Nazi Sabateur George J. Dasch, c. 1940s. (Image from the Vagts Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives [183.187.31]. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
George J. Dasch (1903-1992) was one of four specially trained Nazi sabateurs who landed from the German submarine U-202 at Amagansett in June 1942. The sabateurs’ mission was to destroy aluminum smelting plants so local aircraft production plants could not obtain a supply of the strong, lightweight metal.
On May 26, 1942, Dasch and his team (Ernest P. Burger, Heinrich H. Heink, and Richard Quirin) left by submarine from Lorient, France, and landed at Amagansett shortly after midnight on June 12. They were wearing German Navy uniforms to avoid being shot as spies if captured during the landing. Once ashore, they changed to civilian clothing and buried their uniforms and other equipment in the sand. Early that morning, John C. Cullen, a Coast Guardsman from the Amagansett station, spotted Dasch and the three others posing as fishermen. He saw that the men were armed and also noticed a submerged submarine. The men offered Cullen a $250 bribe to keep quiet–and while he did accept their bribe, he also alerted his superiors. By the time an armed patrol returned to the site, however, the Nazis had boarded a LIRR train from Amagansett to New York City, where they checked in at a hotel. A search of the Amagansett beach revealed concealed explosives, timers, blasting caps, incendiary devices, cigarettes, and the Nazi uniforms. When it was realized that Nazi agents had landed at eastern Long Island and were on American soil, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover were alerted, and the FBI conducted a massive manhunt.
Dasch was one of two sabateurs who were not executed. He betrayed the Nazi plot and thereby enabled the FBI to capture the Nazi sabateurs who had landed at Long Island and the Florida coast. He was tried and convicted of treason and espionage.