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Nazis in New York City

Operation Pastorius was a sabotage mission built on lies and deceit, but little did its organisers know that it would end in a betrayal of the worst kind
As the people of New York City went about their business, a Nazi U-boat was sneaking through its waters

Early in the evening of 12 June 1942, the German submarine U-202 sighted the American coast. For 15 days, the vessel had travelled the 3,000 miles across the Atlantic undetected, but the most perilous part of their mission lay ahead.

Captain Hans-Heinz Lindner switched from diesel to silent electric motors as the submarine edged slowly inland towards the Long Island beach. On board, the four Nazi saboteurs made their final preparations, checking the contents of their four small, wooden crates and folding their civilian clothes into the canvas sea-bag.

Shortly before midnight, the secret agents heard an ugly scraping sound as the submarine touched the ocean bed just over 50 metres from the shore.

The box (at the shoreline) that the Nazi spies used to locate their buried explosives

Linder looked through the periscope and saw that a fog had rolled in, obscuring the submarine from the beach. He gave the order to surface, and soon the saboteurs were loading their precious cargo of crates into an inflatable boat, delicately stacking them so the explosives, fuses and timing devices wouldn’t get wet in the short voyage inshore.

John Cullen, the coast guardsman who discovered the German saboteurs arriving on the beach at Long Island

Two sailors paddled the boat noiselessly towards the beach, slipping through the sea mist and surfing ashore on the gentle waves. The team’s leader, 39-year-old George Dasch, jumped from the inflatable and padded up the wet sand.

Returning a few minutes later having seen no sign of life, Dasch told his men to change from their German marine uniforms into their civilian clothes. He then instructed Heinrich Heinck and Richard Quirin to bury the crates among the dunes. The fourth member of the team, Ernst Burger, walked further along the beach to survey the lie of the land.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

Find out how close the King of England came to conquering medieval France, as we take a look at the Hundred Years' War. Was bad weather really to blame for the English defeat? Elsewhere, uncover the shocking true story of the Nazi spies who managed to infiltrate New York, and meet the man who inspired The Mummy villain, Imhotep. Plus, don't miss out on the FREE pull-out magazine inside, which investigates the 50 greatest mysteries in history - from the Stonehenge to the Princes in the Tower.