The tony beach town of Amagansett, Long Island, got some unusual summer visitors in 1942. According to declassified British documents released yesterday, a Nazi U-boat carrying German spies landed on an Amagansett beach on a June morning — with Jews as targets.
Metro reports “the secret agents came here to leave bombs in suitcases at Jewish-owned shops, as well as to disseminate anti-war propaganda, according to officials.” To enhance the cloak-and-dagger elements of the mission, “the agents chosen for the mission were former U.S. residents returning to their native Germany. They had received training in ‘sabotage school’ there, where they learned to assemble explosives,” Metro further notes.
But the mission turned out more Hogan’s Heroes than Frederick Forsyth, says Australia’s ABC News. Even before they left for the U.S., the spies were less than subtle; leader George John Dasch, drunk at a hotel bar, “told everyone that he was a secret agent,” something which was thought by German intelligence to have contributed to the failure of the undertaking.
It also didn’t help that “the Germans paddled ashore in a rubber boat, only to be met by a member of the Coast Guard as they were burying their German uniforms in the sand” The U.S. officer was offered $300 to forget what he saw. “Although the coast guard officer did report the suspicious behavior, the four saboteurs did a lot more to divulge their mission than anyone else,” according to ABC.
In another twist, though, ABC claims the leader of the spies had intended to get arrested — and to give himself up to American authorities — all along. There were a number of other saboteur missions and Dasch’s information ultimately saw them captured. Dasch was given a jail term while most of the others were executed.”