‘Nazis’ to Invade Amagansett

Amagansett Life-Saving Station
People will gather at the Amagansett Life-Saving Station Wednesday for a re-enactment of the landing of Nazi saboteurs in June 1942. Russell Drumm

    Although minuscule, and a complete failure by comparison, the landing of four Nazi saboteurs at Atlantic Avenue Beach, Amagansett, from a U-boat in the predawn of June 13, 1942, was — like the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events of Sept. 11, 2001 — an “invasion.”
    It was part of a plan to cripple industry and instill fear that included the invasion of a second group of saboteurs in Florida.
    On Wednesday, the Amagansett Life-Saving Station and Coast Guard Building Committee will mark the 70th anniversary of the ill-fated beachhead by hosting a re-enactment of sorts. The public is invited to meet at the old lifesaving station down by the beach on Atlantic Avenue at 7 p.m.
    It was from there on the same date in 1942 that a 21-year-old coast guardsman named John Cullen set out in a thick fog on his regular patrol along the beach.
    Not long into his the patrol he came upon George Dasch, one of the saboteurs, who, according to Mr. Cullen’s account, first said the bag that one of his associates was dragging up from the water was filled with clams, a claim that even he must have realized was lame. He then threatened Mr. Cullen, and finally offered him cash to keep their meeting to himself.
    Mr. Cullen remembered hearing the drone of the U-boat that was straining to get free of a sandbar.
    The men headed through the dunes en route to the Amagansett train station, and Coastie Cullen hightailed it back to the station to blow the whistle. The next morning, the spot was found where the saboteurs changed into mufti. The coast guardsmen also found a cache of explosives. Mr. Cullen died in Chesapeake, Va., last September. He was 90.
    Six of eight Germans who participated here and in Florida in Operation Pastorius were executed. George Dasch, the Nazi, who will be channeled by Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione on Wednesday, was not. Mr. Stanzione has written a screenplay about the Nazi landing.
    Kent Miller, the Life-Saving Station committee chairman, will play Cullen. Before heading down to the beach, as though on patrol, Hugh King, the East Hampton Town Crier, and Peter Garnham, director of the Amagansett Historical Association, will describe the events that led up to the Nazi invasion. Seaman Cullen’s steps will then be retraced.
    This is the first of what is hoped will be an annual re-enactment of the Nazi invasion and is expected to take about an hour.