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 a German U-boat in rafts, landed on the beach in Amagansett and began burying boxes of explosives 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 Guardsman 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 also 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.

Within 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.

Newsday's Weekly Series Picturing the Past

Newsday Photo/Bill Davis

The beach at Amagansett as it appears today. In 1942, a discarded pack of cigarettes and a trail in the sand helped U.S. agents find explosives buried by Germans for later bombings of U.S. sites.

Newsday File Photo

Above, state troopers stop a car in Suffolk County during a search for German spies in 1942. Below, items recovered from boxes buried in the sand at Amagansett included a shovel, an explosive disguised as a piece of coal, an army cap, and a fountain-pen that would detonate explosives.

Photo by Ira Schwarz, 1992 (items);
Newsday File Photo (Cullen);
AP Photo, 1948

Above, Coast Guardsman John Cullen,
left, and German George Dasch.

[ Story and photos reproduced courtesy of Newsday; originally published as part of Long Island: Our Story. ]


Follow the B-17 Back
to Long Island During WW II