Today in Michigan History

July 2, 1942

Max Stephan of Detroit is found guilty of treason for assisting a Nazi prisoner.

A German prisoner-of-war escaped from Canada to Detroit in April 1942 and was introduced, by a former American pen pal, to Max Stephan, a leader in Detroit’s German community. Stephan gave the Nazi POW a several-day tour of Detroit’s evening entertainment spots and then sent him by bus to Chicago.

Convicted of aiding and abetting the enemy in wartime, Stephan was the first American sentenced to execution since George Washington’s administration. President Franklin Roosevelt commuted Stephan’s sentence to life in prison.

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