World War I German Spy Capt. Franz van Rintelen

About the German spy Capt. Franz van Rintelen who came to the United States during World War I and spied for Germany.

Capt. Franz van Rintelen. German. Worked for: Germany, W.W. I.

In 1915, while the U.S. was still a neutral in W.W. I, Franz von Rintelen arrived in New York City. Posing as a businessman, he established a "front," an import-export firm, to camouflage his real purpose--to prevent ships carrying American war materials from reaching the Allied countries. He arranged for detonators to be placed on the departing ships, causing fire "accidents" to occur. Von Rintelen's aim was not to blow up the ships, causing human deaths, but to set fire to the ships' holds so that all ammunition had to be thrown overboard. His company, E. V. Gibbons, Inc., was able to obtain munitions contracts from the Allies which not only enhanced his sabotage efforts but also provided his phony company with a sizable profit. Von Rintelen's financial success enabled him to establish a new union, the Labor's National Peace Council, which was responsible for numerous strikes throughout the U.S. He was betrayed by one of his immediate superiors in the German secret service. Arrested while returning to Germany, he was kept in England until the U.S. entered the war. Then, Von Rintelen was shipped to America where he spent 4 years in prison. In 1920 he returned to Germany, found himself to be a forgotten hero, and moved to England where he died in 1949.

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