The New York Times Archives

Published March 21, 1985

Hitler Yacht Stirs Fight

A Town Official Said This Week He Would Fight “Tooth And Nail”
Plans By A Local Developer To Turn Adolf Hitler’s Yacht Into A Museum In Plymouth, Where The Pilgrims Landed In The Mayflower.

“This Is America’s Hometown, This Is Where Freedom Started,
Said Selectman George Butters.

“I’m Totally Against This And I Will Fight Tooth And Nail To Stop This.”

Mr. Butters, A World War 11 European Combat Veteran Who Was Wounded Several Times, Said He Had Been Getting Phone Calls At Home From Angry Residents Wanting To Stop The Plans For A Museum In Hitler’s Boat, The Ostwind.

“The Mayflower Is A Symbol Of Freedom,” Butters Said. “I Can’t Understand Why He Wants To Put A Nazi Symbol In The Same Town.”

At Issue Is Charles Sanderson’s Plan To Make The Boat Part Of A Military Museum. Mr Sanderson, A Plymouth Developer, Recently Bought The Decaying 85 Foot Yacht For $1.00 From Horace Glass Of Lebanon, N.H. Who Had Her Docked In Jacksonville, Fla.

Mr. Sanderson Was Unavailable For Comment, But Mr. Glass Said Mr. Sanderson Would Renovate The Ostwind And Open Her As A Museum.



Adolf Hitler’s yacht, sunk off Miami Beach in memory of the 50th anniversary of the “Voyage of The Dammed,” was dropped mistakenly on a delicate living reef.

“It is not a good situation” said Ben Mostkoff, head of Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resource Management artificial reef program.

The 85 foot Ostwind was intended to become an artificial reef in 250 feet of water, but instead was sunk a mile and a half southwest of the authorized spot. It sits 23 feet down, near an anchorage for freighters waiting to enter the Port of Miami.

On June 4, 27 survivors of the ill-fated passage of the S.S. ST. Louis witnessed the sinking. The St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, May 13, 1939, with 937 Jewish refugees aboard. The next month it was turned away from Miami Beach by the U.S. Coast Guard and forced to return to Europe, where most of the refugees were sent to Nazi concentration camps.

At the memorial sinking, something went wrong.

More than an hour before schedule and way short of the site, the Ostwind was scuttled.

“It was truly an incredible historic event, and suddenly-boom!- somebody made a mistake,” said Miami Beach Commissioner Abe Resnick.

Resnick blames the tugboat Captain, A.M. Daly Jr. Daly in turn claims Chris Cadley, Captain of the passenger ship had agreed to lead him to the site. Cadley denies that.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given Resnick until June 22 to move the Ostwind from the coral reef. The estimated cost is $7,500.

The Ostwind is one of two identical yachts built by the Nazi government, after a poor showing in the 1936 Olympic races. The original purpose was to show the superiority of the Germans. It was thought to have been brought to the U.S. by the U.S. Navy in 1947. The sister ship, which is identical, is named the Nordwind, Now sailing with no apparent problems.


The plan was to sink the battered wreck of Adolf Hitler's yacht in 250 feet of water off Miami Beach to make an artificial reef.
Instead, on June 4, the wooden yacht was dropped 20 feet onto a living reef that it is destroying, in a shipping lane where it presents a hazard to navigation.
"They didn't get close," complained Susan Markely, an administrator with Dade County's Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM).
The county had given Miami Beach Commissioner Abe Resnick permission to sink the boat at a site 1.5 miles away.
The 85-foot Ostwind is rocking on a healthy bed of coral and sponges, at the border of an anchoring spot for freighters and other vessels bound for the Port of Miami.
Coast Guard Lt. Al Crespo said the wreck has been marked with a flashing buoy.
"It's close enough that if a ship swings on its anchor, it could hit it," Crespo said.
Resnick planned the yacht-sinking to coincide with a cruise marking the 50th anniversary of the "Voyage of the Damned," in which more than 900 Jewish refugees aboard the S.S. St. Louis were forced off the Florida coast and back to Europe, where most were killed in concentration camps.
Resnick got the yacht for free from a Jacksonville marina owner and raised more than $20,000 to bring it to Miami Beach. He said he wanted to turn a symbol of evil into a symbol of life.
On June 4, more than 300 people were jammed aboard the tiny Florida Princess cruise ship, rocking in four-foot seas, when somehow signals got crossed and the yacht went down too soon.
Nobody has stepped forth to take the blame, but officials from DERM and from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over federal waters, are demanding that Resnick, as the owner of the yacht, take immediate action to raise it.
Chuck Schnepel, the Army Corps' chief regulatory officer in Miami, said if the yacht isn't removed by June 22, he'll do it and bill Resnick.
Schnepel said the salvage job would cost $5,000 to $10,000 if the boat is intact -- and a lot more if it's in pieces, which is likely.
Resnick blames A.M. Daly Jr., captain of the tug that towed the yacht from Jacksonville to Miami Beach for the ceremony.
Resnick was at the bow of the Florida Princess helping survivors of the St. Louis toss carnations into the water in memory of Nazi victims when Daly's swing of a sledgehammer sent the yacht into the sea.
"It was truly an incredible, incredible historic event and suddenly -- boom! -- somebody made a mistake," Resnick said.
Resnick, a Holocaust survivor from Lithuania, had intended to swing the sledgehammer himself in front of a crowd that included 60 journalists from around the world.
Daly, who had met with DERM officials the day before and was shown maps with the artificial reef site marked on them, said he just did what the captain of the Florida Princess, Chris Cadley, told him to do.
Cadley said Monday that Daly was sloppy. Cadley said Daly suggested the two boats meet about two miles off the Fontainebleau Hilton. The intended drop site is in fact about two miles due east of the hotel.
But Cadley, who said his role was just piloting the sightseeing ship, stopped about two miles southeast of the Fontainebleau. And Daly dropped the boat right there.
Two DERM biologists waited in a boat at the artificial reef site, but nobody came.
Resnick said he will not pay for the removal. "The people who are responsible are going to pay," he said.
"I think that's going to end up being decided by attorneys," said Ben Mostkoff, DERM's artificial reef director, who spent Monday in Jacksonville interviewing Daly.


FOOTNOTE: Many survivors of the St. Louis tragedy were on hand to witness the sinking.
Please take a moment to read the heartbreaking story of the “Voyage of the Dammed” on this Website.

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