Very nice, Dimas! Thanks for sharing.
Very nice, Dimas! Thanks for sharing.
Dimas: I wish I could visit that museum. Did the information about the two cast-iron iron crosses say who made them? Dwight
Luke: Thanks for that information. I'll look at mine again to see if the "B" is really an "S" But I'm reasonably sure the company was in New York, and the seller you found appears to confirm that. Thanks. And yes, the photo is of a medallion from my collection. Dwight
OK. I checked the three iron-ballast medals that I have and the company name is definitely Interboro M & B Co. I did find that the American Relief Committee for German War Widows and Orphans acquired 20 tons of the U-Deutschland's iron ballast to be "made into medals and sod as souvenirs." I wonder if the three I have are from that 20 tons of iron. Dwight
This is a follow-up on an earlier post about Gotthold Prusse The source of this information is included at the start of the post. Dwight
Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-1922, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, RG65, NARA
On 26 April 1917, Agent Billups Harris, Bureau of Investigation agent-in-charge in Baltimore, made the following notation and opened a file on Gotthold Prusse.
Information was received from George B. Page, who is connected with the purchasing of munitions for the French Government that Prusse came to Baltimore on the Deutschland and is now connected in some way with the North German Lloyd people. A cover will be placed on Prusse’s mail at 3402 Winfield Avenue, Forrest Park, where Page states he lives, and he will be looked up further.
Why Agent Harris opened a file on Prusse on the basis of Page’s vague report is not clear. After all, Prusse’s connection with the Norddeutsche Lloyd and the U-Deutschland was a matter of public record and his name and connection had been reported in the Nation’s newspapers for three months. It may have been the fact that Prusse was the only German national who had arrived on the U-Deutschland and remained in Baltimore when the boat returned to Bremen. And the fact that the Baltimore office had been investigating Paul Hilken since November 1915 for pro-German activities that included the suspicion he was a German spy.
Federal agents on Prusse on 9 May 1916 on the basis that “that it seemed advisable to search the effects of this man who was connected with North German Lloyd and who came to Baltimore with the German submarine Deutschland.” Agent William M. Doyas spent the morning on the waterfront looking for Prusse without success. That afternoon, agents Fred C. Chabot and William M. Doyas went to 3204 Winfield Avenue where Prusse rented a room from a Mrs. Blanck. Prusse was not home and, with Mrs. Blanck’s permission, the agents conducted a search of his room. They found a trunk and suitcase that were locked, and a description in German of Prusse’s trip aboard the U-Deutschland. They found nothing of value.
Agent Chabot returned to the office while Agent Doyas remained at the house to interview Prusse whom Chabot believed might have in his possession “some papers of value.” Prusse returned home and Agent Doyas confronted him, directing Prusse to turn over “all the papers and letters he had in his possession.” Prusse readily complied. Agent Doyas told Prusse that the papers and letters would be returned the following morning. In answer to his questions, Prusse told Doyas that he was doing nothing at the time but Norddeutsche Lloyd was still paying him. Prusse was a Krupp A. G. ship building engineer who had been involved in the construction of both the Deutschland and the Bremen, and had come to Baltimore for the “purpose of superintending the mechanism of the German submarines” for the Eastern Forwarding Company.
That night, the agents examined the papers that Prusse had given them. All were in German and several were from a female named Paula who wrote regularly. She lived in Richmond, VA and was hoping that Prusse might have information about her brother who was still in Germany. Mr. and Mrs. G. Kobrow invited Prusse to join them, “when he desired,” in a visit to the Cascades and Sparrows Point. Agent Chabot noted that the couple lived in Baltimore and “had been previously investigated by this office.” They also found a thirty-day membership in the Germania Club, sponsored by Paul Hilken. None of the letters had any value.
Five days later there is a notation in the file that on 15 May Prusse had applied for a “permit” (apparently an Enemy Alien Permit to enter certain Forbidden Zones in Baltimore) and that the permit was rejected.
Three months later, on 16 August, Agent Walter C. Foster and Baltimore policeman, George Armstrong, “investigated a rumor that a mysterious German was living at 3204 Winfield Avenue in Forrest Park, the home of Mrs. Blanck.” He discovered that the man was Gotthold Prusse “who had been investigated before.” While Agent Foster was returning to his office, he saw Prusse getting on the streetcar at Bay Shore. Knowing that Prusse had to pass through a barred zone to get home, and he had no permit to enter a barred zone, Agent Foster boarded the street car and arrested Prusse, taking him to the Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Baltimore.
Agent-in-charge Billups Harris and Assistant U. S. Attorney Latane, interrogated Prusse who told them that he had made as many as fifteen or twenty trips through prohibited zones. He said that he went to Bay Shore to go swimming. Prusse cooperated completely throughout the questioning.
Agent Harris noted that “Prusse’s highly technical knowledge of submarines and kindred subjects render him undoubtedly dangerous potentially.” Agent Harris was also put off when Henry Hilken and a police judge, Paul Johnson, tried to intervene on behalf of Prusse. Harris noted that the judge was “decidedly pro-German.” Harris sought advice from a higher authority and was told to hold Prusse for at least ten days. Before turning Prusse over to “the Marshall and he was committed to jail.” In closing his report, Harris restated his concern by writing, “I repeat, that it seems to me that Prusse might be highly dangerous as one trip along the neighborhood of forts, ships, etc., to a man of his skill would be equivalent to a photograph, etc.”
Though the Bureau of Investigation agent and the assistant U. S. Attorney had found nothing in the letters Prusse had on his person that was of any value, they did pick up information that made them suspicious of Prusse. He admitted to them that he was receiving a monthly check from Norddeutsche Lloyd and the Deutsche Ozean Reederei, and that the checks came through Henry Hilken. Harris noted that both Norddeutsche Lloyd and the Deutsch Ozean Reederei were “German concerns.”
On 27 August 1917, the United States Attorney in Baltimore issued a presidential order for Prusse’s arrest and detention. The warrant ended with, “Such person shall be held until further order of the President.” A few hours later the U. S. Attorney General sent a telegram directing Harris to “release this man at the end of ten days unless at that time in your judgment such action would be unwise.”
Twenty-two days later, on 18 September, Prusse hanged himself in his cell. In a follow-up it was discovered that more than three months before his arrest, Prusse had been experimenting with wet-cell storage batteries. He was working on the experiments with Frank J. Kolb, a former employee of the Richardson’s Battery Plant on Lafayette Avenue in Baltimore. The nature of the experiments was not described, but Prusse’s interests certainly would have included submarine batteries. Of interest is the note that at the time Prusse committed suicide, Kolb was working in the Submarine Battery Department at the Boston Navy Yard.
Is Hansa Haus is still standing in Baltimore? When I get down there it may be one of the places I wish to check out.
That is a nice museum, I suspect the better navy museum I've ever seen. Unfortunately no producer info there
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Steve: According to STBaltimore, who lives there, Hansa Haus is still standing, so you can go there and see it. And now, for the rest of you this tidbit. In 1916, between the U-Deutschland's trips, Gotthold Prusse spent a month in the Mont Alto Sanitarium in Waynesboro, PA, a facility for treating tuberculosis. I wonder if the rest f the crew died of TB later in life. Penned up inside that overly humid sweat-box 21 days would have certainly put them at risk if one of their fellow crewmen had infectious TB. Steve (Steve Zuke) gave me that information, for which I thank him profusely. Dwight
That is a very good point!! If Prusse had infectious TB he could have, in the long term (years later), killed the crew. If the other crew members got TB they could have also spread it to other U-boats as they were transferred. I am going to have to check into the medical possibilities of this train of thought.
As far as getting Prusse’s medical records from the sanitarium, it is a dead end. They still have some of the log-in books for patients from back in the day. However, all of the patient records for that time were shipped off to Harrisburg PA for storage decades ago. In 1972 hurricane Agnes caused the Susquehanna River to flood and wipe out the warehouse where the records were stored. It was one of the biggest natural disasters in the United States. I remember clearly, as a six year old boy, standing on the side of the Wyoming Valley in Swoyersville Pennsylvania watching water rise toward the roof of my house.