North Reich - Robert Conroy (2012)
"Good to see you back and I hope you and the general got along," commented Colonel Mark Downing, Tom's immediate superior. Downing was in his early fifties, gray haired, and carried a paunch as testimony to his love of good food and drink. He looked like a grandfatherly type, and had a reputation for being stern but fair. He was also known to be a vicious predator when necessary.
"Good to be back, colonel. My health can't take too much more of this chasing around crap."
"Your package, by the way, has arrived. A youthful twit from the State Department delivered it and handed it to me since he could not get in to see General Marshall. Secretaries are re-typing it so it can be mimeographed and distributed to selected personages."
"Are they cleaning up my grammar and spelling?"
"I don't know if they have that much time," Downing said as he pulled himself out of his chair with effort. "I have a meeting, so look things over and familiarize yourself with what the status of the world happens to be after you disappeared for two months. I’m sure you’ve been reading newspapers and listening to the radio, but this’ll help fill in the blanks."
Downing left and Tom began poring over reports and checking on updated maps. In the Pacific, it was evident that the Japs were over-matched and retreating everywhere. They had been defeated in the Solomons and New Guinea, and the U.S. army was preparing to invade and liberate the Philippines in early 1944. This was much sooner than if the U.S. had had to fight a two front war. The poor Japs, Tom thought, had no idea what was going to hit them after they attacked Pearl Harbor. Tough shit, he thought. They deserved it after Pearl Harbor and Bataan.
The flip side of the coin was that, without the American help that had been sustaining them, both the Soviet Union and Great Britain had collapsed by late 1942. He understood that many of the people at the top, like FDR and Marshall, considered the Nazis to be the main enemy and the war against Japan a distraction that had to be endured before the real war could commence. Sometimes Tom agreed with that assessment, but, more often, was glad that such decisions were well above his pay grade.
If only England and Russia had managed to hang on, he continued to think, the map of world wouldn't look so damn strange.
What had once been the Soviet Union was now the truncated country of Russia, or more precisely, Siberia. The Russo-German lines ran up the Volga, passed a Stalingrad that had been taken by the Germans after incredibly bloody and brutal fighting, and to where it turned towards the Urals. From there on it ran northward along the roughly defined border between Germany and Russia that was the Ural Mountains. The Reds held the passes, so they were relatively safe, and the Germans seemed content to stay on their side of the Volga. The Russian capital was now at Sverdlovsk, which had previously been called Ekaterinberg and was the site of the massacre of the Czar and his family by the Bolsheviks. Grant wondered if the current communist regime saw the irony. He doubted it. Every Russian he'd met had had no sense of humor whatsoever.
After Stalin's death during a bombing raid, and an internal Communist Party bloodbath, the Red Army had taken control of what was left and Marshal Semyon Timoshenko ran the rump of the country. Rumors that Stalin had been murdered by Lavrenti Beria were flatly denied but not fully believed. Beria had been killed in another "bombing raid," which meant there would be typical Russian silence on the matter. For the time being, the Red Army was running the remnants of the Soviet Union.
On a map, Great Britain and the Commonwealth looked unchanged. However, a very timid government was now in charge in London with an extremely reluctant Lord Halifax running the show and trying to maintain Great Britain’s existence. Flags stuck in the map indicated the continued presence of very small German garrisons at Belfast, Portsmouth and Liverpool. Their job was to ensure that the British did not rearm and that the negotiations for a permanent peace continued. It appeared that the Germans were treading carefully in England, while England tried to hold the Nazi monster at bay. Still, the status quo could not last forever. Either Great Britain would sign a humiliating treaty or the war would renew. Popular opinion in the Pentagon said that this would happen if Russia collapsed; thus permitting Hitler to focus solely on the British Isles.
Of all the Commonwealth nations, only Canada had been seriously affected by what amounted to a major British defeat. The Nazis had insisted on the right to install an occupying force in Ontario, along with the coastal provinces of Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. German ships landed at the port of Halifax and supplies and men went by train through Quebec and on to points west. There were no German troops stationed in Quebec. The Quebecois' hatred of Germany was almost boundless and the provincial government was hard pressed to keep locals from blowing up trains and committing other acts of sabotage that were sure to bring savage reprisals down on their part of Canada. For their part, the Nazis kept their troops far away from Quebec.
The U.S. had protested this breach of the Monroe Doctrine, but to little effect. The war with Japan was on center stage. German transgressions would be ignored for the time being. Perhaps forever, Tom thought sadly.
To partly offset this and just prior to England’s collapse, American army and air force personnel had established a base at Gander, Newfoundland, taking over from the British.
Other Commonwealth countries had been spared any direct contact with the Nazis, although there were rumors that some disaffected white South Africans might look positively to working more closely with the Reich, and that the Germans wanted a base in Jamaica. The world looked bleak and strange and there was a madman astride it.
The only positive notes were that the enlarged and strengthened American bases at Iceland and Greenland were still in existence, and the German outrage at America's sudden takeover of Britain’s strategic citadel of Gibraltar had not resulted in military action. Both Spain and Germany had been as stunned by the last minute sale of Gibraltar to the United States by Great Britain as the U.S. had been with Germany's partial occupation of Canada. Spain's pro-German dictator, Francisco Franco, had professed his outrage, but decided not to take on the American army and navy at this time. Hitler too had been angered but decided not to upset the fragile truce between the Third Reich and the United States.
Portugal, also fearing an ambitious fascist Spain, had signed a treaty permitting American warships to be based at Lisbon, which was within striking distance of Gibraltar if the Spaniards attacked, and north at the city of Oporto.
Downing returned and closed the door. "Like what you see?"
"While you were traipsing around Canada, did you get a feel for how the people were taking it?"
"They were sick, stunned, and saddened. Perhaps only a few have decided to become Nazis, but the Germans have given those who have a lot of power and they are nasty. Based on anecdotes and impressions, I'd say that twenty per cent of the Canadian population is more or less in bed with the Nazis, while the rest are still in a state of shock."
"Are the Canadians ready to rebel?"
"Maybe if they had weapons, but they don't. Except for hunting rifles and shotguns, most Canadians don’t have access to real weapons. Hell, the krauts haven't even returned the Canadian Army. The Nazis are holding close to thirty thousand Canadian soldiers hostage, either interned in England or as actual prisoners of war in Germany."
"And how does that compare with the number of German soldiers in Canada?"
"I saw elements of six divisions with more arriving all the time, but they are largely keeping out of sight. There appears to be a massive group of bases north of Toronto. All roads are blocked off and either goons from the Canadian Legion or actual German soldiers are restricting access. I didn't even try to get past their roadblocks."
Downing pulled a bottle of Jim Beam from a bottom desk drawer along with two glasses. He poured generous portions into each and handed one to Tom.
"Glad to have you back, Tom."
"Glad to be back, colonel, but you know I prefer scotch."
"Go to hell, Tom."
What had once been a lush green field was covered by what might appear to be a fleet of wooden barracks and Quonset huts when viewed from the air. Several thousand people, many of them British refugees, now worked and lived in the giant compound. The site had once been a large and prosperous farm that had gone to ruin during the Depression and picked up by the U.S. government for a song. The hard part had been replacing the large number of people who either didn't come to the U.S. from England, or who wished to emigrate to another part of the Commonwealth. Care had been taken by both the U.S. and British governments to ensure that the really key people who'd worked at Bletchley Park had either come to Virginia or had quietly disappeared for the duration. Fortunately, most of the top and best people had come to the U.S. Some realized that if they hadn't they'd have been shot, either by the Germans or their own government.
The massive encampment was surrounded by barbed wire and there were watchtowers every hundred yards or so. A casual observer would have thought it was a prison camp. Someone more observant would have noticed that the machine guns on the towers faced outward. They were to protect the inhabitants, not imprison them.
Even though she'd worked at Camp Washington for several months, twenty-six year old Alicia Cutter had only a vague idea what was going on. Now a first lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps, it seemed only yesterday that she'd been teaching music and art at a private high school for the daughters of wealthy families outside of Philadelphia. A recruiter for the government said that people with musical skills and knowledge were needed. Only later did she realize that some musicians had an affinity to do well at code-breaking.
Alicia, unfortunately, did not. Thus, she was assigned duties as a courier where she supervised a small group of messengers, drivers and guards.
As always, she checked herself in the mirror. Her hair was combed flat, her uniform was baggy, hiding her slender figure, and she wore very little makeup. Good. She had learned to her sorrow that being very attractive, which she was, carried its own curse. Any success she achieved, either in school or as a musician, was attributed to her being pretty, rather than to her brain or her skills with the violin. That she'd slept her way to relative success was one of the kinder things she heard. She'd also been groped and pawed by classmates in high school and college along with professors who assumed she'd be willing to trade the proverbial lay for an A.
Having had enough of that nonsense, she'd made a point of dressing down and worked hard to look plain. She’d even gone so far as to try to gain weight and took to wearing horn rim glasses without any prescription. Her strategy had worked only tolerably well. Some of the military types, both at the camp and in the Pentagon, were unbelievably horny and, in the words of her roommate, would have screwed a female goat if they could find one. She considered the assessment both accurate and funny. Finally, she gave up, threw away the glasses, and went back to her normal weight. She’d felt bloated and the glasses gave her headaches.
She waved at the gate guards as her car exited the camp with the leather pouch carrying the day’s dispatches. She understood the problems the camp's staff was encountering. First, they had not yet broken any major German codes, despite the large number of Brits who had been working on the same thing for several years. Second, much of what they did was based on intercepted radio communications which were degraded because Virginia was so much farther away from continental Europe than England.
Alicia was accompanied by her driver, Corporal Wilkins, and her guard, Corporal Henry. It was Henry's first trip to Washington and he was looking out the front passenger window like a little kid, or even a dog. She wondered if he opened the window, would he stick his head out and let his tongue hang out?
"Henry, is this really your first time here?"
Alicia checked her watch. She was stretched out as far as she could in the relative comfort of the back seat with the pouch on the seat beside her. "Wilkins, are you in any great hurry to get back to the excitement of Camp Washington?"
Wilkins laughed. "Not really, lieutenant."
"Great. Let's take the scenic route and let the nice young man see where all his tax dollars are going. I think the war can wait a half hour or so."
They unnecessarily crossed the Potomac and drove slowly around the sights of their nation's capital. Henry openly gawked and exclaimed and Alicia, who'd been there a number of times, admitted that the sight of the White House, Capitol, and so many other buildings of legend never ceased to thrill her. They did think it sad that there were so many guards around key places and that sandbag embankments and anti-aircraft guns intruded so jarringly on what had once been beautiful views. Another jarring sight was the pair of buildings that housed the navy. Named the Munitions Building and the Main Navy Building, they were ugly structures that had been built near the end of the World War I and intruded onto the elegance of the Mall.
There were a few dozen protesters walking around the park across from the White House and they were watched by D.C. police. They bore signs protesting the Nazis treatment of the Jews. Alicia couldn't help but wonder if all the horrors she'd heard were true. She didn't think they could be. Not even the Nazis could be that inhuman to their fellow man. Not even Hitler. He was a madman, but no one could be that murderous. It just wasn't possible. At least she hoped it wasn't, she thought with a shudder.
Finally, they drove back across the Potomac to the Pentagon. Corporal Henry hadn't seen that either. "Jesus ma'am, that is one huge building."
"That doesn't begin to describe it," Alicia said. Henry was from Nebraska and had admitted that the largest thing he'd ever seen before being drafted was a corn silo.
Dedicated earlier that year, the Pentagon was only four stories above ground, with an additional two under, but sprawled over an immense plot of ground next to Arlington National Cemetery. Close to thirty thousand military and civilian personnel worked in the five-ringed building that was so big that she'd seen a display where the Empire State Building could lie on top of its six and a half million square feet of space. Rumor had it that FDR thought it was hideous and couldn't wait for the war to be over so he could tear it down. Alicia didn’t think that would happen. The military had found a home.
Finally, and only a little behind schedule, they pulled into a Pentagon parking lot. They passed the guards and Alicia went towards her destination, while the two corporals headed off to find something to eat. As she walked the corridors, she felt small and unimportant. Admirals and generals walked by and didn't even look at her, except for one or two who assessed her femininity.
This was only her fourth trip to the Holy of Holies and she wondered what was in the locked pouch she carried. Was it all that important? If it was, wouldn't all those generals who were ignoring her be shocked that such documents were being hauled around by a lowly first lieutenant and a woman to boot.
"Jesus, chief, that thing looks fucking deadly."
"Marty, we are on duty this weekend. Would you please remember to call me Major?"
Staff sergeant and deputy sheriff Marty Dubinski shrugged. "Sorry, chief, I mean major, but look at that damn thing."
Canfield explained to his sergeant that the damn thing was a German E-Boat. A little bit larger than an American PT boat, the low-slung craft was capable of scooting along at more than forty miles an hour, had a crew of about twenty-five, and was armed to its deadly teeth with a 37mm cannon, and several 20mm guns along with a bunch of machine guns that the German crew had added. There was one torpedo tube on each side of its hull.
"Wasn't there a law prohibiting major warships on the Great Lakes?" Dubinski asked.
Canfield focused his binoculars. The German E-boat was a half mile offshore and moving sedately at about twenty knots, easily chopping through the foot high waves. It was already moving faster than most craft on Lake Ontario. It was also many miles inside what were considered American waters. Under other circumstances, the view would be both dramatic and pretty. This day it looked ugly and menacing.
Canfield put down the binoculars and rubbed his eyes. "I read someplace that the krauts don't consider E-boats to be major warships. They say they are just like our Coast Guard cutters or PT boats."
Dubinski snorted. "That is just so much bullshit, major. Look at them torpedo tubes. Those things can sink any ship in the world and that makes them E-boats major warships in my book. I think I should write Roosevelt."
"Do that," Canfield said resignedly. Marty was always writing letters to the editor, to his congressman, and anybody else who pissed him off, which was a whole lot of people. He also thought FDR was a commie.
"So why are they out there, chief?
At that moment, one of the E-boat's 20mm guns opened up, the strident sawing-sounding noise caused the two men to drop to the ground. A few seconds later they realized that the German wasn't shooting at them and they sheepishly got to their feet. They now had a nice view of the German's stern as it turned north towards Canada.
"Okay, major, let me rephrase the question. What are they doing out there and what the hell were they shooting at?"
Canfield shook the dirt from his fatigues. "I think they were out there so close to our shore just to aggravate us. As to their shooting, I think it was also to annoy us and maybe they were getting in a little target practice. There might have been some driftwood or something that some dumb kraut thought would be good to shoot at. I just hope they didn't kill someone in the water, like some poor refugee."
There had been a significant increase in the number of people leaving Canada in the last few weeks, although only a few had left by boat. The border was open so they just packed up and crossed by car or bus. A high percentage of them were Jews who knew what was going on in Europe and who wanted to escape that awful fate. Canfield had been mildly surprised. He had no idea there were so many Jews actually in Canada, or that they were so frightened. So far, the Nazis had been letting anyone who wanted to leave go in peace, but how long would that continue? If the Germans would shoot at someone like that Grant fellow, they must have something to hide. He decided it wouldn't be long before the border was closed, and then they'd all have their hands full with refugees in boats and Germans trying to kill them.
Damn it, he thought. Life was so much simpler when all he had to worry about was the Depression and people smuggling whiskey into the U.S. before prohibition was repealed. Maybe the next time they drew duty, they'd make sure they had something more lethal than M1 rifles and .30 caliber machine guns to defend the State of New York from German warships.
"How's your arm, colonel?"
Grant winced and shifted his arm in its sling. "Actually, sergeant major, it hurts a hell of a lot more now since I let the medical staff fix it."
Sergeant Major Mort Farnum laughed. He was a short barrel of a man who'd been in the army for more than twenty years. Nobody, either enlisted or officer, wanted to get on his bad side. So far, Tom had done nothing to annoy the sergeant major.
"I'll bet they even said it was minor surgery." Farnum said.
Tom's arm and shoulder had continued to pain him and he finally relented and gone to a doctor. In a twist of fate, he'd gotten the same Doctor Crain who'd examined his skull after the mugging. Crain diagnosed a sprain and some torn muscles that were aggravated by scar tissue from the car crash and fire. He'd recommended having the shoulder surgically repaired and Tom had gone along. Another doctor had done the work and happily pronounced that all was well. So why did his arm hurt like hell? Because it was healing, Crain said, and quit being a baby.
A young PFC came in carrying a pouch. "This just got delivered from Camp Washington, sir," he said and gave it to Tom who signed for it. He noted that it had been delivered to the Pentagon by a WAC officer, which meant that the pouch's contents couldn't be all that important. He would pass it on to General Truscott, who probably would say nothing about it, which further told Tom that whatever it was wasn't very important.
The Pentagon might be the nerve center of the American military, but it was also one dull place. Worse, there were very few women around. He'd been told that the WAC who delivered the pouch was pleasant but plain and a little flat-chested, which meant that half the men in the Pentagon were in love with her. Whoever said that women greatly outnumbered men in Washington must have been drinking heavily.
"How's the arm?" Colonel Downing asked, startling Tom.
"Getting better, sir.” It wouldn't help to complain. Nobody cared. “I am curious, though, what is going on in Camp Washington that they send us these pouches?"
Downing shrugged. "Beats me too. The camp was recently declared operational and there are a couple of thousand intelligence types inside. I understand they are trying to read the Nazi's minds, assuming that the Germans have minds to read. Seriously, I understand they are monitoring radio transmissions within the Third Reich and even on their ships. I guess they're hoping to pull pearls from the garbage."
"But aren't German messages coded?"
"The important ones are, but a lot of ordinary stuff isn't and sometimes you can figure out a lot from the trivial. If some supply officer in an armored division asks for ten thousand pair of long johns, you can pretty much assume that the division is heading someplace cold."
"Except that in our army it might mean they were heading to warm climes, because either somebody screwed up, or they want to keep anybody who's listening, guessing."
Downing shook his head sadly. "You're thinking too much, Tom. The army doesn't like that in an officer."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, three times President of the United States, was sixty-one years old and looked much older. The thirty-second president was pale and gaunt, and a bout of polio many years earlier had left him confined to a wheelchair. Everyone knew he walked with difficulty, but most didn't know it was all a charade. FDR couldn't walk at all. When he appeared to move through a crowd, it was because loyal aides and Secret Service agents literally picked him up by his elbows so that he sailed through the throng. He appeared to be walking, but his useless feet never touched the ground.
The stress of the job, coupled with his failing health, were a great concern to everyone. This day, however, the president was angry. Normally, he was a little intimidated by General George C. Marshall and Admiral Ernest King, but not this morning.
FDR squinted through his reading glasses. "First of all, let me genuinely commend this Major Grant on his escapade and on his safe return. You will see to it that Grant gets a gold star on his forehead for his efforts. However, I have to consider that the whole enterprise was ill-conceived. We will never again send a field grade officer on such a mission during peacetime."
Marshall responded. "While I did not specifically authorize the trip, I support it in hindsight. We need intelligence regarding what is happening in Canada and we simply aren't getting it."
"But what if he had been arrested or even shot? What then? His trip was a clear provocation and we are not ready for that. Whether I like it or not, and I don’t, Congress has decreed that we have but one war to fight and that is against the Japanese. At some time in the not too distant future, it is likely that we will be fighting Hitler, but when it happens it must be clear that Herr Adolf is the aggressor. If Grant had been killed or caught, we would have had to apologize and promise to be good little boys and girls and never do it again. My enemies in congress, who are also your enemies, would have had a field day."
Neither man needed to be reminded that congress had rebuffed FDR’s attempts to declare war on Germany after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One war at a time was the answer, and many reminded him of his campaign pledge to not send American boys off to fight foreign wars. If Germany had declared war on the U.S., that would have been different, but Hitler had not cooperated. For much the same reason, congress refused to allow Roosevelt to use force to expel the German army from Ontario. Later, was the collective response from a majority of the members of Congress.
Marshall would not be put off. "We need to know what is going on, sir. The Germans have a sizeable and growing military force in Canada, one that is far larger than what is needed to keep Ontario in check."
Roosevelt glanced at the report before him. "Your Grant identified six German army divisions in Canada. Three divisions are regular infantry and one SS, along with two armored divisions, one regular and one SS. Assuming that the units are at full strength, the total German force would be no more than a hundred and fifty thousand men and that includes support staff. Your man also identified several Luftwaffe units that could easily total several hundred planes."
"As you said, sir," Marshall continued, "that is far more than they need to keep Ontario under their thumbs.”
Roosevelt sighed. "Perhaps, just perhaps, they view things differently. Perhaps they are concerned that we will attack and try to knock them out of North America, which is all the more reason that there should be no provocations."
King disagreed. "I would think that shooting at Grant would be provocative on their part, but worse is the fact that their warships are cruising very close to our Lake Ontario shores. I'm certain that they will shortly have armed ships in the other great lakes. The Welland Canal can handle anything up to a light cruiser in size, and we wouldn't be able to respond since the Canal is in Canadian territory."
"If that happens we will construct our own fleet," FDR said and suddenly laughed. "Didn't we do that in the war of 1812, and didn't that turn out all right?"
"I wouldn't want to chance that again," King replied grimly, not seeing the humor in the comment. "Still, the Nazis control it and their Kriegsmarine could send destroyers, subs, and even small cruisers up the Canal and into the other Great Lakes, which would be a potential disaster. And it would be a provocation in my opinion and a violation of our treaty with Canada. They have no need for warships on the Great Lakes if we are not at war with each other."
Roosevelt rubbed his eyes. "Sometimes I wish it wasn't so complicated. We are at war with Japan who is at war with us and Great Britain. Britain is at war with Japan, but there is an armistice between England and Germany that may or may not become a real and unwanted treaty. Thus, Germany is technically still at war with England and the Soviet Union, but there is a tacit armistice between them. Germany and Japan are still allies, but Germany has not declared war on us, while we are at war with Japan. It's Byzantine. It reminds me of Abbott and Costello's who's on first routine. If it wasn't tragic, it would be laughable."
"And let's not forget the prisoners the Germans still hold," Marshall added somberly.
Large numbers of British and Commonwealth soldiers had fallen into German hands when the British collapsed. Many thousands were interned in England and would not be released to return home until a treaty was signed. If England did not go along with Germany’s wishes, hostilities would resume and England was helpless. Renewed submarine warfare could result in starvation, particularly since the American navy was focused on the Pacific.
A number of other prisoners, such as those captured in North Africa, had been shipped to Germany. The Germans had declined to release them since they would likely be sent to help England fight the Japanese, their erstwhile ally.
"What do you wish?" asked FDR.
"Information," Marshall said quickly. "The people at Camp Washington are ready to pick up where the British left off, but we must have more and we must have it now. We know the Nazis are up to something, but what?"
"I cannot turn the FBI loose in Canada," the president said vehemently. "If their agents were caught, we would be exposed. Besides, and despite what Hoover says, they are not up to that type of enterprise. FBI agents are pathologically unable to disguise themselves or hide in a crowd. What do you think of using the OSS instead?"
Marshall looked askance, while King rolled his eyes. Neither man had any confidence in the newly formed Office of Strategic Services led by William J., "Wild Bill," Donovan, an old friend of Roosevelt's. It had been formed shortly after Pearl Harbor with the hope that they would penetrate behind enemy lines and provide intelligence as well as performing acts of sabotage. For a number of reasons including a dearth of targets in the Pacific and a total lack of agents who could pass as Japanese, the enterprise never really got started. It was clear that the OSS was waiting for a war with Germany. It was also evident that the American military had little confidence in the OSS’s abilities.
FDR was clearly enjoying his guests' discomfiture. "Yes, I know that many of them are amateurs, socialites, and dilettantes, but they are all patriots and volunteers. More important, though, they can all be identified as civilians and that means they can wander about in Canada relative safety while we deny their existence. I think it's marvelous. After all, aren't the Germans doing the same thing right now?"
King and Marshall had to agree, albeit reluctantly. They'd both seen FBI reports indicating that numbers of German "tourists" and "students" had crossed into the United States and were wondering around with impunity. So far the FBI had been unable to find anything more sinister than tourist-like photographs and innocuous journals when they broke into their hotel rooms. Yes, the U.S. needed information and who the devil cared how it was acquired?
Marshall decided to shift the subject. "Sir, you say you are concerned about a provocation. What about the Germans provoking us? What can our response be?"
"I don't want war with Germany unless they are clearly the aggressor," Roosevelt said uncomfortably. He knew where the conversation was going.
Admiral King did not let him down. "We cannot wait until we've had another Pearl Harbor, Mr. President. Hypothetically, while an armed man is not much of an immediate threat to me, he becomes more so when he draws his weapon and, in my opinion becomes a grave threat that requires a response when he points that gun at my very valuable person. I sincerely hope that we do not have to wait until that armed man actually shoots before responding. If so, it could be too late."
Roosevelt's response was almost a whisper. He was so tired. Why the devil had he agreed to a third term and why was he even thinking of a fourth? Had he been insane? Why, yes, he answered himself. If Wendell Willkie would run against him in 1944 instead of New York's Republican governor Tom Dewey being the likely candidate, maybe he'd just concede and go home. What a wonderful thought. Nor could he think of a Democrat who could replace him. His vice president, Henry Wallace, was a mistake who was hated by both liberals and conservatives.
"Gentlemen, find me the provocation and I will give you the response."
Oskar Neumann understood that the Gestapo was greatly overrated as a police force. That was not its job. Its real task was not to enforce the law, but to enforce the ideology of the Reich. What was not underrated was that it depended on terror to be effective. People across Europe lived in deathly fear of the claws of the Gestapo, and Neumann was confident that it would soon be the case in Canada where fear of the Gestapo was growing almost daily.
The Gestapo was a totally German organization that wasn't that large in numbers, perhaps sixty thousand agents in all the Reich and its conquered territories. The Gestapo relied on fear, terror, and large numbers of informers to be effective. Its presence in Canada was cumbersome if for no other reason than that few members of the Gestapo were fluent in English and most of those who were had been sent to England. Neumann, who considered himself fluent in English, was sent the dregs. Good agents, yes, but not able to communicate well in Canada. Some of his so-called English speaking agents couldn't read a newspaper or order food in a restaurant, which had the effect of making them look stupid, even laughable when they made mistakes. That too would soon change as a very effective propaganda effort directed from Berlin was bearing fruit. It blamed the United States for England's defeat and Canada's current humiliation.
Relations between the U.S. and Canada had frequently been strained and many Canadians felt betrayed by their large neighbor to the south who had done nothing to help them when the Nazis rolled through Europe. In what Neumann conceded was a brilliant ploy, little was being directly said about the evil of the Jews. Not yet, he admitted. Soon, however, all that would soon change. The average Canadian might not yet believe in Judaism's inherent evil and the need for it to be rooted out, violently if necessary. Articles planted in newspapers did point out that Jews controlled the U.S. banking and entertainment industries, but did not yet call for violence against Canada's small Jewish population.
Neumann held the rank equivalent to a colonel in the army and the SS, and had all of metropolitan Toronto to control and only fifty agents with which to do it. Thanks to the war, almost seven hundred thousand now people lived in Toronto and many thousands more in the suburbs and nearby cities, such as Hamilton, with its one hundred and sixty thousand. Worse, the population of Toronto was a mongrel one. Immigrants from Italy, Portugal, and even Asia made Toronto a racially offensive place.
There were more than eleven million people in Canada and fully a third of them lived in Ontario and most of those were in the south of the province. Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, was small in comparison.
The Canadian authorities were passively uncooperative with Neumann and the Gestapo and he could do little about it. At least not yet, which infuriated him. He was making progress, but not enough to satisfy his goals and ambitions. Someday soon all of the damned Canadians would realize that they'd lost the war and were going to lose a lot more if they didn't start enforcing the policies of the Reich, especially those regarding Jews. There weren't all that many Jews in Canada, and he was confident that there would be a lot fewer very soon. Whether they fled to the United States or were interned in camps, or even shipped to their deaths in Poland didn't matter. The Jewish cancer would be obliterated.
Neumann had set up a group of young and disaffected thugs into what he called the Canadian Legion, and outfitted them with uniforms that featured black shirts, which had become their unofficial name. It was based on a similar fascist organization in England. But there were only a couple of hundred of them and most of them knew little about Nazism. Their desire was to bully and lord it over those other Canadians who considered them scum and trash at best, which, in Neumann's opinion, they were.
One plays the cards one is dealt, Neumann thought and then laughed bitterly. He'd been dealt a bunch of jokers. The Munro brothers, Wally, Jed, and Paul, were the best of a bad lot and he thought that the total combined intellects of the three of them were about equal to one normal human. They seemed to live for the opportunity to abuse and assault other people, and robbery was like taking candy to them. There were rumors of their involvement in rapes, which did not surprise Neumann.
The Toronto based Gestapo had offices in the city's downtown, but the hub of their activities was an isolated farm ten miles to the north of the city. Neumann envisioned it as a place where people could be brought, imprisoned, and interrogated without neighbors complaining about the screams. So far, he'd only had the opportunity to use it a few times and with mixed results. He had hoped to be able to use locals for rough interrogations, but people like the Munro brothers were far more concerned with beating people than with extracting information. Neumann thought that torture for its own sake was not effective, although he admitted it could be satisfying. Torturing women was something he and the Munros found especially pleasant.
Neumann decided to discuss details of the task at hand only with Wally Munro, the best of a bad lot.
"Mr. Munro, do you understand why you are being sent south to do this?"
"Sure. You don't want to get caught."
Arrogant little shit, Neumann thought. "Close enough. If something should happen, it would be far better if the someone caught is not a German. Diplomatic immunity can only carry so far. Now, what are you to do?"
Wally Munro was short, stocky, and in his early twenties. He was irked by the question. "We've been over this, Mr. Neumann."
"Simple. We are to intercept the car, shoot the people, and then make it look like a robbery by taking everything of value. But most of all, we are to take that pouch."
Good, Neumann thought. By taking wallets and money along with the pouch, it might make the Washington police, along with the American military, think that it had been just a particularly violent robbery. While he was not totally confident that the charade would provide cover for very long, it might last long enough. And if one of the Munros should get caught, or better, killed, there would be nothing to link them back to him.
"And if one of you is caught?"
"We are to sit tight in jail until someone bails us out and then we disappear. Our phony ID says we're from Virginia, so they won't worry too much about us flying back to Canada."
"And if one of you is killed?"
"Then we take as many of the fuckers with us as we can. Oh yeah, if we can find out who was responsible, we'll make them wish they'd never been born."
Neumann thought Munro had contradicted himself, but chose to keep quiet. The Munro's were expendable, but if they could provide information as to what was going on at that new facility near Washington, they could prove priceless.