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Operation Pastorius

September 16, 2010

Eike Frenzel in Der Spiegel:

Even before World War II, Nazi strategists came up with a number of plans to strike New York City — whether with super missiles, kamikaze pilots, long-range bombers or secret agents. Some were ambitious and some were foolish, but all of them failed.

Captain Hans-Heinz Lindner was gradually losing his nerve. As dawn broke on June 13, 1942, the first cars were already driving along the waterfront in the village of Amagansett, Long Island. But the U-202 was stuck. The gray steel colossus lay perched on a sand bank in shallow water less than 200 meters (656 feet) from the shore, as helpless as a beached whale. In just a few hours, anyone who walked by would be able to see the German U-boat sticking up out of the Atlantic.

Lindner, though, managed to break free. Running the engines at full power, he was able to maneuver the submarine in a rising tide back out into the open sea. The U-202 slipped beneath the waves before anyone saw it. Below deck, the sailors celebrated their last-minute rescue.

That near-loss of one of the German submarines operating off America’s East Coast was the prelude to one of Germany’s most bizarre World War II military operations: the infiltration of a group of saboteurs onto American soil. The Third Reich aimed to hit America on the home front and Nazi strategists came up with a number of plans for costly attacks designed to rattle the bustling metropolis of New York to its core — whether with super missiles, kamikaze pilots, long-range bombers or secret agents. [More]

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