When American aircraft attacked and sank the German submarine U-118 off the Azores in June, 1943, only 11 members of the crew of 55 survived. One of them was Werner Drechsler, who decided to co-operate with the Americans and provide them with information about German submarines and tactics.

American intelligence gave him a cover name and rank as “Petty Officer Leimi,” and during his captivity in Maryland he talked with other U-boat sailors about their submarines, collecting information for his interrogators. But in March 1944 he was transferred to a PoW camp in Arizona, where other members of the U-118 crew were held.

The other prisoners compared notes and quickly decided that Drechsler was “Leimi” and had spied on them. A few hours after his arrival at the new camp he was found hanging from a rafter in a compound shower room. He was 21.

Seven men were hanged on Sunday, August 25th, 1945, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for the murder. They were Helmut Fischer, Fritz Franke, Gunther Kuelsen, Heinrich Ludwig, Bernard Ryak, Otto Stenger and Rolf Wizuy.

During the Second World War altogether seven German PoWs were murdered while in captivity in the US. There were 265 deaths from wounds or natural causes, 93 deaths from accidents, and 119 violent deaths, which include the seven murders – a total of 477 German PoWs who died during their captivity in the US.