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Attacks and Threats on the United States in WW II

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Japan - January 1943 -- Atomic Bomb


German-planned Invasion of the United States

Before the winter of 1941, Germany appeared to be moving toward a swift victory over the Soviet Union. Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Kommisar for Eastern Affairs, was ordered to print the motto "Deutschland Welt Reich" (German World Empire) and Hitler made known his intention of further conquest following victory over Russia. These plans appeared to include an invasion of the United States.


In Autumn of 1940, the attack on the US was fixed for the long-term future. This appears in Luftwaffe documents, one of which dated Octiober 29, 1940 mentions the

...extraordinary interest of Mein Führer in the occupation of the
Atlantic Islands. In line with this interest...with the cooperation of Spain is the seizure of Gibraltar and Spanish and Portuguese islands, along other operations in the North Atlantic.


In July 1941, the Führer ordered that planning an attack against the United States be continued. Five months later, on December 11, 1941 Germany declared war on the United States.



Dr Hideki Yukawa was awarded the Nobel Price in physics in 1949 for his extensive work with the atom begun in 1941.


 An atomic bomb project was launched by Prime Minister Hideki Tojo in January, 1943. Former colonel Toranosuke Kawashina was in charge. Design considerations were promising.  All chance of success was destroyed when a German submarine carrying two tons of uranium was sunk as it approached Japan.


Although the allied atomic bomb was developed from a threat by Germany, it was not completed until after VE day. It was used to avoid the expected 500,000 to one million US casualties from the invasion of the Japanese main islands against an army of almost three million men. Kamikaze boats and planes were being stockpiled. In addition, the public was being issued weapons. Two to five million Japanese casualties were anticipated. It can be argued the atomic bomb saved Japanese civilian and military, as well as US lives. The sudden end certainly saved the lives of thousands of POWs and slave labourers scheduled for assassination upon invasion.



Germany - Atomic Bomb

December 18, 1938 Otto Hahn splits the uranium atom, releasing energy.   Although top officials were invited to an atomic weapons session, the agenda described the presentation as of a technical nature and lower level individuals were assigned to attend. Little interest developed. Heavy water was recognized as a requirement.  The activities to destroy the only facilities in Europe at that time, in Norway, are well documented on the commando raid, February 28, 1943, the bombing raid, November 16, 1943, and the sabotage sinking of the ferry in January, 1944. However, Germany had pretty well given up on the bomb by mid-1943 although work continued at Haigerloch until the end. 




Atomic Bomb -- Allies

Many nations were engaged in atomic research. Radiation was discovered by the Curie's in France. Military uses were researched until the fall of France when their laboratories, directed by the son-in-law of Curie, transferred 410 pounds of Norwegian heavy water to the British team on June 16, 1940.

British calculations showed, in 1941, that a very small amount of the fissionable isotope, uranium 235, could produce an explosion equivalent to that of several thousand tons of TNT.


The key US conference was held January 26, 1939 with increased research approved by FDR after consulting with others, including Einstein. First research contracts were let in Nov 1940 with 15 more started within a year for work lead by the Universities of Columbia, Chicago and California.  A feasible design was determined in June, 1942. A decision was made to transfer control to the Army.  Col James Marshall Corp of Engineers, established the Manhattan Engineering District.  Brigadier General Leslie Groves was assigned September 17, 1942 to start production on a bomb and all research had been transferred by May 1943.


The effort was aided by delivery of 1,140 tons of Belgium Congo uranium ore which had been shipped to Staten Island for safekeeping in October 1940. On December 2, 1942, a US team (Enrico Fermi) activated the first atomic pile in a Chicago stadium. FDR and Churchill agreed to a joint US-UK atomic accord which was established under Englishman, Chadwick, by the Quebec Conference, August 9, 1943.


Bomb production was centered in Los Alamos, NM (Oppenheimer) Oak Ridge, TN and Hanford, WA.  The first atomic bomb was successfully tested July 16, 1945.  An ultimatum was given to Japan that was timed to the first availability of a bomb on July 31. Japan did not respond to the ultimatum and the treat was delayed by weather until Aug 6 before it was delivered on Hiroshima. Although the atomic bomb was a powerful and efficient weapon, the 66,00 people killed was on the progression of the numbers killed by conventional weapons: London , Pearl Harbor (2,403, December 7, 1941, 384 planes) and on Cologne, Hamburg (40,000,  July 1943, 1,500 planes) and Dresden (135,000, February 13-14, 1945, 1,200 allied planes) in Germany and those that increasingly descended on Tokyo, starting with 97,000 killed on March 9, 1945 from 334 B-29s, and rained on other industrial cities.  [About 55,000,000 people died in WW2.  The overlapping Sino-Japanese War may have taken 50,000,000 lives.]


A third bomb was being shipped from New Mexico, target Tokyo, when the war ended. Production was geared to seven per month with an expectation that 50 bombs would be required to assure that an invasion would not be required. Release of radiation from the untested Hiroshima bomb, designed as the original gun-type and made of uranium, was a surprise. The radiation range was expected to be within the blast radius, that is, a lethal dose of radiation would only kill those already dead from concussion. The Alamogordo bomb test and later production were of the more complicated plutonium, implosion device.


Japan did not surrender to the escalation in bombings alone. The condition of Japan in mid-1945 was hopeless. The war had ended in Europe. Allied divisions, air forces, and fleets were being transferred to the Pacific. US industry and shipping of material was now devoted to war with Japan. The islands were strangled; the fleet destroyed; the air force, the army and industry had been mauled. Yet Japan gave no indication it was to give up and had an army of over 2.5 million men, many recalled from China, and ten thousand suicide planes and boats held in reserve. The civilian population was being armed and a newly created armed militia numbering 25 million and taught how to use hand grenades.  Teenaged girls were trained with sharpened poles to use as bayonets.  The US troops' hopeful slogan was: The Golden Gate in `48.


Negotiations had taken place with Russia with whom Japan had a treaty throughout the war until this time. By agreement with the Allies in Europe, the USSR declared war on the Empire August 8 and Emperor Hirohito finally accepted "to bear the unbearable" on August 10. Japan capitulated on Aug 15. Dissident attacks continued on the following days on the US fleet off the Japanese coast and the AAF (August 18, B-32 photo reconnaissance flight of "Hobo Queen II", 1 killed) (August 22, Japanese antiaircraft batteries near Hong Kong fire upon navy patrol planes over China Coast.) until the formal surrender September 2, 1945. Conflict continued for months in the case of some guerrillas isolated in the island campaigns.



U.S. Possessions

Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941


That the Japanese would attack was well known to the US government by November 1941. Japan had a tradition of surprise attack. The US had correctly identified the Japanese targets of British Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. It was assumed there would also be a sneak attack on the Philippines in support of the Japanese occupancy of these and other areas of the western Pacific, also true. An air attack on Pearl Harbor was regularly considered in war games, but the audacity to attack 2000 miles across the North Pacific attack the USN fleet headquarters was not seriously considered. At Pearl Harbor, attention was focused on getting aid to our outlying islands and to the Philippines. 

After Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese Navy had ten battleships and ten carriers. The US had in the Pacific: 3 damaged battleships, 3 sunken, and 2 unsalvageable (Arizona and Oklahoma) and three carriers, Lexington and Enterprise at Pearl Harbor and Saratoga on the west coast.

The Pearl Harbor attack force returned to Hiroshima to rearm, December 23, 1941. The Japanese fleet was free to rampage, taking Pacific Islands, occupying the East Indies (Jan-March, 1942), raiding Ceylon and India (April 5-9, 1942) and Darwin, Australia (April 20, 1942).


They quickly annihilated the combined Dutch, British, Australian, and US surface ships in the western Pacific, starting with the sinking of the British presence, the battleship Price of Wales and battle cruiser Repulse, December 10, 1941 off Malaya and followed with successes in the battles off Java, February, 1942.


The Japanese goals of conquest of the resources of Indochina and East Indies and Pacific islands for defence had been achieved within the first six months. 


Success was so easy that the protective ring was expanded until blocked at the Battle of Coral Sea on May 7, 1942, with an exchange of aircraft carriers, and the Battle of Midway, June 5, 1942 with the Japanese fleet seriously damaged by the loss of four fleet carriers.


The ultimate Japanese war goal was to complete the conquest of China by capturing the resource rich East Indies islands, Malaya, Java, et al. The attacks on the US, India, and Australia were to weaken reprisals and establish an aural of invincibility. After attaining her goals of suzerainty of the Western Pacific, Japan planned to negotiate a peace from a position of strength over the intimidated Allies, already under pressure with a European conflict, while retaining her newly expanded Pacific empire and to return the Pacific invasion troops to continue with her war to control China.



After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 16,849 Americans of Japanese ancestry were relocated in ten specially built War Relocation Authority Camps in the USA. Most of these camps were located in California. Opened in March, 1942, all were closed by 1946 most internees being released well before the end of the war. In Latin America, around 2,000 Japanese were rounded up so the US would have prisoners to exchange with Japan. During their internment, 5,918 babies were born. A total of 2,355 internees joined the US armed forces and around 150 were killed in combat.


The 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team was formed after its members petitioned Congress for the privilege to serve in the war. It became the most decorated unit in US military history earning 21 Medals of Honor as well as 9,486 Purple Hearts. After the war, 4,724 US citizens of Japanese ancestry, angered by this terrible injustice, renounced their American citizenship and returned to Japan.


It is strange that in Hawaii, the ethnic Japanese, over 30% of the Hawaiian population, were not interned after Pearl Harbor.


French Frigate Shoals -- Hawaii

December 1941 and February 1942.  Pearl Harbor was observed from submarine launched sea planes on at least three occasions.


Three Kawanishi H8K2 "Emily" long range, flying boats attempted to bomb Pearl Harbor on March 5, 1942. Weather was bad and they dumped their bombs west of Honolulu, Oahu. The flying boats flew from Wotje, Marshalls and refueled from submarines at French Frigate Shoals on the northwestern end of Hawaii. The seaplane tender Ballard (AVD-10), a converted destroyer, was sent to patrol the area until it was adequately mined.



Midway Island

Midway was shelled by two Japanese destroyers simultaneously with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941. Bad weather saved Midway from being pounded by planes of the retiring Japanese strike fleet.


Midway is the western most of the chain of volcanic islands that form the Hawaii chain. The largest Japanese fleet ever assembled, 11 BB, 8 CV, 100 ships, set out to attack the island in May, 1942. The intent was to draw the American fleet into combat where it would be mauled. From intercepted messages, the US fleet knew to wait in ambush and destroyed four Jap aircraft carriers, with the loss of Yorktown. This battle changed the balance of sea power in the Pacific.




Guam, an American outpost in the Mariana Islands,  was air raided on Dec 7 by bombers from Saipan. Guam's defensive force of 365-Marines was captured on Dec 10, 1942 by a force of 5,400 Japanese from neighbouring Saipan.


Guam was recaptured in the battle for the Marianas (Siapan, Tinian) from July 21 - Aug 8, 1944.



Wake Island

Wake Island is about half way between Hawaii and the Philippines.  Bombing was simultaneous with Pearl Harbor  A Pan Am Philippine Clipper landing in Hawaii during the air strike was rerouted to an alternate site. It immediately returned to Wake to take off the Pan Am personnel. A construction crew of 1,200, mostly youths from Idaho, could not be evacuated.


The initial invasion of Wake Island on Dec 11 was fought off by 447 US Marines.  One Japanese destroyer was sunk with artillery fire and another sunk by a Marine Wildcat, along with damage to a cruiser, a transport, and two more destroyers. Two Japanese aircraft carriers and heavy cruisers were dispatched from the departing Pearl Harbor task force and the island was taken by 2,000 Imperial marines on Dec 23, 1941.


The construction crew was shipped to Japan. Five men were beheaded to assure good behaviour on the trip.


Wake Island was bypassed by later events and was not restored to US control until the end of the war.




Japanese struck Dutch Harbor at the base of the Aleutian Islands on June 3, 1942, with planes from two carriers in support of an invasion and occupation of Attu (13 June), at the tip of the Aleutian chain, and Kiska (21 June) with 1,800 troops. Partially a diversion to cover the attack on Midway, partly geo-political, and only partly military.  The capture of Alaskan islands forced the US to establish a northern defence.  

Having broken the Japanese military codes, however, the U.S. knew it was a diversion and did not expend large amounts of effort defending the islands. Although most of the civilian population had been moved to camps on the Alaska Panhandle, some Americans were captured and taken to Japan as prisoners of war.


US troops retook Attu in furious fighting, May 11-30, 1943.


Thirty-four thousand US and Canadian troops landed to retake Kiska on Aug 15, but found the island had been evacuated.


Both sides had discovered that bad weather prevented further major attacks on the other's mainland from a northern route.


In response to the United States' success at the Battle of Midway, the invasion alert for San Francisco was canceled on June 8




Japanese Balloon Burn Bombs

 -- forest fires throughout the western United States

Taking advantage of the jet stream that circles the globe and crosses over both northern Japan and the northern United States, 9,000 balloons, each equipped with four incendiary and one anti-personnel bombs, were released to start forest fires and create terror in the western United States as far east as Michigan. Six people were killed in Oregon. The project was called Fugo (windship) and headed by Major General Sueki Kusaba.  Considering the massive damage from natural fires in year 2000, this was a serious threat.



When the U.S. first heard about the balloon bombs, it was not believed. After a few were found things changed. They were considered a threat and they outlined it well in an unpublished manual called BD-1. Even though balloons which dropped incendiary or antipersonnel were found, other uses were enumerated in order of importance:



1. Bacteriological or chemical warfare or both


Japan Used Germ Warefare -- In 1939, the Japanese military poisoned Soviet water sources with intestinal typhoid bacteria at the former Mongolian border. In Oct.1940, Japan tested germ warefare on 3 villages in China with a "plague bomb" containing infected mosquitos that carried the black death, killing hundreds.They had planned to drop the bomb on San Diego, but the U.S. unleashed the atomic bomb several months before Japan had the chance.

During an infamous biowarfare attack in 1941, the Japanese Military released an estimated 150 million plague-infected fleas from airplanes over villages in China and Manchuria, resulting in several plague outbreaks in those villages. Reportedly, by 1945, the Japanese program had stockpiled 400 kilograms of anthrax to be used in a specially designed fragmentation bomb.

In the only known use of biowarfare by Germany, a large reservoir in Bohemia was poisoned with sewage, in 1945.


2. Transportation of incendiary and antipersonnel bombs.

3. Experiments for unknown purposes.

4. Psychological efforts to inspire terror and diversion of forces.

5. Transportation of agents.

6. Anti-aircraft devices.






German Long Range Bomber -- New York City

The Ju 390 was a prototype high altitude, heavy bomber flown in 1943 from Bordeaux, occupied France, to New York City and returned. It was developed from the Ju 90 four engine bomber and the Ju 290. Larger than a B-29, the Ju 390 had six 1,700 hp engines and 181.6 ft wingspan. Germany had other priorities than to build a long range, strategic air force. However, a shock raid, such as Doolittle performed on Tokyo, could have happened to NYC.




Heinkel, He-177 “Griffin” with He-219A escort

One He177 was secretly being readied in Czechoslovakia to carry the planned
German Atomic bomb towards the war's end.

The United States was in a unique position among all the powers involved in World War Two. For the last time in its history, it was able to undertake military operations on a global scale relatively free of the fear of enemy reprisal. Its cities and factories were beyond the reach of any known enemy bomber. Moreover, much of its industrial capacity was located in its interior, far from the northeastern Atlantic States or the Pacific coast. According to conventional wisdom that has been reiterated countless times in numerous standard histories of the war, there was absolutely nothing the United States had to fear from Nazi Germany with its "tactical mission-oriented Luftwaffe" or its puny navy. To this day, many Americans, even ones relatively familiar with the operational details of Word War Two, believe that Germany had no aircraft even capable of reaching the United States and returning to Europe, much less of carrying a heavy enough payload, or being available in sufficient numbers, to be of any military significance.

Did the Germans possess any strategic bombers or aircraft capable of reaching the North American continent with a significant payload, and returning to Europe?









Peenemünde was a hive of activity in its heyday, before a major RAF bombing raid in 1943, the biggest British mission of the war, destroyed large sections of the facility.


Rockets were tested there until 1945 and fired at Britain from launch pads on the French coast.


Researchers have found evidence that tests were carried out to fire rockets from submarines, while a chilling speech by the camp commandant, Walter Dornberger, shows where the rockets were headed next.


"The crowning of our work will be the American machine, a two-stage rocket which will cover the distance between Germany and the United States in around 30 minutes,"' Dornberger wrote in a speech for a visit by SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

Allied intelligence knew that the Germans were working on a "New York Rocket." At least twenty of these large rockets were built at the SS underground base at Nordhausen. What happened to them is one of the enduring mysteries of World War II.






To the German scientists, the V-2 was just a toy. The V-1, V-2 and Me 262 certainly high technology for the British and Americans, but compared with the Sänger bomber, the A9/A10 rocket (both ready or almost ready in 1945) or the flying disks, they were only toys.

~Lt. Col. John A. Keck, June 28, 1945


"Virus House" German Nuclear Weapon

Circa 1944-45

This device was to use a total of 10 layers of semi-refined U-235/238, alternating with Neutron absorbing kerosene. On impact, plungers would crush "Präparat", releasing neutrons, as shear pins broke, allowing the Uranium plates to come together via inertia and make a supercritical mass. The device would then detonate, or at least melt down, causing massive contamination. The target was to be midtown Manhattan. Two prototypes MAY have been built in 1945.

Virus House was a code name for German Atomic research, that came from one of the laboratories being a former medical research building. The German researchers came to the conclusion that building an atomic bomb, while possible, would be extremely costly, and time consuming - and it didn't look like Germany had the time or resources for the program.... but suddenly, in late 1944, a number of odd events occurred.



German aircraft designers were told to tender designs for a bomber capable of flying to New York and back, without refueling. The bomb load was to be 4000 Kilograms; surprisingly light for an attack that could have any real effect. The Horton firm was given the assignment, with the beautiful Ho XVIII B flying wing bomber being the only design that could achieve the required specifications. They were told to begin construction as soon as possible.

Work was restarted on a submarine towed pod, code named 'Test stand XII", to transport and launch the V-2 (A-4) missile. Up to three of these could be towed by a Type XXI submarine. The work was given high priority, and one of the pods, minus its internal equipment, was finished by the war's end.

The German rocket team at Peenemünde were told to dust off the plans for the A-9/A-10 project, a two stage ICBM capable of reaching New York. This seemed an awfully big project to start this late in the war.

Jonastal S-3 would have been the production center for all of Germany's best secret weapons with emphasis being placed on the ICBMs, German atom bomb, AND an equally devastating plasma weapon that was authorized in March 1945 but not completed. This was a mix of 60/40 fine coal dust powder and LOX mixed with a secret reagent developed by the SS Technical Branch. The result was both a fire and electrical storm at ground level. Testing of small bombs near the Baltic produced spectacular results. So, advanced aircraft like the Sänger, Ho XVIIIB, and Ar E.555 would have carried these over US cities on the eastern seaboard.

However, these were never needed as a Ju-390 could have done the job. NYC would have been the first target. That's why all those America bomber projects were authorized in early 1945.

It would have made no sense if Germany had no such weapons in development.




Japanese land based long-range bombers


The Japanese Navy ordered the construction of Nakajima G10N1 "Fugaku" (Mount Fuji), an ultra-long range heavy bomber, for bombing the United States mainland. The bomb-load capability of the bomber was 20,000 kg for short-range sorties; 5,000 kg for sorties against targets in the U.S. Another similar project with a similar purpose was the four engined bomber Nakajima G8N "Renzan" Rita.


The Japanese Army ordered the design of Tachikawa Ki- 74 "Patsy", an ultra long-range reconnaissance bomber originally designed to be used against Soviets in Siberian lands. Later, it was ordered for development for bombing missions against the United States. The bomb charge was 500Kg-1,000Kg. This bomber was also known as the "Japanese Siberian Bomber"




The Battle of Los Angeles

In an incident now known as "The Battle of Los Angeles", the U.S. Army fired several thousand anti-aircraft shells at an unidentified target over Santa Monica, California during the night of February 24-25, 1942. The target was later officially determined to be a lost weather balloon, although this was never confirmed.


The San Francisco Bay Area on alert

In May and June 1942, the San Francisco Bay Area underwent a series of alerts:


May 12: A twenty-five minute air-raid alert.

May 27: West Coast defences put on alert after Army codebreakers learned that the Japanese intended a series of hit-and-run attacks in reprisal for the Doolittle Raid.

May 31: The battleships USS Colorado and USS Maryland set sail from the Golden Gate to form a line of defense against any Japanese attack mounted on San Francisco.

June 2: A nine-minute air-raid alert, including at 9:22pm a radio silence order applied to all radio stations from Mexico to Canada.

There was also a forty-five minute air-raid alert and radio silence order later in the year, on November 28.





Japanese Submarines

Dec. 7, 1941. On its way to the US west coast, I-26 tracks a US freighter. Precisely at 8:00 a.m., Dec 7, Pearl Harbor time, she surfaces and sinks Cynthia Olson with gunfire.

Dec. 15, 1941. Japanese submarine shelled Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.


Dec 20. Unarmed US tanker sunk by Japanese submarine I-17 off Cape Mendocino, California. 31 survivors rescued by Coast Guard from Blunt's Reef Lightship.


Dec 20. Unarmed US tanker shelled by Japanese submarine I-23 of the coast of California


Dec 22. Unarmed U.S. tanker sunk by Japanese submarine I-21 about four miles south of Piedras Blancas light, California, I-21 machine-guns the lifeboats, but inflicts no casualties. I-21 later shells unarmed U.S. tanker Idaho near the same location.


Dec 23. Japanese submarine I-17 shells unarmed tanker southwest of Cape Mendocino, California.

Dec 27. Unarmed US tanker shelled by Japanese submarine I-23 10 miles from mouth of Columbia River.


Dec 30. Submarine I-1 shells, Hilo, Hawaii.


Dec 31. Submarines shell Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii.


23 Feb 1942 The first Japanese attack on the U.S. mainland occurs when an I-17 submarine fires 13 shells at  the Ellwood oil production facilities at Goleta, near Santa Barbara, California. Although only a catwalk and pumphouse were damaged, I-17 captain Nishino Kozo radioed Tokyo that he had left Santa Barbara in flames. No casualties were reported and the total cost of the damage was estimated at approximately $500.

It was not clear why this target was chosen until much later, when it was found that the commander of this particular submarine had visited the site in the 1930s and stumbled into a field of prickly pear cactus. Captain Nishino never forgave the ridicule he received from his American hosts that day.

June 20. The radio station on Estevan Point, Vancouver Island was fired on by a Japanese submarine I-26.

June 21. I-25 shells Fort Stevens, Oregon.


Sept 9. Phosphorus bombs were dropped on Mt. Emily, ten miles northeast of Brookings, Oregon, to start forest fires. It was a Yokosuka E14Y1 "Glen" reconnaissance seaplane piloted by Lt. Nubuo Fujita who had been catapulted from submarine I-25.


Sep 29. Phosphorus bombings were repeated on the southern coast of Oregon.


Japanese submarines were generally assigned as screening forces ahead of fleet movements. The US had more submarines assigned to individual action where they methodically destroyed 1,314 ships of the Japanese merchant marine fleet, isolating that island nation.  However, the giant I-400 class of submarine seaplane carrier was capable of attacking San Francisco or New York, but targeted the Panama Canal before diverted as the war ended.




Underwater Giants

In 1942, Japan commenced building the world's biggest submarines. The 400 foot long I-400 series had a displacement of 3,530 tons and were intended to destroy the Pacific exit of the Panama Canal. They could cruise 37,500 miles and dive to a depth of 325 feet. Each of the I-400s could carry three specially designed seaplane bombers which were dismantled and stored in a watertight hanger inside the submarine. Only three were completed before the end of the Pacific war and survived the massive American bombing of Japan's naval bases. All three were captured and destroyed by the Americans in April, 1946.




I-400/Aichi M6A Plan

The Imperial Submarine Squadron One, under the command of Captain Tatsunosuke Ariizumi (I-400 "Sentoku" Class Submarine/ Aichi M6A1 special torpedo-bomber force) was composed of: I-13, (equipped with 2 aircraft); I-14, (equipped with 2 aircraft); I-400, (equipped with 3 or 4 aircraft); and I-401, (equipped with 3 or 4 aircraft)


For their first mission, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, Vice Chief of the Navy General Staff, selected "Operation PX", a top secret plan to use the I-400 unit's ten aircraft to unleash bacteriological warfare on populous areas of the American West Coast and Pacific Islands.


On March 26, 1945, this mission was canceled by General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, who declared that "Germ warfare against the United States would escalate to war against all humanity".


As an alternative, the staff considered bombing San Francisco, Panama, Washington D.C. or New York, and decided to launch a surprise air strike against the Panama Canal's Gatun Locks. Destroying these locks would empty Gatun Lake and block the passage of shipping for months.


For the 17,000 mile round trip to Panama, each submarine needed 1,600 tons of diesel fuel, which was unavailable at Kure. I-401 was therefore dispatched to Dairen, Manchukuo, to bring back the needed oil. On April 12 she grazed a B-29-laid mine off Hime Shima Lighthouse in the Inland Sea and had to return for repairs. In her place I-400 successfully carried out the undersea tanker mission.


While the submersible carriers were perfecting their tactics to cripple the Panama Canal, the Japanese Navy was steadily deteriorating. Before the submarines could set sail for Panama, more than 3,000 Allied warships and transports had reached the Pacific for Operation Olympic, the forthcoming invasion of Japan.


This growing threat forced Tokyo strategists to reconsider the attack on distant Panama, which now appeared a questionable diversion. Over his vehement objections, Captain Ariizumi was ordered to abandon his squadron's carefully rehearsed canal strike and attack instead the American naval forces at Ulithi Atoll.





The Death of California


"This is "Flapjack # 111, calling Coast Guard station #1 at Santa Barbara, California... Come in please - This is urgent. I am Captain Roscoe Barnschagle, two hundred miles off the Santa Barbara Channel... I have picked up three large objects on my sonar scope. They are traveling about ten miles per hour, at a depth of three hundred feet. They are approximately four hundred feet long and appear to be traveling in formation. I strongly suggest you send a Coast Guard Cutter to investigate. It is possible that these are enemy submarines! (Flapjack #111 was a fifty foot long commercial fishing yacht). "Flapjack # 111 this is Coast Guard Station #1, do not be unduly alarmed, your submarines in question are without a doubt large whales! No nation on the face of the earth has any submarines that large. Over and out." (End of transmission).


Now this was the same kind of complacency that allowed the Pearl Harbor attack. When Japanese planes were first detected and reported..."Do not be unduly alarmed, they are some of ours coming in from the mainland."  The "three large whales" were really the 1-400, the 1-401 and the 1-402 Japanese Super Submarines!


Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had personally ordered that these submarines be built and they were the largest submarines ever built and used in World War ll.


 These super submarines were indeed 400 hundred feet and 3 inches long and 39 feet and 4 inches wide. In order to keep the draught (depth) as shallow as possible, the hull was constructed as two side by side cylinders. Armament was one 5.5 inch gun, ten 25-MM cannon (antiaircraft guns) and eight 21 inch torpedo tubes. And on deck the subs carried three fighter bomber seaplanes (in water tight hangars). A catapult launched the seaplanes and a crane lifted them back on board. Their cruising range was a remarkable 37,500 miles. And their diving range was at least 325 feet. These super subs could do 18 3/4 knots on the surface and 6 1/2 knots submerged. Sometimes they were fitted with dummy funnels to try and disguise them. Most of Japan's submarines were sunk during World War II, but somehow these three super subs survived.


It is now early morning, just before dawn, on August 17, 1945. The three monstrous submarines, the 1-400, the 1-401, and the 1-402, surface 100 miles off the California coast. Quickly the airplane mechanics rush to warm up the three airplanes on all three subs. These fighter-bomber airplanes were "Aichi" M6A1 "Seiran" float planes. These planes were especially designed and built for this type of submarine. (Although they were similar to the Yokosuka E14Y1 that had fire-bombed the Oregon forest in September of 1942). These seaplanes were loaded with two small atomic bombs a piece. That was a total of eighteen atomic bombs! These atomic bombs were much smaller than the ones that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, these atomic bombs were very different, they are known as "Dirty Bombs." Not many people would be killed in the initial explosion, many others would be contaminated by high levels of radiation and with biological bacteria. Several million people would be annihilated instantly, while many others would suffer a horrible lingering death.


The largest cities of California were all targeted. Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland,  San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. California is only around 200 miles wide, so nearly all of California would have become waste land. This bombing would affect people as far inland as Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona.


But the Emperor Hirohito personally inspected the ruins of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was very shocked and disturbed at the devastation before him. He tearfully decided to end the war, to spare his people any more pain and suffering. When Emperor Hirohito returned to Tokyo, he called his Supreme War Council together. He said, "This war must end, I am making a record to broadcast to the people. I want to explain to them that we must surrender unconditionally. This is all the Allies will accept." After much long wrangling, most of his war council finally agreed. But late that night, a group of Japanese soldiers rebelled. They surrounded the Imperial Palace to search for the record. If it could be found and destroyed, the war would still be prolonged. But they were routed out of the palace before the record was found. Now this Japanese Supreme War Council made most of the decisions concerning the war. Many times Emperor Hirohito knew nothing about their plans. He probably knew absolutely nothing about their top secret plan to bomb California on August 17, 1945. But this is just how close we came to losing the entire state of California.


I-400 class submarine - Submarine Aircraft Carrier

The Sen Toku I-400 class submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy were the largest submarines of World War II, the largest non-nuclear submarines ever constructed, and the largest in the world until the development of nuclear ballistic missile submarines in the 1960s. These were submarine aircraft carriers and each of them was able to carry 3 Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft underwater to their destinations. They also carried torpedoes for close range combat and were designed to surface, launch the planes then dive again quickly before they were discovered.

I-400, with its long plane hangar and forward catapult


Although the U.S. Navy remained discreet about it, the Japanese were ahead of the Allies in many aspects of submarine development and underwater weapons. During the Second World War, the Japanese had 30 different classes of submarines — from the one-man suicide torpedoes to the giant I-400 class of aircraft carriers, and used the world's most effective torpedoes, the Type 95.

          I-400's aircraft storage and catapult for her three M6A1 Seiran (Storm from a Clear Sky)       torpedo-bombers

While Japan built many submarines that were larger than those of other Navies, the three Sen Toku boats were far larger than anything ever seen before.  Some 60% larger than the largest contemporary American submarine, USS Argonaut, they had more than twice her range.

Side view of I-401

In many ways H.I.J.M.S. I-400 was decades ahead of her time.  She was the world's largest submarine, with a length of 120 m, and a surfaced displacement of 3,530 tons.  Above her main deck rose a 115 foot long, 12 foot diameter, hangar housing three torpedo-bombers.  These floatplanes were rolled out through a massive hydraulic door onto an 85 foot pneumatic catapult, where they were rigged for flight, fueled, armed, launched, and, after landing alongside, lifted back aboard with a powerful hydraulic crane.  The I-400 was equipped with a snorkel, radar, radar detectors, and capacious fuel tanks that gave her a range of 37,500 miles: one and a half times around the world.  She was armed with eight torpedo tubes, a 5.5 inch 50 caliber deck gun, a bridge 25mm antiaircraft gun, and three triple 25mm A/A mounts atop her hangar.

Unique asymmetrical cross section of the I-400 class boats

The most unusual feature was that they each carried three floatplane bombers (and parts for a fourth), a feat never achieved by any other class of submarine.  These aircraft folded to fit into the 115-foot cylindrical hangar, which was slightly offset to starboard and opened forward to access the catapult.  The huge double hull was formed of parallel cylindrical hulls so that it had a peculiar lazy-eight cross section, and may have inspired the Soviet Typhoon-class built some 40 years later.

Members of the US Navy inspecting the plane hangar of I-400


Aichi M6A1 Seiran

The aircraft were the Aichi M6A1 Seiran, also carried by the Type AM submarines.  Each of these monoplanes could carry one aerial torpedo or a bomb weighing up to 800kg.  Powered by the 1,400hp Atsuta 32 engine they had a top speed of 295mph and were credited with a range of 642 nautical miles.  The Sen Toku submarines carried four aerial torpedoes, three 800kg bombs, and twelve 250kg bombs to arm these aircraft.  These aircraft had their assembly points coated with fluorescent paint to ease assembly in the dark, so four trained men could prepare an aircraft for launch in seven minutes.  All three aircraft could be prepared, armed, and launched in 45 minutes.

Aichi M6A Seiran

A restored Seiran airplane is displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Only one was ever recovered and it had been ravaged by weather and souvenir collectors, but the restoration team was able to reconstruct it accurately.


Operational history

For their first mission Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, Vice Chief of the Navy General Staff, selected Operation PX, a top secret plan to use SubRon One's ten aircraft to unleash bacteriological warfare on populous areas of the American west coast and Pacific Islands.  Infected rats and insects would be dispersed to spread bubonic plague, cholera, dengue fever, typhus and other plagues.  General Ishii's infamous medical laboratory at Harbin, Manchuria, had developed the virulent germ warfare agents and confirmed their lethality by infecting helpless Chinese and Caucasian prisoners.

US Navy personnel inspecting the gun of I-400

On March 26th, 1945, this sinister mission was canceled by General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, who declared that "Germ warfare against the United States would escalate to war against all humanity." As an alternative the staff considered bombing San Francisco, Panama, Washington or New York, and decided to launch a surprise air strike against the Panama Canal's Gatun Locks.  Destroying these locks would empty Gatun Lake and block the passage of shipping for months.

Before the attack could commence from the Japanese naval base at Maizuru, word reached Japan that the Allies were preparing for an assault on the home islands. The mission was changed to attack the Allied naval base on Ulithi where the invasion was being assembled. Before that could take place, the Emperor announced the surrender of Japan.

I-400 beside submarine tender USS Proteus after the war


I-400 and I-401 therefore returned to Japan and were surrendered to the Allies.  After the war, these two were taken to the United States, examined, and finally scuttled in the Pacific in 1946. While there, they received a message that the Soviets were sending an inspection team to examine the submarines. To keep the technology out of the hands of the Soviets, Operation Road’s End was instituted. Most of the submarines were taken to a position designated as Point Deep Six, about 60 km west from Nagasaki and off the island of Goto-Rettō, were packed with charges of C-2 explosive and destroyed. They are today at a depth of 200 meters.  I-402 was converted to carry precious fuel to Japan from the East Indies, but never performed such a mission.  She was scuttled off Goto Island in 1946.  Construction of two further boats of this design, I-404 and I-405, was stopped before completion, although I-404 was 90% complete.  A further 13 boats were canceled before construction started.

Four remaining submarines (I 400, I 401, I 201 and I 203 which achieved speeds double those of American submarines), were sailed to Hawaii by U.S. Navy technicians for further inspection. Upon completion of the inspections, the submarines were scuttled in the waters off Kalaeloa near Oahu in Hawaii by torpedoes from the American submarine USS Cabezon on May 31, 1946. The reason for the scuttling is apparently that Russian scientists were again demanding access to the submarines. The wreckage of I 401 was re-discovered by the Pisces submarines deep-sea submarines of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory in March 2005 at a depth of 820 meters.


Units 3 (all survived)
Ships I-400, I-401, and I-402
Year(s) Completed 1944-1945
Displacement 5,223 tons / 6,560 tons
Dimensions 400.3 ft x 39.3 ft x 23 ft
Machinery 4 diesels: 7,700 hp
electric motors: 2,400 hp
Speed 18.75 knots / 6.5 knots
Range 37,500 nm @ 14 knots
Armament 8x533mm TT fwd + 1x14cm/50 cal. 20 torpedoes.
Max. Depth 100 m
Crew 144 officers and men





Germany Submarines -- US Coastal waters






Dönitz had hoped to send a Blitzkrieg of U-boats against the eastern seaboard of the U.S., but Hitler, fearful of an Allied invasion of Norway, forced him to keep most of his assets closer to home. Dönitz nonetheless managed to get five long-range cruisers into position in January, where they found the whole coastline lit up like Times Square on New Year's Eve: no blackouts, all navigational aids aiding, all ships sailing with full navigational lights. With the war 3,000 miles away, it was high tourist season in Miami, and the northward-flowing Gulf Stream just a few miles off the coast kept southward-bound ships close inshore, nicely silhouetted against a glowing Florida skyline. The tally for two and a half months in American coastal waters: 98 ships. Coastal communities did not go under blackout until April.



The Atlantic Ocean was a major strategic battle zone (Battle of the Atlantic) and when the Germany declared war on the US, the East Coast offered easy pickings for German U-Boats (referred to as the Second happy time). In February to May, 1942, 348 ships were sunk, but no U-boat was lost until May. The US was reluctant to introduce the convoy system that had protected trans-Atlantic shipping and coastal shipping was often silhouetted against the bright lights of American towns and cities.

Several ships were torpedoed within sight of East Coast cities such as New York and Boston; indeed, some civilians sat on beaches and watched battles between U.S. and German ships.


Once convoys and air cover were introduced, sinking numbers were reduced and the U-boats shifted to attack shipping in the Gulf of Mexico, with 121 losses in June. In one instance, the tanker Virginia was torpedoed in the mouth of the Mississippi River by the German U-Boat U-507 on May 12, 1942, killing 26 crewmen. There were 14 survivors. Again, when defensive measures were introduced, ship sinkings decreased and U-boat sinkings increased.


The cumulative effect of this campaign was severe; a quarter of all wartime sinkings - 3.1 million tons. It rates as the worst defeat by the United States Navy.

Other sinkings took place in the St. Lawrence River. A significant attack took place on November 2 1942. U-518, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wissman, attacked two ore carriers at Bell Island, Newfoundland. The attack began at 3:30 a.m. and the S.S. Rosecastle and P.L.M 27 were sunk with the loss of 69 lives. However, one of the most dramatic incidents of the attack occurred after the sinkings when the submarine fired a torpedo at the loading pier. Bell Island became the only location in North America to be subject to direct attack by German forces in World War II.



Operation Drumbeat

The entry of the United States into the war opened up vast new hunting grounds for the German u-boat fleet. Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat in English) began in January 1942, bringing the U-boats their easiest pickings of the war.

Over 300 allied vessels were sunk during the Paukenschlag along the US coastline, ranging from New York harbor, to the Straits of Florida. This period, also known as the second 'Happy Times' to the men of the U-boats, was only brought to an end in mid 1942 by the formation of allied convoy systems.

On the evening of April 5, 1942, U552, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Erich Topp, sealed the fate of the British tanker MV British Splendour east of Cape Hatteras. The U-boat was part of the fourth wave of boats of Operation Paukenschlag, she returned to Saint Nazaire April 27, 1942  having sunk seven ships during the patrol.




Jan 13, 1942. U-boats commenced Operation Paukenschlag (roll of the kettledrums) on the east coast of America, sinking 87 ships of 150,000 tons between Jan and July 1942. U-boats would cruise off shore of coastal tourist towns that did not turn off their lights and target ships that became silhouetted against the coast.


Feb 28. Destroyer Jacob Jones (DD-130) struck by torpedo off NJ by U-578.  There were eleven survivors.


Apr 26. Destroyer Sturtevant (DD-240) is sunk by mine off Marquesas Key, Florida.


May 14. Submarine U-213 mines the waters off St. John's, Newfoundland.


June 11.  U-87 mines the waters off Boston.


June 11.  U-373 mines the waters off Delaware Bay.


June 12.  U-701 mines the waters off Cape Henry, VA.


July 27. U-166 completes mining the waters off the Mississippi River Passes.


July 30. U-166 sinks Robert E. Lee and is in turn sunk by escorting PC-566 scoring the first Coast Guard kill of an enemy submarine.   Until June 2001 U-166 was thought to have been sunk two days later by a Coast Guard J4F Widgeon.


July 31.  U-751 lays mines off Charleston, S.C.


Aug 8.  U-98 lays mines off Jacksonville, Fla.


Aug 9.  U-98 lays mines off the mouth of St. Johns River, east of Jacksonville.


Sep 10.  U-69 lays mines at mouth of Chesapeake Bay.


Sep 18.  U-455 lays mines off Charleston, S.C.


Nov 10.  U-608 lays mines off New York City, east of Ambrose Light.


July 23, 1943. U-613, en route to mine the waters off Jacksonville, Florida, sunk by George E. Badger (DD-196)  south of Azores.


July 30. U-230 lays mines off entrance to Chesapeake Bay.


Sep 11. U-107 lays mines off Charleston, South Carolina.



Germany Submarines -- Caribbean

Geb 16, 1942.  Operation Neuland begins.  U-156 shelled oil installations on Aruba and sank three tankers.

Dozens more followed.


Apr 19. U-130 shells oil installations at Curacao, N.W.I.


Sept 9. U-214 lays mines off Colon, Canal Zone, the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal.




U-133's mission to destroy the Hoover Dam


According to an article from 1996 U-133's last mission was to travel up the Colorado River from Baja California and destroy the Hoover Dam. The article is from the USS Shaw's newsletter. The article states that U-133, piloted by Captain Peter Pfau along with 54 sailors made it to as far as Laughlin, Nevada before sandbars made them abort their mission and scuttle the sub.

This is only a story, U-133 would never have made it that far (see map showing its approximate path from  St. Nazaire, a suitable base, to the target) as its fuel supply would never have allowed this (not even close, the type VIIC could make it to the US east coast by filling up part of its water tanks with fuel but even then it was stretching it). There was also no U-boat commander named Pfau.


Had such an unusual and daring raid been attempted during the war, people would talk and we would know about it by now.



Japanese Espionage



The US broke the Japanese diplomatic code in 1932 and could read many, but not all, secret embassy and consulate messages. Through 1940, only Japanese military attaches were charged with gathering military intelligence, mostly accumulating publicly available information. With a directive on 20 January 1941, Tokyo charged the Cultural attaches to change from "enlightenment" (propaganda) and to begin using their contacts for civilian spying and to establish intelligence gathering networks to survive even after a break in diplomatic relations. This decrypted report is indicative.


9 May 1941 Nakauchi (Los Angeles) to Gaimudaijin (Tokyo) Message #067:

We have already established contact with absolutely reliable Japanese in the San Pedro and San Diego area, who keep a close watch on all shipments of airplanes and other war materials, and report the amounts and destinations of such shipments. The same steps have been taken with regard to traffic across the U.S.-Mexico border.


"We shall maintain connection with our second generations who are at present in the (U.S.) Army, to keep us informed of various developments in the Army. We also have connections with our second generations working in airplane plants for intelligence purposes.

 A budget of $500,000 was established for 1941 -- $10,000,000 in today's money.


Hawaii.  The US did not close the Japanese consulates as was done with the German and Italians.  Spies and agent handlers were free to continue under diplomatic immunity to photograph and report naval and air force placement and both military and cargo movements.   Military intelligence officers were sent in civilian attire on passenger liners to assure the needed information was gathered correctly.  A Japanese pilot whose Zero fighter was shot down at Pearl Harbor was aided and armed by an enemy alien; both were killed while taking hostages.


California.  We were losing the war, which lead to great fear of anti-US activity by enemy aliens.  Atrocities against English in Hong Kong and Singapore were well known. The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and new reports of mass murders of white people in the western Pacific seemed to confirm the correctness of that opinion.  There were the usual scares: a falling star reported as a signal flare; a strange pattern found in a field reported as a possible targeting signal; a report of a surfaced submarine is later reported to have flown away.


Decoded "diplomatic information" about the spy network was available at the highest levels of Washington and, no doubt, contributed to the decision to relocation enemy aliens away from the west coast war zone.



Japanese heavy seaplane bombing raids


Vice Admiral Kazume Kinsei, a former UCLA student and the brother of a famous Japanese aero engine designer, ordered the construction of the Kawanishi H8K "Emily" Flying Boat. These seaplanes had an operational range of 4,443 miles, were equiped with four 1,850 hp 14-cylinder engines, had a top speed of 289 mph, and could climb to 27,740 feet. Using the 92-foot long and 124-foot wingspan seaplanes, Kinsei drew up plans for a concentrated air attack on the American mainland, to be launched from Wojte Atoll (Marshall Islands, South Pacific Mandate) about 2,300 miles west of Pearl Harbor. When asked about why he was interested in the seaplanes, Kinsei responded "To bomb America!"


He wanted six of the flying boats, equipped with 26,445 pounds of high explosives, to rendezvous with three submarine tankers 50 miles off the southern coast of California. Once refueled, they would take off at dawn to fly to downtown Los Angeles and drop their bombs. Then the seaplanes would fly 4,000 miles west to a second refueling from I-Boats near Japanese-controlled waters.


The plan was evaluated by Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. A trial operation against the Hawaiian Islands using a trio of H8Ks caused no significant damage and their bombs only fell in uninhabited areas.


Kinsei persisted in his idea. He envisioned a rendezvous of the H8Ks with I-Boats off the Baja California peninsula, south of southern California, from where they could take off and bomb Texas oilfields and then fly to the Gulf of Mexico. They were to operate in conjunction with German U-Boat tankers. This Axis Powers cooperation was planned for air raids up and down the North American eastern seaboard, with special "Propaganda Raids" on Boston, New York and Washington D.C.. The plan was approved by the Japanese naval high command and German U-boat Chief Admiral Karl Dönitz, who authorized the use of the first pair of "Milch Kuh" (Milk Cow) German U-boat tankers for the operation. Vice Admiral Kinsei ordered the manufacture of 30 H8Ks from the Kawanishi Company for completion in September 1942.


However, by the autumn of 1942 Japan's defensive posture compelled their navy's high command to confine all long-range aircraft to more conventional missions nearby in the South Pacific.




German Espionage

June 28, 1941 


Merchant ship, N J. harbor.

The Normandie renamed Lafayette (AP-53) burns in NY pier and capsizes at her berth



Operation Pegasus:  

On June 12, 1942, the U-584 Innsbruck offloaded four men  at Amagansett, Long Island, New York, each with equipped with a chest of detonators and explosives suitable for a year of operations.. A Coast Guardsman spotted them, and told his superiors. They planned to blow up hydroelectric dams, canal locks, and a railway station, among other locations. This operation would be foiled when a saboteur named George Dasch confessed the operation to the FBI for reasons unknown.

Four other operatives were dropped off at in Pointe Vedra Beach, south of Jacksonville, Florida from U-202. on June 17, 1942. The Florida group made their way to Cincinnati and split up, with two going to Chicago and the others to New York. However, the Dasch confession led to the arrest of all four.

Six of the eight men were executed later; the others served prison time and were repatriated after the war.

Following the failure of this mission, no more raids on America were ordered by the Nazi leadership.




The Nazi 'Invasion' of LI
In 1942, four would-be saboteurs paddle ashore at Amagansett and caught the LIRR


By Steve Wick

 At 8 on the evening of June 12, 1942, the German U-boat Innsbruck completed its 15-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean. As darkness descended, the submarine settled quietly to the sandy bottom a few hundred yards off the Amagansett beach.


After midnight, the U-boat rose to the surface and began to move closer to the beach. The Nazi ``invasion'' of Long Island was about to begin.

That month, the war in Europe was 21 months old. The powerful German war machine controlled much of Western Europe right up to the English Channel, and had attacked east into the Soviet Union. The United States had entered the war the previous December, after the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Sticking out into the Atlantic for more than 100 miles, Long Island was, at its eastern end, sparsely populated; German submarines had been spotted on the surface not far from shore. Its miles of beaches invited trouble, as did its nearness to New York City. Two years before, in 1940, a German-American recruited by the Nazis -- who was also working with the FBI -- had set up operations in a house in Centerport where he was to send radio messages to Germany. And a large Nazi spy ring had been broken in Brooklyn before the start of the war.

But the Nazi threat was to take on a whole new dimension when, on the foggy night of June 12, four men carrying explosives and tens of thousands of dollars in cash paddled from the Innsbruck to a deserted stretch of Amagansett beach and walked ashore.

As they did, John Cullen, a 21-year-old Coast Guardsman who happened to be at this exact spot on the beach as part of his routine beach patrol -- talk about being in the right place at the right time -- saw their shadows through the night fog. Must be fishermen, he thought, and as he walked up to the four men -- Richard Quirin, George Dasch, Ernest Burger and Heinrich Heinck -- he told them to accompany him back to headquarters.

``How old are you?'' Dasch asked Cullen in English.

``Twenty-one,'' he answered. ``What's that got to do with it?''

``You got a mother and a father? You want to see them again?''

Ignoring the question, he noticed one of the men dragging a box over the beach. ``What's in the bag, clams?'' he said.

``You don't know what this is about,'' Dasch said. Dasch reached into his pocket and produced a wad of cash. He thrust $260 into Cullen's hand. ``Forget you ever saw us.''

Cullen backed into the fog and was soon running as hard as he could to Coast Guard headquarters three miles away. ``They're German,'' he breathlessly told his duty officer when he ran in. Within minutes, a group of Coast Guardsmen armed with rifles returned to the beach but found nothing suspicious. But while standing on the beach, something happened: The ground vibrated. Peering out to sea, they thought they saw the outlines of a U-boat stuck on a sandbar, its diesel engines revving hard. Maybe, maybe not. Unsure, the searchers left and returned at dawn to scour the beach.

Meanwhile, the four Germans walked across farm fields to the Amagansett train station, where they caught the 6:57 to New York City.

As the Germans were comfortably riding west across the length of Long Island, Cullen and the other searchers looked for physical proof of a landing. They found it when Cullen spotted a pack of cigarettes. Next to it was a wet trail across the sand, as if something heavy had been dragged; near it was a patch of wet sand. Poking a stick into the sand, one of the men hit a hard surface. Minutes later, they had uncovered all the proof they needed that Long Island had been invaded by saboteurs -- a canvas bag containing German uniforms, and tin boxes that held explosives, detonators and disguised bombs.


When their train reached Jamaica, the four Germans bought suits, got shaves and boarded a train for Manhattan, where they checked into hotels. For reasons not known today,  Dasch then did the incredible -- he told Burger that he was going to call the FBI and turn himself in. Two days after walking ashore at Amagansett,  Dasch did just that, telling an agent who answered the phone in New York that he was going to go to Washington and personally inform J. Edgar Hoover.

After arriving in Washington,  Dasch spilled his guts to the FBI. And he dropped a bombshell -- that four other Nazi saboteurs had landed at the same time from a second submarine on the coast of Florida. Two weeks after the invasion began, all eight Nazis were under arrest. It was over before it began.

In Washington, President Franklin Roosevelt decided all eight would be tried before a military tribunal. He wanted them all dead, he admitted in a memo to his attorney general. In the courtroom, all of the Germans said they had no intention of carrying out their orders to blow up installations.

And Cullen, the man who'd been in the right place at the right time, took the stand and testified that Dasch was the man he'd met on the beach. After his testimony, Cullen ran into J. Edgar Hoover in the hallway.

``Congratulations,'' Hoover said. ``You were a help.''

All were found guilty. Six were sentenced to die in the electric chair.   Dasch, the whistleblower, received a 30-year sentence; Burger, who also cooperated, was sentenced to life in prison. On Aug. 8, 1942, the six were executed, their bodies buried in a pauper's grave.

Three of the four men who had landed in Amagansett -- Burger, Heinck and Quirin -- had been associated with Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, according to Marvin Miller. Miller, now 63 and a retired Long Island schoolteacher, wrote ``Wunderlich's Salute,'' the first history of the the German-American Bund on Long Island. Miller said that seven of the eight who landed in the United States were members of the bund, which was established to promote Hitlerism in the United States. The bund sponsored the camp, a summer retreat that attracted thousands of bundists from throughout the metropolitan area.

When the war was finally over, Cullen worked on Long Island as an insurance adjuster, a door-to-door salesman, and a sales representative in the milk business.

Burger and Dasch were paroled by President Harry Truman in 1948 and returned to Germany. In 1952, Dasch told a reporter he had been treated badly in Germany, where he was perceived as a traitor. He wanted to return to the United States, he said.

He also said he'd spared Cullen's life on the beach, as he was under orders by his superiors to kill any witnesses. ``I saved that kid's life,'' he said.

In an interview in 1992, Cullen said he was lucky. Dasch, he said, ``wasn't really a bad guy. If he was, I wouldn't be here.''




Enemy Aliens

When war was declared after the attack on Pearl Harbor, no battle fleet existed, the USAAF had few fighter aircraft assigned to the whole west coast, even fewer anti-aircraft batteries, and the area was in a panic. The Japanese intent was to cause diversion of defensive activity to the US coast, thereby taking away from military efforts in the Pacific. It worked better than expected.  When combined with reports of murdered civilians in the western Pacific, the stage was set for a massive relocation of the enemy citizens (Iissei) and their children (nisei) from a war zone within the United States. Note: Children (nisei) obviously relocated with their parents who were enemy aliens in a war zone -- it is disingenuous to imply that Americans of Japanese ancestry were targeted for relocation.


With the Pacific coast considered a battle zone, the voluntary relocation of Japanese from coastal areas was sought on 27 February 1942. Eight thousand had relocated by 27 March when all remaining Japanese citizens on the coast defence zone were given 48 hours to report for relocation to the interior. 120,000 people were send to former CCC camps run by the War Relocation Authority. Camps established under emergency conditions sometimes had limited facilities until the permanent camps could be completed. Camp members were paid token wages of $12 as labourers and $19/month for professionals. Resettlement to communities that would accept Japanese was started when the fear of invasion had eased in 1943; 55,000 had been resettled by war end. Iowans of German ancestry were interrogated monthly.  


About 4,000 enemy citizens were "interred" as security risks by the Department of Justice; 50% Japanese, 40% German, 10% Italian.  As different from relocation.


By the time the US entered WW2, the war had been going on for over two years in Europe, four years in Africa, and ten years in China.


Roosevelt's Wrong Enemies

In a hasty move made in the name of national security, FDR needlessly swept some 4,000 civilians from their homes in Latin America......




History of the FBI
World War II Period: Late 1930's - 1945



Germany, Italy, and Japan embarked on an unchecked series of invasions during the late 1930s. Hitler and Mussolini supported the Spanish Falangists in their successful civil war against the "Loyalist" Spanish government (1937-39). Although many Europeans and North Americans considered the Spanish Civil War an opportunity to destroy Fascism, the United States, Great Britain, and France remained neutral; only Russia supported the Loyalists. To the shock of those who admired Russia for its active opposition to Fascism, Stalin and Hitler signed a nonaggression pact in August 1939. The following month Germany and Soviet Russia seized Poland. A short time later, Russia overran the Baltic States. Finland, while maintaining its independence, lost western Karelia to Russia. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, which formed the "Axis" with Japan and Italy--and World War II began. The United States, however, continued to adhere to the neutrality acts it had passed in the mid-1930s.

As these events unfolded in Europe, the American Depression continued. The Depression provided as fertile an environment for radicalism in the United States as it did in Europe. European Fascists had their counterparts and supporters in the United States in the German-American Bund, the Silver Shirts, and similar groups. At the same time, labor unrest, racial disturbances, and sympathy for the Spanish Loyalists presented an unparalleled opportunity for the American Communist Party to gain adherents. The FBI was alert to these Fascist and Communist groups as threats to American security.

Authority to investigate these organizations came in 1936 with President Roosevelt's authorization through Secretary of State Cordell Hull. A 1939 Presidential Directive further strengthened the FBI's authority to investigate subversives in the United States, and Congress reinforced it by passing the Smith Act in 1940, outlawing advocacy of violent overthrow of the government.

With the actual outbreak of war in 1939, the responsibilities of the FBI escalated. Subversion, sabotage, and espionage became major concerns. In addition to Agents trained in general intelligence work, at least one Agent trained in defense plant protection was placed in each of the FBI's 42 field offices. The FBI also developed a network of informational sources, often using members of fraternal or veterans' organizations. With leads developed by these intelligence networks and through their own work, Special Agents investigated potential threats to national security.

Great Britain stood virtually alone against the Axis powers after France fell to the Germans in 1940. An Axis victory in Europe and Asia would threaten democracy in North America. Because of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the American Communist Party and its sympathizers posed a double-edged threat to American interests. Under the direction of Russia, the American Communist Party vigorously advocated continued neutrality for the United States.

In 1940 and 1941, the United States moved further and further away from neutrality, actively aiding the Allies. In late 1940, Congress reestablished the draft. The FBI was responsible for locating draft evaders and deserters.

Without warning, the Germans attacked Russia on June 22, 1941. Thereafter, the FBI focused its internal security efforts on potentially dangerous German, Italian, and Japanese nationals as well as native-born Americans whose beliefs and activities aided the Axis powers.

The FBI also participated in intelligence collection. Here the Technical Laboratory played a pioneering role. Its highly skilled and inventive staff cooperated with engineers, scientists, and cryptographers in other agencies to enable the United States to penetrate and sometimes control the flow of information from the belligerents in the Western Hemisphere.

Sabotage investigations were another FBI responsibility. In June 1942, a major, yet unsuccessful, attempt at sabotage was made on American soil. Two German submarines let off four saboteurs each at Amagansett, Long Island, and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. These men had been trained by Germany in explosives, chemistry, secret writing, and how to blend into American surroundings. While still in German clothes, the New York group encountered a Coast Guard sentinel patrolling the beach, who ultimately allowed them to pass. However, afraid of capture, saboteur George Dasch turned himself in--and assisted the FBI in locating and arresting the rest of the team. The swift capture of these Nazi saboteurs helped to allay fear of Axis subversion and bolstered Americans' faith in the FBI.

Also, before U.S. entry into the War, the FBI uncovered another major espionage ring. This group, the Frederick Duquesne spy ring, was the largest one discovered up to that time. The FBI was assisted by a loyal American with German relatives who acted as a double agent. For nearly two years the FBI ran a radio station for him, learning what Germany was sending to its spies in the United States while controlling the information that was being transmitted to Germany. The investigation led to the arrest and conviction of 33 spies.

War for the United States began December 7, 1941, when Japanese armed forces attacked ships and facilities at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States immediately declared war on Japan, and the next day Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. By 9:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on December 7, the FBI was in a wartime mode. FBI Headquarters and the 54 field offices were placed on 24-hour schedules. On December 7 and 8, the FBI arrested previously identified aliens who threatened national security and turned them over to military or immigration authorities.

At this time, the FBI augmented its Agent force with National Academy graduates, who took an abbreviated training course. As a result, the total number of FBI employees rose from 7,400 to over 13,000, including approximately 4,000 Agents, by the end of 1943.

Traditional war-related investigations did not occupy all the FBI's time. For example, the Bureau continued to carry out civil rights investigations. Segregation, which was legal at the time, was the rule in the Armed Services and in virtually the entire defense industry in the 1940s. Under pressure from African-American organizations, the President appointed a Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). The FEPC had no enforcement authority. However, the FBI could arrest individuals who impeded the war effort. The Bureau assisted the FEPC when a Philadelphia transit workers' union went out on strike against an FEPC desegregation order. The strike ended when it appeared that the FBI was about to arrest its leaders.

The most serious discrimination during World War II was the decision to evacuate Japanese nationals and American citizens of Japanese descent from the West Coast and send them to internment camps. Because the FBI had arrested the individuals whom it considered security threats, FBI Director Hoover took the position that confining others was unnecessary. The President and Attorney General, however, chose to support the military assessment that evacuation and internment were imperative. Ultimately, the FBI became responsible for arresting curfew and evacuation violators.

While most FBI personnel during the war worked traditional war-related or criminal cases, one contingent of Agents was unique. Separated from Bureau rolls, these Agents, with the help of FBI Legal Attaches, composed the Special Intelligence Service (SIS) in Latin America. Established by President Roosevelt in 1940, the SIS was to provide information on Axis activities in South America and to destroy its intelligence and propaganda networks. Several hundred thousand Germans or German descendants and numerous Japanese lived in South America. They provided pro-Axis pressure and cover for Axis communications facilities. Nevertheless, in every South American country, the SIS was instrumental in bringing about a situation in which, by 1944, continued support for the Nazis became intolerable or impractical.

Non-war acts were not limited to civil rights cases. In 1940, the FBI Disaster Squad was created when the FBI Identification Division was called upon to identify some Bureau employees who were on a flight which had crashed near Lovettsville, Virginia.

In April 1945, President Roosevelt died, and Vice President Harry Truman took office as President. Before the end of the month, Hitler committed suicide and the German commander in Italy surrendered. Although the May 1945 surrender of Germany ended the war in Europe, war continued in the Pacific until August 14, 1945.

The world that the FBI faced in September 1945 was very different from the world of 1939 when the war began. American isolationism had effectively ended, and, economically, the United States had become the world's most powerful nation. At home, organized labor had achieved a strong foothold; African Americans and women, having tasted equality during wartime labor shortages, had developed aspirations and the means of achieving the goals that these groups had lacked before the war. The American Communist Party possessed an unparalleled confidence, while overseas the Soviet Union strengthened its grasp on the countries it had wrested from German occupation--making it plain that its plans to expand Communist influence had not abated. And hanging over the euphoria of a world once more at peace was the mushroom cloud of atomic weaponry.



Homeland Defence:
An American Tradition


Richard Poe


Tuesday, September 25, 2001



Homeland Defence.

I love that phrase.

It bespeaks a purity and innocence long absent from our war-making vocabulary. It evokes our forefathers who defended this land with steel, powder and muscle.

Like all bureaucracies, the newly created Office of Homeland Security may or may not prove salutary for America in the long run. But I like the name. And I applaud the new culture of "homeland defence" which gave rise to it.

Too many Americans are ignorant of our proud tradition of "homeland defence." Consider those pundits who insist that September 11 marked the first foreign attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.

They are wrong. Pearl Harbor was but the first of many attacks on our homeland during World War II.

In June 1942, the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands. For the geographically challenged, the Aleutians are part of Alaska.

The attack began on June 3 and 4, with air raids on Dutch Harbor killing 33 U.S. servicemen and 10 civilians. Japanese troops arriving with a task force of 2 aircraft carriers, 12 destroyers, 5 cruisers, 6 submarines, 4 troop transports and other vessels subsequently occupied the Aleutian islands of Kiska and Attu.

It took 14 months and 700 American lives to drive them off U.S. soil.

On Attu, the Japanese fought to the death. Only 28 surrendered, from a garrison of about 3,000.

The U.S. mainland also suffered Japanese attacks.

On February 23, 1942, a Japanese sub fired 13 shells at an oil refinery at Goleta, California, crippling one oil well. The same submarine later lobbed 17 shells at a naval base at Fort Stevens, Oregon, on JUne 22, 1942.

Japanese commanders also sought to ignite forest fires through incendiary bombing a strategy they believed would cause panic and mayhem behind U.S. lines.

A warplane launched from the submarine I-25 specially equipped with a watertight hangar on deck dropped incendiary bombs on Oregon, September 9 and 29, 1942, igniting forest fires.

Many more fires were started by unmanned balloon bombs, thousands of which were dispatched over U.S. territory by the Japanese.

A favorite media cliché these days holds that we are engaged in "a new kind of war," unique to the 21st century. Yet, Hitler used terrorism as readily as Osama bin Laden.

In June 1943, two teams of German saboteurs landed by U-boat at Amagansett, Long Island and Ponte Vedra, Florida. Their plans included blowing up New York City’s water system, Penn Station and Brooklyn Bridge, and terrorizing civilians by bombing movie theaters and department stores.

The saboteurs were caught and executed, except for two who ratted on their comrades in exchange for reduced sentences of 30 years and life imprisonment.

Following the terror attacks of two weeks ago, gun and ammunition sales have reportedly skyrocketed around the country, by 400 percent in some areas.

Media commentators paint the gun buyers as eccentrics, desperate to "do something," but lacking a constructive outlet for their patriotism. In fact, those gun buyers show a far better grasp of the "homeland defence" concept than their media critics.

The role of our citizens’ militia during the American Revolution is well-known. Yet few are aware that armed civilians also helped win World War II.

After Pearl Harbor, German U-boats infested our East Coast. From January to June 1942, 100 Allied ships were sunk and some 2,000 lives lost in U.S. coastal waters.

Crowds of New Jerseyites watched from shore as the torpedoed oil tanker R.P. Resor went up in flames. Long Islanders grew accustomed to the wreckage, oil slicks and corpses that washed regularly onto their beaches.

The U.S. counterattacked with Navy planes and destroyers. However, civilian volunteers also played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Amateur pilots organized the Civil Air Patrol, equipping their own private planes with bombs and depth charges.

Civilian mariners patrolled U-boat infested waters with fishing boats, sailboats and motor yachts, armed, in many cases, with nothing more than rifles and handguns. Officially named the Coastal Picket Patrol, this maritime militia was affectionately dubbed the "Hooligan's Navy."

Civilian volunteers mainly provided reconnaissance. But they also engaged the enemy in battle. The Civil Air Patrol claims to have sighted 173 U-boats, attacked 57 with bombs and depth charges, and sunk at least two.

Most readers are unfamiliar with these stories. That is a pity. We need the experience of past generations to guide and inspire us.

Singing, flag-waving and candle-lighting all have their place. But our forefathers understood that "homeland defence" goes farther than that. 


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