World War II German Saboteur. Born in Berlin, Germany in 1908, he had a difficult childhood, being left with foster parents at age two. Returned to his mother at age 12, he lived with her in Hanover, and as an adult he became a mechanic by trade. In 1927 he went to visit his uncle in Schenectady, New York, where he attended night school to learn English and worked for General Electric for three years before being laid off. Quirin then went to New York City and worked odd jobs. In 1936 he married, and became a member of the German-American Bund and a Party member. In 1939 Quirin and his wife returned to Germany and got a job at the Volkswagen plant in Braunschweig, where he met Heinrich Heinck. After World War II began, he and Heinck were recruited by Nazi Germany for "Operation Pastorius", an operation designed to slow down American war production. He landed on Long Island by a U-boat in June of 1942, with five others, including Heinck. They were all captured by the FBI after another member of the mission informed on them. Tried by a military tribunal, all six were found guilty of being a Nazi spy, sentenced to death and executed in the District of Columbia by electric chair on August 8, 1942. These agents were buried in the Potter's Field at Blue Plains, DC., with Quirin being buried under a wooden marker numbered 276. In 1982 a granite marker was placed at the burial site. Quirin is perhaps most remembered today for the Supreme Court decision on the military tribunal's right to try these agents during World War II. The court decision is known as "Ex parte Quirin." Using this Supreme Court decision, President George W. Bush issued a military order authorizing a commission to try terrorists after September 11, 2001.
Bio by: Wayne Sharp