The Enemy Within—German Sabotage

Title:                      The Enemy Within—German Sabotage

Author:                  Henry Landau

Landau, Henry (1937). The Enemy Within: The Inside Story of German Sabotage in America. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    37028717

D619.3 .L3


Date Updated:  November 3, 2016

This 1937 book was published when the trials for war damages were being held in America. There was a verdict for damaged American companies, but perhaps little was actually collected before WW II. The Allies contracted with American companies for food (grain) and ammunition (shells for guns, rifles and bullets). The German military sent spies to sabotage the ammunition factories and shipping ports.

A number of incidents of sabotage were successful: The Kingsland, NJ explosion and fire wrecked an ammunition plant and the Black Tom explosion and fire that destroyed the Lehigh Valley Railroad shipping dock by Jersey City. One event of political importance was the San Francisco Preparedness Day bombing in 1916. When America declared war in 1917 the saboteurs fled the country. Arson was a lesser crime than espionage.

The story of the Frisco bombing is well-covered in Curt Gentry’s Frame-Up. According to Gentry, Tom Mooney did twenty years for a crime he never committed. Every prosecution witness committed perjury. The District-Attorney and his political allies framed Tom Mooney to prevent his work as a union organizer (IWW) and to demonize union supporters. Henry Landau’s book named the real saboteurs and explained their actions. Note that Allen Dulles (in the State Department, and his uncle was Secretary of State for Woodrow Wilson) was the New York lawyer who handled the case for the plaintiffs.

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

After wartime intelligence service in Holland Landau acted for a period as an investigator of claims by Americans against the German government for damages done in the United States by acts of sabotage prior to that country’s entry into World War I. This book, written before the final court decision, is in two parts. The first is a brief history of German sabotage and intelligence activities both before and after the U.S. entry into the war. The second concerns the investigation of the claims and the litigations and is of interest only when it relates details of German intelligence. Its intelligence facts are already divulged in previous literature, with one possible exception. Military Review in 1979 pointed out that Landau’s book was the only printed source till then that treated the Jahnke affair. It felt this book had been generally neglected by historians of U.S. intelligence, perhaps because it contains errors and is undocumented. (Kurt Jahnke was the chief of German Naval Intelligence for North America in 1917 with headquarters in Mexico City. He planned to incite troubles in the United States and on its Mexican border to pin down U.S. troops.) Jahnke’s work, however, is mentioned briefly in William James’ The Eyes of the Navy[2]. The chapter on Room 40 is the same as the one previously included in Landau’s Spreading the Spy Net[3], but this time he gives the name of the British agent as Alexander Szek, not Sol as he mistakenly did before (see Spreading the Spy Net, referenced in n. 3). In contrast to his other three books, here he is not writing of intelligence matters from knowledge derived from actually participating in the events or being reasonably close to them. Nevertheless, he offers as one of his conclusions that the United States needed a counterespionage service. An item of interest is Landau’s allegation that Admiral Hall, ex-chief of British Naval Intelligence, had in 1925 ten thousand decoded German messages in the basement of his home. For more current research on Jahnke’s activities in World War I, see Friederich Katz’s The Secret War in Mexico[4]. For his career in German intelligence in World War II, consult Schellenberg’s The Labyrinth[5].

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[6]

The author, then a captain in the British secret service, describes German sabotage in the United States during the period between the outbreak of World War I and the entrance of the United States into the war. He has concentrated principally on the Black Tom, and Kingsland sabotage cases in which he assisted American claimants in their investigations of these cases. To back up his descriptions the author has inserted throughout the book German wireless and cable messages which the British intercepted and decoded. The appendix is a detailed chronology of the sabotage events between 7 July 1914 and 6 April 1917, when the United States declared war on Germany.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 282-283

[2] James, William M. (1955). The Eyes of The Navy: A Biographical Study of Admiral Sir Reginald Hall, K.C.M.G., C.B., LL.D., D.C.L. London: Methuen

[3] Landau, Henry (1938). Spreading The Spy Net: The Story of a British Spy Director. London: Jarrolds

[4] Katz, Friedrich (1981). The Secret War in Mexico : Europe, The United States, And The Mexican Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press [LCCN: 80026607]

[5] Schellenberg, Walter (1956, 2000). The Labyrinth: Memoirs of Walter Schellenberg, Hitler’s Chief of Counterintelligence. Boulder, CO: Da Capo Press

[6] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p.


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5 Responses to The Enemy Within—German Sabotage

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