This article was originally published in Newsday on Dec. 20, 1997 - Pg. A11
LONG ISLAND: OUR STORY / IT HAPPENED HERE / TIME MACHINE / A WEEKLY SERIES PICTURING THE PAST / NAZI SABOTEURS AT AMAGANSETT
They came to bomb. America.
It was June 13, 1942, just six months since America had entered World War II. In foggy darkness, four men got off on a German U-boat in rafts, landed on the beach in Amagansett and began burying boxes of explo-sives intended to blow up U.S. power and industrial plants.
Suddenly, through the fog, the leader of the four, George Dasch, saw a light approaching. It was just after midnight and Coast Goardsman John Cullen, holding a flashlight, was on beach patrol. Dasch approached Cullen and said he and his friends were fishermen. Cullen knew night fishing was prohibited in wartime, and he grew suspicious when another man spoke in German. Dasch dismissed his comrade and thrust $260 in cash at Cullen. "Take it," he said. "Forget about this. Forget you ever saw us."
Instead, Cullen backed away and ran to his Coast Guard station to alert superiors. Meanwhile, the four men rode a Long Island Rail Road train from Amagansett to New York City.
IN Manhattan, where the four had checked into hotels, Dasch told a fellow German, Ernest Burger that he opposed their plan and would reveal it to U.S. officials. He persuaded Burger to back out.
Dasch took a train to Washington and called the FBI from a hotel, asking to see chief J. Edgar Hoover. Agents quickly picked him up. Dasch showed them $84,000 in cash that was to be used to help carry out the bombings and to bribe Americans for help.
Dasch also startled agents by revealing that another team of four Germans had traveled to Florida in a U-boat and landed at Ponte Vedra Beach. They also intended to commit sabotage.
Withing two weeks, all eight had been arrested in New York and the Midwest. At a military trial July 2, the suspects expressed opposition to Germany's Nazi regime, but all were convicted of spying and conspiracy charges. Six were electrocuted. Dasch had expected to be hailed for preventing the bombings, but he and Burger were imprisoned. Paroled after the war, Dasch returned home but was ostracized when German newspapers reported his wartime story.