Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spies on Hatteras

In the Fall, 1973 issue of Sea Chest, a publication of the Cape Hatteras School, there is a one-page article titled, "Spies on the Cape."

According to the article (which I found more than a little bit confusing), a young German named Hans Hoff visited Hatteras Island for about a month in 1932. During that time he allegedly took photos of the lighthouse, Coast Guard Station, weather bureau, etc.

Later, during WWII, he and two other German spies were said to have landed on Long Island, New York, in a rubber raft. They were apprehended, tried, and convicted. Hoff, according to the article, was sent to the electric chair.

The article even indicates that a movie was made about this event.

Trouble is, I have not been able to verify any of this story.  The only Hans Hoff I have been able to document was an Austrian Jew (born 1897). He was a psychiatrist who was expelled from Austria in 1938. Hoff seems to have been a shadowy figure who worked as an agent for the OSS, and went to Iraq where he was involved in very questionable practices involving eugenics and experiments on human subjects.

Were there German spies on the Outer Banks during Wold War II? We may never know for sure.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here:


  1. Kevin4:05 PM

    The Hans Hoff story contains elements of both the Duquesne Spy Ring (made into a movie) and Operation Pastorius (landed on Long Island, Coast Guard station reference, leader executed).

    1. Great lead, Kevin. I'm looking into this. Thanks.