Monti, Martin James, born 24-10-1921, in Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA, was one of seven children of prosperous parents. His father, Martin Monti Jr., was an investment broker who had also been born in St. Louis, Missouri.Martin Monti Jr.’s father had immigrated to the United States from the Italian Graubünden, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, while his mother was a native of Italy. Martin James Monti’s mother, Marie Antoinette Wiethaupt, was born in Missouri to German-American parents. Monti’s four brothers all served in the United States Navy during World War II.
Raised a Catholic, during the 1930s Monti became an enthusiastic anti-communist, and avid fan of Father Charles Edward Coughlin, who died 27-10-1979, age 88,
the notorious “Radio Priest” with an anti-Semitic, anti-communist, and pro-Fascist agenda that was so intence, in 1936 he was silenced by the Vatican at the request of the American Catholic hierarchy, and with the cooperation of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII), themselves hardly leftists.
In August of 1942, Monti registered for the draft. Two months later, he traveled to Detroit to meet with his idol, Father Coughlin. What transpired at this meeting is unknown, but shortly after meeting Coughlin, Monti attempted to enlist in the Navy, in which four of his brothers would serve honorably, and then on November 29th enlisted in the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet. He reported for training early in 1943, and in March of 1944 was commissioned as a “Flight Officer.” He subsequently qualified in the P-39 Aircobra and the P-38 Lightning, and was promoted to second lieutenant. In August of 1944 Monti shipped out for India, where he was attached to the 126th Replacement Depot, in Karachi (now in Pakistan), awaiting assignment to a combat squadron.
On October 1st, wearing his uniform, Monti, by then a first lieutenant, hitched a ride on an air transport bound for Cairo, then talked himself aboard another plane to Tripoli, and thence yet another to Naples, where he arrived on the 4th; security seems to have been amazingly lax.
In Italy, Monti made his way to the complex of allied air bases neat, Foggia, east of Naples, where he arrived on the 10th. At Foggia he visited the 82nd Fighter Group, in which some of his friends from flight school were serving, and attempted to be assigned to a combat squadron. Lacking paperwork, he was turned down. He then made his way to Pomigliano d’Arco, north of Naples, where the 354th Air Service Squadron prepared aircraft for assignment to line squadrons. On October 13th, passing himself off as a pilot from the 82nd Fighter Group, Monti talked his way into a “test flight” in a photographic reconnaissance version of the P-38, taking off at about 1230. About two hours later he landed at a small grass airstrip near Milan, and was shortly taken into custody by German troops.
Lockheed P-38 Lightning of Lieutenant Martin James Monti and as the new paint jpb shows, his plane will be used for extensive testing.
Although he claimed he wanted to serve the Reich, Monti was initially treated as an ordinary prisoner-of-war, and assigned to a Luftstalag. Nevertheless, by mid-November, the Germans decided that Monti was a real deserter (perhaps the arrest orders broadcast by the U.S. forces on October 14th helped tip them off).
Monti made several radio propaganda broadcasts from Berlin, and also helped prepare literature for distribution to American troops, using the name “Captain Martin Weithaupt,” based on his mother’s maiden name, claiming to be an army officer who had deserted to the Germans when he decided that the war was actually a Communist plot to enslave the world, and that the U.S. should be allied with Germany and not Russia. Eventually, Monti joined the Waffen-SS as an Untersturmführer (a demotion, since the equivalent rank was second lieutenant), assigned to the SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers. Initially remaining in Berlin performing propaganda duties, very late in the war Monti was ordered to report to his unit, then in Northern Italy. Gunter d’Alquen was Chief Editor of the SS weekly, Das Schwarze Korps (“The Black Corps”) the official newspaper of the Schutzstaffel (SS), and commander of the SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers (SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers. The honour title Kurt Eggers referred to the SS War Correspondent and editor of the SS Magazine Das Schwarze Korps, killed in 1943). Günther d’Alquen survived the war and died 15-05-1998, age 87.
On 10-05-1945, shortly after Germany surrendered, Monti turned himself in to American forces in Italy, still wearing his SS uniform, which he explained away by saying it had been given to him by partisans who helped him escape. Amazingly, the Army did not realize that Monti had deserted to the enemy.
He was charged with being AWOL and misappropriating government property (i.e., the P-38), which he claimed he had flown against the Germans, and to have been shot down! Monti was sentenced to 15 years at hard labor. On 04-02-1946 President Harry S Truman commuted Monti’s sentence to time served. Amazingly, a week later Monti enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps.
Soon after this, Monti’s wartime activities began to attract wider attention. Tipped off by an Army Criminal Investigation officer who had handled Monti’s case, in November of 1947 columnist Drew Pearson broke the story in the Washington Post.This kick-started a major investigation of Monti’s activities. Detained, on 26-01-1948, Monti, by then a sergeant, was discharged from the Air Force at Mitchell Field, New York, and promptly arrested by the F.B.I.
Monti was evaluated by a team of psychologists. They found that he was of superior intelligence (an IQ of over 130), but was immature, and had obsessive-compulsive and paranoid tendencies, though legally he was not mentally ill. Certainly it doesn’t take a psychiatrist to realize that Monti lacked good judgment; with the Americans and British at the West Wall and the Russians on the borders of East Prussia, October 1944 was hardly the time to defect to the Nazis.
Death and burial ground of Monti, Martin James.
Brought to trial on treason charges on 17-01-1949, Monti first entered a “not guilty” plea, but then immediately changed it to “guilty.” The following day he was sentenced to a $10,000 fine and 25 years imprisonment. Released in 1968, Monti died 11-09-2000, age 78, in Missouri, United States and was buried at the Sacred Heart Cemetery Florissant, St. Louis County, Missouri, VS