Constitutional Faces: Ex Parte Quirin

February 14th, 2014

In Ex Parte Quirin (1942), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the military tribunal that held a trial for eight Nazi saboteurs who washed up on the shores of the United States.┬áThis case was decided on a super-fast schedule. It was argued on July 29 and 30, 1942, with a decision on July 31, 1942. An opinion justifying the order was issued on October 29, 1942. The Saboteurs were tried between July 8 and August 1 inside the DOJ building in Washington. Two days after the trials finished, on August 3, all eighty were found guilty and sentenced to death. FDR would commute the death sentences of two of the men who aided the government in capturing the others. The other six, including Richard Quirin, were electrocuted on August 8–barely one week after the Supreme Court upheld their conviction.

Professor Joel Samaha has collected photographs of all eight saboteurs.

First, here is the Long Island Group. From left to right: Dasch (group leader), Burger, Quirin, and Heink.



Second, here is the Ponte Vedra, Florida Group. From left to right: Kerling (Group Leader), Haupt, Thiel, and Neubauer.













thiel haupt kerling







Here is Quirin and Burger’s mug shots.



Here is a (grainy) photograph of the trial, which took place inside the DOJ building in Washington, D.C. (The federal court down Pennsylvania Avenue was open for business).


Here is an announcement of the electrocutions:


And here is the mass grave for the six executed Nazis in Blue Plains Potters Field in Anacostia, Washington, D.C..

In memory of agents of the German Abwehr Executed August 8, 1942. Herbet Hans Haupt. Heinrich Harm Heinck. Edward John Kerling. Hermann Otto Neubauer. Richard Quirin. Werner Thiel.