Chapter 6 - North Reich - Robert Conroy

North Reich - Robert Conroy (2012)

Chapter 6

Downing looked through his magnifying glass at the photo on his desk. Making the picture larger didn't change what he saw.

"Son of a bitch," he growled.

Tom Grant looked over Downing's shoulder. The photos had come courtesy of the OSS. One of their agents had taken them. Tom hoped the man was still safe. He then wondered if it might have been a woman.

The 8x11 black and white photos in question were of a German Type IX U-boat. It was sitting in a cove that the caption said was on Prince Edward Island. A freighter was alongside and men were swarming over the sub. Where there's one, there's likely others, Tom thought.

Lieutenant Commander Sid Wolverton, USN and their naval liaison, agreed. "The Type IX is their long range U-boat," Wolverton said. "Its range is in excess of twenty thousand miles, which means it can stay off our coast for a very long time, especially if it can be re-fueled and the crew can get food."

"What are they doing to the sub?" Downing asked.

"It looks like their trying to camouflage it, colonel," Wolverton answered. "If they disguise it well enough, they could slip it up the St. Lawrence."

Tom remembered his trek through Canada. "I'll just bet it can go through the Welland and on to Lake Erie and points north."

Wolverton grinned. He was about Tom's age and a graduate of Annapolis. "That's right. Depending on which variant of the Type IX it is, they go about two hundred and fifty feet in length and have a beam of about twenty-one feet. Beam is width to you landlubbers."

"Screw you," said Tom with a smile.

Unperturbed, Wolverton continued. "She draws less than sixteen feet, so that's not a problem although with a conning tower she's over thirty feet tall. She can do almost twenty knots on the surface and seven submerged. She has six torpedo tubes, four in the bow and two in the stern. That's the rear for you, Tom."

"Up your stern, Sid. Any more good news?"

"Yeah, they carry a four inch deck gun and any number and caliber of anti-aircraft guns. They have a crew of at least fifty. We think the krauts have a couple hundred of them and most of them are now off our coast."

Downing answered. "What do you think they will do with her when they’re done working on her?"

Wolverton rubbed his chin. "Colonel, my guess is that they are prepping her for going up the river and through the lakes. I think there are probably others being disguised as well. They might go up under their own power, or they might be made to look like a barge and towed. Either way, it looks like the Nazis intend to have U-boats in the Great Lakes."

"When?" asked Downing.

Wolverton smiled. "They may have to wait a while. The lakes and rivers are still pretty well frozen and something like a sub cannot work as an icebreaker. They may have strong hulls in order to stand underwater pressure, but they are not built to bull their way through thick ice. Hell, if they're not careful, they could easily get jammed in for the winter."

"That would be an utter shame," Grant said. “But couldn’t they go submerged once the river begins to clear?”

Wolverton conceded the point. "Yes, but I'd say they couldn’t make their dash until mid-March at the earliest. Right now, I'd also say they'd have a hell of a time getting any subs up the St. Lawrence and to Toronto, much less through the Welland and beyond. No, they are going to be there for a while. After they have been disguised, I think they'll be moved to Halifax and then up the river."

Tom shook his head. The delay was at least a bit of good news. Still, they had nothing to stop them within the Great Lakes. If they could make it through to Lake Huron, U-boats could hide in Canadian waters among the multitude of islands in Georgian Bay and attack the ore carrying freighters that brought iron ore to America's factories. If they went beyond the Straits of Mackinaw to Milwaukee, Green Bay and Chicago, they could devastate those areas as well. Even if they were stopped in Lake Erie, they could still hit ships off Cleveland and elsewhere. A handful of enemy subs could seriously hinder America's ability to build the materials of war.

Tom looked at Downing. "What are we going to do, colonel?"

"Perhaps arrange to kill them. I'm thinking you might just be going to Canada again, Tom."

General Heinz Guderian smiled affably at his host, General Hans-Jurgen von Arnim. They were at von Arnim's headquarters north of Toronto. Several inches of snow lay on the ground and both men were thankful that there had been sufficient time to build warm and comfortable quarters for the soldiers. Guderian approved that von Arnim lived in a house that, while pleasant, was not ostentatious. He was not one of those “chateau generals” who lorded over the common troops.

"I hope your trip was pleasant," von Arnim said and then laughed.

"You know damn well it wasn't. For two weeks I was stuffed in a cruiser, the Prinz Eugen, and then it took another week to get from Halifax to here. I still don't know why I couldn't take a plane from Halifax, instead of an armored train through Quebec."

Guderian laughed. "Actually, the trip on the Prinz Eugen was quite pleasant, and the captain set a marvelous table. And the train trip was equally enlightening. Even though I had a cabin, I was able to mingle a bit with the troops also making the journey. Good men. Still, I would rather have flown."

Von Arnim simply smiled. It had been explained to Guderian that, should his plane have to make an emergency landing in Quebec, it was entirely likely that he would be killed by Quebecois and his body never found. Von Arnim had considered having Guderian travel to Toronto by ship, but the river was iced up and that route was also dangerous.

“When I first arrived in the new world,” von Arnim said, “I disembarked at New York. A consular staffer drove me around the town and then I took the train to Washington. I was in civilian clothes, of course, and I had that consular guide for the simple reason that my command of English is execrable.”

“As is mine,” Guderian admitted.

“After seeing that Washington was pleasant and that New York was huge, my embassy guides chartered a plane and I flew to Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburg. I learned a lot. Their industrial might could easily overpower us.”

Guderian looked out a window, choosing not to comment. "For God's sake, where are we, the end of the world?"

Von Arnim poured cognac into ornate Waterford snifters and handed one to Guderian. It was a Remy Martin and quite old. "Quite possibly. I don't think anyone in Berlin has any idea of the vastness of North America any more than we did the enormous size of Russia. At least that bear is caged."

Guderian growled. "Don't count on it. Part of the reason I'm here is because I offended the Fuhrer by telling him the truth, which, of course, he doesn't want to hear. All intelligence estimates indicate that the Soviets are rearming and come spring will attempt to liberate at least some of what we've taken from them. Their Marshal Zhukov wants to fight a war of attrition which we cannot win, and I'm afraid Hitler will accommodate him by once again refusing even the slightest of tactical retreats. I shudder at the thought of German units being overrun by hordes of Red Army soldiers and crushed or blown up by T34 tanks. Even their once pathetic air force has improved enormously. No, von Arnim, I firmly believe that the bloodletting in Russia is far from over, which is why I believe an attack on the United States at this time would be utter folly."

Von Arnim shrugged. "But we have our orders. Yours are to observe my preparations and compile a report that no one will read. Mine are to prepare to launch a multi-pronged attack on a number of American facilities and then hang on until the American navy is swept from the seas by the Kriegsmarine and a relief army can come and rescue us."

Guderian sipped his brandy and smiled sadly. "And that is about as likely as Christmas coming in August. The Fuhrer believes that Doenitz's U-boats will destroy the combined British and American fleets so that large convoys of men and material can sail from Europe, escorted by what remains of the Admiral Doenitz’s surface fleet. I don't think the Fuhrer or the men around him have any idea of the size and power of the American navy, especially if it will be reinforced by ships of the Royal Navy who will doubtless fight as allies of the Yanks once the shooting starts."

Von Arnim smiled confidently. "But the American navy is split between the Atlantic and the Pacific with the larger share in the Pacific actually fighting against the Japanese."

"True, but the Japanese are on the proverbial ropes and the Americans can afford to send ships to reinforce what they already have in the Atlantic if they so desire. If they get even a whiff of our plans, that will happen very quickly. They could have a very large fleet off the St. Lawrence a month after our attack."

"You paint a dismal picture."

"But a truthful one," Guderian said, "and look at what it got me, a chance to discuss matters with you over some excellent brandy in the middle of the Canadian steppes. I also tried to tell them that your Luftwaffe contingent will be swept from the skies, but again they wouldn't listen. They look to the time it has taken the Americans to put down the Japanese, forgetting that Japan began the war with a splendid fighter plane in the Zero and a number of extremely skilled pilots. The Zero is now obsolete because the Americans caught on to it and built better planes, and the elite Japanese pilots are almost all dead. The Americans are using their best pilots to train hundreds, thousands, of new pilots while the Japanese are permitting their best to keep fighting and die without sharing their knowledge and experience with replacements who are little more than cannon fodder when they go up to fight the Americans. No, I firmly believe that the Americans will not only greatly outnumber your planes, but that their pilots will be at least as good."

"And what did Fat Hermann say to that?" von Arnim asked.

Von Arnim had close to a thousand planes of all types at his disposal. Once it had seemed an enormous air fleet. But now?

Guderian laughed. "Reichsmarshal Goering was too drugged up to notice. He simply smiled and drooled. Field Marshal Keitel thought I was again being too pessimistic and potentially unpatriotic. He felt that German pilots would sweep the skies of Jewish-led American swine and Hitler concurred. Once again I demurred and here I am."

Guderian rose and looked out the window at the blowing snow whipping across the brown grass. It did remind him of the steppes of Russia. He’d been told that the weather in this part of Ontario was considered quite temperate, and that the real steppes lay far to the west. He did not like the idea of having to fight across such terrain to reach the Pacific and hoped it would never prove necessary.

Guderian finished the last of this drink. "At least the German soldier is better than the American. The men of the Wehrmacht are better trained, better armed, and, God help me for the conceit, better led."

Von Arnim added to their cognacs. "At least here you are safe, and, to tell you the truth, I am pleased to have someone of your experience around when the fighting starts. Perhaps we can combine our talents and confound the naysayers and that," he laughed, “includes you.”

This time Tom Grant crossed into Canada without any attempt at subterfuge. Although in civilian clothes, he had identification saying he was a commercial attaché to the American consulate in Toronto. He was also using his own name, which further simplified matters. If he was stopped, or even arrested, he could claim diplomatic immunity and would quickly be released. He hoped.

Sergeant Major Farnum had volunteered to be his driver and the two men crossed the border at the Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo in New York and Fort Erie in Canada. They had no trouble. The bored looking Canadian customs man on duty scarcely glanced at them and did not even ask for ID. There were a few people entering Canada but a larger number leaving, and some looked distraught.

Before entering Canada, Tom gave some thought to attempting to locate the man who'd rescued him, Sheriff Canfield, but decided he didn’t have the time. From Fort Erie they drove to the city of St. Catharines and then along the coast to Toronto. At the consulate, they were met by an elderly, white-haired staffer named Stanford Dylan who was clearly not pleased to see them.

"Let me be blunt," Dylan said. "The last thing we need is a bunch of military types blundering around and disturbing what is a very delicate balancing act between the United States, Canada, and Germany. In particular, major, we don't need you here after your escapade of last fall. Your diplomatic immunity will only carry you so far and I would not be in the least bit surprised if the police picked you up and I had to file a protest to get you out of jail. Of course," he sniffed, "it would doubtless take me a few days to accomplish that trick during which time you might be subject to the mercies of the Gestapo."

Before an angry Grant could respond, Farnum smiled wickedly, stuck his face close to Dylan’s, and spoke for him. "If either the major or I have any problems that aren't immediately solved by you, I will personally come and kick all your teeth down your throat and out your asshole, asshole." He pulled out a switchblade, opened it, and held the long shining blade under Dylan's nose. Dylan had gone pale. "And when I'm done with that, I'll cut off your balls and mail them to Secretary of State Hull. Understand?"

"Yes," Dylan squeaked.

Tom rose and solemnly shook Dylan’s limp and sweating hand. "I'm glad we had this little talk and I'm so confident we can count on your support, Mr. Dylan."
They left the consulate and drove to the Royal York Hotel where they had reservations. With more than a thousand guest rooms, the hotel's sheer size ensured that they could come and go with a fighting chance of not being observed.

Tom had come to Canada for several reasons, one of which was to make contact with someone with the rather unoriginal code-name of Maple. Initially, Maple had made contact through the American military attaché in Ottawa. Tom had no idea what Maple wanted, although it was hoped that the person could provide real insights into what the Nazis were up to. Rumors of the persecution of Jews were beginning to surface and there were hints that some Canadians might be willing to rise up and fight their oppressors, if only they could get their hands on some weapons.

Tom was still dressed and not surprised when there was a quick but firm knock on the hotel door a little after midnight. He opened it and a man in his forties flashed a badge and directed Tom to come with him. Tom was concerned that he was being arrested and was about to awaken Farnum when the man whispered the magic word - Maple.

They drove in an unmarked car that Tom thought might have been Maple's personal vehicle, finally stopping a block away from a large building that was clearly a church. It took Tom a moment to realize that it was a synagogue.

"First," Tom said, "do I get to know your real name, and, second, why are we here?"

"I'll tell you my real name later if I decide I can trust you. As to the rest, just sit tight and watch."

Promptly at two AM, a pair of trucks pulled up in front of the main doors to the synagogue. A dozen men in black shirts tumbled out. Some of them were having trouble walking in the icy street and were clearly drunk. Most carried clubs, but a few had what looked like pistols.

Without any regard for silence, they attached chains and ropes to the synagogue’s doors and to the trucks. The trucks pulled out, ripping the doors off with a loud screech. The black shirted men whooped and ran into the building. The sounds of glass breaking and wood shattering quickly followed.

Tom was aghast. "You're a cop. Do something."

"Not yet. We have orders to stand down."

Tom could not hide his dismay, "From whom and why?"

"Look, Grant, there are maybe two hundred thousand Jews in Canada and a lot of them are here in the Toronto area, and Jews are no more popular here than anywhere else, despite the fact that they've been in Canada since about the first days of exploration. Personally, I don't care for them very much at all, but I don't like the idea of these Black Shirts having so much power. I even have it on good authority that some of them are off-duty cops."


"The synagogue is empty and the Torahs and anything else of value’s been removed. It's pretty much the same all over the area. The Jews are lying low. They worship in homes now, and not in synagogues." Maple handed Tom a couple of typewritten pages of paper and a small flashlight. "Here, read this."

Tom ducked down so the light couldn’t be seen. He sagged as he quickly read what happened to Mary Bradford. "You related to her?"

"I'm a friend of her father's and I've known Mary since she was an infant and I’ve just decided to trust you. My name is Sam Lambert and I'm a detective on the Toronto police force. I asked for your army to send someone down here to show them what is happening in the shadows and why we need help. There are a number of us who, regardless of what we feel about Jews, are beginning to get very scared about the Canadian Legion’s Black Shirts, the Gestapo, the SS, and the whole German problem. Word is, they're going to take over the police forces and all government agencies."

Police sirens began to sound in the distance. The men in the synagogue ran out and climbed into their trucks, driving away without a care in the world. From inside the synagogue, lights flickered. They had set the place on fire.

Tom had a horrible thought. "Did you set this up for my benefit?"

"I didn't have to. The Black Shirts do something like this every few days. Ransacking a synagogue is something they don't do very often, however. It shows they're getting bolder and that is scary."

"But you knew about it?"

"Yes. Of course we have informers in their little club along with some of their members having big mouths. We were also told to let it happen but not let it go too far. The idiots were given ten minutes to have their fun breaking things and now the police will arrive, find nothing, and the fire trucks will be right behind and put out the little fire that was set."

There was no more to be seen. Police and fire arrived almost as if they'd been waiting a few blocks away. Firemen rushed in and extinguished the fire in a few minutes. Cops looked around for witnesses, but no one noted the two of them sitting in a car in plain sight.

Lambert drove away and back towards the Royal York. "Our numbers are small but growing. There are about fifty of us and we're organized into squads, or cells, if you prefer. We all believe that it's just a matter of time before the U.S. and Germany go to war and then we can start taking on the Black Shirts and maybe even the Gestapo."

"So what do you want me to do?"

"Get us some weapons. Pretty much all we have is our service revolvers and that won't cut it. We want rifles and automatic weapons. Grenades and some other stuff that will help us blow things up would be nice as well."

They drove past a large building with a bold sign that said it housed the German mission. Lambert explained that it was the nerve center for German operations in Ontario and housed the Gestapo along with other German agencies. Tom stared hard at a man in civilian clothes who was leaving with another, smaller man. Finally, it dawned on Tom.

"My God, Lambert, that's Heinz Guderian."

"Yep, and the little shit beside him is Oskar Neumann, the man in charge of the Gestapo in Toronto as well as the Black Shirts. He's responsible for tonight's synagogue attack and for the death of Mary Bradford. I understand he also planned to steal some secret material by attacking a courier outside Washington. It was a shame when one of his precious Black Shirts got his ass killed, although I understand an American soldier was killed as well."

"What are they doing here at two in the morning?"

Lambert chuckled, "Probably inside drinking human blood."

Tom stared at Neumann, trying to memorize his face. Even though it was far more important to get news of Guderian's presence to Washington, he could not take his eyes off the Gestapo chief. Neumann was the man who had orchestrated the attack on Alicia, and he felt a strong urge to strike back at the man. What impressed him the most about Neumann’s appearance was that the man looked so ordinary, perhaps even less than ordinary. How could such a little man be the face of evil?

"Lambert, I will do everything I can to get you your weapons."

To her surprise, Alicia found herself back as a courier, again running pouches between Camp Washington and the Pentagon. Now, however, her sedan was bracketed by two others and each contained at least three MPs. Her driver and the soldier who rode shotgun were constantly changed and, even though the new guys were nice enough, she missed the camaraderie of her earlier rides with Wilkins and Henry. She had managed to attend a memorial service for Henry before his body had been sent out west where his family lived and mourned.

Wilkins was a different case. All external wounds had healed but when she'd visited him he told her he still had trouble remembering things and bright lights caused excruciating headaches. He said that he'd be medically discharged and probably given a pension. He'd told her that he'd rather have his mind back than a discharge. Alicia sadly concurred.

Also gone were little joyrides around Washington before dropping off the pouch. Everyone was just too grim and again she concurred. Even though they weren't quite at war with Germany, the U.S. was almost at war with them.

She'd gotten word confirming that she would get a Purple Heart for the injuries she'd suffered, and would receive it in a quiet ceremony in the very near future. The army had toyed with the idea of letting her wear the Combat Infantry Badge, but a careful look at the rules of eligibility showed she didn't qualify, and she'd whole-heartedly concurred.

At least Tom was back in the states. She hadn't had a chance to see him since his return from Canada. He'd been closeted with a number of high ranking generals and a few civilians, who, she was informed, were with the OSS.

She smiled to herself as she walked down the familiar corridors of the Pentagon. Her blond hair had grown back and she was keeping it an inch or so longer than regulations, but nobody seemed to care and she no longer minded the attention.

Alicia passed a newspaper stand. Headlines shouted that the liberation of the Philippines was well under way and that Manila would soon fall to MacArthur. Good, she thought. There were thousands of prisoners of war and interned civilians who needed to be freed. It was a blessing for them that America was not at war with Germany as well as Japan. It might have delayed the defeat of Japan.

She asked Sergeant Major Farnum if he'd enjoyed his trip to Canada and the burly noncom smiled and said he had and that Tom had asked him to deliver a message. He hoped she'd stick around so they could go to dinner. No problem she thought. It was already late and she could authorize the MPs to stay overnight in D.C., which, she was confident, they wouldn't mind for one minute.

The Willard Hotel was only a block from the White House and, over time, had been the home for many famous and infamous guests. The four story structure of Civil War fame had followed the original hotel that had opened in 1816, and had given way to the current twelve story edifice that opened in 1901. The present Willard retained the grace and elegance of the Victorian age and Alicia thought she could visualize Teddy Roosevelt striding confidently across the room and grinning hugely. Alicia wondered just how Tom managed to get reservations for dinner, but didn't ask

They dined on clams and scallops and each had a glass of the house’s white wine. Tom jokingly told her he'd tried to get them a room, but the hotel was full. She laughed and told him it was just as well since she had no plans to go to bed with him at this time. Damn, he thought.

They were just about finished when the waiter brought them another two glasses of wine. "Courtesy of the gentleman who is leaving, sir."

They turned to the doorway where they saw a grinning General Eisenhower and his wife Mamie on their way out. Ike waved and they returned the informal salute.

"Wow," said Tom, "I had no idea he remembered me."

"Well, you are unforgettable, you know."

Later, they walked outside. She hooked her arm in his and they walked down l4th Street, turned right and strolled past the White House. There was a cold mist in the air, but they didn't mind. Tom thought they'd have to get a cab pretty soon or they'd catch pneumonia. Again, who cared?

"Alicia, when I was in Canada I saw evil and I'm afraid it's going to come this way unless we do something about it."

He took a deep breath and laughed at himself. What he'd just said was just too dramatic. He told her about the vandalism of the synagogue and the terrible death of Mary Bradford. He added that he'd seen the man who'd set those three men on her and her two companions.

"Neumann looked so ordinary. He could have been a teacher, or an accountant, or a shoe salesman, but not a murderer, and that's what makes the Nazis so terrible. Normal looking people have been subverted into monsters. Even the Black Shirts were just thugs in dress-up. If they didn't have the power of the Reich behind them, they'd all be day laborers spending their time in and out of jail. Now, if the Nazis have their way, those goons are the face of the future."

She rested her head on his shoulder. The White House was barely visible in the mist. Lights were on. Somewhere inside, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was doubtless pondering the future of the country.

"Are you saying that war with Germany is inevitable?"
"Only if we want to have a country,” he said. “We're almost isolated now. Yes, we're going to whip the Japs, but then what? Germany is getting stronger and stronger and other countries in our hemisphere are wondering which side's going to emerge on top. And, yes, it should be sooner rather than later."

She buried her head in his shoulder and took a deep breath. Maybe she should have let him get that hotel room. It didn't have to be the Willard. No, she thought, not yet. She stood tall and kissed him on the lips. He grinned and held her tightly. They kissed again and didn't care if it was still raining.

FDR expertly wheeled his chair around the map room located on the ground floor in the White House. The walls were covered with maps of all types, including a few that clearly came from National Geographic magazines. Notes and arrows had been pinned or taped to indicate the latest that was known about the military situation throughout the world. Manila had just fallen to MacArthur and several thousand prisoners of war and internees had been freed, although several hundred more had been butchered by the retreating Japanese. Tens of thousands of civilians had been murdered by vengeful Japanese. They would pay, Roosevelt thought grimly.

One vast area was conspicuous by its lack of data and that was what remained of the Soviet Union. Of course, FDR thought grimly, the Russians never had shared anything with their allies. He would try to get more information from their ambassador, Andrei Gromyko. He wondered if Gromyko’s masters in Siberia let him in on any of their secrets. Probably not, he realized.

The second area of concern was the eastern half of Canada. Significant German units of division size were indicated in a number of places in Ontario, with an infantry brigade stationed at Halifax to protect the port. Altogether, they represented more than a quarter of a million German soldiers.

Roosevelt lit his cigarette and smiled at his four guests - General George C. Marshal, Admiral Ernest King, OSS Director William Donavan and Clyde Tolson, the Associate Director of the FBI. At other times they would be rivals. Now, however, they would have to cooperate whether they wanted to or not. The danger confronting the United States was just too imminent and the enemy too close. However, it was annoying that the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, didn't think a presidential summons was sufficient reason for him to show up in person. Arrogant prick, thought Roosevelt. He would tolerate the man because he didn't want rumors of his own transgressions leaking out to the public. In particular, he didn't want his mistress, Lucy Mercer, hurt. He would tolerate Hoover. Perhaps someday he could verify the rumors about Hoover's personal sexual preferences and even things out by exposing the obnoxious bastard as a faggot.

Roosevelt forced a smile. "We have a date, gentlemen. On Sunday, April second, the Germans will launch a multi-pronged attack on the United States."

"How reliable is the information?" asked Tolson. The others looked away. Obviously, Tolson had not been informed about America's code-breaking abilities.

"Extremely," said Roosevelt. "Now all we have to do is decide how to handle this prize. As I see it, we have several options. The first is obvious, we inform the Nazis that we know of their plans and that will leave them with several options of their own. First, they can cancel the attacks altogether."

"Fat chance," snapped Donovan. As an old friend of the president he was given latitude to be blunt. "They might delay, but they will not cancel altogether."

"Agreed," said Marshall and King concurred. Tolson sat impassively.

"Could they accelerate their timetable?" asked Tolson, earning looks of mild respect from the others with his prescient question. Perhaps he was more than just Hoover's flunky.

Marshall answered. "We're about two months away from the target date of what has to be an extremely complex operation. A number of widely separated and disparate pieces must all come together and at the same time in an extremely complicated dance. They might be able to shave a few days off their schedule, but nothing more."

Again, there was agreement. Marshall had first earned his reputation in World War I by organizing a massive shift of the American armies in the face of the Kaiser’s armies that others thought was impossible. Logistics ruled the battlefield and Marshall was a master of logistics.

Roosevelt took a deep drag on his cigarette. "Gentlemen, do we want war with Germany?"

King answered. "Only a fool wants war, but if war is inevitable, and I think it is, it should be on our terms. Since they could and might just change their plans, I suggest we prepare as fully as we possibly can."

Donovan looked somber. "What about a pre-emptive strike, say a couple of days before the scheduled attack?"

FDR winced and shook his head. "Lovely as it may sound, it would still brand us as the aggressor, which is something that would be very difficult to swallow. I have hinted at such a possibility with the Speaker of the House, the very grumpy Sam Rayburn of Texas, and he says our political opposition would crucify us, as would many in our own party. One war at a time is more than enough. I might even be impeached. No, the Germans must fire the first shot."

"Then we will prepare for war," said Marshall. "My staff and I have made some command decisions and will quietly implement them."

"As will the navy," said King.

"For our part," Tolson said proudly, "the FBI has identified about a hundred German aliens who might be possible saboteurs or even assassins. When the time comes we will take them in."

Donovan laughed harshly, startling them, "A hundred? Is that all? How many haven't you identified? For Christ sake, my OSS has sent far more than that into Canada to gather info and cause trouble when the time comes. You say you know about a hundred, but what about the ones you don't know about? Are you watching the border crossings?"

Tolson bristled, "Of course. I assure you we have the situation well in hand."

"I hope so," Donovan continued. "If I was Canaris, I would send my people in at a number of places along the whole continental border and not just at Buffalo or Detroit, which is what we've done to get our people across. Then I'd have them rent rooms a hundred miles away from their targets and wait for orders. I'm quite certain the FBI wouldn't find them until they emerged from their lairs and struck."

Tolson had begun to sweat. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris was the head of the Abwehr, Germany’s intelligence gathering apparatus, and was likely in charge of sabotage as well. What Donovan was saying had the ring of truth. How many could they have missed? Hoover would not want to hear this. Tolson forced a smile. "I repeat, we have the situation under control."

FDR smiled benignly. "I'm sure you do. It would be a shame for such a marvelous organization as the FBI to have its reputation tarnished."

Roosevelt's mind was racing. He had handed Hoover a weapon to use in the future by ordering the U.S. to prepare for war but to do nothing to halt it. That people would die because of his inaction was a given. The conspiracy theorists who already blamed him for the disastrous Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor would have a field day if they found out.

On the other hand, with his assertion that the agency had everything under control, Tolson had just doomed the FBI to failure. The FBI could not possibly have everything under its control. It had the makings of a nice quid pro quo.

Roosevelt smiled for an instant and then turned grim. "Then let us all prepare for war on April second. And let us all pray that the German attacks do not cause too many American casualties."