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tv   Cavuto on Business  FOX Business  November 5, 2017 2:30am-3:00am EST

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on may 26, 1942, the eight nazi saboteurs were poised to launch their attacks on america. supplied with explosives and
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thousands of dollars in cash, the first team of saboteurs boarded a u-boat from france and headed for the coast. two days later a second team left bound for the shores of long island. these were the men, the long island team was led by the eldest, 39-year-old george dash. dash served in the german army in world war i, then immigrated to america as a stowaway. after serving a year in the army air corps, he found work as a waiter. in 1939, he returned to germany after world war ii broke out. with dash was 35-year-old earnest burger, a former storm trooper. the others were hinrich hein and richard krin, both machinists who met while working at a volkswagen factory in germany. the team was run by john curling. he was a standing member of the nazi party who moved to the u.s. in 1929 for work as a butler. joining him was herman nebbauer
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and werner teal. the last been was herbert howell. he was a u.s. citizen who grew up in chicago. >> on june 13th, 1942, a german u-boat approached the south shore of long island and landed a team of four german saboteurs. >> ronald meister is a former u.s. naval officer. >> they had been trained in the use of explosives to use in blowing up train stations, water treatment facilities and factories in the united states. >> once they got to the beach, they took off their german uniforms, they buried all their supplies and then of course they would go back, retrieve their supplies and commence operations. >> their targets were bridges, railroads and alum numb plants
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in new york, pennsylvania and maryland. but on that dark foggy night, things went wrong right from the start. >> as i went down the beach, maybe 200 yards from the station, 300, i saw two men. i had been walking this beach for a couple of months and i had never seen anybody there. >> john cullen was only 21 years old when he was assigned to patrol the beach. a native new yorker, he had only been in the coast guard six months. >> i called out to them. i said what are you doing? so the one fella turned around and came toward me, came walking up. and that was dash. and he said we're fishermen and our boat ran aground. we intend to stay here until daybreak. daybreak? that's four or five hours. i says why don't you come up to the station and have some coffee, stay there. he says, no, thanks but we'll be all right here. he says if you have a mother and
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father? that's a strange thing to ask. he said yes -- i said yes, i do. he said would you like to see them again? i said yes, i would. in the meantime there was a fellow with a sea bag in back of me who had just come there and he spoke in german. so when he spoke in german, i said, uh-oh, this isn't good. >> if they had followed their training, they should have killed him on the spot and buried him also on the beach. instead, they decided they would try to talk him out of doing anything and they offered him a bribe. >> they said to me i'll give you some money and you forget about seeing us here. i don't want the money. but i can forget. he says, well, i'll give you what i thought was $300. it was 280. i only took the money to prove that i met somebody here, because i didn't think anybody would believe the story. so i didn't turn around, i
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backed up. and when i got out of his sight, i ran. >> cullen ran back to the coast guard station to tell his bosses what had happened. they called the fbi. >> we went back to the boat house, got a couple of shovels, came back and dug these cases we found in there. that sea bag that fellow had, that was in there and there was german uniforms. in the cases was different types of bombs. so when he saw that he said, boy, we've got something big here. the fbi came. they grilled me for 32 hours. >> but they should have searched the local train station. after the encounter with cullen, the saboteurs headed for the long island railroad, and like good commuters, they took the first morning train to new york city. meanwhile in washington, hoover ordered the largest manhunt in the bureau's history. >> the recent landing of saboteurs from nazi submarines sounds a new alert for all americans. >> except for cullen's story and description of dash as a man
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with a streak of gray hair, they had no leads. in new york, the saboteurs lived the high life. they stayed in hotels, shopped at macy's and ate in posh restaurants. but george dash began having a change of heart. >> the realization struck dash, who did know a lot about the united states, about the puny size of their capabilities and the immense strength of the united states. a sense of futility probably came over him. he was a saboteur, he would be executed. nothing that would make his sacrifice worthwhile in a broad scheme of the german war effort. >> dash convinced ernest berger to join him in betraying the mission. >> he said his name was george dash. he had just come back from germany. i was in charge of the sabotage unit and i had four agent supervisors underneath.
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>> duane tray nor joined the fbi in 1948. he married his high school sweetheart. he earned a law degree and was paid the princely sum of $100 a month. when he heard the fbi was paying $3200 a year, traynor joined the bureau. >> had you had any sabotage cases? >> there were literally hundreds of reported sabotage cases. somebody would get mad at the supervisor and would sabotage something. that kind of thing. but there was nothing serious. >> dash was well aware of the fbi. >> i want you to tell mr. hoover i'm going down to washington. i want to talk to him about sabotage. i said, that's fine. i'll get someone to bring you over here. i called the washington field office and a couple of agents picked him up and brought him over to my office. so they brought him over to my office. the first thing i saw was a man with a white streak in his hair and i thought after all that briefing we've had, we've probably got something. >> did dash tell you during your interview with him why he was turning himself in?
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>> he had gone back to germany, because he was all gung-ho about hitler. he had been disenchanted and he wanted to broadcast to the german people that they were being put upon by a terrible man. >> was he able to tell you about how he was trained back in germany for these missions? >> oh, yeah. he described the school that they attended and how their training was and how they were exposed to making these bombs active. >> how long did this interview last? >> i interviewed him for two days. got him to finally tell how they landed and how they got into new york. and then i got him to identify who was in his group. berger, hein and kern. they were all to meet at general grant's statue in new york city at 5:00 every day. >> after dash's confession, the fbi quickly rounded up the remaining two long island
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saboteurs. keiran was arrested as he left a tailor shop and heink as he left a drugstore. but then dash told him about the other four nazis who landed in florida. >> i was the first person in the united states to understand we had a second group on hand. those fellas landed, buried their stuff, went into jacksonville, bought new clothes and everything. >> what did you do at that point? >> i wanted to know who was in the group and he identified curling, neibauer and he identified herbie houk and one man named theel. >> curly had written his contact information for dash in invisible ink on this handkerchief. dash couldn't remember how to develop the ink so he could read it. >> i sent it up to the lab the first day and the next day when they came back, they had developed the writing on it and red colors. developed with ammonia fumes.
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so we now had the name of a contact for curling in new york. >> the secret handkerchief led to curling's arrest in a new york bar where he was drinking and plotting with teel. shortly after the other two were arrested in chicago. hoover, ever the politician, didn't want anyone, including the president, to know how the saboteurs were caught. the eight saboteurs were tried in a top secret military tribunal. find out what happened next, right here on "war stories."
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it took just two weeks for the eight nazi saboteurs to be arrested and charged with sabotage, espionage and conspiracy to commit -- they hoped to be treated as prisoners of war, not spies.
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>> the key thing was if they had been intercepted before they landed, they would have been treated as prisoners of war. they then took off their uniforms, buried them and went into their essentially american garb. at that point, that made them spies and saboteurs and subject to the death penalty by the articles of war. >> these men accused of attempted espionage, sabotage and treason, the united states government demands the full penalty of death. >> when these eight guys are apprehended, do they all begin to sing like dash had done? >> they all did. they were all taken up to new york. there's newspaper reports that two of the agents promised dash that he was going to go free. of course they had no authority to do so. >> you basically spent more time with dash at the front end of this thing than anybody else. did dash ever say to you how am i going to be treated? >> he was concerned and i explained to him that i didn't know for sure.
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they might let him free, he might have to be imprisoned, i didn't know. >> fdr consulted with his attorney general, francis biddle, and issued an executive order. >> that order provided that these saboteurs would be tried not in civilian courts, not by a regularly constituted court-martial and not even in accordance with the articles of war, which governed the procedure for trials of criminal cases in the military, but by a special military tribunal that he convened. >> those eight saboteurs who landed secretly in florida and on long island, put ashore by u-boats, they came to do criminal work against this nation, two are american citizens, traitors, now they go to face military justice. >> the united states had been at war with germany since december of 1941. there was great apprehension in the united states and there was a great deal of concern as to the ability of the united states to combat saboteurs and
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ultimately to defeat the axis powers. >> fdr decided there should be a secret trial and execution. he made that decision almost the first second he heard about the landing of nazi saboteurs, so it was, a, nazis have landed. b, they're going to die. there was a fantastic degree of national unity. so first and foremost, nobody is going to raise any objections to anything that the president does at this point. >> until this nazi trial, the last military tribunal held was for the conspirators of president lincoln's assassination back in 1865. >> the conspirators, louis payne, mary surrat and dr. samuel mudd were tried by a tribunal for their roles in the assassination of president lincoln. the conspirators were hanged. >> the nazi saboteur trial began july 8th, 1942. it took place behind closed
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doors inside the department of justice building in washington, d.c., a place very familiar to agent traynor. >> in the same classroom where we were trained as new agents. they were brought to the department of justice every day in armored vehicles with guns. >> the tribunal was made up of seven military officers that fdr personally selected. >> when roosevelt set up the tribunal, he set up a blue ribbon group of lawyers, both to prosecute and to defend the case. biddle was the lead prosecutor. >> attorney general biddle has a photograph identified by one of the fbi men who captured the saboteurs. >> at the trial i was, i guess, the first witness called. and the attorney for dash persisted in asking me who did i meet, where did i meet him, and is the man here that i met. so i said, yes, he is, he's right over there. he said, no, get up off that chair and come over and stand in front of him, which i did. and dash said to me, see, i told
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you -- here we are. >> the lives of the eight nazi saboteurs hung in the balance. >> who lives, who dies. that's next on "war stories."
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july 27th, 1942. after a four-week trial, the defense rested. and on august 4th, the tribunal handed down death sentences for all eight saboteurs, including george dasch, the man who
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betrayed them to the fbi. >> very soon thereafter, the president commuted the sentences of dasch and burger to lesser terms. dasch had his commuted to 30 years in prison and burger to life in prison. >> attorney general biddle, j. edgar hoover appealed to franklin d. roosevelt saying these were the people that furnished the information to crack the case and so, therefore, they had to be given recognition for that in the traditional way, which is to get a lesser sentence than the people who hadn't cooperated. >> four days after the death sentences were ordered, six of the nazi saboteurs were executed by electric chair at the district jail in washington, d.c. >> death at dawn. democratic justice sounding a warning to all who would invade america. >> on the day of their execution, roosevelt was holding a cocktail party for his
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intimate associates, relatives and a few friends. and he was absolutely normal, jovial. roosevelt had an absolute rule that once the cocktail party started, no war business, nothing about politics could be exchanged. it was all gossip, it was all personal chitchat. and it wasn't until late in the cocktail party that almost in an offhand way, one of his guests said, either way, what's happened to the nazi saboteurs? and in so many words, he indicated they have all just been executed. >> in the heartland, the search for nazi saboteurs continued. young herbert haupt's parents, aunt, uncle and two of his friends were tried for treason. >> unfortunately for them, he told them the truth. he had been trained as a saboteur. he had landed by u-boat secretly in florida and now made his way
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up to chicago and he was assigned the job of helping to blow up the american defense industry. >> their claim that they were only helping a relative, not nazi germany fell on deaf ears. all six were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. haupt's parents were later deported to germany. >> interestingly enough, in 1948, both dasch and burger, who were both then serving their sentences, were granted clemency by president truman and deported to germany. >> you've wrapped up one of the biggest sabotage operations in the united states. >> yes, mm-hmm. >> what do you think of your role in this thing? >> i was just the right person at the right time. that's all. i was an investigator. >> in your generation there's almost a reluctance to accept the accolades for what you did do. it's a great tribute to your generation, it really is. >> agent duane traynor stayed
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with the fbi until 1946. after he left, he moved back to illinois to practice law and raise his family. >> i don't consider myself a hero. i did a job and fortunately it turned out good. we have 3,000 miles of shore, from maine to florida, and of all the places they had to come in is where i was at that time. >> john cullen was awarded the legion emerit. >> i didn't know whether i was going to get out of this situation i was in. dasch was the man in charge. his orders were to kill me. anybody they met was to be destroyed. but for what reason he did this, i still don't know. >> after the trial, he went on war bond and publicity tours for the coast guard. stay with me, oliver north, for more war stories on the fox news channel.
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today there are thousands of men and women working tirelessly at the fbi, the cia, the coast guard, the ins and other agencies protecting america from those who would do us harm. back in 1942, it came down to one young coast guardsman, john cullen, and a handful of fbi agents to prevent a murderous attack on america's homeland. theirs is a war story that deserves to be told.
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tonight on war stories, 6 million women overcame obstacles to answer the call. >> this is their country. they wanted to do whatever they could to help defend it. >> on the home front? >> i was a good welder. i became a navy certified welder. >> and in the military. >> my mom would say oh, boy, what have i gotten into. >> the women of world war ii. that's next. on war stories. ♪


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