The submerged German U-Boat approached the enemy coast. Through his periscope, the captain saw that the night was moonless and the beach was shrouded in fog. The journey across the breadth of the North Atlantic Ocean had been not only dangerous, but also uncomfortable for his four mysterious passengers. These four, together with what they called their luggage, had been crammed into every available nook in the boat.
The Captain would be much relieved when he could discharge his “guests” and return to the comparative safety of the open sea.
Through a break in the fog, the captain saw the beach and ordered his passengers to gather their gear and prepare to leave the submarine. The team of four boarded a rubber boat and were paddled silently by sailors through the darkness to the shore. The rubber boat lightly touched the beach. The four quickly disembarked and carried their heavy luggage to the shore. With a whispered “Good luck”, the sailors paddled back to their boat.
The four men prepared to undertake Operation Pastorius, the mission for which they had been trained.
THE MEN AND THE MISSION
Who were these four men, where had they landed and what was their mission?
The year was 1942, the place was the beach at Amagansett, Long Island, New York, the men were Nazi saboteurs, their “luggage” was explosives and their mission was nothing less than to sabotage and destroy as many American factories, shipyards and installations manufacturing war materials as possible before being captured.
Another team of four men was to land a few days later on the beach at Ponte Vedra, Florida with the same mission: sabotage!
Neither team was composed of the men you might expect them to be: highly efficient and fanatically determined to risk all for the third Reich. Instead, the group was composed of men who thought the mission did not have a chance of success and had joined only to return to the United States. We use the term “return” advisedly, because all eight had lived for several years in the United States, and were given this dangerous assignment because of their fluency in colloquial English. Unknown to their superiors, they were disappointed and disillusioned with life in Germany under der Feuhrer and only wanted to return to the United States.
But be forewarned. This is not the usual story of spies captured by the authorities and punished. This is an almost unbelievable tale, which might better be entitled “The Eight Stooges Visit New York”.