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Class Year

2012

Abstract

In the summer of 1942, the East Coast bore witness to an aberration when a German submarine appeared in the waters off Long Island, seemingly countless miles from the bitter fighting and utter carnage engulfing Europe.1 Only four days later, another submarine unexpectedly surfaced, this time near Ponte Vedra Beach off the coast of Florida.2 The United States, historically protected from its enemies abroad by the vast stretches of the mighty Atlantic, now found itself exposed to the Unterseeboote that had once provoked the superpower into world war.3 The submarines harbored agents of the notorious German spy organization known as the Abwehr; and while these agents‘ ultimate capture epitomized the failure of many German intelligence operations in the United States, their activity reaffirmed American fears of Nazi spies and American subversives within. Beyond its immediate impact, Operation PASTORIUS inadvertently led the United States government to reflect on the legal treatment of its enemies—an issue that, more than sixty years later, remains to be resolved.

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