Herbert Hans Haupt
Herbert Hans Haupt was a German-American United States citizen
United States nationality law
Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the United States Constitution expressly gives the United States Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. The Immigration and Naturalization Act sets forth the legal requirements for the acquisition of, and divestiture from, citizenship of...

 with dual nationality who was executed as an enemy agent for Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


Early life

Born in Stettin, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Haupt was the son of Hans Max and Erna (Froehling) Haupt. Hans Haupt was a World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 Imperial German Army veteran who came to Chicago in 1923 to find work. His wife and son followed in 1925. Herbert Haupt became a United States citizen in 1930, at the age of 10, when his parents were naturalized. He attended Lane High School and later worked at the Simpson Optical Company as an apprentice optician.

World War II

In 1941, Herbert Haupt, with two friends, Wolfgang Wergin and Hugo Troesken, set off on a world trek. Troesken was turned back at the Mexican border
United States–Mexico border
The United States–Mexico border is the international border between the United States and Mexico. It runs from Imperial Beach, California, and Tijuana, Baja California, in the west to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and Brownsville, Texas, in the east, and traverses a variety of terrains, ranging from major...

 for lack of proper identification, but Haupt and Wergin continued. Neither Haupt nor Wergin had been able to secure American passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

s before the trip. As they were German born, they secured German passports from their Embassy in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

. They sailed to Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, where they found work on a German merchant ship bound for France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Haupt and Wergin arrived in France at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, following which Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 had declared war against the United States. Now stranded in Europe, Haupt went to stay at his grandmother's home in Stettin. Wergin enlisted in the German Army (the Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...


As a civilian coast watcher, Haupt was awarded an Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

 for helping his passenger ship run the British blockade when he served as a lookout during the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 blockade on the way to France. He was then recruited by the Secret Service Abwehr
The Abwehr was a German military intelligence organisation from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr was used as a concession to Allied demands that Germany's post-World War I intelligence activities be for "defensive" purposes only...

 to return to America as a saboteur
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

. He claimed he accepted the assignment only as a way to return home.

Operation Pastorius

Operation Pastorius
Operation Pastorius
Operation Pastorius was a failed plan for sabotage via a series of attacks by Nazi German agents inside the United States. The operation was staged in June 1942 and was to be directed against strategic U.S. economic targets...

 consisted of 12 English-speaking Germans who were trained as secret agents at the Brandenburg Sabotage School. Eight eventually graduated and were sent to the United States via U-Boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 to damage the US war industries. Haupt and three others landed on Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on June 17, 1942. The remaining group landed on Long Island, New York. Haupt promptly took a train from Jacksonville to Chicago, where he stayed with his parents and visited his girlfriend. Haupt may have intended to remain inactive until the end of the war. However, two members of the Long Island group (George John Dasch
George John Dasch
George John Dasch was a German spy and saboteur who landed on American soil during World War II. He helped to destroy Nazi Germany’s espionage program in the United States by defecting to the American cause, but was tried and convicted of treason and espionage.-Early life:Georg Johann Dasch was...

 and Ernst Peter Burger
Ernst Peter Burger
Ernst Peter Burger was a German spy and saboteur who landed on American soil during World War II. He was captured but escaped execution. He was deported to Germany in 1948.-Operation Pastorius:...

) had decided to defect to the Americans and did so almost immediately. They informed on their comrades. Haupt and his parents were arrested in Chicago on June 27.

Trial and death

Herbert Haupt and the other seven "U-Boat Raiders" were sent to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, where they faced a military tribunal
Military tribunal
A military tribunal is a kind of military court designed to try members of enemy forces during wartime, operating outside the scope of conventional criminal and civil proceedings. The judges are military officers and fulfill the role of jurors...

. All were found guilty of being enemy agents, and even though they had not carried out any sabotage, six - including Haupt - were sentenced to death. Dasch and Burger received long prison sentences, which were commuted after the war.

Herbert Hans Haupt, Edward Kerling, Hermann Neubauer, Werner Thiel, Heinrich Heinck, and Richard Quirin
Richard Quirin
Richard Quirin was a German-American executed as an enemy agent for the Germans in World War II. He was one of eight agents involved in Operation Pastorius, and gave his name to the Supreme Court decision on the trial, Ex parte Quirin.-Early life:Born in Berlin, Germany in 1908, Quirin moved to...

 were all executed on August 8, 1942 in the District of Columbia's electric chair
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

. It was the largest mass execution by electrocution ever conducted.

Only 22 years old, Haupt broke down just before his execution, but recovered and according to witnesses "died like a real man." It took Haupt seven minutes to die in the electric chair. His last undelivered letter to his father read, "Try not to take this too hard. I have brought nothing but grief to all of my friends and relatives who did nothing wrong, my last thoughts will be of Mother."

Haupt was buried with the five others in the Potters Field in Blue Plains, D.C. The graves were originally marked by wooden boards with numbers, but eventually a small monument was placed over the graves in 1982. Government officials removed the monument, leaving those buried at Blue Plains in un-marked graves in a wooded, fenced-in area.

Haupt's parents were convicted of treason for not informing on their son. Haupt's mother, Erna Haupt, was released and deported to Germany in 1946. Hans Haupt, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, was finally released and deported in 1957. Unfortunately for them, their native city of Stettin had been awarded to Poland on Stalin's insistence at the end of World War II and its German population completely expelled. The Haupts had no home to return to.

Modern relevance

In 2001, Herbert Haupt was in the news again as President Bush attempted to use military tribunals to try American citizens after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The Supreme Court ruling regarding Haupt, the only US citizen executed in the affair, was cited again. (Ex parte Quirin
Ex parte Quirin
Ex parte Quirin, , is a Supreme Court of the United States case that upheld the jurisdiction of a United States military tribunal over the trial of several Operation Pastorius German saboteurs in the United States...



  • They Came to Kill by Eugene Rachlis, 1961 Random House
  • Shadow Enemies by Scott Gordon, 2002 Lyons Press
  • Saboteurs, Nazi Raid on America, 2004 Alfred Knopf
  • In Time of War, by Pierce O'Donnell, 2005 The New Press

External links

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