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Hitler's Secret Attack on America


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#1    LucidElement

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:00 PM

For the first time in history, National Geographic Channel and a group of scientists search the ocean floor for a series of shipwrecks many Americans never heard about. Everyone knows that on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. But what most don't know is just days later, Hitler sent his own force to devastate the East Coast. On December 19, the German Naval War Staff sent three U-boats to American waters. It was an assault so deadly, it was covered up by the U.S. government.....

Anyone know more about this, I knew hitler sent a failed attempt to America, however I dont know anything about the assault. Ill look into it, but still would like to know if anyone watched this or knows about it.

Thanks!

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#2    Taun

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:20 PM

Aside from any shipping they might have sunk, 3 U-Boats would not have done that much damage... A submarines primary weapon is it's torpedos, but most also mounted a deck gun - a single relatively small caliber cannon
More like a recoiless rifle...  The typical deck gun (and they each only had one I believe) was an 88mm gun... A good weapon, but with only 1 gun, the sub would not be able to do much damage before counter-measures
were enacted... A as a sub would have to be surfaced to fire the deck gun, the sub would be a sitting duck, for any shore artillery, or air craft...

I'm not disputing what the OP posted... just pointing out that it would not have been very effective...

Edited by Taun, 17 April 2014 - 02:21 PM.


#3    Rafterman

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:41 PM

Sounds like NatGeo is doing a bit of grandstanding, but it does sound interesting.

We already know that U-boats went after shipping off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.  They might have even shelled a couple of coastal refineries if my memory serves.

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#4    and then

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:49 PM

I recall reading that in the early days of the war some citizens of New York went to the waterfront and used their car headlights to shine out to sea looking for subs - not realizing they were silhouetting any merchies that were in the harbor :(

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#5    Peter B

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:51 PM

View PostLucidElement, on 17 April 2014 - 02:00 PM, said:

For the first time in history, National Geographic Channel and a group of scientists search the ocean floor for a series of shipwrecks many Americans never heard about. Everyone knows that on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. But what most don't know is just days later, Hitler sent his own force to devastate the East Coast. On December 19, the German Naval War Staff sent three U-boats to American waters. It was an assault so deadly, it was covered up by the U.S. government.....

Anyone know more about this, I knew hitler sent a failed attempt to America, however I dont know anything about the assault. Ill look into it, but still would like to know if anyone watched this or knows about it.

Thanks!

You're describing what's known as the Second Happy Time. It wasn't a single attack by three submarines. Instead it was a campaign lasting several months (December 1941 to about July 1942) and involving dozens of submarine sorties.

Roughly a quarter of all Allied merchant shipping losses during World War Two occurred during this campaign.

There were four main problems, all caused by the reluctance of senior American naval officers to accept advice from the British:

1. There was no blackout along the coast and ships weren't required to black out their lights either. As a result the German submarines had little trouble seeing targets.

2. There was no convoy system implemented, nor were ships rerouted from common shipping lanes. As a result there were ships all over the place and submarine commanders had plenty of targets wherever they went.

3. British intelligence on the location of submarines was ignored.

4. Anti-submarine shipping was scarce, was often left in port, and was often misused when actually sailing.

The losses of American warships at Pearl Harbor was a disaster. The loss of merchant shipping, lives and material as a result of the Second Happy Time was more like a scandal.

Edited by Peter B, 17 April 2014 - 02:57 PM.


#6    Forever Cursed

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 03:04 PM

The problem with doing secret stuff, is sometimes it just remains a secret. Who knew ??


#7    Otto von Pickelhaube

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 04:28 PM

There was a lot of U-boat activity right off the East Coast in the early months of the war, certainly; the U-boat crews looked back on it with nostalgia as a time when they'd just have to sit there and a constant procession of shipping would come past, nicely silhouetted against the lights on the shore since there was no blackout.  Not helped by Admiral King, C-in-C USN, who seemed to have no conception of anti-submarine tactics and notion of the concept of convoying, and seemed to hate the Limeys more than he did the Germans or Japanese, and if he'd had his way would have withdrawn from the Battle of the Atlantic completely.

Edited by Colonel Rhubarb, 17 April 2014 - 04:29 PM.

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#8    Otto von Pickelhaube

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 04:31 PM

View PostTaun, on 17 April 2014 - 02:20 PM, said:

Aside from any shipping they might have sunk, 3 U-Boats would not have done that much damage... A submarines primary weapon is it's torpedos, but most also mounted a deck gun - a single relatively small caliber cannon
More like a recoiless rifle...  The typical deck gun (and they each only had one I believe) was an 88mm gun... A good weapon, but with only 1 gun, the sub would not be able to do much damage before counter-measures
were enacted... A as a sub would have to be surfaced to fire the deck gun, the sub would be a sitting duck, for any shore artillery, or air craft...

I'm not disputing what the OP posted... just pointing out that it would not have been very effective...
They did on one or two occasions shell port installations in the Caribbean, as i recall, but only when they were sure there was no A/S forces anywhere in the vicinity, of course (which was most of the time in the early months of the war).

If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.

- Philip K. Dick.


#9    LucidElement

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 05:33 PM

View PostPeter B, on 17 April 2014 - 02:51 PM, said:

You're describing what's known as the Second Happy Time. It wasn't a single attack by three submarines. Instead it was a campaign lasting several months (December 1941 to about July 1942) and involving dozens of submarine sorties.

Roughly a quarter of all Allied merchant shipping losses during World War Two occurred during this campaign.

There were four main problems, all caused by the reluctance of senior American naval officers to accept advice from the British:

1. There was no blackout along the coast and ships weren't required to black out their lights either. As a result the German submarines had little trouble seeing targets.

2. There was no convoy system implemented, nor were ships rerouted from common shipping lanes. As a result there were ships all over the place and submarine commanders had plenty of targets wherever they went.

3. British intelligence on the location of submarines was ignored.

4. Anti-submarine shipping was scarce, was often left in port, and was often misused when actually sailing.

The losses of American warships at Pearl Harbor was a disaster. The loss of merchant shipping, lives and material as a result of the Second Happy Time was more like a scandal.
In regards to comment (1), I read it was because the U.S did not want to scare the Americans of something bad to come, which is why they didnt decide to kill the lights... ALSO, what was the British intelligence that the U.S ignored?

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#10    Peter B

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 12:46 AM

View PostLucidElement, on 17 April 2014 - 05:33 PM, said:

In regards to comment (1), I read it was because the U.S did not want to scare the Americans of something bad to come, which is why they didnt decide to kill the lights...

Well, that and a desire to minimise the negative effects on the economies of the cities and towns along the coast.

Quote

ALSO, what was the British intelligence that the U.S ignored?

Information about submarine numbers and locations gained from intercepting radio signals they sent. This would be useful even if the signals themselves weren't decoded.


#11    LucidElement

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 04:40 AM

View PostPeter B, on 18 April 2014 - 12:46 AM, said:

Well, that and a desire to minimise the negative effects on the economies of the cities and towns along the coast.



Information about submarine numbers and locations gained from intercepting radio signals they sent. This would be useful even if the signals themselves weren't decoded.
why do you think U.S ignored them though? Do you think U.S didnt see it as a major threat?

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#12    Otto von Pickelhaube

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 07:13 AM

View PostLucidElement, on 18 April 2014 - 04:40 AM, said:

why do you think U.S ignored them though? Do you think U.S didnt see it as a major threat?
They (or Admiral King) thought they knew how to do it better than the Limeys did, basically, I think. And also perhaps Admiral King wasn't really too concerned about the Germans and thought they should devote all their energy to getting back at the Japanese for Pearl Harbor.

Edited by Colonel Rhubarb, 18 April 2014 - 07:13 AM.

If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.

- Philip K. Dick.


#13    Peter B

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:12 AM

View PostColonel Rhubarb, on 18 April 2014 - 07:13 AM, said:

They (or Admiral King) thought they knew how to do it better than the Limeys did, basically, I think. And also perhaps Admiral King wasn't really too concerned about the Germans and thought they should devote all their energy to getting back at the Japanese for Pearl Harbor.

I tend to agree.

But I also wonder whether part of it was simply that the Americans at the time hadn't properly organised the bureaucracy involved in fighting a war.

Fighting a modern industrial total war involves a lot of bureaucratic stuff - chains of command for passing information to ensure that the people who make decisions do so as well-informed as possible.

The British used their submarine intelligence to order convoys to change their courses away from known submarine locations. As the Americans initially didn't employ convoys and therefore had no-one co-ordinating convoy movements, perhaps there was no one else that seemed likely to benefit from being given that information. As a result the reports would sit unread on the desk of whoever received the information from the British. Then, once the Americans decided to set up a convoy system, the person in charge may not have initially realised that this information was actually available. (I don't know this for sure, but it makes sense in the context of pre-Internet bureaucracies - information networks may work well once established, but can be tricky to establish.)


#14    DeWitz

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 11:39 AM

For further detailed information, please see The Battle of the St. Lawrence: Greenfield, Nathan M.; Toronto: Harper Collins, 2004.

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#15    Perceptivum

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 04:23 PM

I suppose this was a secret at the time, but it's no secret now.  Actually, there has been a lot of evidence uncovered to suggest U-boats where off the coast of U.S. on a frequent basis; also sabotage at the shipping docks was not uncommon.  However, U-boats were very important (and expensive) to Germany and their strategic plans in the Atlantic so for Hitler to haphazardly throw them into an invasion force off the east coast of the U.S. would seem far fetched.

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