How Did Operation Underworld Help End World War Two?
How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil. —Psalm 133:1-2, MSG
“Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.” —Michael Corleone, The Godfather
The Allied Invasion Of Sicily
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States was still scrambling to engage in a war for which it was frightfully unprepared. German naval submarines, called U-boats, were stalking the coasts of America. It had been reported that not only did Hitler have submarines operating off American shores, he had also had spies infiltrating key positions in American industry.
This turned out to be alarmingly true. Hitler not only wanted to know every American secret, but he also wanted to have his spies conduct terrorist attacks by starting strategic industrial fires. One suspected attack was the fire that destroyed the USS Lafayette in New York City.
In addition, the Allies were about to conduct one of the boldest moves in military history: the allied invasion of Sicily. This little island off the coast of Italy was a key strategic position that the Allies needed in order to take back Nazi-occupied Europe, but they couldn’t get locals to work with them.
An Unlikely Alliance
In times of war, you need unlikely allies. The Manhattan district attorney’s office as well as the U.S. Military saw an interesting common denominator with these two problems.
The Allies needed Sicilian cooperation to conduct the invasion of Sicily, and the city of New York needed eyes on the docks to spot spies or potential U-boat activity.
Between the world wars, masses of Italian immigrants had flooded into America. Many came through Ellis Island and took up residence in New York. As it is with any massive influx of people, the people’s culture came with the people. With this population, that meant the mafia.
The mafia’s power and influence grew during this time, and though United States law enforcement officials weren’t saying much publicly, there was a war going on to root out this corruption and shut the mafia down. However, now the Sicilian mafia were the only ones who had controlling interests on both fronts—New York City and the island of Sicily.
Enter Charles “Lucky” Luciano, the head of the New York City mafia, and other mob leaders who jumped at the chance to take down the Axis powers. Operation Underworld was the code name for this historic partnership between the United States military and the Italian mafia. This partnership became an important key in winning the Second World War. For one moment, patriotism brought together bitter enemies who unified under a common goal.
Now Is The Time
If two forces as drastically different as the mafia and the military can come together because of the urgency of the hour, the different camps within the church ought to be able to do the same. We can learn to work side by side with dramatically different people who are all marching toward the same goal. Now is the time to advance. This is the moment when God calls us to pursue, overtake, and recover all that the enemy has stolen from us (see 1 Sam. 30:8). It’s time to possess the awakening.
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