Enemies: A War Story, by Kenneth Rosenberg is a fascinating, fictionalized account of a little-known, somewhat shameful interlude of incidents that took place in the United States during World War II.
It’s the story of two young men, Herbie Haupt and Wolfgang Wergin. Both men were born in Germany but became American citizens after traveling to the U.S. as children. They take off on a two week jaunt to Mexico and end up halfway around the world, just as the U.S is entering the war. One goes to the Russian Front in Germany’s army, the other travels to the U.S. in a German submarine, along with seven other who wash up on the shores of New York and Florida.
I had heard reports of Nazis invading the beaches of the those two states over the years, but never realized the circumstances. It’s an incredibe story, covered up by J.Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. Most of the men who travelled to the United States, perhaps all of them, never wanted to harm anyone in the U.S. They were on an ostensible mission to commit sabotage anywhere they could in the U.S, and had both the explosives and the cash to do it. But the ringleaders decide to go to the FBI to confess all, to their own detriment and those of their comrades. Six of the eight men were executed, and the other two imprisoned and ultimately deported. It’s a terrible story.
But it proves once again that truth can be stranger than fiction. If not for one or two circumstances, the two men’s lives who are the focus of the story might have been very different.
What makes this story so authentic is the inclusion of the transcripts of the military tribunal at which these men were convicted. Some details are invented to make the story a bit more romantic in places, but this is overshadowed by the facts of the case.
Also included are the stories of several men convicted along with Haupt. Some of them had served in the German military, one had been imprisoned in a German concentration camp, and one had narrowly escaped death in a slaughter of Nazi soldiers by its own government.These men present a variety of facades: One who clings to the concepts of right and wrong, a couple of others who cling to the memory of their wives, and others who struggle as best as they can once intercepted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This book is a little wordy, especially in places that do not really related to the facts of the case. It’s a self-published book, available on Kindle Unlimited, if you’re a member of that. But I wish the author would submit the book to an agent and sell it to a publisher, so some of these little annoyances could be cleared up and the story could potentially be told on the big screen. It would ultimately make a fine film, and I would be one of the first to buy a ticket.