In 1942, Nazis sent eight inept white German-Americans to the United States with a mission to sabotage industrial sites.
All of the eight men who had been transported to the East Coast via submarine had previously lived for years in America but had returned to Germany early in the war. Some seem to have been motivated by a desire to serve their native country; others were more pragmatic in their plans, perhaps wanting to escape Germany. The training period was short, and there was no attempt to weed out less-effective agents. Immediately after landing on a New York beach, the leader of one group, George Dasch, encountered a Coast Guardsman whom—violating his orders—he released, giving away their secret mission. Only a week later, Dasch turned himself in to the FBI, erroneously believing he would be hailed as a hero. Although the information he revealed was critical in capturing the rest of the saboteurs, he was tried alongside the others before a military tribunal. Six (although not Dasch) were condemned to death and immediately executed. In a concluding chapter, Seiple draws connections between these saboteurs and the legal odyssey of 9/11 terrorists, whose fate remains uncertain. This riveting tale has received scant attention, and this telling, heavily informed by court transcripts, does it justice. Excellent backmatter and a smattering of period photographs round out the presentation.
A story that will appeal to both espionage and World War II enthusiasts. (Nonfiction. 10-14)