The full array of nefarious and weird Nazi plots to take over the world which led much of World War II aggression are still not widely known. In this startling account, we learn some truly disturbing facts about Nazi intelligence plots in World War II as well as some truly shady business dealings and Nazi party offshoots that interfered with the Allied war effort.
10. Sonderfahndungsliste G.B., Special Search List
Surprise. Merging James Bond film tropes with Indiana Jones style plots, nothing less than a Nazi “Hit List” was made for Britain, listing countless Britons who were supposed to be arrested by the invading Nazis. The German SS produced the small black book called the Sonderfahndungsliste G.B., (Special Search List Great Britain) outlining the dark plan. An invasion of Britain was proposed and codenamed Unternehmen Seelöwe or Operation Sea Lion and the book had been published in 1940. The “Black Book” described in detail what was to be done with those to be arrested, either handed to the Gestapo or the Foreign Intelligence.
The list also documented organizations that were deemed to be opposed to Nazism, constituting resistance elements that were to be quelled. The list was created as an addendum to another invasion document, the Informationsheft G.B. (Information Brochure Great Britain), which described British politics, laws, demographics and industry in painstaking detail. The Black Book was prepared under the auspices of the Reich Main Security Office at the direction of Reinhard Heydrich and contained 2,820 names, ranging from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to exiled anti-Nazi German expatriates.
9. Nazi Station in what is Now Canada
It might come as a huge surprise that Nazis made it to what is now part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, lands that joined Canadian confederation after the war. Yet there was good reason for Reich intelligence to venture further afield and U-boat technology made this possible. Meteorological data was crucial to planning of military operations throughout World War II. Certain types of deployments required clear weather; others depended on cloud cover. With the Allied forces in the lead, intelligence information on the coast of North America was needed by German intelligence. The German automatic weather station “Kurt” was set up secretly on Labrador’s Hutton Peninsula on October 22, 1943 with the aid of U-boat based workers and was only discovered after hostilities ended.
Two U-boats were intended for the delivery of two units to North America, but radio station “Kurt” was the only successful install as one of the U-boats got sunk off Norway’s coast. Weighing 221 pounds, the units, designed by the Siemens Company and known as “Wetter-Funkgerät Land” (Weather Radio Land) sent data at 3-hour intervals by 3940 kH radio. Power came from Ni-Cad batteries that would last six months. U-537 under Captain Peter Schrewe carried meteorologists Dr. Kurt Sommermeyer and his assistant, Walter Hildebrant. A collision with an iceberg on the way nearly ended the voyage, but a successful install was achieved. The installation took place under armed guard, while a bogus Canadian corporate label and American cigarettes were placed at the site to throw off potential saboteurs.
8. North American Holocaust Plans
There were shockingly detailed plans in place to unleash atrocities in North America akin to the European death camp deportations. Author Heinz Kloss, a researcher and linguist in Nazi Germany wrote the 137 page book ominously titled “Statistik, Presse und Organisationen des Judentums in den Vereinigten Staaten und Kanada” (Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada) in 1944.
The “Handbuch” (Handbook) is a disturbingly thorough catalogue of Jewish residents in the two countries and reflects Nazi plans in the event they gained control over the continent. The book is very rare, and among the few copies printed was one personally owned by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler himself. This copy was presented in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in January 2019 following its purchase for the Canadian national archive by government librarians who managed to buy it online.
7. The Largest Convicted Spy Ring in American History
The Duquesne spy Ring, run by South African born Nazi sympathizer Frederick “Fritz” Joubert Duquesne, was the largest case of espionage that led to convictions in American History. German spies working for Nazi interests did everything from track Atlantic shipping while working for an airline to even opening a restaurant in the United States to glean info from customers. German operatives planned a variety of attacks, but were stopped with the invaluable assistance of a German-American double agent working for the U.S. by the name of William Sebold, who despised the Nazi regime’s violent objectives.
Prior to American entry into World War II, Nazi spies were arrested in a large group that numbered 33 members. Six days after Pearl Harbor, all 33 spies pled guilty or were convicted in their trials, group ringleader Duquesne among them. The group’s sentences totaled over 300 years. The spies planned a range of activities, including setting fires at American plants, and one even brought bomb components to Sebold at his bogus office in the U.S. As a result of the captures, the U.S. declared war on Germany, confident that German spy network threats on U.S. soil were out of the way.
6. Operation Greif
The American war effort was frequently hard enough, faced with direct attacks, but Nazi operatives dressed as American soldiers caused untold chaos. In “Operation Greif,” Otto Skorzeny disguised a small collection of English-speaking Germans in captured American uniforms, provided them with forged U.S. Army documents, and sent them on an undercover mission behind enemy lines. In a matter of days, the sham soldiers had successfully directed tank and convoy traffic down the wrong roads, destroyed ammunition dumps, switched road signs and destroyed telephone lines—all right under the Allies’ noses. Adolf Hitler had been insisting on the disruptive operation despite strong concerns the plan would not work and called on notorious Austrian-born SS-Obersturmbannführer Skorzeny, a higher-ranking Nazi (ironically with Polish heritage).
Skorzeny was given unlimited powers to achieve the mission, even stripping American prisoners of war of their uniforms despite worries over Geneva convention violations, and sending the imposters across enemy lines, despite the fact that wearing the other side’s uniform would likely lead to summary execution if any of the soldiers were captured. The paranoia on the American side led to intense interrogation and asking questions only Americans would be thought to know. The perfect English and convincing American accents of the imposters further hampered counterintelligence efforts. Even British troops were sometimes caught up in the questioning when they failed to answer correctly, however, and detained for a short time.
5. The Nazi Business Deals
It might surprise many people’s idealized and simplified view of world history (and World War II) that black and white delineations between Allied and Axis, good and evil, were at times seriously messed up by–you guessed it–money. Cold, hard cash and messy networks of social agreements, business deals and supply chains collided with political and military agendas in World War II. While seemingly treasonous, some shocking business deals and plots were worked out between actual Nazis and businesses based in the United States and other Allied nations. Working counter to the war effort was Thomas Watson of IBM, who opted to accept a medal from Hitler, take a census contract from Nazi Germany, and attempt to keep control of the German subsidiary of IBM Dehomag.
A fact that may surprise many is that Henry Ford (of Ford Motor Company renown) was admired by Hitler to the point where he was openly praised by Hitler and even cited as an example of anti-Jewish business behavior in Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf. General Motors Company also had economic ties with the Nazi regime. Throughout the war, American investments, business alliances and trade agreements actualy helped instead of hindering the Nazi war effort, while American goods and troops were being supplied to the Allied war effort. Ironic? Yes. Good? Of course not. Foreseeable given how notoriously businesses often collude with dictatorships? Absolutely.
4. Operation Pastorius
Named after the inaugural German settlement in Pennsylvania, Operation Pastorius was a horrific Nazi plot on U.S. soil foiled through participant defection and subsequent FBI arrests. In June 1942, two German U-boats arrived two days apart, the first at Long Island, New York, the second in Florida, close to Jacksonville. A total of eight would-be saboteurs were Germans who had been residents of the United States but had returned to Germany and trained under German Lieutenant Walter Kappe, a prominent Nazi agitator in the United States, before his return to Germany. Kappe had established a “school of sabotage” at the edge of Berlin in his capacity as part of the Abwehr II, a German intelligence branch dedicated to acts of wartime sabotage.
Leading the eight participants was George John Dasch, who had worked in the restaurant business in America. After both U-boats had landed, explosives were stashed and plans were reviewed for the Hell’s Gate bridge, Newark Penn Station and the New York water supply to be bombed, while canal locks in Cincinnati and St. Louis and Philadelphia’s aluminum factories were planned targets. However, Dasch tried to defect to the United States and turned in the sabotage team, yet J. Edgar Hoover was determined to present the arrest as an FBI arrest. The majority of the team was executed, while Dasch was sentenced to 30 years but released after six and pardoned with the condition of deportation to Germany, along with fellow conspirator Berger, who had originally been sentenced to life.
3. The German-American Bund
The horrors of Nazism are widely viewed as a unique manifestation of Fascism in the nation of Nazi Germany but in fact, Nazism was brewing to a truly fearsome degree in the United States. The FBI had the daunting task of monitoring the shady actions of the growing German-American Bund, headed up by a certain Fritz Julius Kuhn. The thug-like organization was started by Kuhn, a Bavarian infantry veteran of World War I who was very impressed with Hitler but immigrated to the United States seeking financial stability in 1928. Soon, he was working for Henry Ford.
Kuhn joined the Friends of New Germany, a Chicago organization focused on supporting Nazi ideology, for which he worked as an officer. The organization had been endorsed by the German deputy führer, Rudolf Hess. With this start in fascist “activism,” Kuhn worked to create a monster that spawned the German-American Bund that ultimately filled Madison Square Garden with a full-blown Nazi rally on American soil on February 20, 1939. An incredible 22,000 Nazi agitators went nuts onsite, drawing attention to the problem of homegrown Nazis in America.
2. Operation Long Jump
It is not well known that during World War II, Hitler hatched a plot to assassinate President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, considered the “big three” Allied leaders. The three were attending the Tehran Conference in Iran in 1943 to discuss the state of the war from the Allied strategy point of view. Meanwhile, Hitler wanted them all dead or captured and formed a plan centering on assassins parachuting into the desert near Tehran to kill the three world leaders. The plot was placed under the direction of the notorious SS officer Otto Skorzeny, who was selected by Ernst Kaltenbrunner following Hitler’s request for the attempt.
Yet the plan was not to be, for a tip from Nikolai Kuznetsov, a Soviet intelligence agent posing as a Wehrmacht officer informed Gevork Andreevich Vartanian, a talented Soviet Intelligence Officer who began his career at age 16. Vartanian and his team were able to arrest all of the Nazi plot members, who were traveling by camel after landing. Once arrested, the plot members were forced to contact their Nazi handlers. For his great service in thwarting the plan, Vartanian was given the medal Hero of the Soviet Union. It is worth noting that Vartanian was assisted by his wife, Goar Vartanian, in foiling Operation Long Jump. Vartanian, who died in January 2012, met Winston Churchill’s granddaughter in 2007 and has also been featured in numerous interviews, as well as in book and film accounts of the plot.
1. Operation Salam
Operation Salam delivered two ultimately inept German spies, Johannes Eppler and Hans Gerd Sandstede, into British occupied Egypt to help Panzer Army Africa advance the Reich. In 1942, the Abwehr planned the operation to be one headed by Hungarian desert explorer László Almásy, who was placed in charge of getting the two German spies who were to carry out the operation into Egypt. This required a treacherous crossing of the desert of Libya.
Months were devoted to the preparations for the mission, while getting the spies past checkpoints required plenty of bluster. The spies were dropped off, Almásy got safely back into Axis occupied Libya, and the two spies apparently squandered the money for the mission on entertainment, especially romantic affairs. The spies failed to actually get any real spying done or even make contact with German radio intelligence. The spies were ultimately arrested by the British but spared execution. Almásy, on the other hand, was considered a hero by the Reich and received an Iron Cross, first class from Erwin Rommel and was promoted to Major.