Chapter 4 - North Reich - Robert Conroy

North Reich - Robert Conroy (2012)

Chapter 4

Grant submitted his so-called brainstorming report and promptly forgot about it. He and the other officers in the group had collaborated on a document that ran a mere five pages, while other groups had written extensive treatises. Tom had the feeling that anyone reading it would not want something the size of "Gone with the Wind," so he kept it short and terse.

He was mildly surprised when, after a couple of days, he and Downing were summoned to Truscott's office. Another major general was there as well, Dwight Eisenhower. He commanded what used to be the army's War Plans Division and was now the Operations Division. His friends called him Ike, which Tom wouldn't think of doing. Tom and Eisenhower had met briefly on a couple of occasions and the general greeted him amiably, shaking hands.

"Glad to see you're healing, major," Ike said with a disarming grin. "Now let's have a seat, some coffee, and discuss your analysis of the situation. Colonel Downing says that you were the driving force behind the report and that the fundamental ideas were yours, so don't be modest."

Grant felt himself flushing. "I guess I had a lot to say, general."

"That and the fact that you'd been in Canada made it even more important that we talk with you. Now, you state that the Germans will not invade us, why?"

"Sir, they will most certainly attack if they see a major advantage, but they will not risk a full-fledged invasion, which would be a permanent thing. When I was in Canada, I identified a number of their Wehrmacht divisions, and I understand at least two more have arrived since then. Assuming they're at close to full strength, that would give them at least two hundred thousand men. That's a lot, but not enough to conquer the United States or even make a permanent claim to part of it. They would never use all their soldiers in an attack since they still have to maintain control over a huge portion of Canada. The Canadians are docile, but they might take advantage of an opportunity to try to kick the Germans out. Therefore, I believe they will raid, but not invade."

"And where will those raids take place," Eisenhower said softly. He continued to smile, but his eyes were cold.

"Sir, there are only a handful of places where we are vulnerable, and they are obvious since geography will dictate German operations. First, is the Buffalo area and the second is Detroit and vicinity. Detroit would be particularly attractive since there are so many major factories producing planes, tanks, and trucks. Pittsburg is close enough to be hit by the Luftwaffe, and they do have a number of fighter and bomber squadrons stationed near Toronto."

Truscott leaned backward in his chair. "And you don't think they will be tempted to try and keep what they raid?"

Tom grinned. "Oh, I think they'll be tempted. In fact, I believe that a number of their officers, and maybe some of ours, would be delighted if they tried to hang on. We'd outnumber them in a couple of days and simply roll over them. No sir, after hitting us as hard as they can, they'll return to Canada, blow the bridges and tunnels and wait for Uncle Adolf to come and rescue them."

"And what will Uncle Adolf be doing?" Eisenhower asked.

"He'll have greatly increased his submarine strength, which I understand is already occurring. He can't take on our surface navy, so he'll hit our inter-coastal shipping along with our ports and harbors as hard as he can. If he can cut our navy down to size, he can send an additional force to Canada. If he can't, this General von Arnim is screwed."

"Anything else? Your report mentioned deep raids, even assassinations," said Ike.

"Right now, the border with Canada is pretty much wide open. The Germans are beginning to restrict people coming in, but they don't seem to care about people leaving Canada - present company excepted, of course - and we are letting in anybody who shows up. We might want to consider some restrictions."

Truscott laughed, "Particularly to anybody with a German accent."

Ike agreed. "What actions will indicate that they are getting ready?"

Tom was surprised. He thought the answer would have been obvious. It was also in his report. "Sir, right now they do have what I would define as small holding forces across the rivers near Detroit and Buffalo, and any move to enlarge those forces with better combat troops would be indicative of a planned attack. So too would be shifting Luftwaffe units from Toronto to Windsor, which is across the river from Detroit."

Ike grinned again. "I know where Windsor is, major."

Oops, Tom thought, "Sorry, sir."

"Don't worry, Tom," said Truscott. "Never assume, even when talking to generals. While you were marching through Ontario, did you happen to see any of their armor?"

"Yes, sir, I saw a handful of Mark IIIs, and a couple of their Mark IV tanks, but of their new and powerful Panthers, nothing. Perhaps they don’t even have Panthers. Of course, I wasn't in a position to see very much."

"But the bulk of their forces aren't anywhere near the border, are they?" asked Ike.

"No, sir, but they wouldn't have to be. In my opinion, any raids will be fairly small, perhaps battalion sized, and they already have those near Detroit and Buffalo. Nor would they have to wait for good weather. There are enough tunnels and bridges that could be used if they took them intact."

"Interesting," said Ike. "We were thinking that the Germans would need consistent weather to support their operations."

"General, they would for air action, but, even though Detroit has snowy and icy winters and Buffalo can get actual blizzards from the lake, the krauts wouldn't need to wait for sunshine. Like I said, the bridges and tunnels would still work just fine. They might also use bad weather to sneak a number of U-boats and other warships through the Welland Canal. At least that's what our navy liaison officer thought."

A few more comments were made and pleasantries exchanged. Tom and Downing were dismissed. Truscott and Ike were alone.

"Well?" Truscott said.

"Absolutely perfect," Ike responded. "He'll give us complete deniability. All on his own he came up with almost exactly what we think the Germans are going to do thanks to Ultra intercepts. When the time comes, we'll give him credit and a commendation and maybe promote him, and we can do it all without anyone knowing that we've got Camp Washington up and running and decoding Germany's secrets."

Truscott wasn't so certain. "Ike, remember that he helped find that lost package. How do we know he didn't read some of it, like the really important parts?"

"We don't," Ike answered. "But even if he did, we can spin the fiction out for years. If he knows anything and is half as smart as we think he is, Grant will keep quiet."

Back at his desk, Tom pretended to read a report on the new German tank, the Mark V, also known as the Panther and how it stacked up against the powerful Russian T34. In the opinion of the analyst, a captain who worked down the hall, the Germans were building them to confront a potentially resurgent Russia and would not send them to Canada to fight inferior American tanks. Tom agreed. Not only would they not be of much use against the United States, but losing some would give America insights into their new wonder-weapon. Tom endorsed the report and placed it in his out box.

He sat back in his chair and wondered just how much Ike and Truscott suspected that he knew. While picking up papers ripped from the pouch he had seen one that was a one-page summary of German plans. He'd read it quickly and realized its significance. The observations were astute because the caption on the report said they were summaries of decoded German messages. Decoded? We were reading their mail and now he knew it. He wondered if Alicia Cutter knew, or was she really just a messenger.

Tom got up and walked down the hallway. He needed to go outside and get some fresh air and who cared how cold it was. By implication he had just lied to his commanders. Should he tell them? He had another thought. What if they knew? Damn it, was he just a pawn? He laughed. Of course he was. Wasn't everyone?

Mike Bradford already had already downed a couple of drinks before his good buddy and fellow detective on the Toronto Police came in and sat down beside him. They were in a bar a couple of blocks away from the main police station. He and the younger Sam Lambert had been partners once, many years earlier. Their jobs had changed but they were still friends.

"So what did you find?" Mike asked.

"Aren't you even going to say hello?"

"Fuck you," Mike snarled. "I want to know how my daughter died."

They waited while the bartender brought Sam a drink and Mike paid. "You saw the coroner's report," Sam said. "Your daughter was run over by a truck. What more do you need to know?"

"The truth, damn it. They only let me see part of her body, her head, and even that was pretty well bashed in. They said the rest of her was real bad and that I should remember her how she was when she was alive, and not like she looked when she died. Dummy me, I let them convince me and now she's been buried."

"Mike, why do you have doubts now?"

"Because the actual report was somehow delayed and I didn't get it until after the funeral and my ex-wife wouldn't think of letting me have her body dug up. Apparently, Mary and two unknown guys were crossing the road really late at night when she stumbled and fell in front of a big truck. The two assholes, who never were found, ran off and left her, and the poor goddamn trucker ran her over. The report insinuated that she was drunk. Well guess what, Mary didn't drink. And she didn't go out late at night with strange men, especially since she had a boyfriend and she was saving herself for him."

Bradford took a swallow of his Canadian Club and soda. "Also, I found out about a call into a precinct about some guys pushing a girl who might have been my daughter into a car a couple of days before. It happened near her apartment, but wasn't pursued because of a lack of info. That's why I wanted you to talk to the coroner. After all he's your buddy."

"Mike, the coroner's Jewish and he's a little nervous about things right now. Even our beloved chief of police has made some comments that make it sound like he's not totally against the current regime, either the one in Ottawa or the one in Berlin. The coroner is not going to make any official waves."

He didn't have to add that a lot of people felt that way. It was beginning to look like the Germans were in Canada to stay. Hitler had proclaimed a Thousand Year Reich and no one was arguing the point. The ugly truth was that people were going to make accommodations in order to survive.

"I don't give a shit," Bradford snapped and ordered another drink. "Did you talk to him, and what did he say?"

Lambert was drinking beer, Labatt's, and was clearly uncomfortable. "What if I said that Mary committed suicide?"

"I'd say it’s fucking bullshit. She was healthy and happy. She had a new job at the American Consulate and she had just met a guy. He was short and chubby and quiet, just like her, and they were very happy. No, she didn't commit suicide."

"Mike, what will you do with what I tell you?"

Bradford trembled and a tear spilled over. Sam turned away while his friend got control of his emotions. The bartender glanced over and also turned away. A lot of cops drank there and he was used to seeing raw emotion displayed on the part of Toronto's finest.

"Sam, they say the truth will set you free. Well, I want to know the truth. What will I do with it? I don't know. I suppose it depends on what the truth is, doesn't it?"

Lambert took a deep breath and looked around. Nobody was close enough to hear. "Mike, she might have committed suicide. There was a terrible gash on her wrist that might have been self-inflicted. She could easily have bled to death from it."

"God damn," Mike sobbed.

"It gets worse. She'd been dead several hours before the truck hit her. The two guys with her threw her down and let the truck run her over. There was some evidence of earlier bruising and the coroner said she'd probably been raped. I think whoever did it thinks we're totally stupid provincial cops who'd never figure it out."

Mike Bradford's voice was an agonized rasp. "Why?"

"Think about it. She just got a job at the U.S. Consulate. Now, just who do you think might be interested in the comings and goings on of the United States government?"

"Aw, Christ. Germany, of course, and we've got Gestapo walking around, along with the fucking Canadian Legion. What's being done about this?"

"Nothing, Mike, at least not right now. Our limp dick government up in Ottawa is worried about pissing off the Nazis. After all, they've got a lot of troops here, and a lot of our boys are either in their prison camps or stuck in England. Besides, we've got suspicions, not proof."

"What if I get proof? What if I break into that fucking Gestapo headquarters they have outside of town. The krauts are meticulous bastards; I'll bet they have really good records."

"I will concede that point, but you're not breaking into anything. You're too old and fat and, oh yeah, out of fucking shape. However, I do know a guy who is real good at things like that and, of course, he owes me a number of favors. But if you find out that the Germans did kill Mary, what are you going to do about it?"
Mike Bradford rose and paid what the bill. "Then I'm going to raise hell and people might just get hurt."

Tinker Skillings was a small thin man in his late thirties who'd been in and out of jail on a number of occasions. After the last time, he'd had an epiphany. Jail, he realized wasn't good for him. After a number of beatings and sexual assaults, he'd decided to go straight. Well, almost. He now hired himself out to various people who desired information on others, and that included several police agencies who wanted to get around some stifling rules. Since he never stole anything, and made sure that his unauthorized presence wasn't noticed, nobody complained. People had suspicions, but nothing that could be proven with certainty. Even more important, he found that he made a lot more money procuring information than he ever did as a criminal. He also owed Toronto Detective Sam Lambert a number of favors, so he was more than willing to do this little job at a bargain rate.

Tinker's great skill was breaking and entering without the occupants being aware that they'd been violated. The key to his success was meticulous preparation. The location of the German’s farm was well known; however, it was in the country and surrounded by what Tinker thought was a lot of nothing, which meant sneaking up on it would be difficult. Tinker relished the challenge.

Tinker spent two full days on his belly in the dirt observing the farm with his high powered binoculars. They were German, of course. He observed from a number of spots around the place, checked the barbed wire fencing, the guards who patrolled, and looked out for dogs or the possibility that the fence was electrified. He saw no dogs and determined that the fence was clean by throwing dead birds against it and not getting any reaction. Watchtowers were still under construction which meant they were useless.

The security personnel were Black Shirts from the Canadian Legion, which meant they weren't very smart and were very confident, a deadly combination. It apparently never occurred to the Germans and their friends that anyone might want to get into what was clearly a prison, rather than get out.

At two AM of the third night, Tinker slithered to the fence and crawled inside the compound. He was dressed in dark clothing and dirt was smeared on his face and hands. As his entry point, he used a depression in the ground he'd improved on the night before. It was well away from the gate house so the guards there didn't notice him, and he timed his entrance so that the roving guard was at the other end of his patrol. Tinker thought the guy was a little drunk anyhow.

Tinker crouched and ducked to the side door of the farm house that he'd easily concluded was their headquarters. Two barns housed either equipment or prisoners or both. He shuddered. He did not want to get caught. He'd heard rumors that people who went into the farm didn't come out. He had a gun, again courtesy of Lambert, and would use it if he had to despite being told how important secrecy was.

The side door to the farmhouse was in the shadows and he was able to pick the lock by feel. Once inside, he moved silently, hoping that the floors didn't creak. They did, but not enough to wake up the people sleeping and snoring upstairs. He'd watched the day crew drink themselves silly after being relieved, and he didn't think anything short of an explosion would awaken the small group of men lying upstairs.

Finding the office was easy. It was the only room that was locked. Again, he picked it, entered, and looked around. A three drawer file cabinet was against the wall. He smiled and covered the single window with dark paper he’d brought. The office door was solid with no window, so no problem there. Another lock was picked and he cautiously pulled out the top drawer. He put the tiny flashlight in his mouth and began to rummage through. The labels were in German but were clearly not names, so he pulled out the second.


There were about thirty file folders and Mary Bradford's was the third one in and contained a dozen sheets of paper, some of which were in German while others were in English.

He scanned one of them and became furious and sickened. It told of Mary's rape and torture and did so in exquisite detail. Tinker swore and took the tiny camera, also German, and began to take pictures. Every flash made him wince, but he knew he was invisible. When he was done, he replaced the folder, although he did take pictures of the folder labels on all three drawers. Maybe they'd be useful. Maybe he'd be coming back.

He took down the paper from the window and exited the office. Reassuring snores still emanated from above. He had an idea. He found the stairs to the basement and quickly located what he believed was the room in which Mary had been tortured. There were no windows so he took more pictures, paying particular attention to the strange chair bolted to the floor and what looked like blood stains beneath it.

Tinker went back upstairs and to the outside door where he saw the guard walking away. He dropped to his knees and crawled smoothly towards the fence, under it, and out into the bushes next to the farm.

Driving back to Toronto, he was happy that he'd told Lambert to meet him at a bar. He definitely needed a drink. What the hell was his world coming to?

He also decided he wouldn't charge Lambert for this night’s work.

The B24 named the Vampire sped along at less than a hundred feet above the ground, racing towards its unsuspecting target. Terry Romano lined up the sub in his sights, paused and opened fire just as the searchlight went on. A stream of 37mm shells streaked towards the sub and ripped through the conning tower.

"One dead kraut," yelled his co-pilot who was actually flying the plane.

Terry was the gunner. Trial and error had shown that he was the best shooter in the crew and he reveled in the opportunity to shoot while his co-pilot flew the plane.

Seconds later, the bombardier dropped the depth charges and they bracketed the crippled German sub. More cheers. It was a hell of a good run.

Unfortunately, it was all practice. The submarine was a wooden mock-up situated in the middle of a field in Maryland and the depth charges were barrels of water. The 37mm ammo, however, had been real. Still, it was better than nothing. The radar had spotted the "sub" and the searchlight had illuminated it just seconds before the Vampire had swept down on it. Had it been a real sub and a real attack, Tony was confident that he'd have killed it. Nobody talked about the fact that German subs had anti-aircraft guns and might just fight back.

That the training was getting more extensive and deadly serious underscored the fact that the United States and Germany were more and more likely to get into war. At least this time we'll be ready, Tony thought. Not like Pearl Harbor. No, nothing would ever again be like Pearl Harbor. Still, there was the nagging feeling that the Germans would attack first and that American blood would be spilled. Wouldn't it be nice, he thought, if we could be the ones who fired first? Nah, that would be un-American. It would also be smart and save a lot of guys’ lives, but no, we had to be the ones who get hit first. Then we get up from the canvas and kick the other guy's ass.

General Marshall noticed that FDR's hand quivered and he had a hard time picking up the stamp with his tweezers. No surprise. The president's physical condition was getting worse as the strain of fighting a war against the Japanese and preparing his unwilling nation for a war with Germany took its toll. Working with his beloved stamp collection was supposed to relax him, but now it looked like it was frustrating him.

Finally, he gave up and put down the tweezers. He would play with his stamp collection some other time. He looked at Marshall and smiled. "So, our good neighbors in Berlin are getting nervous. Wonderful, couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of monsters. I'm also glad to see that the army and the navy are cooperating so nicely."

"The presence of Nazi soldiers on our border does help to clear the mind, sir. We don't need any more sudden shocks like that."

Only a few weeks after the collapse of England, a flotilla of German transports had appeared at Halifax where they'd unloaded several thousand German soldiers. A second group appeared the next day and steamed up to Toronto where they disembarked more Nazis. It was all done without warning and without the knowledge of the United States since the intelligence provided by the English at Bletchley Park had been shut down. There had been minimal resistance from what remained of the Canadian military, but that soon ceased as a result of orders from London and Ottawa. Fighting would only endanger the Allied soldiers being held either as prisoners or as hostages by the Nazis. Their men would be used as leverage. The Germans entered Canada and stayed.

Roosevelt had seethed in anger. His only alternative, however, was to use force to expel them and that would have meant declaring war with Hitler. FDR wanted that war, but an attack on the German forces while the U.S. was still fighting the Japanese would have labeled the Americans the aggressor and earned the anger of many in Congress who felt that Japan was the primary enemy. The president had discussed this with congressional leaders and was certain that congress would not approve any aggressive action against the Germans. There were too many Americans of German and Italian descent, along with Americans who hated England, for this congress to act, at least not yet and not without extreme provocation.

Above all, Americans wanted Japan paid back for Pearl Harbor. Great Britain had lost the war with Germany, and so what if they wanted to hand a degree of control over part of Canada to Germany? It was their country, wasn’t it? The presence of a few thousand German soldiers did not represent a threat to the United States. As to the Jewish question, many people believed that the stories of vast killings and systematic massacres were the strident cries of Zionist extremists trying to get the United States to fight for them. Many felt that the Zionists were so desperate to get their homeland that they’d lie to achieve it.

Now, however, there were upwards of two hundred thousand German soldiers in Canada and the number was growing each day. The Germans had a formidable force in Canada, one that would be hard to expel without a major effort and much bloodshed. However, it might just come to that.

British code-breaking efforts had moved from Bletchley Park in England to Camp Washington and were again beginning to bear fruit. It was clear that the Germans were planning aggressive action against the United States and in the very near future. The only questions were why and precisely when?

FDR had a devious mind and he felt he understood his enemy. Code breaking transcripts called “Ultra” helped shape his thoughts as well.

"The Germans don't want the Japs to fail,” he said, “at least not yet. They want time to consolidate their conquests. They have millions of men stationed all over Europe from France to the heart of Russia and the Balkans. If they show weakness, they are afraid that the conquered peoples will explode. Our ambassador to the Soviets says that the Red Army is re-forming itself and might be ready for offensive action by this coming summer."

Marshall did not agree. "It'll be longer than that, perhaps much longer. The Russians are having a very difficult time feeding themselves, much less building up their army. They moved a large part of their population and much of their industrial capacity to a desolate region of their country that cannot support their basic needs. What they have accomplished was a marvel of hard work and ingenuity, but they need a lot of help."

FDR smiled, "Which they might just get if, when, Japan falls. If we wish we will then be able to reinstate Lend-Lease using the Siberian port of Vladivostok, as well as routes through Iran as back door ports of entry. We would only ship humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine, of course." He chuckled, "At least at first. Germany wants us unable to support Russia, so she is willing to chance a war with us and utterly defeat the Red Army and conquer the rest of Russia before we can enter the fray on behalf of the Red Army. If that happens we would be even more isolated than we are now. Besides, general, isn’t our source of information about Russia coming from Nazi code intercepts? How do we know that the German’s information is accurate? The Reds could have a monstrous army at their disposal."

Marshall's face showed his displeasure at being doubted. "I concede the point, sir, and I hope the Russians are ready to take on the Nazis, but I still doubt it. I further believe it would be utterly impossible to ship enough supplies via those lengthy and convoluted routes to make even a dent in Russia's needs. It doesn't make sense."

"Hitler doesn't make sense either, does he? He's like the dog who chases the car and, when he catches it, doesn't quite know what to do with it. He has conquered virtually all of Europe and now sees shadows. He has utter contempt for America, so he isn't concerned about us being able to expel his army in Canada before he can send in massive reinforcements."

Marshall concurred. "And he is under tremendous pressure to release some of his enormous army and get Germany back to peacetime prosperity. None of this can happen while he perceives threats from us or Russia."

"Or Britain's Commonwealth nations," FDR added. "Herr Hitler wants a final peace with England and the British are doing a marvelous job of stalling. To prove his point, Hitler has taken a part of Canada and is holding it hostage. What will be next? Ah yes, South Africa and then perhaps India. Germany would have allowed the Japs to take Australia and New Zealand, but we’ve stopped them so that isn’t going to happen. We must have war with Germany, but, general, whatever happens regarding Canada, the Nazis must be the aggressor."

"I understand, sir. But my people, along with Admiral King's, will be ready to retaliate as immediately as is humanly possible. With knowledge of their plans, we will be hitting them back much sooner than they expect and with much greater force."

FDR nodded approval. "It would help so much if we knew a precise date."

"Perhaps they don't know it either," the general mused. "Perhaps they are waiting for their forces to be stronger or perhaps they are waiting for pieces of the puzzle to fall into position."

"Which means, general, that we don't know all that we wish, doesn't it?"

"Correct, Mr. President. We simply don't know what additional surprises Herr Hitler might have up his sleeve."