8 August 1942 – Herbert Hans Haupt

Herbert Hans Haupt

Herbert Hans Haupt

Enemy of the States, Herbert Hans Haupt was sent to the electric chair for his war crimes. His execution was part of a mass cull after he and seven co-conspirators were found guilty of spying for Germany in World War II.

Originally born in Germany, his family emigrated to Chicago in search of work in 1923, when he was four years old. They were naturalised seven years later and Haupt grew up an American.

During the Second World War, Haupt teamed up with a couple of mates and they tried to trek across the world. One didn’t get very far after he was stopped at the Mexican border, but the other two managed to secure German passports and they were away.

They ended up in Germany where Haupt got an Iron Cross after he noticed a British warship. HIs mate joined the army whereas Haupt was sent back to the States to subvert from within. Code named Operation Pastorius, 12 Germans were schooled at the Brandenburg Sabotage School and they were trained to blow up factories that were tasked with making war supplies.

Some saboteurs then landed back in America and Haupt immediately went back to Chicago to see his parents and girlfriend. Meanwhile two of the crew shopped the whole sabotage scheme to the FBI. Haupt was trailed back to his parents and they were all arrested. His parents were deported back to Germany while Haupt went to a military tribunal in Washington. The two informers were deported back to Germany.

But Haupt was not so lucky. He, along with six others, was found guilty of being spies, and they were sentenced to death despite not actually having sabotaged anything. They were all sent to the electric chair in the District of Columbia’s biggest en mass electrocution to date.

A mere 22 years old, Haupt’s last letter to his dad was never delivered, but it read, ‘Try not to take this too hard, I have brought nothing but grief to all of my friends and relatives who did nothing wrong, my last thoughts will be of Mother.’

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