Gary Mormino, Ph.D. Professor, College of Arts and Sciences University Honors Program University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered. After years of bloody and terrible fighting, the Allied powers had finally beaten the German war machine. Three years earlier, in June 1942, that victory looked far from inevitable. German U-boats attacked Allied ships all along the American coast, rattling America and revealing its vulnerability. Into this climate of uncertainty and fear, the German army launched Operation Pastorius. Their objective: to secretly land eight men along the eastern seaboard carrying explosives, equipment, and large sums of American money. They planned to sabotage the American war effort. On June 13, 1942, the first group of four Nazis left U-202 in a rubber raft and headed for the beach near Amagansett, New York.' The second group of four landed on the beach at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, near Jacksonville on June 17.2 Before the end of August, all eight men were arrested, tried, and sentenced to death for their participation in the plot. Six of the eight would ultimately pay with their lives, while two would receive prison sentences. Edward Kerling, Herbert Haupt, Werner Thiel and Hermann Neubauer comprised the Florida landing force. The four in New York consisted of George Dasch, Ernest Burger, Robert Quirin and Heinrich Heinck.3 Their biographies hardly read like those of professional saboteurs, making them seem like unlikely choices for such a dangerous and important mission.
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Amodeo, Sean, "Nazis in America" (2009). USFSP Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate). 22.