In the darkish hours of June 13, 1942, a German U-boat surfaced off the coast of Long Island.
Four saboteurs, beneath the management of 1 George Dasch, buried explosives beneath the sands of Amagansett as a part of an elaborate plan to blow up Astoria’s Hell Gate Bridge, alongside with chemical vegetation being utilized in the American struggle effort.
Naval intelligence Lt. Gen. Charles Radcliffe Haffenden had gotten phrase that 4 males had been noticed and sped out to Long Island’s East End.
But his investigation didn’t comply with commonplace army protocols. Haffenden stopped at Millie’s Inn by Napeague Beach for dinner with a few identified organized crime associates. They had been important to a high secret surveillance community he had created with the assist of the Mafia.
The mob performed a essential, secret position in World War II, utilizing its energy and management over New York City ports, dock employees and fishermen to maintain an eye fixed out for U boats and different suspicious characters. The Mafia even employed its leverage to get the Navy inside an off-limits international consulate believed to have essential data on the Nazis.
“The Navy realized that they did not have full security control over the Port of New York … They couldn’t get into the unions, they couldn’t get next to the shopkeepers, the longshoremen. Nobody was talking to them.” Matthew Black, writer of “Operation Underworld: How the Mafia and U.S. Government Teamed Up to Win World War II,” out Tuesday, informed The Post. “The Navy was surprised to learn that not only would the Mafia be ready to help, but they would be happy to. Many of them were loyal. They loved the United States of America.”
In early 1942, months earlier than the U boat landed on Long Island, Haffenden concocted a high secret plan to unofficially deputize a identified enemy of the state to guard New York from the Nazis.
Through a sequence of attorneys, Haffenden organized a “cloak and dagger” midnight meeting at Riverside Park between Frank “Socks” Lanza — a ok a the czar of the Fulton Fish Market, who answered to the infamous Lucky Luciano — and a district lawyer.
Socks was was a bona fide “patriot” who hated each Hitler and Benito Mussolini, so he was simply satisfied to signal on. With his assist, deep-water fishing captains who beforehand pretended to not know a phrase of English started singing to Naval officers.
“Within a short amount of time, you had America’s fishing fleet as the first line of defense looking for for German U boats,” Black mentioned. “As the relationship progressed, [the Navy] was able to get access to more and more places on the waterfront. Contacts led out to Long Island and all over the East Coast, especially in New England.”
As useful as Socks was in the struggle effort, there have been nonetheless a nice deal of ports and piers the mafioso didn’t have leverage over. It was time for Operation Underworld to leap a pay grade as Socks recruited Luciano himself. There was only one drawback: He was doing 30 to 50 years behind bars and arranging a meeting with him was difficult.
“[The Navy] did not want the FBI to know about what they were doing. So they had to come up with all sorts of measures to transfer him to a different prison and make it look like it wasn’t the part of any kind of major deal. Luciano was kept in the dark for a lot of it,” Black defined.
Unlike Lanza, Luciano wasn’t completely working as a bleeding-heart patriot. He used the army technique to run his empire from inside the can, getting orders out to his main bosses — Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello and Willie Moretti — throughout military-sanctioned conferences behind bars.
“He had 20-something visits with his bosses,” Black mentioned. “So he’s kind of using operation underworld to kind of further his criminal aims.”
Underworld in motion
A year after the Dasch affair, Operation Underworld advanced from port safety and espionage to serving to allied troops invade and occupy Sicily — Luciano’s former residence. It was a marketing campaign codenamed Operation Husky.
“The United States was in a bad position to fight a war in Europe. All the maps, all the charts, all the data, all the intelligence that had been collected from World War I had been destroyed,” Black mentioned.
“So, the objective shifted to finding information about Sicily. The Mafia was really helpful in developing contacts, people who had been to Sicily recently, who had worked in the harbors there, and they were able to bring this to Naval intelligence.”
Mob contacts ended up instrumental to the first wave in the 1943 Sicilian invasion. New York mobsters acted as ambassadors of the armed forces to natives — together with the native Mafia — in efforts to present that the Americans had been a pleasant drive throughout the occupation.
“The big objective was to get the Italians to turn on the Germans and that’s exactly what happened,” Black mentioned. “The Mafia was a true ally to the Allies in World War II.”