Something Like Treason: Pro-German American Soldiers and the Plot to Bring the War Home
Author William Sonn, on his new book, Something Like Treason: Pro-German American Soldiers and the Plot to Bring the War Home, which traces the story of six men who were accused of treason during WWII, including one who was the only American soldier to be convicted of treason on U.S. soil during the war.
Not everyone in the U.S. military was rooting for America.
In 1942, in its rush to assemble a force of seven million to take on the Axis powers, the Army discovered it had inducted some seemingly iffy patriots. They had FBI files, German-sounding names, records as disruptive college students, traveled to Europe pre-war, or did nothing at all. Suspicion was enough.
Unsure of what to do with them, the Army put them all into a misfit company. They were the 620th Engineer General Service Company.
They were stripped of their guns, humiliated, abused, and stashed away in a remote camp in Colorado. Their officers were cruel and their punishments harsh. Members of the Army’s storied 10th Mountain Division, training nearby, occasionally dropped by to beat them up.
They mourned. They stewed. They requested transfers and appealed to their parents, politicians, and newspaper columnists. Nothing worked. Seething, they considered disobedience, desertion and, ultimately, an ambitious plan to break into the armory one midnight, take over the camp, and become guerillas to blow up transportation hubs and sabotage the country’s war effort.
That’s when Dale Maple and two German POWs deserted the camp. Their plans were outrageous: cross the Atlantic, get to wartime Germany, and persuade the Nazi government to supply the money and the materials they needed to ignite their guerilla war back on the U.S. soil.
That’s when their fates took an only-in-America turn.
This is a true story.
[Recorded on 27 January 2022.]