All was quiet on the night of June 12 as 21-year-old Coast Guardsman Jack Cullen stood watch. Dense fog covered the water off the coast of Long Island. Suddenly, the silence was broken with the buzzing of a machine. Cullen saw four men in bathing suits emerge from the water. It did not take long for Cullen to realize that these men were exiting a German U-Boat. What followed was a death threat, a bribe, and a long manhunt for the four Nazi saboteurs who invaded Long Island.

On the same night, four other men arrived on a beach in Florida undetected. The four in Florida and the four on Long Island completed the team of eight Nazi agents invading America with a plan for destruction.

On Long Island, the Germans approached Cullen and suggested he forget about all of this and take a $300 bribe. Not knowing what to do, Cullen obliged. Before the head German handed him the money, he said to Cullen, “Look me in the eyes.” Cullen was afraid he would be hypnotized. “Would you recognize me if you saw me again?” asked the German.

Cullen sternly said, “No,” and the Germans were on their way. As soon as they departed, Cullen reported to his superiors. This event started a search for the men and ultimately put the whole country on alert, later leading to the capture of the four Florida saboteurs as well.

The investigation to find the eight men took an FBI team three weeks. However, last week the FBI announced that it had all of the suspects in custody. The men allegedly intended to wreck key war industries, disrupt communications, and spread panic and death among the people. Boxes of equipment were found buried in the beaches where they landed. Inside were explosives, special detonating cap bombs disguised as pieces of coal, acids, and incendiary pencils and pens.

The government says these saboteurs were not simply picked by chance, but carefully groomed. They had all lived, worked and traveled widely in the United States. Additionally, they all spoke fluent English. Each of them had fake Social Security numbers and about $175,000 in U.S. currency. With them was a list of targets to hit, including major bridges, tunnels and canals, and the water supply of New York City.

The alleged Nazi saboteurs stand trial in Washington, D.C. From Library of Congress.

Attorney General Francis Biddle announced today that while the eight alleged saboteurs have been arrested, the FBI has detained 14 other individuals suspected of aiding them. Of the 14, nine are believed to be Americans. They were reportedly put in place to help the saboteurs through providing transportation, money, food and explosives. All will be put on trial, according to officials.

The eight alleged spies are currently on trial before a military commission behind guarded doors at the Department of Justice. While the public has not had access to these private sessions, an agent from the FBI revealed that all eight Germans confessed in the closed sessions and went into great detail about their plans for sabotage.

According to government officials, all of the eight alleged spies are eligible to the death penalty under the laws of war. Their confederates will face charges of sedition, conspiracy and violating espionage laws—all of which carry long prison sentences, and in extreme cases even execution. The spy trial is expected to conclude by the end of the month, with the co-conspirators’ trials finishing shortly thereafter.


3 NAZI SABOTEURS ‘SEEN’ IN SUFFOLK. (1942, Jul 27). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

U.S. speeds plans for trial of persons aiding saboteurs. (1942, Jul 13). The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from

By LEWIS WOODSpecial to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1942, Jul 14). 8 MEN, 6 WOMEN HELD AS U.S. AIDES TO NAZI SABOTEURS. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

By LEWIS WOODSpecial to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1942, Jul 16). Lone coast guardsman put FBI on trail of saboteurs. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1942, Jul 14). Detailed account of the Nazi spy aides’ activities is given by the FBI. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

Life Magazine- July 13, 1942 The Eight Nazi Saboteurs, page 32