The Crooked X - Prelude to War
A Short Story of Hate, Mystery and Intrigue
By Ernest N.Whitenack
Next morning at the meeting, new diagrams of the India Street warehouse
were waiting for squad leaders. The diagrams highlighted entrance points,
roof, doors, and windows, and the number of men to be at each point.
Each entrance point has a number indicating the order
each group would enter the building after the start signal is given. Long
study determined that an interval of 3-seconds between groups entering
would have each approaching the office area together. The Nazis set up
living quarters in the offices and, according to surveillance, is where
they spend most of the time. The start signal, a percussion grenade exploded
in the alley next to the warehouse, will hopefully add a degree of panic
in the Nazis. Some windows and the shipping doors, as indicated on the
diagram, will not be entered, but guarded to deter escape.
A second sheet, attached to the diagram, gives precise
instructions for approaching the building and getting in position. A half
hour allotment should be plenty of time for all men to get into position.
The front door, being the easiest to breach, will be the last entry point.
Four men, each carrying a shotgun, will secure the four offices.
Equipment for the undercover assignment near Abe’s
store, uniforms of the Boston sanitation department along with the tools
are in close proximity to Abe's shop. The day of the attack, a small dump
truck stands by ready with the garbage to spill along Tremont Street.
The squad leaders were briefed on the alert and the
expected elapsed time after the alert for the attack to commence. Also,
suggested they meet with their respective squad members and discuss the
quickest means of transportation to the attack point.
Scott and Harry departed the cab, and upon entering
Abe’s shop, the sweet pungency of Ehrlich’s Bowdoin drifting
from the back room met them. The sound of the bell, activated by the door
opening, hardly drifted away before Abe emerged from behind the curtains
that separated the store from the work area. A broad smile pleasantly
distorted his face upon seeing his two friends and he rushed forward to
shake their hands in welcome.
“I’m so happy to see you both,”
Abe said. "Since returned from Chicago it has been a very nervous
and sometimes frightening time, even though I have been protected day
and night by the police. Knowing those Nazi Schweine intend killing
me, not only to shut me up but, because I am no more than a distastful
bug to them. This has me hating them more than ever. So long have I
been away from their filthy lies and brutality, the memory of looking
over my sholder and avoiding them always had faded away.“
It is just about over, Abe. Harry replied. "All
arrangements are in place to capture Koenig and what remains of his
Scott continued, “We must set a time for Koenig
to pick up the clock works. At least a day is needed to be in position
for the raid here and at the warehouse.”
“Three and a half days are left of the time
I was given to do the work. That will make it Saturday.”
“Scott thought for a couple of minutes before saying, “OK,
let’s make it early Saturday morning before the traffic gets heavy
and shoppers fill the sidewalks. What do you think of eight o’clock?
Do you see any problems with that?”
Abe shook his head no, as Harry replied, “It
fits well and the early hour will lessen the chance of any civilian
casualties if the arrest of Koenig doesn’t go smoothly. I think
Koenig is so anxious to get the clocks and away from Boston that he
will accept any time of day for the pick-up.”
Abe turned to the telephone on the counter and dialed
the number of the warehouse. He informed Koenig that his work will be
completed on Friday and asked he pick them up at eight o'clock on Saturday
morning. Koenig immediately agreed. Next, Harry called police headquarters,
instructing the chief to call the alert and informing him of the day and
time of the coordinated raids.
Abe locked the door to his shop and the three men
headed for the coffee shop a short way down Tremont Street. As they
sat at a small round table, pipes aglow and large hot cups in hand,
Scott asked, “Abe, you remember Alfred Zimmer don’t you?
Well, he will be with me at the shop when Koenig gets there, and there
will be three men just outside. It’s highly unlikely anything
can go wrong so I want you to stop worrying. You don’t even have
to see Koenig until he is in custody. Zimmer and I will arrive a little
before seven o’clock by the shop’s back door and wait in
the back room for Koenig. The three men outside will move on Koenig
the second he touches your door. Zimmer and I will move when we hear
the bell above the door rings. Harry will be at police headquarters
coordinating the raid on the warehouse. The whole effort will be concluded
within fifteen minutes without incident.”
Abe smiled at each in turn and replied, “With
such friends, what could go wrong? My trust for you both and my country
is strong.” He paused shortly then continued, “I’ve
been thinking we should have a celebration when the Nazis are in jail
and this is finished.”
“You can count on it,” Harry replied.
That evening, while having dinner at the Palmer House,
Nancy took hold of Scott’s hands and said, “You will be
very careful Saturday. Remember your Father’s instructions –
"My dear, the plan is so foolproof, it would
take a major blunder on someone’s part to cause it to become dangerous,
much less need heroics from anyone. We have a couple of days during
which each details will be reviewed by Harry and the chief, just to
make sure it is as foolproof as we all think.. There is plenty of time
to make adjustments if needed."
At his office the next morning, Scott concentrated on
the little business he had before calling Frank to fill him in, and then
the British Consulate for an appointment. That afternoon he went over
the entire operation in minute detail with Brigadier John Harris-Smith
and Ashley Moss, both of whom nodded approvingly throughout the presentation.
The Brigadier studied the diagrams of the warehouse
assault then, looked at each in turn, lit his pipe, and while blowing
smoke at the ceiling said, “Marvelous! It is doubtful British
Intelligence and the Royal Marines could do better, looks like a perfect
“Thanks," Scott replied while holding back
a chuckle. “There is added positive fallout – the possibility
of finding a listing of Nazi destined to receive the timing devices.
Several men are assigned exclusively to that task. By putting saboteurs
out of business and the recently assigned troops on guard at critical
ports along the East coast, a decisive step is taken in preserving a
transport link between the US and Great Britain, should it be needed.”
“Here, here,” responded the Brigadier.
Believe me Scott, the link will be needed. There isn’t a military
mind in Britain who disagrees on that point – Just a few mindless
members of Parliament, on both sides of the isle, who maintain Hitler
will never attack us.
The next couple of days Scott relaxed at home. He read
an hour or two each day, cleaned, oiled, and made ready both his Colt
1911 and the Webley Mark IV. Additionally he smoked incessantly, probably
precipitated by nerves, until he could barely taste anything other than
the occasional Scotch.
Mr. Wadsworth called to see how Scott was doing, reiterating
his admonishment regarding heroics, and wishing him luck.
“No need to call me when it’s over,”
Mr. Wadsworth said. "The FBI will be in constant communication
with the DOD and they will in turn give me frequent updates. Fact is,
I will have an open line to the DOD throughout the operation. However,
I hope you call me when it is convenient. I’d like a more personal
account of the events at Abe’s shop.”
"I’ll certainly do that, or at least let
you know I'm OK. Can you have dinner with Nancy and me Sunday? We would
really like to see you. That way, I only have to go over the story once.
Nancy will be cooking.
"I'll be there, happily. Just let me know the time to arrive.
She is a great gal, son. Don't let her get away."
Well before dawn, the squads assembled at the surveillance building near
the India Street warehouse. They straggled in as groups and singles, due
to the diverse location of their homes. One last time the logistics of
the raid were presented by the chief and Harry. The chief called the roll
and found all present. At the allotted time, the squads departed to take
up positions on and around the warehouse and waited for the signal to
At 7:30 A.M., the Department of Sanitation dump truck slowly approached
Abe's address, and the bed gradually raised to allow the garbage from
the Haymarket to trickle out in a two-foot wide swath along the gutter.
Just around the corner, the three policemen in DOS uniforms waited until
7:50 before attacking the garbage – two pushing brooms and one shoveling
the garbage into large steel barrels on a hand truck. With perfect timing,
they were directly in front of the clock shop when a taxi pulled up. Koenig
paid the driver and got out. The third man put his shovel aside and retrieved
a hand radio from one of the barrels, pushed a button and said into the
"It's a go."
As Koenig enter the door of Abe’s clock shop, the two men sweeping
the debris quickly closed in behind him. Handgun drawn, they forced him
into the narrow passage between the front wall and the end of the watch
display counter. At the same time, Scott stepped from behind the curtain
that closes off Abe’s work area and moved quickly along behind the
counter. He relieved Koenig of the box of tobacco while demanding, with
a forceful push, that he face the corner and put his hands behind his
back. One of the police volunteers immediately handcuffed him. In the
meantime, Zimmer took a position midway between the counters and several
feet from the door – his pistol in hand.
"Well, Sturmbannführer Friedrich Koenig," Scott said
as Koenig was turned to face him. "It appears your efforts in the
US have ended in a dismal failure. Your India Street hangout is under
attack at this very moment."
Koenig burst forth cursing loudly in German, and sounding like one of
Hitler's frenzied speeches. Zimmer stepped forward, pressed his pistol
into Koenig's noise, and told him to shut his filthy Nazi mouth or he
may never speak again.
"You and your kind are a festering boil on the behind of Germany
that will infest all of Europe," Zimmer continued in English. "Ah,
what's the use, your mind is so warped you cannot understand what I
Abe walked slowly from the back room and approached Koenig. "I
believe you owe me money, Heir Koenig. I have completed the work for
which I contracted."
Koenig turned beet red at the sight of Abe and said with a snarl,
"I owe you nothing but death, Jew."
At that, Abe landed a right hook, with his whole weight behind it, high
on Koenig's jaw that sent him reeling backwards and into near unconsciousness.
The two policemen supported him from falling. Abe calmly reached into
Koenig's inside pocket, retrieved a large wallet, and removed the correct
amount owed him, and walked away sporting a very satisfied grin on his
An unmarked police car came to a stop at the curb followed by the FBI
taxi that previously carried Abe from South Station and danger. Koenig
was hustled into the car and brought to police headquarters. The FBI driver
retrieved the box of tobacco for immediate transport to a testing lab
at MIT for analysis.
At India Street, the raid went off with one round fired. One of the Nazis
hastily retrieved a pistol from a desk but quickly surrendered it when
an officer appeared at the door and fired his shotgun into the ceiling.
Prohibited by law from participating, Harry watch the raid from the
third floor of a building used for surveillance. He determined the raid,
from the start signal explosion to the time the two Nazis emerged from
the warehouse in handcuffs, took an astonishing six and one-half minutes.
He descended the stairs, walked across the street, and entered the warehouse
in time to hear a loud voice echo through the cavernous building.
"I found it! I found the Nazi playbook. It has page after page
of information concerning operatives, sabotage targets, contacts across
the country, and a raft of other stuff I don't understand but looks
Harry followed the voice to one of the offices converted to a bedroom.
"Good job, officer. I know you would like to sit there, study the
book, and have the minute of glory you deserve. However, we require two
copies of the book made ASAP, The book and a copy go to Washington for
the Department of Defense and FBI. The second is for the prosecution of
the Nazis. You will probably have to testify in court to your part in
finding it. I would like you to do that for me please. Make two copies
and return the book and copies to me.
Scott and Zimmer arrived at the police station soon after Koenig and
the police officers. Harry, the chief and the two Nazi underlings appeared
soon after. All watched as the Nazis were booked and placed in individual
cells. Then, came the arduous task of reconstructing the morning's events
and dictating reports to a police stenographer. About eleven A.M., Harry
cheerfully suggested he call Abe and Frank for lunch at Jake Wirth's --
all on the FBI.
It only took two days for the arraignment of the five remaining Nazis.
A trial was set for the following Monday at the Boston Federal Court on
charges from illegal entry to the country, to kidnapping, espionage, attempted
sabotage, and murder. The day before the trial, Sturmbannführer Friedrich
Koenig unsuccessfully attempted suicide by hanging. The rope he made from
his shirt tore from his weight.
When Scott related this to Abe, he shook his head and said, "So
much for the Arian Race. For killing himself, he will have much longer
to plan in prison. If he is deported, a worse fate waits for him."
After dinner on Sunday, Nancy and Mr. Wadsworth sat enthralled listening
to Scott relate the events of the previous day. It took quite a while,
what with the many questions and time-outs for Scott to tamp and relight
When Scott concluded and all had their fill of coffee and brandy, Mr.
Wadsworth told them he had some news from Washington.
"The legal wheels are turning quickly regarding the disposition
of the spies. First off, no one wants newspaper or radio coverage of
this story and secondly the five of them must be completely isolated
somewhere before action is taken against those in Koenig's master plan
book. One slip of information and those in the book will disappear into
the woodwork. The federal judge and the state department are looking
into the legality of deportation. The State Department is diplomatically
suggesting deportation will be best for all around. The German Embassy
didn't disagree, and went so far as to suggest a German freighter currently
tied up in Boston. German Navy personnel are now aboard all German ships.
The spies' mission failure will no doubt keep them in the brig until
they reach Germany if the ranking navel officer is a good Nazi. Frank,
with all his influence with the press and wire services has put a lid
on any information about the trial or the happenings on Tremont and
India Street. He feels it is under control as long as the shootings
on Walnut Street are buried and forgotten."
Scott, while filled his pipe again, said, "I guess that is the
end of it then. Although, from the extent of Nazi sympathizers we have
learned about, I don't think it is the end. If what British intelligence
tells us is true, and not just fear-mongering, the country better wake
up and allocate money and people to the possibility of a concerted spy
effort by Germany."
"You are entirely correct Scott," replied Mr. Wadsworth.
Moving toward the coat rack he continued, "You will soon see the
FBI sanctioned to investigate subversion with large increases in funds
and aggressively recruiting agents."
"I must leave you now – have a lot of important phone calls
to make," he continued as he donned his hat and coat.
Berlin, two days later:
When finally informed of the failure of the Boston SS effort, Adolph
Hitler went mad. He cursed out the SS leaders, stomped around his office,
and kicked at anything he passed. It took a shot from his personal doctor,
always within sight, to calm him. When he settled down, he declared
they be punished for their failure and directed they be handed over
to the Heinrich Himmler and the Gestapo for execution the minute of
On the outskirts of Munich, one month later:
The day dawned warmer and more humid than usual for June, and the abandon
barn smelled of old rotting hay and cow manure. The odor stung the nostrils
and throats of the Gestapo officers and the remainder of the Boston
assigned Nazis. Silently Sturmbannführer Friedrich Koenig led the
remaining four members of his espionage team up makeshift steps and
along a narrow plank. Nooses of piano wire hung from the barn rafters
above the head of each. Quickly, Gestapo butchers placed the noose over
each man’s head, kicked the plank from under their feet, and stepped
back to watch. It was an agonizing and lingering death, the wire partially
shutting off breathing and cutting deeper and deeper into the skin.
Two were lucky when the wire quickly severed the carotid artery and
they bled out quickly. It took twenty-two minutes for the last man to
die. At the far end of the barn, graves were waiting, partially filled
with the rotting manure to accelerate decomposition of the bodies.
The government-funded lab at M.I.T quickly went to work testing the
Berliner Danske tobacco. Just as Frank had suspected, based on coded
news reports he covertly gets from Germany, each tin contained a soluble
form of odorless and tasteless Saran gas. The official report came not
from M.I.T, but The Department of Defense, which indicates the lab's
source of funding. The report suggests the tobacco was first dehydrated
and then rehydrated with a solution containing the Saran. The refilled
tins were meticulously resealed, relabeled, and placed in a new carton.
After testing, the tobacco ended up in a highly remote area of North
Dakota where it was destroyed by a process not unlike cremation but
with temperatures reaching double that needed to consume a human body.
The fate of the Boston Nazis came to light through Frank's news connections
in Germany. However, neither the executions or the events in Chicago
and Boston ever reached the public of either country.
The celebration Abe previously suggested was toned down for security
reasons. Invitation went out to only those involved, the Brigadier and
Ashley Moss, and Abe's immediate family. Part of Scott's massive living
room was converted to a dining area where a lavish catered meal, including
Champaign and Caviar, was served. A Small bar was expertly attended
by a hired bartender. Included in the beverages sat a large keg of imported
German beer donated by Abe's cousin, Günter.
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2012
Addendum in Fact
The Friends of New Germany fell apart when in 1935, Deputy Fuhrer Rudolph
Hess ordered all German citizens to end their membership in the organization.
All of the group's leaders were called back to Germany at that time.
Following in its footsteps in March of 1936 at Buffalo, New York, the
German American Bund was hatched. The Bund's first leader was a German
born American, Fritz Kuhn.
German spying in the United States started shortly after the end of the
First World War and became tightly organized with recruitment from the
ranks of the Friends of New Germany following its establishment.
Prior to 1936, the FBI was aware of Nazi espionage in the USA but had
no authorized power to investigate or counteract it. This came when Roosevelt
authorized, through Secretary of State Cordell Hull, the FBI to investigate
suspected organizations. Arrests were made but many spies got away and
left the country due to the limited experience the FBI had in this area.
With the invasion of Poland and the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939,
subversion, sabotage, and espionage became major concerns of the FBI.
The Smith Act of 1940, requiring all non-citizens to register with the
government, gave the FBI investigations added strength. The act also made
it unlawful to advocate the violent overthrow of the government.
spy investigations were well known, the movie industry was reluctant to
approach the subject of spies and a second world war due to the Neutrality
Act imposed after World War One. However, in 1939 Warner Bros. produced
Confessions of a Nazi Spy in which FBI agent Ed Renard investigates the
pre-War espionage activities of the German-American Bund.
Frederick Duquesne spy ring investigation, 1938 – 1942, was the
one of the largest investigations to that time. A loyal German-American
double agent assisted the FBI. The trial of thirty-three spies, most US
citizens, made headlines around the world. The 1941 conviction included
all thirty-three with 300 years of sentences handed down.
The incident was the inspiration of the award winning 1945 film, The House
Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield,
Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean
War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is