In 1941 he rejoined the Nazi party and even entered the SS, this time under slightly odd circumstances. He would claim to friends he was trying to investigate the death of his sister-in-law in a German psychiatric institution, and thought that was best done on the inside. Whether that’s true or not (accounts vary), he soon rose rapidly through the ranks of the SS thanks to his engineering training and expertise with sanitation.

If seeing those words mentioned in the context of a Nazi SS officer make you a little wary, you can guess what happened next.

USHMM/National Archives
So a bad guy then?

Indeed, Gerstein was soon assigned to deliver toxic gases to concentration camps and inspect the facilities, where he couldn’t help but notice a whole lot of people were being killed. Gerstein, to his credit, considered this a bad thing, and began taking what steps he could to prevent it. He would later claim that on at least one occasion, he “lost” a shipment of the toxic gases, and he also began telling as many people as he could about what he’d seen, including church officials, underground resistance fighters, and a Swedish diplomat. Anything he could do to get the word out and stop these atrocities.

Which worked spectacularly, as Germans threw off the cloak of Nazism and rode into the camps on a stampede of unicorns to end the madness.

That … didn’t actually happen.

When the war ended, Gerstein surrendered to the French military, who really only heard the “I participated in genocide” part of his confession and not the “… and I can help you put away the guys who did it” part. He would eventually commit suicide in prison, but not before writing multiple, extensive reports of the gassings, in German and French, just to be super-double-sure that there wouldn’t be any more confusion. Those reports proved instrumental during the trials of Nazi war criminals, so if you’re keeping track of Gerstein on the big ol’ morality scoreboard, he’s got a … well … slightly better than zero.


George Dasch Prevented a Nazi Attack In America By Selling Out His Fellow Saboteurs

Hey, remember that time Germany blew up significant chunks of Florida and Long Island? No? You have George Dasch to thank for that. He was part of a squad of German-Americans sent to America in 1942 to wreak havoc on American infrastructure. Dasch, who’d previously lived in America for a few years, was the leader of the group, and was secretly not too thrilled with blowing up parts of a country he still sort of liked. So he decided to sabotage the sabotage.

And he was almost executed for it.

“Come on guys. Be cool.”

When his team of saboteurs reached New York City, Dasch slipped away and called the FBI, warning them of the plot and demanding to speak to J. Edgar Hoover. They, uh, didn’t put that call through, but a few days later when he arrived in Washington and called again, they finally got around to looking into it. Dasch spent two days with FBI agents recounting every detail of the plot, and handed over $82,000 in blood money he had been given to carry it out. The FBI soon rounded up the rest of the members of his crew.

Dasch may have been somewhat surprised to discover the FBI wasn’t entirely grateful to him; in the newspapers, they took almost all of the credit for the arrests themselves, with little mention of the snitch who handed them the case. Hoover himself was even pushing for a death sentence for Dasch — which almost every other member of his crew received. The attorney general managed to talk Hoover down to 30 years, and Dasch was eventually pardoned in 1948 and sent back to West Germany. Where — get this — he wasn’t too popular.

Central Press/Getty Images
Treachery once, shame on you. Treachery twice, good luck finding a place to live.

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An interesting read via Cracked: All Posts