“Trapped in the House of Nazi Dagger Girls” (what a title!! And one I will rip off someday) is another of those “as told to” b.s. first-person narratives; in this case the “teller” is Dean Caswell, and the writer is Robert Moore. The story is unfortunately short, despite being the cover feature – but then, I’ve been spoiled by the “True Booklength” features in the Noah Sarlat-edited men’s magazines, like the ones collected in Women With Guns. The story opens as that cover scene occurs, with a busty and half-nude blonde German woman attempting to kill Caswell with a bayonet – not a “Nazi dagger” like in the cover. And also, the blonde and her fellow women are either nude or dressed in lingerie, not the buttonless, swastika-adorned uniforms of the cover.
These women, you see, are not “Nazi Dagger Girls” at all – they are in fact prostitutes, brought here from Germany to keep a battalion of SS troops happy. (Damn those misleading titles!!) Caswell is part of an Army force moving through France in late June of 1944; they’re pinned down by SS artillery outside of a town. Word comes down that a nearby hotel is filled with women, and Caswell’s sarge wants to go see them. He brings Caswell along as his “good luck charm,” and after some fighting (there’s more gunfire action than Nazi Dagger Girls, unfortunately) they finally get into the hotel, which is filled with women, nude or in lingerie.
Caswell’s sarge goes for one, and another comes out of the shadows for Caswell – and then brandishes a bayonet. Here the story resumes from that opening scene, with the blonde trying to kill Caswell and calling for her fellow whores to help; more of them come rushing out with clubs and knives. Then a total copout ending occurs as a US-ordered air strike knocks Caswell cold, and he wakes up beneath “piles of entangled limbs.” All of the poor Nazi Dagger Girls were killed in the bombing – and plus the sarge is dead, too, his throat slit. The end.
The other stories here also aren’t up to snuff – there’s one about a “Manhunt” that’s a total ripoff of The Most Deadly Game, another first-person narrative about some dude being hunted by a crazed Arabic “great white hunter;” the dude is saved by a harem of women (of course) and escapes to safety. There’s another first-person “as told to” story about another dude almost getting eaten by a crocodile while fishing, but it was lackluster. There were also two Westerns and a feature about how the air defense system sucked, circa 1960, but I skipped them.
This prison is overseen by vicious Commandant Gruber and his beautiful blonde wife, Erna. The story opens with a nude Erna offering herself to Pool, who spurns her. Why? We learn in backstory that Pool has been told that Erna likes to tempt the Allied POWs with her body, and then just as they’re about to do the deed a bunch of Nazi goons rush in and beat the poor POW up. Anyway due to his effrontery Pool succeeds in having himself made Erna’s personal slave, and we quickly learn that as the weeks and months go by she is the one who begins to “quiver” at the sight of him. After purposely letting his hand slip while bathing her, Pool succeeds in knocking down Mrs. Gruber’s defenses, and the two go at it (only implied, no dirty stuff).
Things get dumb as Pool holds Erna’s indiscretions over her head; if she treats him and his fellow POWs badly, he’ll run to Commandant Gruber and blab that Erna screwed him. Life in the stalag becomes pleasant for a while, but as the war goes on and Germany loses, more men are needed at the front. Hence, the stalag has a shortage of guards. A new batch finally arrives…and Commandant Gruber is stunned to find that they are all women! These are the “Dagger Girls” of the title, though again none of them are described that way; we’re just informed that some of them are former inmates or various rabble-rousers, but they’re all devoted Nazis and hate the Allies.
The story now veers into sweat-mag territory as the women run roughshod over the male prisoners. Erna becomes their leader and ousts her husband, after which she runs the stalag – and takes sweet revenge on Pool, whipping him nearly to death. After his recovery Pool sees the hell the stalag has become; on his first day out of solitary he’s called forth and Erna hops on his back, lashing at him, riding his shoulders like a horse as she mock-jousts with another of the women, who also rides a POW’s shoulders. Things get nice and lurid with lots of lashings and beatings…though at least Erna’s sure to take Pool back to her room after this, to clean him up and “take him.” (Though this is what hurts Pool the most – that the women are taking the men, when it should be the other way around!)
When Pool’s best bud gets his head blown off point-blank by Erna, our hero has finally had enough; he attacks Erna and a fight ensues, remarkably just like that depicted on the cover painting. The other women start fighting the POWs, and at that moment the Army arrives, having battled their way this far into Germany. Pool manages to use Erna’s own blade on her, slicing her jaw open, and we flashforward to after the war, where we learn that two years later Erna Gruber was sentenced to death as a war criminal. The end. Not bad, nice and lurid though without too much bite – though again it was a bit of a miss for me, as I would’ve preferred to read the “elite corps of Dagger Girls” story the captions referred to.
Other stories in the issue: “Dealey’s Way” by Gene Channing, about a devil-may-care commander’s struggle to rescue a downed pilot; “Epidemic” by Martin Baine, a sensationalistic take on the legend of Typhoid Mary; “Taboo Vengeance” by Ray Thorne “as told to” Paul Olsen, a super-goofy account of some river-explorer who runs afoul of jealous husbands in Pakistan in a village where everything is on stilts; and finally “Our Army’s Terrifying Electronic Horror Weapon” by Robert Laguardia, a story Joseph Rosenberger would’ve really gotten into – a pseudo-factual article about a button-sized device that can be sewn into a person’s head (complete with gory b&w photos of actual people with their heads being cut open and sewed up), turning them into veritable Manchurian Candidates.
The story opens very lurid with the narrator watching as pretty women are hauled into the town square and gutted while a crowd watches and cheers. The narrator’s guide is the partisan leader, who tells him how these women, whores all, were actually employees of the SS. The entire story is basically background info as told to our narrator, which robs it of its pulp nature – there aren’t even any scenes where we see the hookers at work. Apparently though their modus operandi was to lure the parachuted-in agents to their whorehouse, telling them they were actually members of the underground resistance. Instead though they’d hand the agents over to the SS, who would torture them to death. Now they are getting their just deserts, gutted and murdered in the town square why the locals cheer. A strange, short, and nasty tale, this one kind of sucked.
“The Savage Warriors Who Like to Hear Men Scream” is by none other than Dean Ballenger, and guess what, it’s just a longer version of his tale “Strange Platoon,” which appeared in the January 1961 Action For Men. Same characters, same story – Sgt Hugh Therein is in Papua, where he is ordered to request the native Kulukuk warriors help fight the “Japs.” The story is the same as that earlier printing, only longer, with more dialog and the characters and plot better fleshed out. This leads me to believe that this version isn’t a rewrite; Noah Sarlat probably just edited Ballenger’s manuscript for publication in Action For Men, and after a little title-changing Ballenger later sold the original, unedited manuscript to All Man. Those crafty pulp writers always know how to make a buck.
The other stories are middling – “A Good Pirate Dies Rich” by Sam Fegler is straight-up adventure fiction, the narrative of a Korean vet who now runs a successful smuggling operation in Southeast Asia; “The Girls Yelled Rape!” by Al Popein, another first-person account, this one done in 1950s “juvenile” tones about a hoodlum and his gang who go on a panty raid in a girl’s dorm, where they get lucky (only implied), after which one of the girls for reasons unspecified screams “rape!” and the dorm guard comes in with revolver blasting. There’s also a cheesecake spread of some rather unattractive women and some other articles and stories that I skipped over. All told this magazine didn’t live up to its cover or feature-story title by a long shot.
Hunter is in a stalag on the France/Germany border, where he was sent after being captured after D-Day. The place is run by female commandant Elsa Brughoffer, who is described pretty much exactly like that cover painting, only she’s a more-expected blonde rather than a brunette. She wields a cat’o’nine tails which she uses to whip the hell out of everyone for her twisted pleasure. The stalag is made up of male and female Allied prisoners, and while performing his cleaning duties (Elsa is a stickler for cleanliness) Hunter meets a pretty female prisoner who tells him the women are tunneling their way out.
The Nazi She-Devil plays second fiddle as the narrative instead focuses on the escape. Also, the tale is quite short; we open en media res as expected with Elsa whipping Hunter’s female prisoner pal nearly to death, while the rest of the prisoners are secretly escaping. After filling us in on the backstory Hunter goes back to that opening scene and has Hunter rush out in a mad dash, snatch the whip from Elsa, and whip her half to death with it, leaving her a bloody mess as he and the girl escape with the others. Of course Hunter informs us that he eventually managed to score with the girl.
“Vile Shame of Jail-Bait Call Girls” by the awesomely-named Blake Bronston is another fake first-person “true account,” this time by a cop who infiltrated a club of execs and the wealthy who would meet once a month to bid on teenaged whores. This one’s mostly made up of long scenes of the guys sitting around and watching some teenaged girl strip down for their amusement, Bronston lovingly describing each detail while at the same time chastizing the men for their warped minds. Of course it all ends with the guys arrested and the girls sent to a reform school.
“Nude On Horseback” by Don Averone is another first-person WWII tale, about an agent sent into a town in France to rescue the beautiful Suzette, who we are told served as a mistress to “all of the high-ranking German officials in France,” but in reality was a secret agent. Now that the Nazis are defeated the townspeople are out for the blood of any who helped them, so of course Suzette is tops on the list, given that she was a “Nazi whore,” the people obviously not knowing her secret identity.
Averone comes in just as the nude girl is trussed up on a horse; what the townspeople plan to do to her is vague, but our hero rescues her and together they race off on her horse – Don only discovering later, and to his surprise, that he’s been hanging on to Suzette’s breasts the whole way. Hiding in an abandoned farm the two get cuddly but Suzette has grown leery and hateful of men; Don then forces himself on her! The story becomes like this twisted date rape fantasy…one with a happy ending, though, because after a full night of being screwed Suzette learns the valuable lesson that some men are good-hearted, after all.
“Passion Ship of Desire-Haunted Women” is by Neil Larsen, “as told to” James D’Indy; this one’s the “true account” of a guy who was on a small cruise ship that sank in 1958, and was stuck for five weeks at sea on a lifeboat with 14 women. Each night the women would take turns with him, and the goofy, wish-fulfillment tale is all about the rivalries that would ensue as the women would fight over who’d get to screw Larsen next.
I’ve wanted to read these particular magazines for a while, especially the issue of Man’s Life, but one thing I’ve learned is that in future I’ll stick with the “diamond” line of men’s mags, ie those edited by Noah Sarlat, as the stories in them are just better. All of the tales within these mags were just half-baked and underdeveloped. Great covers and titles, though!