in the Shipping Department of Harper and Brothers in New York City when he was arrested. Ebeling obtained information regarding ship sailings and cargoes which he provided to Paul Feftse for transmittal to Germany. He also furnished such information yo Leo Waalen, who delivered the material to Sebold for transmittal. Upon conviction, Ebeling was sentenced to five years in prison on espionage charges. He also received a two-year concurrent sentence and a $1000 fine for violating the Registration Act.
Richard Eichenlaub – Richard Eichenlaub, who came to the United States in 1930 and became a citizen in 1936. He operated the Little Casino Restaurant in the Yorkville section of New York City. This restaurant was a rendezvous for many members of this spy ring and Eichenlaub introduced several new members into the group. Eichenlaub reported to the German Gestapo and often obtained information from his customers who were engaged in national defense production.
Through Eichenlaub, dynamite was delivered to Sedold from Bante. Having entered a plea of guilty to violation of the Registration, Act, Eichenlaub was sentenced to pay a fine of $1000 and to serve 18 months.
Heinrich Carl Eilers – A native of Germany, Heinrich Carl Eilers came to the United States in 1923 and became a citizen in 1932. From 1933 until his arrest he served as a steward on ships sailing from New York City. Eilers made a trip from New York to Washington DC, to obtain information for Germany from the Civil Aeronautics Authority.
His mission, however, was unsuccessful. At the time of his arrest in New York City by Customs authorities in June 1940, he had in his possession 20 letters addressed to people throughout Europe. He also had books, relating to magnesium and aluminum alloys which had been sent to him by Edmund Carl Heine, one of the principal espionage agents in this group. Upon conviction, Eilers received a five-year prison sentence on espionage charges and a concurrent sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a $1000 fine under the Registration Act.
Paul Fehse – In 1934 Paul Fehse left Germany for the United States, where he became a citizen in 1938. Since his arrival in this country, he had been employed as a cook aboard ships sailing from New York Harbor. Fehse was one of the directing forces in this espionage group. He arranged meetings, directed members’ activities, correlated information that had been developed, and arranged for its transmittal to Germany, chiefly through Sebold.
Fehse, who was trained for espionage work in Hamburg, Germany, claimed he headed the Marine Division of the German espionage system in the United States. Having become quite apprehensive and nervous, Fehse made plans to leave the country. He obtained a position on the SS Siboney, which was scheduled to sail from Hoboken, New Jersey, for Lisbon, Portugal, on March 29, 1941. He planned to desert ship in Lisbon and return to Germany. However, before he could leave the United States, Fehse was arrested by FBI Agents. Upon arrest, he admitted sending letters to Italy for transmittal to Germany, as well as reporting the movements of British ships. On April 1, 1941, Fehse was sentenced on a plea of guilty to serve one year and one day in prison for violation of the Registration Act. He subsequently pleaded guilty to espionage and received a prison sentence of 15 years.
Edward Carl Heine – A native of Germany, Edward Carl Heine came to the United States in 1914 and became a naturalized citizen in 1920. Until 1938, he held various positions in the foreign sales and service departments of Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Motor Corporation. His employment took him to the West Indies, South America, Spain, and Berlin, Germany. Heine was closely associated with Hans Luther, former German Ambassador in Washington, D.C., and Prince Louis Ferdinand of Berlin. Heine sent letters from Detroit, Michigan, to Lilly Stein, one of the German spies Sebold was instructed to contact. The letters contained detailed technical data regarding the military, aircraft construction, and various industries. He also wrote to aircraft companies to obtain information about their production, the number of employees and the time required to construct military planes. After obtaining technical books relating to magnesium and aluminum alloys, Heine seat the materials to Heinrich Eilers. To ensure the safe delivery of the books to Germany in ease they not reach Eilers, Heine indicated the return address on the package as the address of Lilly Stein. Upon conviction of violating the Registration Act, Heine received a $5,000 fine and a two-year prison sentence.
Felix Jahnke – In 1924, Felix Jahnke left Germany for the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1930. Jahnke had attended military school in Germany and had served in the German army as a radio operator. Jahnke and Axel Wheeler-Hill secured the services of Josef Klein, a radio technician, in building a portable radio set for Jahnke’s apartment in the Bronx. Jahnke used this radio to transmit messages, which were intercepted by the FBI, to Germany. He also visited the docks in New York harbor to obtain information about any vessels bound for England. After pleading guilty to violation of the Registration Act, Jahnke was sentenced to serve 20 months in prison and to pay a $1000 fine.
Gustav Wilhelm Kaercher – Gustav Wilhelm Kaercher came to the United States in 1923, becoming a citizen in 1931. He served in the German army during World War I and was a former leader of the German Bund in New York. During visits to Germany, he was seen to have worn a German army officer’s uniform. At the time of his arrest, he was engaged in designing power plants for the American Gas and Electric Company in New York City. Kaercher was arrested with Paul Scholtz, who had just handed Kaercher a table of call letters and frequencies for transmitting information to Germany by radio. As a result of his guilty plea to charges of violating the Registration Act, Kaercher received a $2000 fine and a prison sentence of 22 months.
Josef Klein – A native of Germany, Josef Klein came to the United States in 1925, he did not become a citizen. Klein, a photographer, and a lithographer, had been interested in the building and operation of shortwave radio transmitters. Klein constructed a portable shortwave radio transmitting and receiving set for Felix Jhanke and Axel Wheeler-Hill. When he built the radio, Klein knew it would be used for transmitting messages to Germany. Upon conviction, Klein received a sentence of five years imprisonment on espionage charges and a concurrent sentence of two years imprisonment under the Registration Act.
Hartwig Richard Kleiss – Born in Germany, Hartwig Richard Kleiss came to this country in 1925 and became a naturalized citizen six years later. Following his arrival in the United States, he was employed as a cook on various ships. Kleiss obtained information for Germany, including blueprints of the SS America which showed the locations of newly installed gun emplacements, lie included Information about how guns would be brought into position for firing. Kleiss also obtained details on the construction and performance of new speedboats, being developed by the United States Navy, which he submitted to Sebold for transmittal to Germany Kleiss had originally chosen to stand trial. However, after cross-examination, he changed his plea to guilty on the charge of espionage and received an eight-year prison sentence. Kleiss had originally chosen to stand trial. However, after cross-examination, he changed his plea to guilty on the charge of espionage and received an eight-year prison sentence.
Herman W. Land – Herman W. Lang came to the United States from Germany in 1927 and became a citizen in 1939. He was one of four people Sebold had been told to contact in the United States. Until his arrest, Lang had been employed by a company manufacturing highly confidential materials essential to the national defense of the United States. During a visit to Germany in 1938, Lang conferred with German military authorities and reconstructed plans of the confidential materials from memory. Upon conviction. Lang received a sentence of 18 years in prison on espionage charges and a 2-year concurrent sentence under the Registration Act.
Evelyn Clayton Lewis – A native of Arkansas, Evelyn Clayton Lewis had been living with Frederick Joubert Duquesne in New York City. Miss Lewis had expressed her anti-British and anti-Semitic feelings during her relationship with Duquesne. She was aware of his espionage activities and condoned them. While she was not active in obtaining information for Germany, she, helped Duquesne prepare material for transmittal abroad. Upon a guilty plea, Miss Lewis was sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison for violation of the Registration Act.
René Emanuel Mezenen – Rene Emanuel Mezenen, a Frenchman, claimed United States citizenship through the naturalization of his father. Prior to his arrest, he was employed as a steward in the transatlantic clipper service. The German Intelligence Service in Lisbon, Portugal, asked Mezenen to act as a courier, transmitting information between the United States and Portugal on his regular trips on the clipper. He accepted this offer for financial gain. In the course of flights across the Atlantic, Mezenen also reported his observance of convoys sailing for England. He also became involved in smuggling platinum from the United States to Portugal. Following a plea of guilty, Mezenen received an eight-year prison term for espionage and two concurrent years for registration violations.
Carl Reuper – Having come to the United States from Germany in 1929, Carl Reuper became a citizen in 1936. Prior to his arrest, he served as an inspector for the Westinghouse Electric Company in Newark, New Jersey. Reuper obtained photographs for Germany relating to national defense materials and construction, which he obtained from his employment. He arranged radio contact with Germany through the station established by Felix Jahnke. On one occasion, he conferred with Sebold regarding Sebold’s facilities for communicating with German authorities. Upon conviction, Reuper was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment on espionage charges and 2 years’ concurrent sentence under the Registration Act.
Everett Roeder – Born in the Bronx, New York, Everett Roeder was a draftsman and designer of confidential materials for the United States Army and Navy.
Sebold had delivered microphotograph instructions to Roeder, as ordered-by German authorities. Roeder end Sebold met in public places and proceeded to spots where they could talk privately. In 1936, Roeder had visited Germany and was requested by German authorities to act as an espionage agent. Primarily due to monetary rewards he would receive, Roeder agreed. Roeder entered a guilty plea to the charge of espionage and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Paul Aldred Scholz – A German native, Paul Scholz came to the United States in 1926 but never attained citizenship. He had been employed in German book stores in New York City, where he disseminated Nazi propaganda. Scholz had arranged for Josef Klein to construct the radio set used by Felix Jhanke and Axel Wheeler-Hill.
At the time of his arrest, Scholz had just given Gustav Wilhelm Kaercher a list of radio call letters and frequencies. He also encouraged members of this spy ring to secure data for Germany and arranged contacts between various German agents. Upon conviction, Scholz was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment for espionage with 2 years’ concurrent sentence under the Registration Act.
George Gottlob Schuh – George Gottlob Schuh, a native of Germany, came to the United States in 1923. He became a citizen in 1939 and was employed as a carpenter. As a German agent, he sent information directly to the Gestapo in Hamburg, Germany, from this country. Schuh had provided Alfred Brokhoff information that Winston Churchill had arrived in the United States on the HMS George V. He also furnished information to Germany concerning the movement of ships carrying materials and supplies to Britain. Having pleaded guilty to violation of the Registration Act, Schuh received a sentence of 18 months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Erwin Wilhelm Siegler – Erwin Siegler came to the United States from Germany in 1929 and attained citizenship in 1936. He had served as a chief butcher on the SS America until it was taken over by the United States Navy. A courier Siegler brought micro-photographic instructions to Sebold from German authorities on one occasion. He also had brought $2900 from German contacts abroad to pay Lilly Stein, Duquesne, and Roeder for their services and to buy a bombsight. He served the espionage group as an organizer and contact man, and he also obtained information about the movement of ships and military defense preparations at the Panama Canal. Subsequent to his conviction, Siegler was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment (espionage) and a concurrent 2-year term for violation of the Registration Act.
Oscar Richard Stabler – Born in Germany, Oscar Stabler came to this country in 1923 and became a citizen in 1933. He had been employed primarily as a barber aboard transoceanic ships. In December, 1940, British authorities in Bermuda found a map of Gibraltar in his possession. He was detained for a short period before being released. A close associate of Conradin Otto Dold, Stabler served as a courier, transmitting information between German agents in the United States and contacts abroad. Stabler was convicted and sentenced to serve five years in prison for espionage and a two-year concurrent term under the Registration Act.
Heinrich Stade – Heinrich Stade came to the United States from Germany in 1922. He became a United States citizen seven years later, in 1929. Stade had arranged for Paul Bante’s contact with Sebold and had transmitted data to Germany regarding points of rendezvous for convoys carrying supplies to England.
Lilly Barbara Carola Stein – Born in Vienna, Austria, Lilly Stein, met Hugo Sebold, the espionage instructor who had trained William Sebold (the two men were not related) in Hamburg, Germany. She enrolled in this school and was sent to the United States in 1939. Lilly Stein was one of the people to whom Sebold had been instructed to deliver microphotograph instructions upon his arrival in this country. She frequently met with Sebold to give him information for transmittal to Germany, and her address was used as a return address by other agents in mailing data for Germany. Miss Stein pleaded guilty and received sentences of 10 years and 2 concurrent years’ imprisonment for violations of espionage and registration statutes, respectively.
Franz Josepf Stigler – In 1934, Franz Stigler left Germany for the United States, where he became a citizen in 1939. He had been employed as a crew member aboard United States ships until his discharge from the SS America when the United States Navy converted that ship into the USS West Point. His constant companion was Erwin Siegler, and they operated as couriers in transmitting information between the United States and German agents abroad. Stigler sought to recruit amateur radio operators in the United States as channels of communication to German radio stations.
He had also observed and reported defense preparations in the Canal Zone and had met with other German agents to advise them in their espionage pursuits. Upon conviction, Stigler was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison on espionage charges with 2 concurrent years for registration violations.
Erich Strunck – A seaman aboard ships of the United States Lines since his arrival in this country, Erich Strunck came to the United States from Germany in 1927. He became a naturalized citizen in 1935. As a courier, Strunck carried messages between German agents in the United States and Europe. He requested authority to steal the diplomatic bag of a British officer traveling aboard his ship and to dispose of the officer by pushing him overboard. Sebold convinced him that it would be too risky to do so. Strunck was convicted and sentenced to serve 10 years on espionage charges. He also was sentenced to serve a two-year concurrent term under the Registration Act.
Leo Waalen – Waalen was born in Danzig while that city was under German domination. He entered the United States by jumping ship about 1935. He was a painter for a small boat company which was constructing small craft for the United States Navy, Waalen gathered information about ships sailing for England. He also obtained a confidential booklet issued by the FBI which contained precautions to be taken by industrial plants to safeguard national defense materials from sabotage. Waalen also secured Government contracts listing specifications for materials and equipment, as well as detailed sea charts of the United States Atlantic coastline. Following his conviction, Waalen was sentenced to 12 years in prison for espionage and a concurrent 2-year term under the Registration Act.
Henry August Walischewski – A German native, Walischewski had been a seaman since maturity. He became a naturalized citizen in 1935. Walischewski became connected with the German espionage system through Paul Fehse. His duties were confined to those of courier, carrying data from agents in the United States to contacts abroad. Upon conviction, Walischewski received a five-year prison sentence on espionage charges, as well as a two-year concurrent sentence under the Registration Act.
Else Weustenfeld – Else Weustenfeld arrived in the United States from Germany in 1927 and became a citizen 10 years later. From 1935 until her arrest, she was a secretary for a law firm representing the German Consulate in New York City.
Weustenfeld was thoroughly acquainted with the German espionage system and delivered funds to Duquesne which she had received from Lilly Stein, her close friend.
She lived in New York City with Hans W. Hitter, a principal in the German espionage system. His brother, Nickolaus Ritter, was Dr. Renken who had enlisted Sebolt as a German agent. In the 1940s Weustenfeld visited Hans Ritter in Mexico, where he was serving as a paymaster for the German Intelligence Service. After pleading guilty, Else Weustenfeld was sentenced to five years imprisonment on the charge of espionage and two concurrent years on the charge of registration violations.
Axel Wheeler-Hill – Axel Wheeler-Hill came to the United States in 1923 from his native land of Russia. He was naturalized as a citizen in 1929 and was employed as a truck driver. Wheeler-Hill obtained information for Germany regarding ships sailing to Britain from New York harbor. With Felix Jahnke, he enlisted the aid of Paul Seholz in building a radio set for sending coded messages to Germany. Following conviction Wheeler Hill was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison for espionage and 2 concurrent years under the Registration Act.
Bertram Wolfgang Zenzinger – Born la Germany, Zenzinger came to the United States in 1910 as a naturalized citizen of the Union of South Africa. His reported reason for coming to this country was to study mechanical dentistry in Los Angeles, California. In July 1940, Zenzinger received a pencil for preparing invisible messages for Germany in the mail from Siegler. He sent several letters to Germany through a mail drop in Sweden outlining details of national defense materials. Zenzinger was arrested by FBI Agents on April 16, 1941. Pleading guilty, he received 18 months in prison for violation of the Registration Act and 8 years’ imprisonment for espionage.
Liaisons to the Duquesne Spy Ring
Lieut Commander Takeo Ezima of the Imperial Japanese Navy operated in New York as an engineer inspector using the name: E. Satoz; code name: KATO. He arrived on the Heian Maur in Seattle in 1938. On October 19, 1940, Sebold received a radio message from Germany that CARR (Abwehr Agent Roeder) was to meet E. Satoz at a Japanese club in New York. Ezima was filmed by the FBI while meeting with agent Sebold in New York, conclusive evidence of German-Japanese cooperation in espionage, in addition to meeting with Kanegoro Koike, Paymaster Commander of the Japanese Imperial Navy assigned to the Office of the Japanese Naval Inspector in New York. Ezima obtained a number of military materials from Duquesne, including ammunition, a drawing of a hydraulic unit with pressure switch A-5 of the Sperry Gyroscope, and an original drawing from the Lawrence Engineering and Research Corporation of a soundproofing installation, and he agreed to deliver materials to Germany via Japan. The British had made the Abwehr courier route from New York through Lisbon, Portugal difficult, so Ezima arranged an alternate route to the West Coast with deliveries every two weeks on freighters destined for Japan. As the FBI arrested Duquesne and his agents in New York in 1941, Ezima escaped to the West Coast, boarded the Japanese freighter Kamakura Maru, and left for Tokyo. One historian states that Ezima was arrested for espionage in 1942 and sentenced to 15 years; however, US Naval Intelligence documents state that “at the request or the State Department, Ezima was not prosecuted.”
Oberstleutnant (Lt Col) Nikolaus Ritter led spy rings in the United States, Great Britain, and North Africa from 1936 to 1941. Ritter was born in Germany and had served as an officer in WW-1 on the Western Front in France where he was twice wounded. He emigrated to New York in 1924, married an American, and returned to Germany in 1936 to join the Abwehr as Chief of Air Intelligence based in Hamburg operating under the code name: Dr. Rantzau.
He first met Fritz Duquesne in 1931, and the two spies reconnected in New York on December 3, 1937. Ritter also met Herman Lang while in New York, and he arranged for Lang to later go to Germany to help the Nazis finish their version of the top secret Norden bombsight. Ritter achieved several major successes with the Abwehr, most notably the Norden bombsight, in addition to an advanced aircraft auto-pilot from the Sperry Gyroscope Company, and also intelligence operations in North Africa in support of FM Erwin Rommel. But some of Ritter’s recruits became double-agents who catastrophically exposed his spy rings.
Ritter recruited William Sebold who later joined the FBI which resulted in the arrest of the 33 Abwehr agents of the Duquesne Spy Ring. In Great Britain, he recruited Arthur Owens, codename Johnny, who became an agent for MI5 (British Intelligence) operating under the codename Snow. Owens exposed so many Abwehr covert agents operating in Britain that by the end of the war MI5 had enlisted some 120 double agents.
Although Ritter was never captured, it was the arrest of the Duquesne Spy Ring that ultimately resulted in Ritter’s fall from the Abwehr and his reassignment in 1942 to air defenses in Germany for the remainder of the Second World War.