“Codes between the Nazi agent and the Japanese were worked out in advance.”
UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN paying close attention to the coverage of the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor you likely missed this fascinating article from the American newspaper, The Washington Times.
The story, by Dennis Jamison, explores the largely unknown Nazi involvement in the Japanese strike on the U.S. fleet in Hawaii. According to the piece, a spy by the name of Bernard Kuhn took up residence in Honolulu as early as 1935 with orders to pass details of American naval activity in the Pacific back to Berlin.
The article, entitled “German Spies Aided Japanese Attack on Pearly Harbor!” describes how Kuhn, a physician and low-level officer in the Gestapo, was posted to Hawaii on the personal orders of Hitler’s propaganda minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels.
Once in position, Kuhn’s spouse and children took part in the espionage as well. Mrs. Kuhn worked at a beauty salon that was frequented by the gossiping wives of senior American naval officers; his teenaged daughter gleaned pieces of intel from base personnel she was dating. Even Kuhn’s 6-year-old son was a spy. Sailors would frequently invite the youngster aboard their vessels for unofficial tours. Bernard, a World War One naval veteran himself, would use these occasions to collect as much information as he could about the ships, their capabilities and armaments. He even taught the youngster to keep his eyes peeled for details.
By 1940, with Berlin and Tokyo formally allied, the Nazis ordered Kuhn to pass along intelligence directly to the the emperor’s consulate in Hawaii. Codes between the Nazi agent and the Japanese were worked out in advance. Lamps appearing in windows of the Kuhn residence at certain times would convey details about the comings and goings of American ships.
Sharp-eyed investigators noticed the blinking lights and began to suspect that something suspicious was going on at the Kuhn residence. By that point however it was too late, the article reports — the Japanese strike was imminent.
Following the battle, federal agents netted Kuhn and his family. The latter were deported to Germany; Bernard was condemned to death for espionage. That sentenced was commuted in exchange for his cooperation. He was released shortly after VE Day.
“Although the Japanese later tried to dismiss the information as ineffectual, the intelligence was invaluable,” writes Jamison in the article. “Pearl Harbor may not have been such a ‘day of infamy’ or quite as deadly had it not been for the intelligence gathering efforts of the Kuhn family.”
To check out the full story, click here.