Washington – While power company employees were going about their day in a remote brush area near the capital they came across something odd. Sticking out of the grass was a slab of granite. The slab was the same style you would expect to be used for a monument or a headstone, but when power employees looked closer, they realized that this was no ordinary monument. It was put there to honor Nazi spies and even stranger, it was on U.S government land.
Jim Rosenstock who works for the National Parks Service and considers himself a local history buff heard about the discovery and his attention was piqued. How and why was there a monument to Nazi spies placed off the beaten path in Washington of all places? So in 2006, Rosenstock traveled out to see the monument and began his own research to try and uncover just where the oddity had come from and who put it there.
Before American joined WWII officially, Hitler decided he wanted to know how susceptible the U.S would be to a Nazi invasion and recruited spies to check it out for him. Hitler was trying to show the world just how vulnerable the U.S was so he selected eight Germans to make the trip to the States via two U-Boats. One boat was heading to Jacksonville, and the other landed on a beach on Long Island.
June 13, 1942, is when the U-Boat reached Long Island, only to be found by the Coast Guard. The Germans managed to avoid capture, but the Coast Guard found supplies they had buried on the beach. The supplies included fuses, bombs, and crates of TNT. George John Dasch was the leader of the spy group and as soon as the men had landed, he and a second German called the FBI to turn the others in.
Dasch was given $82,000 for turning in the other Germans and used the money to take a train into Washington where he expected the FBI to welcome him with open arms as a hero. Unfortunately for him, they did no such thing.
A Newly Formed FBI
J. Edgar Hoover saw the capture of the men as a way to promote the newly formed FBI, and he claimed all credit for the capture of the German spies with no mention of Dasch. The U.S was ecstatic with the FBI’s ability to get the job done, and it was the bureau that was hailed as a hero.
Once the German spies were captured, the Justice Department began rounding up other Germans. They captured hundreds of people that they suspected of spying on the government and began banning Germans and Italians from certain jobs such as barbers, servers, and waiters.
The original spies were tried before a secret military commission which was ordered by President Franklin Roosevelt. By ignoring due process, the eight men were found guilty quickly, and six were sentenced to death while Dasch and one other were given long prison terms.
Six German spies were executed by the U.S on August 8, 1942, by electrocution. They were then buried in Southwest Washington three days later around the place where the monument would later be erected.
Who erected this Nazi Monument in Washington?
That explains who the men listed on the monument were, but who erected it? The dedication at the bottom refers to the ‘N.S.W.P.P’ which helps put a date on when it was built. The National Socialist White People’s Party began in the 1960’s and was known as the American Nazi Party. Shortly before he was assassinated in 1967, the group’s leader, George Lincoln Rockwell gave the group its new name. With the time limited to two decads that the monument could have been carved based on the dedication, it must have been out in the woods for more than two decades before its official discovery in 2006.
Now that officials had an idea of when and who built the monument, there was still the question of what to do with it. They knew someone was caring for the stone, they had found candles around it and once they even found deer bones. New fans of the Nazis were still visiting the monument; “It was an illegal monument,” said Rosenstock. “And we certainly did not want to be hosting a site for midnight rituals on Hitler’s birthday.”
After some debate, it was decided that the stone be removed in one piece. There had been suggestions of smashing it, but in the end, it was decided to preserve the monument for historic reasons. The stone was removed in 2010 and now resides in a facility in Maryland. The exact location remains hidden from the public so as not to attract more attention. The whole story seems like the plot of an adventure movie, with Nazi spies, the FBI, and a secret monument. Stranger things have happened in the capital but this story is certainly up there with the strangest.