WAR DEPARTMENT
OFFICE OF THE PROVOST MARSHAL GENERAL
WASHINGTON
 
December 27, 1941
 
     
  Aliens Division  
  PMG 014.311-Camp Upton  
     
 
SUBJECT: G-2 Report, crew of German Motor Ship Odenwald.
   
TO: Lt. Commander Albrecht, Room 3066 Navy Department
 
     
          1.        Pursuant to your request therefor, a copy of confidential report made by G-2, Second Corps Area, regarding officers and crew of the German Motor Ship Odenwald, interned at Camp Upton, New York, is enclosed.  
     
          2.        Also inclosed is a copy of certain extracts from the report made by G-2, Second Corps Area to the Second Corps Area Provost Marshal on the same subject.  
     
     
          For the Provost Marshal General  
                                                                                       
                                                                                                 Karl R. Benderson  
                                                                                                    Major J.A.G.D.  
                                                                                                Chief, Aliens Division  
     
  2 Incls.  
     Incl. 1., Copy of camp report., G-2, 2nd C. A.  
     Incl. 2., Copy of extracts from report., G-2, 2nd C.A.  
     
 
 

 

     
     
 
CONFIDENTIAL
     
 
Subject: OFFICERS AND CREW OF GERMAN MOTOR SHIP ODENWALD INTERNED AT CAMP UPTON, NEW YORK
 
     
          1.        In accordance with instructions by General Robertson, the following recommendation was submitted by me on Dec. 13, 3:30 a.m., to Commanding Officer, Camp Upton, with regard to 2nd Engineer SEIDL.  
     
          "It is recommended that Seidl be transferred from Camp Upton as quickly as possible for the following reasons:  
     
          "He is blamed for getting the machinery in order on the Odenwald and that way is a traitor to his country.  This information was given by some of the Junior Officers of the Omaha in conversation with the Officers of the Odenwald, who refuse any other version.  
     
          "Captain LOERS is a mere figurehead and the real commanders exercising complete authority are first Officer LAGONI and Chief Engineer SCHROEDER.  They and the other officers openly expressed their contempt for the Captain.  The orders given by the Captain are supposedly carried out to the letter as the whole crew acts as if they were on ship's board but the officers will not express their ideas to the Captain and in this way the latter will be merely the mouthpiece of the Camp Command without being able to intelligently represent the crew."  
     
          Questioning of the prisoners, except Second Engineer Seidl, started on Friday, December 12th, after the men had finished their supper, cleaned up, and retired to their tents.  It was continued on Saturday, the 13th.  
     
          The first one called was First Officer LAGONI, as he seemed to be the real spokeman and the men looked to him and not to the Captain.  LAGONI, same as all the others, at first stated that all the answers could be found in the reports made at San Juan, but later became more cooperative.  He stated that with two exceptions the crew would get on well together and there would not be any trouble.  When asked about the Captain he was short and clear "They would take orders from the captain, the same as if they were aboard, but he did not have their confidence or friendship, for reasons he refused to state.  Karl LUFT was "a man without a country" and did not belong to their "community."  He would not explain why LUFT was on board.  However he pointed out that LUFT had spent hours making volunteer statements to the United States Army and Navy and sarcastically remarked "LUFT is going to be an American citizen."  
     
          LAGONI, as well as all others, refused to say what previous ship the Captain had been on, as they had never discussed that either socially or officially.  The Captain, it was made clear to me, was an outcast and outside of official orders and reports there were no contacts.  LAGONI requested to be placed in the same tent with the Chief Engineer SCHROEDER, who "was very lonely alone in a tent."  Regardng the Captain and First Officer SCHMIDT he would only say that they were North German Lloyd men and he, LAGONI, did not  
     
 
 

 

     
     
 
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CONFIDENTIAL
 
     
  have any idea as to their previous services, they knew their job and were assigned to them by the Hapag agent, that was all.  
     
          LAGONI insisted that he had spent all his life with the Hapag and had never served in the German Navy.  
     
          LAGONI refused to disclose who belonged to the Nazi Party on board and the name of the Party Leader.  He said that the crew took his orders and that he was responsible for them and their conduct to the Captain, but that he would rather the latter be separated.  
     
          LAGONI is polished, intelligent but very firm and it is my opinion, supported by various remarks of other officers, that he is "Leader" of the "Odenwald."  
     
          LAGONI stated definitely that neither he nor any other member of the crew give any undertaking not to escape, if an opportunity presented itself.  He knows his orders as to what to do, what to say, and what rights he can claim.  He will carry out the orders of the Camp Command, insofar as same are not contrary to his own instructions.  He insists that he is a "Civilian internee."  
     
          Chief Engineer SCHROEDER is stolid and non-communicative.  He is the Leader of the engine crew and accepts the authority of LAGONI.  During the last war he left the Hapag on a "Special assignment" he refused to disclose.  
     
          First Officer HANS SCHMIDT is an extra on the Odenwald.  He did admit that from 1939 to August 1941 he was attached to the German Consulate in Peking, China, as "emergency help," that prior to the was he was officer on Lloyd steamers to Australia and Kapan.  A label on his suitcase indicated that he was a Lloyd passenger to "German Embassy, Peking" but beyond that he was vague.  It is my opinion that SCHMIDT is German Naval Intelligence operative.  His leather overcoat and fur cap were from Manchuria and he admitted having visited Mongolia and other parts of China.  
     
          HANS LAENGE is a typical product of thte German Naval Espionage training school for young sailors.  THis applies also to KARL HEINZ STUMP and most of the young sailors.  Another investigation a short time ago disclosed this system.  Young men in the Navy and Merchant Marine are trained in photography, sketching, note taking, and observation.  They are assigned to various merchant ships and deliver their reports, pictures, etc., to collection points in foreign cities.  They report to Nazi party functionaries of the higher grade on ship or at ports.  They often jump thier ships and study the different countries.  All of them are picked men and, in spite of their youth, are resourceful trained agents.  
     
          Captain GERHARD LOERS, who took command just before the "Odenwald" sailed, was in command of the "Eisenach" which was scuttled off Costa Rica.  Having also made a failure of his second command, he is classified by his men as bungler or traitor.  None of them would refer to the "Eisenach" by name.  
     
 
 

 

     
     
 
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CONFIDENTIAL
 
     
          Only a casual examination was made of the envelopes containing money and some personal notes belonging to the prisoners.  It is understood that a crate containing the personal papers is en route from San Juan.  The prisoners are unanimous in stating that they have been questioned in great detail, and therefore the notes of those previous questionings are needed to continue further questioning intelligently as the principal object of such questioning would be to establish their real status, which they all claim is that of merchant seamen.  Agents of the Naval Intelligence Division would be better qualified.  
     
          I wish I could emphasize that in any camp they would be put in, either individually or collectively, they would always be potential leaders or attempts to escape or other subversive activities.  
     
     
                                                                                                        EUGENE PRINCE  
                                                                                                        Major, G.S.C.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 

 

     
     
 
Subject: OFFICERS AND CREW OF GERMAN MOTOR SHIP ODENWALD INTERNED AT CAMP UPTON, NEW YORK
     
Penned  note by ONI "doubtful"         "3.  This office believes that great care should be taken to guard these Germans.  They are undoubtedly members of the Navy - or at least Naval Reservists.  First Officer Hans Schmidt is believed to be a German Intelligence Officer and only and "extra" on the Odenwald.  It is believed these prisoners will try to escape and it is quite conceivable that an effort will be made by Germans in the vicinity around Camp Upton to facilitate such escape - or even take part in it.  
     
          4.  It is believed that extra precautions should be taken to keep these prople from making contacts with the outside.  Medical personnel and other personnel apparently move freely back and forth.  It is going to be very difficult to keep information regarding these men from leaking out."  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 

 


 

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