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"You are loyal to everyone, aren't you?"

I recently came across a corner in WWII history that I had never heard about. Well, that's not too surprising considering there's so much learn about the second world war! But still, you'd think it would be a more well known fact that eight Nazi saboteurs landed on American soil with explosives.

Anyway, I ended up learning about this while getting sidetracked on research for my WIP. I think it may have been briefly mentioned in a book I was reading, which led me to research Hitler's plans for attacking America, which led to the sabotage plot. I checked out a book at the library called Saboteurs and finally got around to reading it.

There were eight Nazi agents sent by U-boat across the Atlantic with explosives in 1942. They were targeting American railroads and war factories that produced iron, aluminum, and steel. A few of these factories were in NY, IL, TN, and PA.Their plan was, if America didn't have the materials to build tanks, submarines, and airplanes to aid the allies, the Axis had a better chance of winning the war. Hitler hated America and American soldiers, but he did have great respect for the American war industry"The great success of the Americans consists essentially in the fact that they produce quantitatively as much as we do with two-thirds less labor..."

Basically, if Germany wanted to win this war, the American war industry needed to be stopped pronto. In 1942 we were churning out "60,000 planes, 45,000 tanks, 20,000 antiaircraft guns and six million tons of shipping in a single year." I think we were making Germany a bit nervous. =)

This sabotage plot was code named, Operation Pastorius. And because I know you're all dying to know why it was called that, I'll tell ya. Franz Daniel Pastorius was the leader of the first group of Germans to land in the New World back in the 1680's. So the saboteurs code word when talking with other agents was:

"Greetings from Franz Daniel."

The Abwehr – German intelligence organization – started training 8 Nazi saboteurs.They taught them how to blow things up, for lack of a more elegant description, and write secret letters. All eight saboteurs had lived in the U.S. at some point in their lives and could speak English. Two were actually American citizens.

Their main objectives were:

1. To carry out sabotage attacks against vital economic targets.
2. To stir up discontent and lower fighting resistance.
3. To recruit fresh forces for these duties.
4. To reestablish disconnected communications.
5. To obtain information.

These 8 saboteurs split up into two groups. Each group was transported by U-boat (I'm suddenly fascinated and terrified of U-boats now). One group, led by George Dasch landed at Amagansett on Long Island, New York. The other landed south of Jacksonville, Florida at Ponte Vedra Beach.

The four in the above picture were the Long Island group. The bottom were the Florida group.

It was known that German U-boats were off the East coast, but acts of sabotage seemed to be things of Hollywood and not real life. It seemed to be a far-fetched idea. 

"People had grown accustomed to the protection afforded by two great oceans."

Apparently, the east coast was not properly guarded. The coat guards were unarmed, and the chance of a guard coming across anyone was 1 in 6. A young man named John Cullen was on duty as the first group of saboteurs landed in NY. It was a dark, foggy night when we ran into the leader of the group, George Dasch. Dasch had been ordered to overtake anyone he met while coming ashore. "Look, I wouldn't want to kill you. You don't know what this is all about," Dasch told him

He gave Cullen money as a bribe to forget what he had seen. Then, Dasch took off his hat and told Cullen to look in his face. 

"Look at my eyes. Would you recognize me if you saw me again?"
"No, sir, I never saw you before."
"You might see me in East Hampton some time. Would you know me?"
"No, I never saw you before in my life."
"You might hear from me again. My name is George John Davis."

Once Dasch fled, John Cullen notified his fellow coast-guardsmen and a search began on the beach. 

"They felt scared and venerable; a war that a few hours ago had seemed far away was suddenly right there, on the beach."

The saboteurs immediately began burying the boxes of explosives in the sand dunes so as not to be caught with the incriminating evidence. They were going to come back for it when the sabotage plans were ready to be carried out. They escaped into the night.

It didn't take long for the FBI to find the boxes because clothing and other objects were scatted along the beach, leading them to the hidden boxes.

"It did not take him long to conclude that there was enough material in the boxes to do millions of dollars worth of damage to the American war industry."

Then the plot thickens. Shortly after arriving in America, Dasch told his plans to sabotage the sabotage to his fellow agent, Peter Burger. Burger replied, 

"I never intended to carry out the orders."  

Burger was the one who scattered evidence on the beach for the FBI to find the hidden explosives. 

"Together they would open the eyes of the German people to the truth about Nazism."

Dasch contacted the FBI. The FBI was often contacted by crazies, so they looped Dasch in as one of those unwanted callers. All the while, the two other agents in Dasch group were growing suspicious of him and Burger. Dasch finally made it to Washington were he told all, and the FBI tracked down the other saboteurs. In Florida, they captured the leader of the second group, Kerling. He agreed to show the FBI were the explosives were hidden.

"As the agents began digging in the sandy soil, the cocksure Nazi Party member who once boasted that the American soldier was no match for the German slumped to the ground, clutching his head between his knees."

A trial was held for the saboteurs, though everyone knew in advance that they would be executed. During the trial, one of the saboteurs was asked these questions:

"George Dasch was your leader, I take it."
"Yes, sir."
"And you obeyed all his orders?"
"Yes, sir."
"Would you have obeyed his orders to spy in this country?"
"No, sir."
"He was your fuehrer, was he not?"
"You would have obeyed all his orders to commit sabotage?"
"I'm not sure about that."
He was asked what he would have done if Hitler himself had ordered him to blow up factories. 
"I don't know. I never met the fuehrer. I don't know what kind of man he is. How can I answer that?"

Then Dasch was questioned:

"Are you a loyal German or a loyal American?"
"I am loyal to the people of Germany."
"How about the people of America? Are you loyal to them, too?"
"You are loyal to everyone, aren't you?"

There was a huge trial, which was interesting to read in the book. I took tons of notes, but I don't want to make this a huge blog post so you'll have to read the book for more about that. =)

The cases of Burger and Dasch were very complicated. Burger was in a position where he could be put to death in Germany as a traitor, and put to death in America for being a traitor (he was a U.S. citizen.). Burger ended up getting sentenced to life in prison.

"Since the end of the trial, Burger had withdrawn almost completely to himself. He was lying on his bed reading the Saturday Evening Post when Cox entered his cell. He looked up from his magazine long enough to say 'Yes, sir' as the provost marshal informed him that he had been sentenced to life in prison, and then resumed reading his magazine."

Dasch got 30 years. The six other saboteurs were executed in the electric chair in August 1942. But in the 50's, Dasch and Burger were both released. Burger was deported back to Germany and Dasch fled to Russia.

It's crazy because as I was reading this, they were mentioning places these saboteurs were – walking along Broadway, in Cincinnati, in Washington D.C., and eventually buried on the edge of D.C. along the Potomac river. I've been all those places and never knew about this piece of WWII history.

Here's a 40 second video footage of the saboteurs below:

I feel like I summed up a ton of details in this post, so if you're wanting to know more, read Saboteurs. It was a very interesting read about this piece of history. Thankfully, they weren't able to carry out the sabotage.

Age Level: Young adults and up.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you ever heard the Nazi sabotage story before? 


New Design + Blog Name


We still have lots of snow and temperatures are in the 30's today (which is a heat wave compared to -30), but I'm dreaming of spring. And spring means a new blog design!  You may have also noticed that I changed my blog name. I've been thinking about changing for a while and I finally came up with one that I'm very fond of. Taking Dictation. It's inspired by a C.S. Lewis quote:

"I never exactly made a book. It's rather like taking dictation. 
I was given things to say."


That's what it means to be an author.

I saw that there was a blog link up at The Circle and the subject this month is Blog Name Stories. Perfect timing!


In other news, I'm 50,000 words into my WIP, and I've also been writing short stories in the evenings. Here's a snippet from the WWII story I'll be posting here on Monday.


Literary Updates

Recent Reads:

Corral Nocturne - Elisabeth Grace Foley

Anon, Sir, Anon - Rachel Heffington

A Noble Treason - Richard Hanser

All Quiet on the Western Front - Enrich Maria Remarque
(Read My Review HERE)

After the War - Carol Matas

Currently Reading:

Brothers-in-Arms - Jack Lewis Baillot

Beauty or a Beast - Addison R. Richmond


Interviewed on Homeschooled Authors HERE.

Got a few new reviews of It Took a War on Goodreads and Amazon.

Videos that Distracted Me From Writing Because I Claimed They Were Research:

Russian dancing:..

Der Fuehrer's Face...

....I get easily distracted.


Working like a crazy person on my WIP called RESIST.

Drinking a big cup of joe out of my San Francisco mug, rocking ripped leggings and wrist warmers from the 80's, and involved in conspiratorial acts against the Nazis with the Gestapo on my trail. The life of a writer is varied and random.

I thought I should document my "Yay!! I made it to 40,000 words and I still have soooo much to write!" face. And apparently I drank too much coffee today. But don't I always?

Finally Figured Out:

How to do that little dot, dot thingy above German words. AWW YEAH.


Rachel Heffington is hosting a weekly project where writers share a piece of their last week's work with the hashtag #wordplaywednesday and #inkpenauthoress.

Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

What are you writing, reading, or researching?


"Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?"

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war."
 -Enrich Maria Remarque 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Level: Best for young adults and up.

We are currently living the 100th anniversary of WWI. It was a horrible struggle of four long years – 1914-1918. The War to End All Wars seems to be overlooked, and I'll admit, I haven't learned as much about it as I should. However, I've been trying to learn more about it the last few years, and how it set the stage for WWII. It's all really fascinating, but I suppose you're not here for a history lesson. You're here for the book review of one of the most famous novels about WWI, All Quiet on the Western Front by Enrich Maria Remarque. (Fun fact...he changed his middle name, Paul, to Maria in memory of his mother.)

Let me start off by saying that this is not a feel good book. If you like to eat and read simultaneously, don't do it with this book unless you have a stomach of steel. Which I don't.

This book wasn't originally on my 2015 "to-read list" but I ended up wanting to read it for a couple reasons.

1. It was banned by the Nazis and destroyed in the book burning in Germany.The Nazis said it was a "betrayal of the German front-line soldier" and the Nazis took away Remarque's German citizenship. That piqued my interest.

 2. I'm writing a book based on the true story of Hans and Sophie Scholl and their father's favorite book was All Quiet on the Western Front, and I'm sure the Scholl siblings read it.

 3. I saw on Joy's blog that she was reading it and it reminded me that I really needed to go get it from the library if I was ever going to read it.

Yet, I still went into this book thinking that it might be a little boring. I was wrong. The writing is not boring at all. 

I'm currently half way through the 1979 movie version of All Quiet on the Western Front (Starring JOHN-BOY WALTON!!!) so I'm going to include some pictures from that...but this review has nothing to do with the movie.

The story follows a young, German boy named Paul Bäumer who is only 19 when he marches off to the front with his band of friends from home.

They are fresh out of high school, and their schoolmaster is very forceful in his opinions that the boys must go and defend the Fatherland. The boys enlist, feeling a spark of patriotism and adventure.

I can still see him, his eyes shining at us through his spectacles and his voice trembling with emotion as he asked, "You'll all go, won't you lads?"

But then, the reality of war hits them with all its ugliness and one by one, the boys fall.

“At school nobody ever taught us how to light a cigarette in a storm of rain, nor how a fire could be made with wet wood-nor that it is best to stick a bayonet in the belly because there it doesn't get jammed, as it does in the ribs.” 

“We're no longer young men. We've lost any desire to conquer the world. We are refugees. We are fleeing from ourselves. From our lives. We were eighteen years old, and we had just begun to love the world and to love being in it; but we had to shoot at it. The first shell to land went straight for our hearts. We've been cut off from real action, from getting on, from progress. We don't believe in those things any more; we believe in the war.” 

Remarque describes the terrors of war in such vivid colors that one can't hep but be repulsed, disgusted, and yet feel the need to keep reading to find out how it all ends. We can easily become immune to the horrors of war by memorizing the numbers, dates, and locations. But this book gets to the gritty, disgusting truths about trench warfare.

Then I feel a blow in the face, and a hand grabs me by the shoulder – has the dead man come back to life? The hand shakes me, I turn my head, and in a flash of light that lasts only a second I find myself looking into Katczinsky's face. His mouth is wide open and he is bellowing, but I can't hear anything; he shakes me and comes closer; the noise ebbs for a moment and I can make out his voice: "Gas – gaaas – gaaaaas – pass it on!"

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.

Paul and his comrades start to question why they are even fighting this war when it isn't their fight. 

Kropp, on the other hand, is more philosophical. He reckons that all declarations of war ought to be made into a kind of festival, with entrance tickets and music, like they have at bullfights. Then the ministers and generals of the two countries would have to come into the ring, wearing boxer shorts, and armed with rubber truncheons, and have a go at each other. Whoever is left on his feet, his country is declared the winner. That would be simpler and fairer than things are out there, where all the wrong people are fighting each other.

I found it heart wrenching the way Paul describes their generation...how the older soldiers had a family and livelihood to return to after the war, and the younger generation at home was completely set apart from them on the trenches. Paul and his whole generation were destroyed by the war.

No one will understand us – because in front of us there is a generation of men who did, it is true, share the years out here with us, but who already had a bed and a job and who are going back to their old positions, where they will forget all about the war – and behind us, a new generation is growing up, one like we used to be, and that generation will be strangers to us and will push us aside.

Near the end of the book, Paul is hiding in a shell hole since the machine gun fire is so thick that he'd die the instant he tried to get back to his trench. But then the thought strikes him...what if someone else climbed into the shell hole? They would both be scared, and attack. He saw to it that he wasn't the one to die. When a French soldier tumbled into the shell hole, Paul stabs him. Through hours of watching this man die at his hands and trying to reverse the horrible deed, Paul's heart softens and he begins to think like his old self again, and not like a killing machine.

But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony--Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?” 

There's also the description of the annoying little creatures that plague a soldier. Rats and lice.

The rats here are especially repulsive, because they are so huge. They are the sort they call corpse-rats. They have horrible, evil-looking, naked faces and the sight of their long, bare tails can make you feel sick.

So Tjaden has rigged up a boot-polish lid hanging on a piece of wire over a burning candle-end. You just have to toss the lice into this frying-pan – there is a sharp crack, and that's it.

I learned so much about the realities of war and how it affected the soldiers, many of whom were just young boys. I would have given this book a higher rating, but there was a brief scene in a brothel and some vulgar, dirty language from the soldiers.

In the end – 1918 – Paul has witnessed all his closest friends deaths. But then Paul dies, too. Sad ending alert. Everyone dies.

He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.

And now I've added another reason why I must get to Europe. I want to see the remains of the WWI trenches.

Have any of you read All Quiet on the Western Front? What were your thoughts? 


P.S. I'm on Goodreads and I've been trying to do more book reviews and read more this year. Follow  along HERE. =)