Chapter 14 - North Reich - Robert Conroy

North Reich - Robert Conroy (2012)

Chapter 14

Sam Lambert was exhausted by the time he finally arrived home. He lived in a small frame house a couple of miles north of downtown Toronto. It wasn’t a very nice house and it wasn’t in the best part of town, but it was what he could afford on a cop’s salary. He’d been saving up for a better place, but now wondered if that day would ever come.

He was distressed that his city was on the verge of chaos. Thousands of people had already fled Toronto on what they felt was the logical assumption that it would be a target for American bombers. Lambert wasn’t quite so certain. He thought the Yanks would be after military targets, rather than civilian ones.

Toronto was one of Canada’s largest manufacturing centers, if not the largest, but most of those businesses made goods for the civilian sector. Of course, he thought, they could be converted to military use in short order should the Germans demand it. They couldn’t make tanks, but they could make small weapons and ammunition.

The absence of so many people had led to a degree of anarchy among those who remained. Many of them didn’t have the resources to flee and had nowhere to go anyhow. There had been cases of looting and Lambert was sure that looting would only increase. The Black Shirts were having their own little party, robbing businesses and homes and breaking heads. Some of the fools were actually resentful when police intervened. They believed that the war rendered them immune from prosecution. He hoped they weren’t right.

Damn it, he thought as he took a bottle of Molson’s from the fridge. He would rest, try to unwind, and then go to bed. He had a feeling tomorrow would be as bad as today.

The knock on the door startled him. He got up and walked over warily, first making sure that his service revolver was tucked in his belt.

“Who’s there?”

“Sherry, now open up.”

Sherry? Who the hell was Sherry? Somewhat confident since it was a woman’s voice, he opened the door a crack. A short blonde woman about thirty stood before him.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”

“Sorry, but I don’t. Should I?”

“I guess I’m not surprised. My name is Sherry Piper and the last time you saw me I had been beaten and raped, and was lying naked and bloody on a stretcher. My brother was even more terribly beaten as well. Now please let me in.”

Sam opened the door enough for her to enter, closing it quickly once she was in. Now he did recognize her, sort of. She had lost a lot of weight and had died her hair a gaudy blond that did nothing for her. There was a vivid white scar on her cheek, a reminder of the beating and worse she’d endured.

“I’m sorry,” he said.


He took a deep breath. That night had upset him terribly. “That we couldn’t get there in time. Our source in the Black Shirts couldn’t get us the info until the attack was about to happen. As it was, I could only get six guys together and only four of us had weapons.”

“But you did manage to kill two of them. Now I’d like to kill some more. First, however, get me one of those things in your hand.”

Lambert grinned. He’d picked up his beer when he closed the door. He got her a Molson and opened it for her. She declined a glass.

“Don’t tell me I’m looking well,” she said. “I can’t stand being patronized.”

“How’s your brother?”

Her expression changed to one of deep sadness. “He’s dead. He killed himself. He was filled with irrational shame that he was the cause of what happened to us, to me in particular. He kept telling me that he visualized me spread-eagled on the bed and being forced to watch while those bastards raped me. He felt it was his fault for getting involved with the printing operation, totally forgetting that I was the one who urged him to do it. Maybe the beating unhinged him. I just don’t know. He ate a whole bottle of aspirins one night and never woke up.”

“Can I say I’m sorry?”

“Sorry for what? You tried to help and you did help. Now you can help some more.”
Lambert was intrigued. He also realized that Sherry Piper was a very attractive woman, or would be if she did something about her hair. “How can I help?”

“Afterwards, we went to the states where we got medical help. I left Steve in a hospital outside Washington, which is where he got his hands on the aspirins, and went to look for the OSS. It was surprisingly easy to find and, after my brother’s funeral, I volunteered to come back here and feed them information about the Germans and the Black Shirts.”

“How will you do that?”

“You will help get me a job near the German headquarters. I brought a small radio with limited range, but good enough to reach the American side of Lake Ontario. Being a cop, you will be able to retrieve it for me and bring it here.”


Sherry smiled, this time with amusement and a degree of warmth. “Of course. I have to have someplace to stay and this is it. You don’t mind, do you? Besides, so far it is not illegal to have a short wave radio.”

Sam Lambert shook his head. No, he did not mind at all.

Admiral Vian was almost in tears as he sat across from Admiral Ernest King. “I am sorry, but I have my orders. Prime Minister Lord Halifax has ordered the Royal Navy to stand aside in this war between the United States and Germany.”

King nodded. “I understand his reasoning and almost agree with it. The issue is food.”

When the truce between Germany and Great Britain was informally agreed to, one of the conditions was that food shipments from Canada and elsewhere to the British Isles would be unimpeded. Without them, the people of England and Scotland would starve. As it was, they would be on short rations and were growing food on every available patch of land. The food issue was a Sword of Damocles hanging over the British Isles. Food rationing was already tight and any cut in imports could be disastrous.

Vian continued. “It will always be food, and even Churchill concurs. Until and if there are assurances that the U.S. Navy will protect food convoys to England, I cannot run the risk of cutting off Britain’s food supply by participating in this war.”

King understood, but didn’t like it. He wasn’t at all fond of the British, but that did not extend to starvation. The navy was about to begin blockading the port of Halifax when FDR had informed him that ships exiting Canada could be searched and seized only if they contained war materials and food was not on that list. Nor did it matter that much of the food might make its way to the Reich. His hands were tied, as were Vian’s. Nor could the Royal Navy move to the Pacific and aid in the war against Japan. Too risky, was the assessment, and, besides, it would be a logistical nightmare. For the time being, the Royal Navy was out of this war and this meant that additional warships needed to fight the Germans would have to come from the Pacific, thus weakening the American effort against the Japanese.

Damn it, King thought. The Brits couldn’t do anything right. They couldn’t even lose a war without screwing it up.

After a shaken and despondent Vian left, King was left to confront another problem - how to clear Lakes Ontario and probably Lake Erie of German presence so that an invasion of Nazi-held Canada could commence. There were no American warships on the Great Lakes and hadn’t been since the war of 1812. Even then those had been wooden ships built on the lakes, a total impossibility given the needs of modern shipbuilding, which included guns and armor plate.

It seemed so simple to armchair strategists, and that included Roosevelt. All the navy had to do, they thought, was steam up the St. Lawrence and insert American warships where there were none. The President had to be reminded that it was almost eight hundred miles from Halifax to Toronto and warships would have to make their way up a narrow river with a hostile enemy on both shores.

Some bright mind had suggested arming smaller ships, even yachts, with depth charges and deck guns along with anti-aircraft guns and this was being done. But how long would it take for them to clear out the damned German E-boats and submarines, and how many enemy ships were there in the first place? Besides, wasn’t this more of an army operation? King smiled as he recalled that a number of B24 bombers had been assigned to the Tenth Fleet to hunt Nazi submarines, and had been fairly successful.

Perhaps, Marshall thought, they would do just as well on the Great Lakes.

Canfield and his men were ready this time. Bunkers had been built and now would withstand anything other than a direct hit by a very large bomb. Given the state of bombing accuracy, the targeted bunker was likely a very safe place. Radar systems were up and operating, and a recent attack by German planes had been met by a horde of American fighters that had chased them back across the lake. Several German planes had been shot down while the men on the ground cheered. A couple of chutes had opened but the enemy pilots had drowned before anyone could get to them.

Still, the area wasn’t safe. The Germans liked to send their high speed E-boats across during the night, just like the Japanese had done to American marines on Guadalcanal. The Germans, however, kept their motors muzzled and ran slowly until the very last minute, then they would open up with their small but deadly cannon and machine guns. It didn’t take much of a raid to keep a thousand men from sleeping. Just a few hundred machine gun rounds and a dozen or so rapid fire cannon shells would keep everyone’s nerves frazzled.

“Why the hell don’t we have radar that can pick out ships?” Canfield muttered.

Dubinski laughed softly in the night. “If the army thought we should have good radar, they would have issued it, just like they don’t issue brains. In the army you don’t need brains.”

“Up yours, sergeant.”

Canfield didn’t like the bunkers they’d been ordered to build. Despite their strength, he thought they were traps. Along with being traps the bunkers were poorly hidden, which meant they could be seen from both the sky and the lake.

Canfield was further annoyed by the passive stance taken by the army. Armies should be on the move, seeking out the enemy and bringing an end to this strange new war. All he wanted to do was go home to his wife and his job as sheriff. In his opinion, digging in and waiting was what got France whipped in 1940 when they found that their vaunted Maginot Line wasn’t worth squat. At least this General Patton seemed to have the right idea. Too bad his army appeared to be stalled out west.

Canfield was beginning to have serious doubts about their own Corp Commander, Lloyd Fredendall. At least their new regimental commander was aggressive and had given his implicit blessing to this latest brainchild of Canfield’s. The colonel was regular army and had replaced their original colonel who had suffered a nervous breakdown. The colonel liked what he’d heard about the skirmish between Canfield’s men and the E-boat a while back and gave the okay to give it another shot.

Another shot, Canfield thought and laughed. He assumed that the krauts were pretty well aware that the American forces were building up a supply of landing craft that could have only one purpose - the invasion of Ontario. Canfield had a dozen dummy boats built of plywood and had camouflaged them in what he called an intentionally very half-assed manner. The Germans would be sure to notice them and would try to do something about it. At least that’s what he hoped.

Canfield yawned and checked his watch. It was almost three in the morning. If the krauts were going to come, it would have to be soon. He’d been up the last few nights and didn’t know how much longer he could keep up this pace. If the Germans didn’t come in the next couple of nights, he was going to give up and dismantle the decoys and get some sleep.

It was hell getting old, he thought. Maybe he should have some more coffee and take another walk around the guns that had been sited to surprise his unwelcome guests.

“I hear something,” said Dubinski, “How about you?”

“Maybe I could if you’d quit talking.” Canfield grumped.

Both men were silent, straining to hear. There. It was a distant humming. They recognized the throbbing of an E-boat’s engines, maybe two of them. Once again, they’d been heavily and skillfully muffled. Canfield suddenly realized they might be a lot closer than he first thought. There was mist on the water and the enemy boats could be hiding in it.

“Should we turn on our lights?” Dubinski asked.

“No, not yet. Let them go first.”

Seconds later, two offshore searchlights flared on and lit up the shore, quickly finding the “landing craft.” Almost immediately, machine gun and anti-aircraft shells began ripping through the fragile dummies. Gasoline from five gallon cans placed in the boats exploded, adding to the realism.

“Now,” Canfield ordered and his own searchlights reached out and found the two German E-boats. They were only a couple of hundred yards from the shore.

Tracers from American machine guns lit the way to the Germans and quickly found the range, ripping into their hulls. Canfield could see chaos on the two boats.

“Where the hell are my tanks?” he yelled.

The M3 might be obsolescent, but it packed a 75mm gun and he had two of them. Their cannon barked and kicked up splashes just a few yards away from the boats that were now turning and frantically trying to get away from the hornet’s nest they’d disturbed.

A 75mm shell struck one of the German boats, rocking it and sending men and debris into the water. Canfield was about to say something when the E-boat exploded with a roar and a shock wave that they could feel.

“I think we just set off a torpedo,” Dubinski commented. “Ain’t that tough shit?”

One German torpedo boat was sinking rapidly and the other had high-tailed it out of range. The battle was over and it was suddenly, shockingly, quiet. Canfield waved for rescue parties in their own small boats to go out and rescue German survivors, if there were any.

It didn’t take long for the motorboats to reach the debris and begin pulling people in. The second German boat was barely visible and staying just out of range, watching the Americans work.

“What the hell are they doing?” asked Dubinski.

“They’re looking to see what we do with their comrades,” Canfield answered. “If it looked like we were going to kill survivors, I think they would have attacked our rescue boats. As it is, I think they’ll leave them alone.”

Apparently satisfied, the surviving German powered up and raced away towards Canada. Moments later, the life boats returned with a dozen surviving German sailors. They looked stunned at the sudden and deadly turn of events. Well, fuck’em, Canfield thought. They started it.

The FBI had finally shown a little interest in the missing personnel from the German embassy. Just how much interest was shown by the fact that they sent only one very young agent to the Pentagon to discuss matters with Grant.

Special Agent Travis Dunn was about five-ten, lean, and looked about twenty-five and, if he was intimidated by the military brass, he didn’t let it show. Like all agents, he wore a dark suit and a white shirt that was as much a uniform as the khaki worn by the army.

Dunn looked at his notes and put them away. “Major Grant, first of all, I would like to know why you didn’t bring in the FBI in the first place.”

“Let me assure you that I had no voice in that decision. It was made way above my puny rank. Our concern was simply professional. We wanted to know how many had not been swept up when the German embassy was surrounded. We all knew that a number of them were military personnel regardless of their cover title and that had us somewhat concerned.”

“So you sent your monster, Sergeant Farnum, to get the information from the State Department. Apparently he absolutely terrified some of the twinkle-toes there.”

“Don’t let Farnum hear you call him a monster or he’ll rip your arms off and make you eat them.”

Dunn turned to where Farnum was seated a couple of desks away and pretending to be deaf. “Good point,” Dunn said.

“At any rate, we found, just as you did, that there were three people missing, and one was likely military. I don’t know about the other two.”

Dunn actually laughed. “The other two we found in a hotel in the Bronx. They’re a couple of queers who didn’t know the war had started and were deliriously butt-fucking their little hearts out when we crashed their party.”

“That would’ve been an interesting sight,” Grant said. He was beginning to think that Special Agent Dunn might be okay.

“It gets better,” Dunn said. “We threatened to tell their chums at the embassy about their tryst if they didn’t cooperate and tell us everything they knew. They asked for asylum and it was declined. We felt that the krauts would retain a couple of our people if these two stayed behind. So, in return for our silence about their sexual preferences, they sang and sang, and what they told us was that your friend Stahl is a very bad man. I guess they didn’t want to go to a concentration camp and wear a pink badge telling the world that they were fags.”

“But what about Stahl?” Grant asked. “Where is he?”

Tom had been briefed on the attempted treason by Professor Morris. He’d been shocked to find that Alicia had played a part in it.

Dunn continued. “We believe that Stahl has set up a number of safe havens in the area and is probably holed up in one of them. We also believe he has a small number of associates available to help him.”

“I understood that your FBI had rounded up all enemy aliens and sympathizers.”

Dunn rolled his eyes and looked around, concerned that someone might be listening. “Don’t believe everything you hear. Hoover’s going crazy at the possibility that some have been missed, a fact that he will never admit happened. His man Tolson told everybody that we had it totally under control and that’s the way it’s going to be, at least publicly.”

“But that doesn’t tell us what Stahl and any of his comrades will actually attempt. Until they come out of their holes, we’re blind, aren’t we?”

Dunn grimaced. “As blind as bats.”

Heinrich Stahl looked out the living room window of the small two bedroom bungalow he’d rented several months earlier. It was several miles away from the center of Washington. The landlady, an old woman who lived several blocks away, thought Stahl was a Swedish refugee. Nobody had challenged him yet, but he did have the proper passport and other documentation and, even more fortunately, had spent several summers in Sweden and even spoke it passably.

He lit a cigarette and poured a couple of inches of bourbon into a reasonably clean glass. From a strictly military sense, he should be alert and watching everything like a hawk. As a practical matter, he was no superman and was exhausted, both physically and emotionally from the unexpected early start to the war. He needed some sleep. If the FBI was surrounding his house right now, there really wasn’t much he could do about it. He would surrender and try to bluff his way out of the predicament by claiming he thought he’d be killed if he turned himself in. The Americans were so naïve they’d probably believe it.

He’d contacted two of the four cells that remained to him after the surprisingly effective FBI sweep. They were the only two with their own telephones and their response to his coded message indicated that they’d been undetected. He would get in touch with the others by meeting with them in a public park, and then in Lansburgh’s Department Store, a very large building on the curiously named Eighth Street. He’d checked out their residences and concluded that they weren’t being watched.

Stahl took a swallow of the bourbon and wished the Americans made better whiskey. He had enough cash to live on for quite some time, especially if he didn’t have to share it with as many operatives as he’d originally planned. Thank God for small favors, he thought ruefully and took another swallow. Christ, it was vile.

Of course he paid cash for everything. Just about everyone did. Checking accounts were very rare and only for the elite; ergo, his financial transactions couldn’t be traced. He would take public transportation, again just like most people, and hide in the crowds. He thought he might buy a car, used of course as there were no new ones. It would give him freedom of movement and, as long as gasoline remained available, it was something to consider. He smiled as he thought of him committing an attack on the United States and then having to wait for a damned bus.

A rented warehouse outside of town contained his weapons. He’d been dealt a setback by the unexpected start to the war, but he would persevere. He chuckled and took another swallow. He always persevered. The United States was rich with targets and the Washington area was the richest by far. The Americans had a decent idea how to protect things but not people, and even then the guards were usually old and lazy. A handful of men with guns and dynamite could wreak havoc on them.

He smiled and raised his glass high. “For the Reich. For the Fuhrer.”

The wedding went off without a hitch. Tom’s and Alicia’s relatives got along reasonably well together, although each side was very curious about the other. Missy Downing compared it to two packs of dogs sniffing each other’s asses. Tom didn’t think he was supposed to have heard the comment, but agreed nonetheless. Not everyone’s relatives could make the service which took place in a Methodist church in Alexandria. That neither of them was Methodist didn’t bother the minister or the families. The cleric was an army chaplain, a good guy, and, most important, was available. Civilian travel had a low priority and there was talk about the government finally rationing gas. Colonel and Missy Downing were the best man and matron of honor.

After the ceremony and a brief reception, the bride and groom got into a car that Master Sergeant Farnum had borrowed from the local police who had confiscated it from a criminal, and drove down to their cottage. It was located roughly where the Potomac met the Chesapeake and was on the Maryland side. The view of the river and the bay was breathtaking.

Too bad they didn’t notice it. They had one week and they spent almost all of it indoors, either making love or getting ready to make love. Alicia did manage to take a couple of snapshots of them, dressed of course, with her Kodak Retina I, a gift from her father. A couple passing by was easily talked into taking their picture together in front of the cottage, after which they raced inside and got undressed.

On the last night of their honeymoon, she played for him. It was like he’d dreamed and she’d promised; only this time they both were naked.

Thus it was with immense sadness that they returned to their uniforms and duty the next week. Alicia knew that Tom would be treated to cheers and jeers while she would have to endure the winks and knowing smiles from other women. She would smile bravely and endure it. Like she had a choice, she thought. Missy told her to tell the girls that she had totally worn the poor boy out. Alicia assured her that would not happen.

She was at her desk at Camp Washington, going over some redundant reports, when she heard the piercing scream. She jumped up and ran down the hallway, nearly knocking over a Western Union delivery boy whose shocked expression told her everything. Oh God, she thought.

Mrs. Kosnik, everybody called her Mrs. K, was seated at her desk but slumped over in her swivel chair. She’d fainted and two other women were trying to revive her and hold her up. Mrs. K was a retired math teacher with two sons in the navy. Without being told, Alicia knew that now she had only one.

The telegram was on Mrs. K’s desk. It was short and terse. The navy deeply regretted that her son, Stanley, had been killed in action. There was no word as to when or where. She vaguely recalled that Stanley had been on a destroyer. Alicia wondered if the destroyer had been sunk, in which case the casualties might have been heavy, or if he had just been one of a smaller number because of Jap kamikaze attack. Did it matter? There was no mention of burial, so that meant he’d likely been lost at sea or buried at sea. Poor Mrs. K wouldn’t even have a grave to visit.

Mrs. K had revived a little and was looking around wildly. She caught sight of the dreaded telegram and moaned like her heart was breaking, which it surely was. Her two friends continued to hold her upright. Alicia tried not to sob, but it was helpless. Was this going to happen to her? For how much longer could Major Tom Grant avoid going into combat? How would she handle getting such an awful telegram?

Alicia’s stomach churned. She turned and ran into the women’s room and vomited into a toilet.

Captain Franz Koenig had been ordered to report to Guderian’s underground and hidden headquarters and wait for the general to return. As everybody else seemed to have something to do, Koenig went to the map room and studied a map of Canada, looking for updates and changes, and finding very few. Still, it was fascinating to see the forces arrayed against each other and wonder just how much of the information was accurate and how much of it was speculation when it came to the enemy’s forces.

The map of the Soviet Union on another wall was particularly vague. A massive German army had crossed the Volga near Stalingrad and was advancing towards the Urals. Curiously and despite the fact that the Reds were being pushed into a corner, there was little indication of any major Russian forces threatening the German Army. He found that difficult to believe. Were the Reds planning an ambush? They’d tried that before and had almost pulled it off at Stalingrad.

Koenig had read reports saying that the only enemy von Paulus’s army was confronting was mud. Russia in the spring was an ocean of mud. Better them than me, he chuckled. Koenig had heard Guderian and, before he’d been hurt, von Arnim, talking about the Russian campaign. Both had idly wondered if Paulus was up to the task of wiping out what remained of the Red Army. Von Paulus had been a good staff officer, but had not held a field command until Stalingrad where he’d almost lost the battle. Like most Germans, Koenig assumed that the Fuhrer knew what he was doing. He shuddered. At least he hoped the Fuhrer knew what he was doing.

“Like what you see, captain?”

Koenig snapped to attention. He was gratified to see that Guderian looked amused. “Sir, would I be impertinent if I said I don’t understand much of the rationale behind the distribution of our forces?”

“Perhaps that’s a good thing,” Guderian said, and idly waving for the captain to relax. “If you don’t understand what we’re up to, then the Americans might not either.”

The German forces in Ontario had been divided into two unequal halves. The smaller one, West Front, faced Patton’s army on the Windsor to Sarnia line. Despite the fact that a very large American army had crossed and confronted the German army, there had been little movement by either side. Intelligence intercepts said that the Yanks, stunned by their defeat east of Windsor, were waiting to get newer Sherman tanks to replace their pathetic M3’s. This could not be done overnight and it wasn’t just a case of swapping one tank for another. Crews and mechanics had to be changed and trained. What actually seemed to be happening was that American armored units with Shermans were replacing units with the M3s and all of that took time.

The larger portion of the German army was arrayed just east and south of Toronto, and along the line of the Niagara River. Many units were well back of the river, and that puzzled Koenig.

Guderian caught Koenig’s puzzled expression. “We have too much land and border to defend. Remember the saying that he who defends everything defends nothing? Well, that is the situation here, although we are in reasonably good shape. For the time being, the Americans cannot or will not either cross the Niagara River or launch amphibious operations against our flanks. Have you figured out why?”

“I would surmise that they are concerned about our submarines.”

“In part, yes. We have six U-boats in Lake Ontario and three in Lake Erie. The Yanks have no idea that the number is so small, and are looking hard for them. They are concerned about the possibility - no, the likelihood - of an LST jammed with soldiers being hit and sunk with a thousand or more dead. They are appalled at the thought of hundreds of bodies washing up on American shores. No, they will not cross either lake until it is safe.”

Guderian jabbed at Buffalo on the map. “Nor will they cross the river. For one thing, we have fortified it, especially the part east of the falls where we might be vulnerable. The part west of the falls is treacherous because of the possibility that men and boats could be swept downstream and over them.”

“A most pleasant thought, sir,” said Koenig and immediately wondered if he was being presumptuous. Too late now, he realized.

Guderian chose to ignore the comment. “An even more important deterrent is the presence of large cities in the area. We would probably wind up fighting in Niagara Falls, Ontario, along with other Canadian cities like Hamilton, St. Catharines and any number of smaller places like Niagara-on-the Lake. Street by street fighting would occur and, again, the attackers would suffer immense casualties. Also those places would be destroyed in a battle and, after all, Canada is an ally of the U.S., and one does not go around destroying allied cities if it can be helped.”

Koenig smiled. “And we would return the favor by bombing and shelling Buffalo and the New York version of Niagara Falls, among other American cities. This would horrify the American people who believe, foolishly, that they are still safe from war. I would presume that the only place left to cross would be around the Youngstown area where the river enters Lake Erie.”

“Yes, captain, you may presume that and you may also presume that we are fortifying that area as well. You doubtless further noticed that most of our best units are being held well away from either border, and that is so that we can react quickly once an attack actually does arise. Personally, I feel that they will ultimately attempt a series of amphibious landings both east and west of Buffalo while Patton puts pressure on us from the west. Now, captain, what are our weaknesses?”

Koenig was pleased to be asked. “Along with the immense size of Ontario, it is the fact that every tank of ours destroyed, every bullet fired, and every man killed or wounded cannot be replaced. They can simply wear us down.”

“Correct. We have more than a quarter of a million men, thirteen hundred tanks, and a thousand planes, and not a one of them can be replaced. Halifax is being blockaded and only food shipments are being allowed out. In a while, we shall be praying for the relief convoys to arrive from Germany, and their arrival is problematic at best. For all intents and purposes, we are under siege.”

Siege? Koenig had read about sieges. Terrible, horrible things, they were. People wound up eating rats to avoid starvation, perhaps even cannibalism occurred. There had been rumors of that during the siege of Leningrad.

“Thank you for sharing your thoughts, general.”

“Sometimes, Koenig, it is good to simply put things into perspective. You’re a good listener and you don’t argue with me like my fellow generals do. However, what if all that we’ve done is wrong?”


“What if the Americans establish supremacy in the air, which is extremely likely. In that case, we might not be able to move our forces close enough to the battle line to engage them. Indeed, it is possible that reinforcements will be decimated by their planes before they even get close to the battle. And what if the Yanks are able to send major warships, or even a number of minor ones, into the lakes? Then they would be able to destroy our submarines and then launch any number of amphibious assaults. They could flank the cities and we would have to abandon them.”

Guderian laughed and ceased his lecture. He gave Koenig an assignment. He was to talk to Neumann about the treatment of American prisoners of war since the Red Cross wanted to inspect the conditions in the prison camp.