Shadow Enemies: Hitler's Secret Terrorist Plot Against the United Statesby Alex Abella, Scott Gordon
Here is the incredible story of one of Hitler's most diabolical plans: to wreak havoc and terror in America's cities through the hands of carefully trained German agents whose goal was to sabotage manufacturing plants, cut off New York City's water supply, and bomb train stations and Jewish-owned department stores. Shadow Enemies follows in absorbing detail the astonishing facts of this episode, from the recruitment and training of the agents to their landing on the shores of New York and Florida and their successful infiltration into American society, and from there to the desperate attempts of the FBI to apprehend them before they could put their plans into effect. Shadow Enemies is a unique account that not only follows the unfolding of the plot from the outside world but also affords a fascinating glimpse of the interior motivations and fears of a key member of the Nazi cell. Equally fascinating is the second part of the story: the capture and subsequent trial of the agents. Fearful that a civilian court would not hand down the death sentences he wished, FDR ordered that a military tribunal be convened to try the defendants without the civil rights common in jury trials. The resulting trial led to the execution of six of the eight conspirators only two months after their arrest. Shadow Enemies not only provides a thrilling picture of an astonishing World War II story, but also affords a timely examination of pertinent questions relating to civil rights, justice, and how wartime necessity affects these central principles of American life.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.32(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.98(d)
Read an Excerpt
It was around midnight on June 13, 1942, when Farrar Teeple, a pretty 22-year-old brunette, decided to take a stroll on the boardwalk near her family home in Amagansett, on the South Fork of Long Island, New York.
The fog was thick that evening, so thick that Farrar could barely distinguish the movements of what appeared to be four men down on the beach. She thought they wore uniforms, possibly khaki; some of them seemed to be wearing visored caps. One of them waved. They didn’t act overtly suspiciously, but something struck Farrar as odd. The encounter unsettled her, putting her on alert.
Since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor six months earlier, the war against the Axis powers—the Germans, Japanese, Italians, and their sundry allies—had made Americans wary of another, perhaps even larger, attack. That month, the New York FBI offices had reported hundreds of calls from citizens convinced they had witnessed enemy landings; some even saw secret spy messages in the way neighbors hung laundry on their clotheslines.
The Allies were facing a critical juncture. The Japanese navy was still clashing with American ships after the crucial battle of Midway, struggling for dominance over the South Pacific. In Europe, the seemingly invincible Nazi war machine had penetrated the Soviet Union, settling in around Stalingrad, where a desperate Joseph Stalin ordered a last stand. In Libya, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel drove his Afrika Korps closer to Alexandria and the Suez Canal. On the home front, U-boats seemed to have free rein of the Atlantic coastline, sinking ships at will.
For the first time in the twentieth century, Americans had to face the fact that the ocean was not a moat but a highway—we were vulnerable to foreign attack on our own soil.
Still, Farrar was not certain of what she saw, so instead of calling the Coast Guard station a half mile away, she returned home and told her father of her suspicions. Ralph Teeple stuck his head out the window, took a look at the enveloping fog, decided Farrar was overreacting, and urged her to go to bed. To assuage her fears, he promised to call the Coast Guard in the morning—after all, who could see anything in that pea soup out there?
What Farrar had actually seen were four men disgorged from Kreigsmarine U-boat Number 202, type VIIC, built by the Krupp Works at Kierl, Germany, in 1941, with a crew of forty-five, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans-Heinz Lindner. The four men waded out of the shadows for a planned mission of terror unprecedented in United States history—one not to be duplicated until almost sixty years later.
A few hundred yards away, moving as quickly as they could under the cover of the foggy darkness, the Nazi agents were about to bury four boxes containing TNT, blasting caps, timing devices, and assorted instruments of destruction. George John Dasch, a gaunt man with wide hazel eyes and a shock of white hair, headed the group. His faction was the first of two that would land in the next few days, the vanguard—if successful—of a series of operatives intent on wreaking terror in the heart of America.
Their superior had told them before seeing them off from a Nazi-controlled port in France, “You will cause more damage to the American war effort than a whole division of soldiers.” But first, the terrorists had to get inside America.
It had taken them seventeen days to reach Long Island, where Dasch had once lived. He knew there they would find access to transportation and that his men, German-Americans who still spoke with accents, would easily blend into the polyglot crowd in their final destination, the great metropolis of New York City.
Two U-boat sailors had accompanied them, helping to paddle through surf so strong it had threatened to overturn their rubber dinghy. They could also supply extra muscle, for most of the men whom the Nazi High Command had sent on this expedition did not bear weapons and were not professional soldiers, even if they dressed as marines. They’d been chosen because of their fluency in English and their previous U.S. residency. They’d received their terrorist education during three weeks of intensive training on a farm near Brandenburg, Germany, once owned by a Jewish family. There they’d been taught how to prepare bombs, disable water canals, and cripple magnesium and cryolite factories. Most important, they’d been drilled to spread panic among defenseless civilians by bombing Macy’s, Gimbel’s, and Penn Station—New York’s great hubs of people and movement.
The invaders hadn’t been taught discipline and coordination, however. Ambling aimlessly on the shoreline, they haphazardly discarded the uniforms they’d worn to insure protection under the Geneva Convention’s rules for prisoners of war, in case they were captured. Their leader, Dasch, had rejected Nazi insignia, opting instead for American clothes. The only emblem he shared with his comrades was one of four tin porcupines he had ordered made and distributed. Meant as good luck charms, they were the symbol of the U-boat that had brought them over. They’d also be a way for the terrorists to recognize group members, and send messages to one another through third parties, with the prefatory phrase, “Greetings from Dick.”
Dasch carried $85,000 in cash (about $750,000 in today’s money) given to him by his trainers as the extent of help the terrorists would receive upon landing. Once they landed, there was no turning back. They would only return to Germany after victory—or death.
So far, luck had been with them. Dasch was in the shallows, helping the U-boat sailors tip over their dinghy to empty out the water it had taken, when he glanced over his shoulder. A light cut through the fog, bobbing slowly down the beach, just a short distance away. He turned to his men, but they’d moved away to higher ground and didn’t notice the beam. What should he do?
Meet the Author
ALEX ABELLA is the author of The New York Times Notable Book The Killing of the Saints, The Great American, and other novels. A journalist and Emmy-nominated TV producer, he is currently a contributing writer for the Los Angeles Times.
SCOTT GORDON is a commissioner with the Los Angeles County Superior Court and a professor of law at the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles. He is a nationally renowned expert on domestic violence and was a member of the prosecution team in the case of People vs. Orenthal James Simpson.
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