Too Smart to Die by George Antonio Wetter appeared in the June 1943 issue of G-Men Detective Magazine.
Too Smart to Die is a clever and fun little piece of wartime propaganda with a simple message: if you’re a Nazi 5th column agent, the G-Men will find you.
Otto Karlweis (a fictionalized version of Fritz Julius Kuhn) is the worst kind of guy – a Bund leader working to sew discord from within America who is not afraid to stoop to threatening and harassing loyal and patriotic German-Americans to further his goal: becoming one of the bloc leaders in Nazi-ruled America.
Having earned the praises of Herman Goering for his work as Bund leader, Otto is certain not only of his future greatness as the top Nazi in America but of his supra-intelligent cunning that will forever keep him ahead of vile American dogs.
Naturally, the brilliant and confident Otto begins the story in jail over a petty crime.
We find Otto imprisoned after some German-Americans stood up to him and his Bund thugs and things had gotten violent. Otto is mulling over his future greatness once the Reich’s forces will be rolling across North America to liberate him and his fellow 5th column agents when he’s informed that he’s got a citizenship hearing* and will be transported to the federal courthouse. That’s right, kiddies, once upon a time, acting as an agent against the US could get your citizenship stripped! Otto doesn’t care, though – who needs American citizenship when he is on the verge of being a district ober-fuhrer?
Being transported provides Otto with the perfect opportunity to escape! He outwits those stupid American G-Men, slipping his bonds and making for his safehouse. He’s got a list of Bund operatives that he can blackmail into giving him money, plus he knows where there’s a secret stash of funds that he’d gotten from blackmailing and harassing patriotic German-Americans. All he has to do now is get on the bus, and…
Otto’s been tricked – the whole thing was a set-up. The G-Men let him think he’d escape, rounded up all the usual suspects on his list of Bund contacts and had German speaking agents ready to pick up the phone on every call he made. Not only has Otto outed a number of other agents, he’s led them to the Bund’s emergency stash.
Like I said, pretty much war-time propaganda, and Otto is on the level of an old timey Batman villain, but Too Smart to Die was an incredibly fun romp. It’s well written and funny enough to be very entertaining, and it’s short enough that it doesn’t ever drag or hit a lull.
*:Kuhn did have his citizenship revoked, was released from state-prison, and was re-arrested by Feds as an Enemy Alien the month this issue came out.