The Duquesne Spy Ring
is the largest espionage case in United States history that ended in convictions. A total of 33 members of a German espionage network
Frederick Joubert Duquesne aka Fritz Joubert Duquesne
Born in Cape Colony, South Africa, on September 21, 1877, and naturalized a citizen of the United States in 1913, Fritz Joubert Duquesne was a Captain in the Second Boer War and later a Colonel in the Abwehr, Germany’s division of military intelligence.
Duquesne was captured and imprisoned three times by the British, once by the Portuguese, and once by the Americans in 1917, and each time he escaped. In World War I, he was a spy and ring leader for Germany and during this time he sabotaged British merchant ships in South America with concealed bombs and destroyed several. Duquesne was also ordered to assassinate an American, Frederick Russell Burnham, Chief of Scouts for the British Army, but failed to do so. He was also known as “The man who killed Kitchener“ since he claimed to have sabotaged and sunk HMS Hampshire, on which Lord Kitchener was en route to Russia in 1916.
In the spring of 1934, Duquesne became an intelligence officer for the Order of 76, an American pro-Nazi organization, and in January 1935 he began working for U.S. government’s Works Progress Administration. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, knew Duquesne from his work in World War I and he instructed his new chief of operations in the U.S., Col. Nikolaus Ritter, to make contact. Ritter had been friends with Duquesne back in 1931 and the two spies reconnected in New York on December 3, 1937.
On February 8, 1940, Ritter sent Sebold, under the alias of Harry Sawyer, to New York and instructed him to set up a shortwave radio-transmitting station and to contact Duquesne, code-named DUNN, then operating a business known as the Air Terminals Company in New York City. After establishing his first contact with Duquesne by letter, Sebold met with him in Duquesne’s office. During their initial meeting, Duquesne, who was extremely concerned about the possibility of electronic surveillance devices being present in his office, gave Sebold a note stating that they should talk elsewhere. After relocating to an Automat, the two men exchanged information about members of the German espionage system with whom they had been in contact.
Once the FBI discovered through Selbold that Duquesne was again in New York operating as a German spy, director J. Edgar Hoover provided a background briefing to President Franklin Roosevelt.
FBI agent Raymond Newkirk, using the name Ray McManus, was now assigned to DUNN and he rented a room immediately above Duquesne’s apartment near Central Park and used a hidden microphone to record Duquesne’s conversations.But monitoring Duquesne’s activities proved to be difficult. As Newkirk described it, “The Duke had been a spy all of his life and automatically used all of the tricks in the book to avoid anyone following him … He would take a local train, change to an express, change back to a local, go through a revolving door and keep going on right around, take an elevator up a floor, get off, walk back to the ground, and take off in a different entrance of the building.” Duquesne also informed Sebold that he was certain he was under surveillance, and he even confronted one FBI agent and demanded that he stop tracking him, a story confirmed by agent Newkirk.
Duquesne provided Sebold with information for transmittal to Germany during subsequent meetings, and the meetings which occurred in Sebold’s office were filmed by FBI Agents. Duquesne, who was vehemently anti-British, submitted information dealing with national defense in America, the sailing of ships to British ports, and technology. He also regularly received money from Germany in payment for his services. On one occasion, Duquesne provided Sebold with photographs and specifications of a new type of bomb being produced in the United States. He claimed that he secured that material by secretly entering the DuPont plant in Wilmington, Delaware. Duquesne also explained how fires could be started in industrial plants. Much of the information Duquesne obtained was the result of his correspondence with industrial concerns. Representing himself as a student, he requested data concerning their products and manufacturing conditions.
In a letter to the Chemical Warfare Service in Washington, D.C., Duquesne requested information on a new gas mask. He identified himself as a “well-known, responsible and reputable writer and lecturer”. At the bottom of the letter, he wrote, “Don’t be concerned if this information is confidential, because it will be in the hands of a good, patriotic citizen.” A short time later, the information he requested arrived in the mail and a week later it was being read by intelligence officers in Berlin.
Duquesne was brought to trial and was convicted. He was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison on espionage charges, as well as a 2-year concurrent sentence and payment of a $2,000 fine for violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He served his sentence in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas, where he was mistreated and beaten by other inmates. In 1954 he was released due to ill health, having served 14 years, and died indigent, at City Hospital on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island), New York City on May 24, 1956, at the age of 78.
A native of Germany, Paul Bante served in the German Army during World War I. He came to the United States in 1930 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1938. Bante, formerly a member of the German-American Bund, claimed that Germany put him in contact with one of their operatives, Paul Fehse, because of Bante’s previous association with a Dr. Ignatz T. Griebl. Before fleeing to Germany to escape prosecution, Dr. Griebl had been implicated in a Nazi spy ring with Guenther Gustave Rumrich, who was tried on espionage charges in 1938.
Bante assisted Paul Fehse in obtaining information about ships bound for Britain with war materials and supplies. Bante claimed that as a member of the Gestapo his function was to create discontent among union workers, stating that every strike would assist Germany. Sebold met Bante at the Little Casino Restaurant, which was frequented by several members of this spy ring. During one such meeting, Bante advised that he was preparing a bomb fuse, and he subsequently delivered dynamite and detonation caps to Sebold. Entering a guilty plea to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Bante was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment and was fined $1,000.
Max Blank went to the United States from Germany in 1928. Although he never became a U.S. citizen, Blank had been employed in New York City at a German library and at a book store which catered to German trade.
Paul Fehse, a major figure in this case, informed Germany that Blank, who was acquainted with several members of the spy ring, could secure some valuable information but lacked the funds to do so. Later Fehse and Blank met with Sebold in his office. They told Sebold that Blank could obtain details about rubberized self-sealing airplane gasoline tanks, as well as a new braking device for airplanes, from a friend who worked in a shipyard. However, he needed money to get the information. Blank boasted to agent Sebold that he had been in the espionage business since 1936, but that he had lost interest in recent years because payments from Germany had fallen off.
Blank pleaded guilty to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He received a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
Alfred E. Brokhoff
A native of Germany, Alfred E. Brokhoff, went to the United States in 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. He was a mechanic for the United States Lines in New York City for 17 years prior to his arrest. Because of his employment on the docks, he knew almost all of the other agents in this group who were working as seamen on various ships.
Brokhoff helped Fehse secure information about the sailing dates and cargoes of vessels destined for England. He also assisted Fehse in transmitting this information to Germany. Also, another German agent, George V. Leo Waalen, reported that he had received information from Brokhoff for transmittal to Germany.
Upon conviction, Brokhoff was sentenced to serve a five-year prison term for violation of the espionage statutes and to serve a two-year concurrent sentence for violation of the Registration Act.
In September 1934, German-born Heinrich Clausing went to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1938. Having served on various ships sailing from New York Harbor since his arrival in the country, he was employed as a cook on the SS Argentine at the time of his arrest.
Closely associated with Franz Stigler, one of the principal contact men for this spy ring, Clausing operated as a courier. He transported microphotographs and other material from the United States to South American ports, from which the information was sent to Germany via Italian airlines. He also established a mail drop in South America for expeditious transmittal of information to Germany by mail. He signed his letters as “Carlos”. He received no money but had spied to help Germany.
Clausing was convicted and was sentenced to serve eight years for violation of espionage statutes. He also received a two-year concurrent sentence for violation of the Registration Act.
Conradin Otto Dold
Conradin Otto Dold went to the United States from Germany in 1926. He became a U.S. citizen in 1934 under the Seamen’s Act. Prior to his arrest, he was Chief Steward aboard the SS Siboney of the American Export Lines.
Dold was related to people holding high positions in Germany and was closely associated with other members of the espionage group who worked on ships sailing from New York Harbor. As a courier, Dold carried information from Nazi agents in the United States to contacts in neutral ports abroad for transmittal to Germany.
Dold was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison on espionage charges and received a 2-year concurrent sentence and a fine of $1,000 for violation of the Registration Act.
After leaving Germany for the United States in 1925, Rudolf Ebeling was employed as a foreman in the Shipping Department of Harper and Brothers in New York City when he was arrested.
Ebeling obtained information regarding ship sailings and cargoes, which he provided to Paul Fehse for transmittal to Germany. He also furnished such information to Leo Waalen, who delivered the material to Sebold for transmittal.
Upon conviction, Ebeling was sentenced to 5 years in prison on espionage charges. He also received a 2-year concurrent sentence and a $1,000 fine for violating the Registration Act.
Richard Eichenlaub, who went to the United States in 1930 and became a citizen in 1936, operated the Little Casino Restaurant in the Yorkville Section of New York City. This restaurant was a rendezvous for many members of this spy ring, and Eichenlaub introduced several new members into the group.
Eichenlaub reported to the Gestapo and often obtained information from his customers who were engaged in national defense production. Through Eichenlaub, dynamite was delivered to Sebold from Bante.
Having entered a plea of guilty to violation of the Registration Act, Eichenlaub was sentenced to pay a fine of $1,000 and to serve 18 months in prison.
Heinrich Carl Eilers
A native of Germany, Heinrich Carl Eilers went to the United States in 1923 and became a citizen in 1932. From 1933 until his arrest, he served as a steward on ships sailing from New York City.
Eilers made a trip from New York to Washington, D.C., to obtain information for Germany from the Civil Aeronautics Authority. His mission, however, was unsuccessful. At the time of his arrest in New York City by Customs authorities in June 1940, he had in his possession 20 letters addressed to people throughout Europe. He also had books relating to magnesium and aluminum alloys which had been sent to him by Edmund Carl Heine, one of the principal espionage agents in this group.
Upon conviction, Eilers received a 5-year prison sentence on espionage charges and a concurrent sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine under the Registration Act.
In 1934, Paul Fehse left Germany for the United States, where he became a citizen in 1938. Since his arrival in the United States, he had been employed as a cook aboard ships sailing from New York Harbor. Fehse was one of the directing forces in this espionage group. He arranged meetings, directed members’ activities, correlated information that had been developed, and arranged for its transmittal to Germany, chiefly through Sebold. Fehse, who was trained for espionage work in Hamburg, Germany, claimed he headed the Marine Division of the German espionage system in the United States.
Having become quite apprehensive and nervous, Fehse made plans to leave the country. He obtained a position on the SS Siboney, which was scheduled to sail from Hoboken, New Jersey, for Lisbon, Portugal, on March 29, 1941. He planned to desert ship in Lisbon and return to Germany.
However, before he could leave the United States, Fehse was arrested by FBI Agents. Upon arrest, he admitted sending letters to Italy for transmittal to Germany, as well as reporting the movements of British ships. On April 1, 1941, Fehse was sentenced on a plea of guilty to serve one year and one day in prison for violation of the Registration Act. He subsequently pleaded guilty to espionage and received a prison sentence of 15 years.
Edmund Carl Heine
A native of Germany, Edmund Carl Heine went to the United States in 1914 and became a naturalized citizen in 1920. Until 1938, he held various positions in the foreign sales and service department of Ford Motor Companyand Chrysler Corporation. His employment took him to the West Indies, South America, Spain, and Berlin, Germany. Heine was closely associated with Dr. Hans Luther, former German Ambassador in Washington, D.C., and Prince Louis Ferdinand of Berlin. Around 1938, Heine was recruited to find American automobile and aviation industry secrets that could be passed to Germany through the Duquesne Spy Ring.
Heine sent letters from Detroit, Michigan, to Lilly Stein, one of the German spies Sebold was instructed to contact. The letters contained detailed technical data regarding the military, aircraft construction, and various industries. He also wrote to aircraft companies to obtain information about their production, number of employees, and the time required to construct military planes. Later it was discovered that Heine was also the mysterious “Heinrich” who supplied the spy ring with aerial photographs.
After obtaining technical books relating to magnesium and aluminum alloys, Heine sent the materials to Heinrich Eilers. To ensure safe delivery of the books to Germany in case they did not reach Eilers, Heine indicated the return address on the package as the address of Lilly Stein.
Upon conviction of violating the Registration Act, Heine received a $5,000 fine and a 2-year prison sentence.
In 1924, Felix Jahnke left Germany for the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1930. Jahnke had attended military school in Germany and had served in the German Army as a radio operator.
Jahnke and Axel Wheeler-Hill secured the services of Josef Klein, a radio technician, in building a portable radio set for Jahnke’s apartment in the Bronx. Jahnke used this radio to transmit messages, which were intercepted by the FBI, to Germany. He also visited the docks in New York Harbor to obtain information about any vessels bound for England.
After pleading guilty to violation of the Registration Act, Jahnke was sentenced to serve 20 months in prison and to pay a $1,000 fine.
Gustav Wilhelm Kaercher
Gustav Wilhelm Kaercher went to the United States in 1923, becoming a citizen in 1931. He served in the German Army during World War I and was a former leader of the German Bund in New York. During visits to Germany, he was seen to have worn a German Army officer’s uniform. At the time of his arrest, he was engaged in designing power plants for the American Gas and Electric Company in New York City.
Kaercher was arrested with Paul Scholtz, who had just handed Kaercher a table of call letters and frequencies for transmitting information to Germany by radio. As a result of his guilty plea to charges of violating the Registration Act, Kaercher received a $2,000 fine and a prison sentence of 22 months.
A native of Germany, Josef Klein went to the United States in 1925; he did not become a citizen. Klein, a photographer and lithographer, had been interested in the building and operation of shortwave radio transmitters.
Klein constructed a portable shortwave radio transmitting-and-receiving set for Felix Jahnke and Axel Wheeler-Hill. When he built the radio set, Klein knew it would be used for transmitting messages to Germany.
Upon conviction, Klein received a sentence of five years’ imprisonment on espionage charges and a concurrent sentence of two years’ imprisonment under the Registration Act.
Hartwig Richard Kleiss
Born in Germany, Hartwig Richard Kleiss went to the United States in 1925 and became a naturalized citizen six years later. Following his arrival in the United States, he was employed as a cook on various ships.
Kleiss obtained information for Germany, including blueprints of the SS America which showed the locations of newly installed gun emplacements. He included information about how guns would be brought into position for firing. He obtained details on the construction and performance of new speedboats being developed by the United States Navy, which he submitted to Sebold for transmittal to Germany.
Kleiss had originally chosen to stand trial. However, after cross-examination, he changed his plea to guilty on the charge of espionage and received an eight-year prison sentence.
Herman W. Lang
Herman W. Lang had participated with Adolf Hitler in the Munich beer hall putsch of 1923.He went to the United States from Germany in 1927 and became a citizen in 1939. He was one of the four people Sebold had been told to contact in the United States.
Until his arrest, Lang had been employed by the Carl L. Norden Corp., which manufactured the top secret Norden bombsight and other highly confidential materials essential to the national defense of the United States. During a visit to Germany in 1938, Lang conferred with German military authorities, Colonel Nikolaus Ritter of the Abwehr, and he reconstructed the plans of the confidential materials from memory. Ritter then hid the plans in the wooden casing for an umbrella, and, on January 9, 1938, personally handed the umbrella off to a German steward and secret courier on the ship Reliance bound for Bremen.
The Norden bombsight had been considered a critical wartime instrument by the United States Army Air Forces, and American bombardiers were required to take an oath during their training stating that they would defend its secret with their own life, if needed. It is perhaps because of Lang that the bombsight instruments used by Luftwaffe bombers during the war were fairly similar to the United States’ Norden bombsight.
The Lotfernrohr 3 and the BZG 2 in 1942 used a similar set of gyroscopes that provided a stabilized platform for the bombardier to sight through, although the more complex interaction between the bombsight and autopilot was not used. Later in the war, Luftwaffe bombers used the Lotfe 7, which had an advanced mechanical system similar to the Norden bombsight, but was much simpler to operate and maintain. At one point, Sebold was ordered to contact Lang as it became known that the technology he had stolen from Norden was being used in German bombers. The Nazis offered to spirit him to safety in Germany, but Lang refused to leave his home in Ridgewood, Queens.
Upon conviction, Lang received a sentence of 18 years in prison on espionage charges and a two-year concurrent sentence under the Registration Act. Lang was deported to Germany in September 1950.
Evelyn Clayton Lewis
A native of Arkansas, Evelyn Clayton Lewis had been living with Duquesne in New York City. Lewis had expressed her anti-British and anti-Semitic feelings during her relationship with Duquesne. She was aware of his espionage activities and condoned them. While she was not active in obtaining information for Germany, she helped Duquesne prepare material for transmittal abroad. Upon a guilty plea, Lewis was sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison for violation of the Registration Act.
Rene Emanuel Mezenen
Rene Emanuel Mezenen, a Frenchman, claimed U.S. citizenship through the naturalization of his father. Prior to his arrest, he was employed as a steward in the Pan American transatlantic clipper service.
The German Intelligence Service in Lisbon, Portugal, asked Mezenen to act as a courier, transmitting information between the United States and Portugal on his regular commercial aircraft trips. As a steward he was able to deliver documents from New York to Lisbon in 24 hours. He accepted this offer for financial gain. In the course of flights across the Atlantic, Mezenen reported his observance of convoys sailing for England. He also became involved in smuggling platinum from the United States to Portugal. When discussing his courier role with agent Sebold, Mezenen boasted that he hid the spy letters so well that if they were found it would have taken two to three weeks to repair the airplane.
Following a plea of guilty, Mezenen received an eight-year prison term for espionage and two concurrent years for registration violations.
Having come to the United States from Germany in 1929, Carl Reuper became a citizen in 1936. Prior to his arrest, he served as an inspector for the Westinghouse Electric Company in Newark, New Jersey.Previously, he worked as a mechanic for the Air Associates Company in Bendix, New Jersey.
Reuper obtained photographs for Germany relating to national defense materials and construction, which he obtained from his employment. He arranged radio contact with Germany through the station established by Felix Jahnke. On one occasion, he conferred with Sebold regarding the latter’s facilities for communicating with German authorities. Upon conviction, Reuper was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment on espionage charges and 2 years’ concurrent sentence under the Registration Act.
Everett Minster Roeder
Born in the Bronx, New York, Everett Minster Roeder was the son of a celebrated piano instructor, Carl Roeder. A child prodigy, when he was 15 years old he enrolled in engineering at Cornell University and there he met the brothers Edward and Elmer Sperry; however he dropped out of school when he was 18 and married his pregnant girlfriend. He was one of the first employees at the Sperry Gyroscope Company where he worked as an engineer and designer of confidential materials for the U.S. Army and Navy. In his job as a gyroscope expert working on U.S. military contracts, Roeder built machines such as tracking devices for long range guns capable of hitting moving targets 10 miles away, aircraft autopilot and blind-flying systems, ship stabilizers, and anti-aircraft search lights.
Sebold had delivered microphotograph instructions to Roeder, as ordered by German authorities. Roeder and Sebold met in public places and proceeded to spots where they could talk privately. In 1936, Roeder had visited Germany and was requested by German authorities to act as an espionage agent. Primarily due to monetary rewards he would receive, Roeder agreed.
Among the Sperry development secrets Roeder disclosed were the blueprints of the complete radio instrumentation of the new Glenn Martin bomber, classified drawings of range finders, blind-flying instruments, a bank-and-turn indicator, a navigator compass, a wiring diagram of the Lockheed Hudson bomber, and diagrams of the Hudson gun mountings. From Roeder the Abwehr also obtained the plans for an advanced automatic pilot device that was later used in Luftwaffe fighters and bombers.* At the time of his arrest, Roeder had 16 guns in his Long Island home in New York.
Roeder entered a guilty plea to the charge of espionage and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. In 1949, Roeder published his book, Formulas in plane triangles.
Paul Alfred W. Scholz
A German native, Paul Scholz went to the United States in 1926 but never attained citizenship. He had been employed in German book stores in New York City, where he disseminated Nazi propaganda.
Scholz had arranged for Josef Klein to construct the radio set used by Felix Jahnke and Axel Wheeler-Hill. At the time of his arrest, Scholz had just given Gustav Wilhelm Kaercher a list of radio call letters and frequencies. He also encouraged members of this spy ring to secure data for Germany and arranged contacts between various German agents.
Upon conviction, Scholz was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment for espionage with 2 years’ concurrent sentence under the Registration Act.
George Gottlob Schuh
George Gottlob Schuh, a native of Germany, went to the United States in 1923. He became a citizen in 1939 and was employed as a carpenter.
As a German agent, he sent information directly to the Gestapo in Hamburg from the United States. Schuh had provided Alfred Brokhoff information that Winston Churchill had arrived in the United States on the HMSKing George V. He also furnished information to Germany concerning the movement of ships carrying materials and supplies to Britain.
Having pleaded guilty to violation of the Registration Act, Schuh received a sentence of 18 months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Erwin Wilhelm Siegler
Erwin Wilhelm Siegler went to the United States from Germany in 1929 and attained citizenship in 1936. He had served as chief butcher on the SS America until it was taken over by the U.S. Navy.
A courier, Siegler brought microphotographic instructions to Sebold from German authorities on one occasion. He also had brought $2,900 from German contacts abroad to pay Lilly Stein, Duquesne, and Roeder for their services and to buy a bomb sight. He served the espionage group as an organizer and contact man, and he also obtained information about the movement of ships and military defense preparations at the Panama Canal.
Subsequent to his conviction, Siegler was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on espionage charges and a concurrent 2-year term for violation of the Registration Act.
Oscar Richard Stabler
Born in Germany, Oscar Richard Stabler went to the United States in 1923 and became a citizen in 1933. He had been employed primarily as a barber aboard transoceanic ships.
In December 1940, British authorities in Bermuda found a map of Gibraltar in his possession. He was detained for a short period before being released. A close associate of Conradin Otto Dold, Stabler served as a courier, transmitting information between German agents in the United States and contacts abroad.
Stabler was convicted and sentenced to serve five years in prison for espionage and a two-year concurrent term under the Registration Act.
Heinrich Stade went to the United States from Germany in 1922 and became a citizen in 1929. He had been a musician and publicity agent in New York. He told agent Sebold he had been in the German Gestapo since 1936 and boasted that he knew everything in the spy business.
Stade had arranged for Paul Bante’s contact with Sebold and had transmitted data to Germany regarding points of rendezvous for convoys carrying supplies to England.
Stade was arrested while playing in the orchestra at an inn on Long Island, New York. Following a guilty plea to violation of the Registration Act, Stade was fined $1,000 and received a 15-month prison sentence.
Lilly Barbara Carola Stein
Born in Vienna, Stein was a Jewish immigrant who had escaped in 1939 with the help of a U.S. diplomat in Vienna, Vice Consul Ogden Hammond Jr. She later met Hugo Sebold, the espionage instructor who had trained William Sebold (the two men were not related) in Hamburg, Germany. She enrolled in this school and was sent to the United States by way of Sweden in 1939.
In New York, she worked as an artist’s model and was said to have moved in New York’s social circles. As a German agent her mission was to find her targets at New York nightclubs, sleep with these men, and attempt to blackmail them or otherwise entice them to give up valuable secrets. One FBI agent described her as a “good-looking nymphomaniac”. Stein was one of the people to whom Sebold had been instructed to deliver microphotograph instructions upon his arrival in the United States. She frequently met with Sebold to give him information for transmittal to Germany, and her address was used as a return address by other agents in mailing data for Germany.
Stein pleaded guilty and received sentences of 10 years’ and 2 concurrent years’ imprisonment for violations of espionage and registration statutes, respectively. She served 12 years and left for France where she found employment at a luxury resort near Strasbourg.
Franz Joseph Stigler
In 1931, Franz Joseph Stigler, left Germany for the United States, where he became a citizen in 1939. He had been employed as a crew member and chief baker aboard U.S. ships until his discharge from the SS America when the U.S. Navy converted that ship into USS West Point. His constant companion was Erwin Siegler, and they operated as couriers in transmitting information between the United States and German agents aboard. Stigler sought to recruit amateur radio operators in the United States as channels of communication to German radio stations. He had also observed and reported defense preparations in the Panama Canal Zone and had met with other German agents to advise them in their espionage pursuits. In January 1941, Stigler asked agent Sebold to radio Germany that Prime Minister Winston Churchill had arrived secretly in the U.S. on the H.M.S. King George V with Lord Halifax.
Upon conviction, Stigler was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison on espionage charges with 2 concurrent years for registration violations.
A seaman aboard the ships of the United States Lines since his arrival in the United States, Erich Strunck went to the United States from Germany in 1927. He became a naturalized citizen in 1935. As a courier, Strunck carried messages between German agents in the United States and Europe. He requested authority to steal the diplomatic bag of a British officer traveling aboard his ship and to dispose of the officer by pushing him overboard. Sebold convinced him that it would be too risky to do so.
Strunck was convicted and sentenced to serve 10 years in prison on espionage charges. He also was sentenced to serve a two-year concurrent term under the Registration Act.
Leo Waalen was born in Danzig, Germany. He entered the United States by “jumping ship” about 1935. He was a painter for a small boat company which was constructing small craft for the U.S. Navy.
Waalen gathered information about ships sailing for England. He also obtained a confidential booklet issued by the FBI which contained precautions to be taken by industrial plants to safeguard national defense materials from sabotage. He secured government contracts listing specifications for materials and equipment, as well as detailed sea charts of the United States Atlantic coastline.
In May 1941, the SS Robin Moor was carrying nine officers, 29 crewmen, seven or eight passengers, and a commercial cargo from New York to Mozambique via South Africa, without a protective convoy. On 21 May, the ship was stopped by U-69 in the tropical Atlantic 750 miles west of the British-controlled port of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Although the SS Robin Moor was flying the flag of a neutral country, her mate was told by the U-boat crew that they had decided to “let us have it.” After a brief period for the ship’s crew and passengers to board her four lifeboats, the U-boat fired a torpedo and then shelled the vacated ship.
Once the ship sank beneath the waves, the submarine’s crew pulled up to Captain W.E. Myers’ lifeboat, left him with four tins of ersatz bread and two tins of butter, and explained that the ship had been sunk because she was carrying supplies to Germany’s enemy.
In October 1941, federal prosecutors adduced testimony that Waalen, one of the fourteen accused men who had pleaded not guilty to all charges, had submitted the sailing date of the SS Robin Moor for radio transmission to Germany, five days before the ship began her final voyage.
Following his conviction, Waalen was sentenced to 12 years in prison for espionage and a concurrent 2-year term for violation of the Registration Act.
Adolf Henry August Walischewski
A German native, Walischewski had been a seaman since maturity. He became a naturalized citizen in 1935. Walischewski became connected with the German espionage system through Paul Fehse. His duties were confined to those of courier, carrying data from agents in the United States to contacts abroad.
Upon conviction, Walischewski received a five-year prison sentence on espionage charges, as well as a two-year concurrent sentence under the Registration Act.
Else Weustenfeld arrived in the United States from Germany in 1927 and became a citizen 10 years later. From 1935 until her arrest, she was a secretary for a law firm representing the German Consulate in New York City.
Weustenfeld was thoroughly acquainted with the German espionage system and delivered funds to Duquesne which she had received from Lilly Stein, her close friend.
She lived in New York City with Hans W. Ritter, a principal in the German espionage system. His brother, Nickolaus Ritter, was the “Dr. Renken” who had enlisted Sebold as a German agent. In 1940, Weustenfeld visited Hans Ritter in Mexico, where he was serving as a paymaster for the German Intelligence Service.
After pleading guilty, Else Weustenfeld was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on charge of espionage and two concurrent years on a charge of registration violations.
Axel Wheeler-Hill went to the United States in 1923 from his native Russia. He was naturalized as a citizen in 1929 and was employed as a truck driver.
Wheeler-Hill obtained information for Germany regarding ships sailing to Britain from New York Harbor. With Felix Jahnke, he enlisted the aid of Paul Scholz in building a radio set for sending coded messages to Germany.
Following conviction, Wheeler-Hill was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison for espionage and 2 concurrent years under the Registration Act.
Bertram Wolfgang Zenzinger
Born in Germany, Bertram Wolfgang Zenzinger went to the United States in 1940 as a naturalized citizen of the Union of South Africa. His reported reason for coming to the United States was to study mechanical dentistry in Los Angeles, California.
In July 1940, Zenzinger received a pencil for preparing invisible messages for Germany in the mail from Siegler. He sent several letters to Germany through a mail drop in Sweden, outlining details of national defense materials.nts on April 16, 1941. Pleading guilty, he received 18 months in prison for violation of the Registration Act and 8 years’ imprisonment for espionage.