Normandie Mob Sabotage


Matthew Lips

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Mar 8, 2001
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I was watching an episode of the History Channel's "Dead Mens' Secrets" series the other night, where the possibility was examined of the Normandie having been the victim of sabotage. Not by Nazis or their American sympathisers, but by the New York Mafia.

Supposedly, in his memoirs published in the 1970's, Lucky Luciano gave the Mob the "credit" for Normandie's destruction. Supposedly this was intended to convey to the American authorities how much power the Mafia had over the New York docks. Although Luciano himself was in prison at the time of the fire, he was still very much in control of his "family" and his orders were obeyed without hesitation.

Part of the evidence suggesting that, if the Normandie were indeed sabotaged it was by the Mob and not Nazi agents, is the fact that no such incident ever occurred again throughout WW2. In other words, the authorities got the message that the Mob controlled the docks and worked with them, rather than against them, to ensure the smooth operation of wartime harbour activity in New York. Had the fire been the work of Nazis, it would more than likely have happened again.

The episode goes on to suggest that this "bond" formed between the US Government and the underworld was so strong that American forces invading Sicily received enormous help from the local Mafia.

They encountered little resistance from Italian troops, unlike the English invading forces further east. The Mafia's reward for this assistance was effectively control of postwar Sicily - and it all began with a show of strength in the form of the Normandie burning.

Does any of this make sense, or was it the fanciful ranting of a Mobster trying to take the credit for something which was in reality none of his doing?

Could the destruction of one ship, albeit one which could have contributed so much to the Allied war effort (carrying 10 000 troops across the Atlantic in four days) have been enough to persuade elements of the US Government to get into bed with the Mob?

Or is it all just nonsense, a series of coincidences that may have had some unforeseen, but completely unplanned, consequences? I'd be interested to know what the experts here think!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Or is it all just nonsense, a series of coincidences that may have had some unforeseen, but completely unplanned, consequences?<<

I thinks it's a collection of half truths. The U.S. Government was well aware of the fact that the mob controlled the waterfront and that was why they were willing to quietly come to an "understanding" with the dons, particularly Luciano, long befor the Normandie incident.

The cause of the fire itself on the Normandie is really no mystery at all. A cutter was doing hotwork with bales of kapok life preservers nearby and the sparks landed on the things which, not surprisingly, caught fire. Had it been caught early on, and handled by people who actually knew what they were doing, it probably wouldn't have been that big a deal, but it wasn't.

The Normandie in the end wasn't killed by the mob, she was killed by incompatants.
 

Matthew Lips

Member
Mar 8, 2001
304
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Let's face it, the Normandie is fertile ground for conspiracy theorists. I tend to agree, Michael, that it was all just a horrible accident, but the destruction of what would have been the fastest troopship available to the US military is just too good for some conspiracy buffs to pass by! Especially as it happened so soon after the USA entered the war.

Oh well, at least the programme I mentioned gave us some nice, if limited, moving footage of the Normandie. Unfortunately, we also caught a few glimpses of the New York fire department enthusiastically bombarding her with so much water that she couldn't remain upright.

She sure was beautiful and, dare one say, ahead of her time for a ship built in the early 1930's. With those looks, she would even to this day not look too seriously outmoded (I'm talking about outer appearances) and she frankly was a hundred times more of a ship than those floating monstrosities they build today. Okay, three funnels would be way out of fashion now, but even they were beautifully designed to "taper" from fore to aft. The designers of the United States should have taken the hint...

Sigh, what a waste. All that for a career that didn't last seven years and ended because of some careless dock worker (Mafia affiliated or otherwise!) with a blowtorch.
 

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