North Reich - Robert Conroy (2012)
It occurred to Tinker that he was lately spending a lot of his time crawling on the ground and watching Germans. It was better than being in jail and he was helping to hurt the Germans which he thought was a good idea.
During these snowy damp days, he had been observing a lot of civilian workers and contractors building what looked like a good-sized military facility located north of Toronto and between the towns of Barrie and Newmarket. Barracks for several thousand soldiers had been constructed and the large compound was protected from intruders by several barb wire fences. Watchtowers were beginning to go up.
Tinker was proud of the fact that he'd managed to get inside on a couple of occasions by hiring on as a day laborer. That had given him the opportunity to look around and he'd discovered some things that were disturbing. First, the barracks were very poorly made, with gaping holes in the walls and floors that would permit the winter wind to blow through without interruption. The same held true for the roofs which, his co-workers laughed, would leak on a sunny day. He'd never been in the army, but he felt sorry for the poor buggers who would have to live in such miserably constructed places.
When Tinker mentioned it, his foreman had shrugged. "It's what the Germans want and it's what they're paying for. They don't want to pay for quality, so we're not going to give it to them."
Another concern was the lack of sanitation. The toilets were little more than the crudest latrines and it seemed like there were too few of them. The same held with kitchen facilities. It looked like the troops would be expected to either eat outdoors or take their mess kits back to their miserable barracks and eat there.
"Penny for your thoughts," said Sandman, the OSS agent who was with him. Sandman wasn't his real name, of course, and he'd given his own name as Felon, which was close enough to the truth. They were on a knoll a couple of hundred yards away and covered with a tarp which was itself covered with foliage.
"I don't get it," Tinker had said the day before. "Nothing makes any sense. Why would they build more barracks when they have perfectly good ones, better ones, a few miles to the north?"
Sandman took a look through his own binoculars. "You can't see the forest for the trees, can you?"
Tinker had bristled. "And you can?"
Sandman was in his early twenties and looked like he should still be in college. Tinker generally didn’t like know-it-all college boys, but Sandman was an exception. He was willing to take personal risks and seemed willing to learn. "Yes. You're making the assumption that those buildings are barracks. Maybe they're for something else."
Tinker had been about to say what, when it occurred to him. The thought was like a punch in the stomach. The buildings weren't poorly constructed barracks, they were meant to be a large prison camp. Jesus, he realized, not a small prison like the Gestapo camp outside Toronto, but a fucking concentration camp.
Later that night the first trucks arrived. Dozens and then hundreds of confused and dazed men, women, and children were pushed off and left to fend for themselves. The pattern continued during the day. It began to snow heavily so the two men crawled closer to the wire. The watchtowers weren't completed, but armed guards, Black Shirts, prowled the perimeter.
"Hey! What the fuck are you guys doing?"
Fuck, Tinker thought. They'd been so engrossed in what they were looking at that they forgot to check their rear. Three Black Shirts were racing towards them. One got close enough to grab Tinker before he could pull his revolver. They tumbled to the ground and rolled over. Tinker was small but he was tough and well-schooled in street fighting and the Black Shirt wasn't. Tinker grabbed the guy's balls and squeezed with all his might while the Black Shirt howled maniacally. The Black Shirt let go and Tinker got up, pulling his pistol. Two Black Shirts were fighting Sandman and several others were coming on fast.
"Run!" yelled Sandman.
Tinker didn't want to leave the American, but he knew he had to. The man he'd hurt chose that moment to grab Tinker's leg. Tinker put the pistol to his head and fired. Blood and brains sprayed out and the others were stunned, but only momentarily. One of them pulled out his gun and fired wildly.
Still more Black Shirts were coming. Sandman was doomed. Tinker fired two more times at the oncoming enemy, causing them to duck. When they did, he ran like he was on fire.
He reached a dirt road that had been plowed. Good. He wouldn't be leaving tracks in the snow for the Black Shirts to follow. He knew he would escape because he knew the area and had planned for such a disaster. It had begun to snow heavily and the night was getting darker. He would make it, but Sandman was doomed. Damn it to hell. Thank God he'd used an alias. A lot of people knew Tinker, but nobody knew Felon.
Oskar Neumann was fairly pleased with the day's news and events. First, he'd gotten official word that April second was the day the despised Jewish-dominated Americans would begin to pay for all the insults inflicted on the Reich. He could continue to destroy the Jewish culture that permeated both Canada and the United States.
Second, another detachment of Gestapo agents had arrived, bringing his suddenly burgeoning force to over two hundred. Along with his Black Shirts and SS volunteers, he would be able to raise hell with the Canadians. It didn't matter that only a few of them spoke more than a smattering of English. Their presence would be enough to cow the Canadians.
He was less than thrilled with the presence of General Heinz Guderian. The general was not one of Neumann's favorite people due to his annoying habit of arguing with the Fuhrer. That was unheard of. Neumann did not believe in God, but if he did, he was certain the deity would look a lot like Adolf Hitler. Besides, who was in charge of the army in Ontario - Guderian or von Arnim? Guderian said it was von Arnim and nobody disputed that fact. Yet. Perhaps Guderian would take over when the army became large enough, which might be very soon. Additional German soldiers were arriving every day.
Jed Munro knocked on his door and entered. He was sweaty and his shirt was open. There was blood on his chest. "We're done, sir."
Neumann stood, straightened his uniform, and followed his loyal Black Shirt down the stairways to the basement and the room in which so many had been "interrogated," beginning with Mary Bradford. Not much had changed since then, except for the addition of drains in the floor to carry away the blood.
The naked man strapped to the chair had been beaten to a pulp. His body was covered with cuts, welts, and burns, and his fingertips and toes were bloody stumps where the nails had been pulled out. He was breathing but likely barely conscious. The other Munro brother, stripped to the waist and covered with sweat and the prisoner's blood, stood behind the prisoner. Jed pulled the man's head back. His mouth opened, exposing gaps where teeth had been pulled out.
"How long did it take?" Neumann asked. He wondered if his Canadian protégé had learned anything about the art of interrogation.
Jed grinned. "He started out brave enough, even laughing when we hit him like he was going to be some kind of hero when he got home. Maybe he thought he’d even get a medal. He stopped, though, when we squeezed his testicles between a couple of bricks. Then he began to howl like a cat on fire. Right then he began telling us everything he knew, including his mother's name, which is Agatha, by the way."
"Excellent, and what did you find out?"
"He's with the OSS and his code name is Sandman. He was with a Canadian whose code-name is Felon and they were observing the camp. They figured out that it's going to be a concentration camp for fucking Jews. Felon escaped and he had a car, which means he's far away by now. This guy, his real name is Arthur Brewer by the way, doesn't know anything more about Felon, only described him as a little shrimp. A second Canadian, Maple, had them meet. He thinks Maple is a cop, but isn't certain. Arthur is from Baltimore if you're interested."
Neumann wasn't but nodded politely. You could never tell when such tidbits of information might become useful. "Did you keep on working him after he told you everything?"
Jed puffed up proudly and Wally grinned. "Yes, sir, just like you told us. He might have thought we'd go easy after he squealed, but, like you said, who's to know what else he might have in his brain."
Neumann picked up a pair of tongs and cruelly pinched the flesh on Sandman's ribs. He screamed and tried to move away. "This creature isn't Jewish, is he?" Neumann asked. He had tried to ascertain, but the man's scrotum and penis were so swollen and purple from internal bleeding that he could barely see whether he'd been circumcised, although it looked like he had been.
"No sir. He said he was Lutheran."
Neumann was inclined to believe it. Even in Germany, many non-Jews had been circumcised, and the custom in Canada and the U.S. was even more widespread.
"What do you want us to do with him?" asked Jed.
Neumann thought for only a moment. Sandman had no further use. "Go ahead," he said to a grinning Jed who pulled a revolver and fired once into the back of Sandman's head.
He went back upstairs to his office, leaving the Munro boys with the task of disposing of the body - it would be buried in an adjacent field - and hosing down the mess in the interrogation room.
Neumann sat at his desk and lit a cigarette. The Americans in general and the OSS in particular were annoying to him. If the war started as planned on April 2, he would be temporarily cut off from the Reich. As it was, ships were arriving daily with men and supplies and leaving empty unless they carried foodstuffs to an ever hungry Reich. Perhaps now was the time to start getting rid of the garbage - Jewish garbage of course.
April second was coming up far too quickly. When the war started in earnest, it would be very difficult for him to ship his Jews to their final destination. He would have to act quickly.
Terry Romano thought his B24 was getting loaded down with too many weapons. Each one meant additional weight and that could cause problems with stability and fuel consumption. Now someone had thought to add five-inch rockets with modified anti-aircraft warheads to the plane's already impressive arsenal. Two of these were slung under each wing and much time had been spent learning how to use the weapons that had originally been intended as tank killers on fighter planes. Terry and his crew were confident that the rockets would easily pierce the hull of a U-boat and raise holy hell inside, probably sinking it.
However, hitting the target was the problem. If the approach was made from the side of the target, it was very easy to shoot either over or under the slender target. If approached from the bow or stern, the narrow shape of the hull meant similar difficulties. After much trial and error and a lot of practice with dummy warheads, Terry and the crew of the Vampire were confident that they might just hit a German submarine if the situation was right.
At least they'd gotten off the graveyard shift. Someone on high had the bright idea that enemy subs might just be active during the day; thus, the crew of the Vampire was flying sedately out the Chesapeake Bay. Another time and place and the view would have been beautiful, even though it was still freezing cold and the men wore every piece of warm clothing they could. The brass didn't care about their creature comforts. Today, their task was to look for ships and identify friend or foe.
They left the Bay and flew farther out into the Atlantic until they were well past the invisible line that the U.S. claimed as its territory. A number of ships were visible below, and a surprising number were American warships. No carriers, of course, they were either in the Pacific or safely in a harbor. No sense tempting some Nazi sub commander with a target he couldn't refuse, even if it meant starting a war.
Phil Watson, his co-pilot, jabbed him on the shoulder. "Look down there."
Tony didn't see it at first and then he did. It was just visible as a short thin line in the water with a flickering white tail. Jesus, he thought, it was a sub. But was it one of ours or a U-boat? Even though this was still peace time, nobody wanted to make a mistake that might cause American deaths. All the pilots and crews had spent a lot of time in ship recognition courses so he flew low and got a better look. Yep, it was a type IX U-boat but it looked different from the pictures and silhouettes he'd seen. The sub spotted them and one of his men took pictures before the kraut could dive.
"What was that on its conning tower?" Tony asked as the sub disappeared under the waves. He thought he knew the answer but wanted confirmation. A tall thick pipe extended far higher than the sub's conning tower.
"Looks like a snorkel to me," said his co-pilot, giving the German word schnorkel the American pronunciation.
"Damn it, just what we needed," Tony said.
Intelligence said that the snorkel enabled the German subs to stay under forever because they could change their air and keep running on their diesels while submerged without suffocating the crew. They would only have to use their batteries when running deep and it was thought they could re-charge them while using the snorkel.
Without a snorkel, subs spent most of their time on the surface. Their batteries were so limited they couldn't stay submerged very long, and they couldn't run their diesels while submerged because the crew would suffocate. The crew would suffocate anyhow if the air wasn't changed. The snorkel solved these problems by sucking air into the sub, and raised new problems for the United States.
The snorkel was very imperfect, mainly because the air it delivered was still foul, but breathable and sometimes heavy seas caused water to come down the pipe. Despite all its flaws and shortcomings, it would give the Germans a tremendous advantage if the rumors were only half true.
Tony checked his fuel status. Time to head back. He'd reported the U-boat's position but nothing would come of it. It would be long gone before any ships showed up. Besides, what would they do besides annoy the sub. It wasn't as if the U.S. was at war with Germany. At least they'd be back on shore while restaurants were open and wouldn't have to eat at the mess hall.
He flipped on the intercom. "Hey, any of you guys ever have a pizza pie?"
"A what?" they responded. Someone else said he'd heard of apple and cherry, but not pizza pie.
Tony laughed. "I said a pizza pie. It's an Italian food that you usually only find in Italian communities. It's made of baked flat bread and covered with tomato sauce, melted cheese, and sometimes sausages and onions, and it's delicious. Be thankful that your loyal skipper did find a place that just opened up and it's only a short drive from the base."
"Are you buying?" came from several voices.
What the hell, Tony thought, "Yeah."
Grant read the latest report sent over from the OSS and compared it with data gotten by other sources. They corroborated, which was not a surprise. According to the sources, the Germans were quietly disbursing their forces in the only two directions an American counter-attack could come. These were the area around Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the stretch between Sarnia and Windsor, Ontario. A few officers with scant knowledge of the area along the St. Lawrence River had suggested that either army could cross into Quebec along the border with Maine. When they were reminded that the land was thickly forested and had few roads, they were silenced. It was admitted, however, that small German units could and probably were crossing the border.
In one meeting, Ike had grumbled that the roads to the Buffalo-Niagara area were totally inadequate for the movement of large units, especially armor. "Someday," he'd said, "America will have real highways like the German Autobahn to move troops and supplies. The country roads we have now are ridiculously inadequate."
He gave the info to Downing who read it and left the room. He returned in a few minutes and signaled Tom to follow. They went down the hallway to General Truscott's office and entered. To Tom's surprise, Eisenhower was seated alongside Truscott's desk. The two generals told him to take a seat.
"Once again, good thinking," said Truscott, "even though this tells us nothing we didn't already know, it does confirm things."
Unsaid was the fact that the OSS had risen in everyone's estimation. Not only was the information they were providing proving correct, but the agency had lost a number of agents to the Germans. At least a dozen men and a couple of women had either been killed or captured. Tom shuddered at the thought of what would happen to them in the clutches of either the Gestapo or their local first cousins, the Black Shirts. Both groups had well-deserved reputations for sadism. All one had to do was think of what happened to young Mary Bradford and she had been an innocent Canadian, not an American spy.
"The Canadians are getting very antsy," Ike said with a smile. "It's finally occurring to their government in Ottawa that they could have a war right on their doorstep. Hell, it would be inside their doorstep. They're afraid that what happened to Poland could happen to them, and I don't blame them. If shooting starts on April 2, then we are going to have to go in and root out the Germans. It might just be as bad as it is happening against the Japanese."
Word was coming from the Philippines that the defeated Japanese would not surrender and had begun fighting to the last man; thus inflicting serious casualties on MacArthur's army. Even worse was the fact that Japanese planes had begun making suicide attacks on American warships and had even sunk a couple of small carriers and damaged a number of others. Tom wondered just how the hell do you stop a man in a plane who's hell bent on killing himself? And what would happen when the American fleet got within range of Japanese planes currently based on their home islands?
"I genuinely feel sorry for the Canadians," Truscott said, "but it's going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better."
Truscott signaled that the discussion was over. As he and Downing walked back to their office, Tom wondered what Toronto would look like after heavy fighting. Probably like the ruins of Stalingrad? Everyone had seen pictures of that place after the Germans had finally taken it. It was a wasteland.
Leighton Goldie McCarthy had once been a handsome man. When younger, he'd had a firm jaw and a steel gaze that intimidated his subordinates and competitors in the insurance field. Now, as Canada's first ambassador to the United States, he appeared to FDR to be a tired old man who felt more than his seventy-four years. That he was the first ambassador from Canada was due to a technicality involving the minutiae of international protocol. He and others had previously been called Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. Roosevelt thought the title issue was a bunch of bullshit.
McCarthy had been to the White House on a number of occasions and was greeted warmly by FDR in the Oval Office. It had been scheduled as a social visit although no one believed that fable. However, it did enable the two men to meet with a degree of privacy.
FDR made drinks. As always, he forced his guest to drink the president's own version of a dry martini. The Canadian, as always, was polite. He couldn't stand martinis, especially Roosevelt's concoctions. There was far too much vermouth and the inclusion of olive brine made him shudder.
The president smiled warmly. "So, to what do I owe this singular honor?"
McCarthy tried to smile but it didn't work. "Sir, let me cut to the chase. My country is terrified. Not only have the Germans begun rounding up certain of our citizens, Jews of course, but we hear rumors that the provinces in the west are going to secede and form their own country. And worse, we hear that the Germans are going to attack the United States which would put us in the middle of a war. Any or all possibilities would be disastrous to Canada. May we discuss them?"
The president no longer smiled. His eyes became cold, "Of course, but there might not be much to discuss. Yes, we have heard rumors of secession by your western provinces and, should it occur, it is very likely that we will look favorably on it. We would be especially pleased to have a nation to our north that was not occupied by Nazi Germany. Should such a new country be created, and let's pretend that it will be called the Republic of West Canada, we would be more than eager to sign mutual defense and trade agreements with it. Who knows, this hypothetical West Canada might even allow us to station troops at strategic points to ensure the integrity of the new republic as well as protect the western United States from fascist aggressors.
McCarthy sagged. The president had all but told him that the western provinces were indeed going to secede and that he approved. Worse, there was absolutely nothing that could be done about it.
Roosevelt continued. "As long as you continue to tolerate the existence of the Nazi swine in your country, you will pay for your actions."
"But we fear for our soldiers."
FDR laughed harshly. "And well you should, but you will continue to fear for all eternity. What on earth behooves you to believe that the Nazis will even think of releasing your boys from hostage while there is any further advantage to Hitler? They will squeeze everything out of you. I don't believe you will see your boys again in this century."
"We are also horrified at the thought of civilian casualties. What can you do to minimize them?"
Roosevelt sighed. This was the ugly part of reality. "The only thing I can suggest is that you evacuate your cities. A simple look at a map will show that Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Windsor, Sarnia, and others in southern Ontario will likely bear the brunt of the fighting. Once the Germans are pushed out of those places, they will likely starve unless they are reinforced and re-supplied from Germany. It is also possible that they will not let your people evacuate, thus making hostages of millions of Canadians."
McCarthy wiped his brow with a handkerchief. He was sweating profusely. "Sir, I can only hope that you will talk to your generals and ask them to do what they can."
An easy and empty promise, Roosevelt thought. "I will."
The Canadian ambassador pulled a sheet of note paper from his jacket pocket and handed it to the president. "Perhaps you can do something with this information."
"What is it?"
"It’s a shipping schedule."
Roosevelt looked at it and paled, quickly realizing its significance. If he acted on the information, it could mean a premature war with Germany and with the United States as the aggressor. If ignored, a large number of people would be condemned to a horrible captivity resulting in agonizing death. Ignoring the information would ultimately condemn him as being complicit in murder. He and the men around him no longer had any doubts as to what was going on in Auschwitz, Sobibor, and other so-called death camps.
He took the paper and put it in his jacket pocket. “Thank you, Mr. Ambassador,” he said with a forced smile.
McCarthy rose. “I know you will do what you can.”
Missy Downing finished her second glass of wine at almost the same time that Alicia did hers. It was the middle of the afternoon and both were beginning to feel the effects of the below-average but well chilled white table wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York. Use enough ice cubes, Missy said, and any bad wine tastes okay. There was a war on so French wines were rare and too pricey. They weren’t concerned about shocking anyone since they were in Missy’s house and Alicia planned to stay the night. The colonel was in Baltimore meeting with someone about something, and so was Tom. It was girl’s night out, or in, as Missy said laughing.
“So you think all men are pricks,” Missy asked with a smile.
“It’s been my experience, yes. Ever since I reached puberty and young boys discovered that I was a little bit attractive, I’ve had them all over me, sometimes literally. I’ve been pawed by classmates and chased by instructors. Someone told me that guys liked to take out girls who weren’t too pretty. They hoped the plain little girl would be so grateful for a date that she’d go to bed with them to thank them.”
“I hope your realize it’s a fate many women would relish.”
“Really? In high school swimming class I was cornered in the pool by a bunch of kids who stuffed me under water until my lungs ached and I thought I would drown. Then, when they let me up, I found that they’d pulled my swimsuit down to my knees and then they grabbed and pawed me all over, both the boys and the girls. Later, when I went to tell the dean of students, she pretty much said it was my fault and that I should let her console me. I let her take me to lunch and I was shocked when she put her hand on my leg and started moving up. Later, I found out she was a lesbian. Back then, I didn’t even know what a lesbian was. I’m still not totally certain how they have sex, although I suppose it’s orally and I didn’t know what that meant at the time.”
“I’m not totally certain either,” Missy laughed and poured them each another glass. “But you didn’t come here to tell me about that, did you? You already knew that men had two brains, one in their skulls and a larger and dominant one in their cocks.”
Alicia giggled and got serious. “Oh, yes. I wanted to talk to you about one of my girls who has a problem. You knew that I had administrative control over about twenty WACs and I recently found that one of them is pregnant.”
“Imagine that,” Missy said drily.
“Her name is Aggie Fanelli. She’s nineteen, short, slender, very pretty, and intelligent, and she says she was raped.”
Missy stiffened. “You’re kidding?”
“She made a foolish mistake. She was flattered by the attention she was getting from an older Englishman, one of the math wizards. His name is Langford Morris and he’s a Ph.D. from Oxford so she was totally impressed. She went to lunch at his place, he got her drunk, and the next thing she remembers is waking up naked in his bed. There was a note and twenty dollars on the dresser. In effect, he paid her like a whore.”
“What did she do?”
“First, she took a shower to scrub what she called the stink of him off her body. Then she tore his apartment to shreds and went back to her barracks. Later, when she found out she was pregnant, she came to me.”
“Has she spoken to him?”
“Yes, and he insists it not his. She insists he’s the only one she’s ever had sex with. I believe her, by the way.”
“Is she considering an abortion?”
“She’s Catholic, which also rules out keeping the baby. Her parents are immigrants and very strict, and she’s convinced that they would throw her out of the house. And don’t forget that abortions are illegal. Even so, I do know a doctor who would arrange for one.”
She decided not to tell Missy that Doctor Crain, the physician who had treated her after the shooting had said that he knew how to get one done, quietly and safely.
“What about an adoption?”
“Yes, if we can arrange a long term leave of absence or temporary duty at one of those mysterious places that takes care of unwed mothers. I think a couple of the girls I know have gone there.”
“Will the Brit pay for her bills?”
“I called him, more or less identified myself and asked him. He was vehemently, violently against anything that might acknowledge him as the father. No taking a blood test either, even though that would only rule him out as the father, not prove it was him. Turns out the bastard’s married.”
“What a shock!” Missy exclaimed sarcastically as she almost spilled her wine. “However, I do have friends and I’m sure we can arrange a leave or something and I know people who like to help young women in trouble. She’ll have her baby quietly and hopefully the child will be adopted.”
“Missy, there’s another issue. When I spoke to the Brit he told me not to tell anyone else or he’d go to the Germans and switch sides. He said he knows a lot of secrets that would change the course of the war. Of course, he was doubtless bragging, but one can’t be a hundred percent sure. I know a lot of things that are going on in Camp Washington, but I also know that there’s a lot I don’t know and that worries me about him. He has money problems and wants to get back to England. He regrets deciding to come to America. He pretty much told me that he now believes that the Nazis are going to be the ultimate winners.”
“How did you find that out?”
“Apparently he’s considered a sort of joke. He complains, bitches, and moans about how unfair life is. He’s even made some statements that support what Hitler is doing to the Jews. Administration at the camp thinks he’s a harmless nut, but I’m not so certain.”
Missy opened a fresh bottle. The last one tasted a little vinegary and she hoped this one would be better. She was going to have a hell of a headache tomorrow, but who cared? She would talk to her husband about this Morris bastard and his possible treason.
Canfield drove his own jeep with Dubinski riding shotgun. By rights an enlisted man should have been driving, but Canfield had always liked piloting his own wheels as a cop and wasn’t about to stop now.
They drove past yet another tall structure built of girders. It was a radar site and there were a number of small buildings around its base. A few civilians and a couple of soldiers were visible and a couple of them waved at them. It looked like the place was well secured by a barbed wire fence and armed guards. Canfield hoped so. The radar was the only thing that would give the U.S. any advanced warning if the Germans should attack. His unit’s task was to protect the towers that faced towards Ontario and the Nazi threat. The United States had learned its lesson from the German fighter and bomber attacks on England. Radar had paid dividends, providing enough advance warning for the RAF to get its Hurricanes and Spitfires airborne in time to intercept the Luftwaffe.
Just too damn bad the British had lost the war, Canfield thought.
Parts of the dirt road connecting the sites had been constructed only recently and must show as raw slashes in the earth to anyone looking down from an airplane. Nor could the towers themselves be hidden or camouflaged. They were just too large.
“Elephants in a living room,” Canfield muttered. Dubinski understood and nodded.
When the fighting started, the radar towers were sure to be among the first targets the Germans would hit, but how? Bombers would be logical, but so too would be attacks by saboteurs. Thus, the boring patrols along the road. Canfield had protested that the enemy could be hiding only a few feet away in the woods, but had been informed that they didn’t have the manpower to send men searching all over the place. When Canfield had suggested that it was a lousy way to run an army, he was coldly overruled.
They reached the end of their route and turned around. They were scheduled to return to civilian life beginning tomorrow. For the next couple of weeks some other guys would have the job of protecting the towers and the people who worked there.
They heard the approaching planes at the same time. “They sound strange,” Canfield said.
Their view of the sky was obscured by tree limbs just beginning to sprout leaves. Canfield drove out into a clearing and looked around. Dubinski grabbed his arm and pointed. “Check those out, chief.”
Three planes passed overhead at a height of only a few thousand feet. Their distinctive shapes were clearly visible.
“Germans,” Canfield gasped. “ME109s. Damn them.”
The German fighters flew above and along the line of the dirt road. They spotted the jeep, swooped low, and the two men could see the pilots. They could also see that the planes carried no bombs.
“Just looking us over,” Dubinski said softly, “and probably taking photos, so smile. That or give them the finger.
The Germans made an abrupt turn to the north and flew over Lake Erie. A couple of moments later, a pair of American P47 fighters flew over the two men and out in the same direction taken by the Germans. In a short while, they returned. There would be no war this afternoon.
“And I’ll bet the Germans are checking out how long it takes for us to respond,” Canfield added. “I just hope someone was smart enough to delay those fighters so that the krauts think we’re slow.”
“Cat and mouse games,” said Dubinski. “Someday, though, someone will take it too far and there’ll be hell to pay.”
Canfield laughed. “But not on our watch - at least not this time.”
He wondered if it would be for real the next time they were up. Rumors were thick that something was going to happen around the end of March. In one way it would be great to have all the waiting over, but who the hell needed a war?
As directed, Captain Franz Koenig wore civilian clothes to the meeting with Neumann at the Gestapo headquarters in Toronto. At least it wasn’t at their interrogation headquarters at the farm or at the newly built and nearly empty concentration camp farther north.
He accepted the fact that there was a need to stamp out the enemies of the Reich, but he deplored the means utilized by the Gestapo and the need to utilize such cold animals as Neumann. He was also beginning to wonder just how much of a threat a bunch of unarmed civilians was to the Reich, even if they were Jewish.
Koenig wore two hats, sometimes more when he considered his nearly overwhelming workload. Not only was he on the staff of General von Arnim, but he had also been assigned as an aide and liaison to General Guderian. It was hectic but interesting and almost certainly guaranteed a promotion if he didn’t mess things up too badly.
Today, he had a delicate message to deliver. While agreeing with the need to control Canada’s Jews, the military disagreed with what the Gestapo planned and it was up to Koenig to deliver that message.
Neumann greeted Koenig with what passed for cordiality for the Gestapo chief. He even rose and shook hands before seating himself at his desk. “Let me guess, captain, your leaders would like me to cease my actions in ridding the world of Jews.”
Koenig smiled, he hoped amiably. It was hard to appear friendly to a man who, if he heard or misheard a wrong word, could send him to a concentration camp. Or worse, Koenig could wind up with a bullet in the back of his head.
“You are correct, of course. The generals are concerned that you will cause an incident that will disrupt their carefully planned schedule.”
Neumann leaned back in his swivel chair. “Your generals sometimes forget that I too have a job to do and that it is at least as important as theirs. I must help do my part in ridding the earth of the Jewish pestilence. I am well aware of the military’s precious schedule and I am also well aware that, once fighting starts, I will no longer be able to do my job properly.”
Koenig inhaled sharply. He was now well aware that many Jews had been murdered, particularly in Poland and Russia. Jews disgusted him and he thought the world be a better place without them. Still he wondered at the wisdom of the mass murders, but acknowledged that he could do nothing about it without seeming to be less than enthusiastic about the policies of the Nazi party.
“Let me be blunt, captain. You and your generals have your orders and I have mine. I report directly to Heinrich Himmler and he has gotten his orders from the Fuhrer himself. The Jews are to be eliminated, exterminated. If the coming war strands any sizeable number of Jews here, then it will be a sad event. Small numbers, of course will doubtless escape our net, but they must be few indeed. In the meantime, I will do what I have to in order to comply with my orders and my duty. Is that clear? Will you make it just as clear to von Arnim and Guderian? Or perhaps they would like to discuss it with Himmler in Germany?”
Koenig swallowed. “I will tell them what you said.”
“Although I am well aware that you are the messenger and not the message, I do feel that you have delivered the message with just a little bit too much enthusiasm. Be careful, Koenig, or you might find yourself back in Germany and a guest in Dachau. Von Arnim and Guderian might be too lofty for me to catch, but you are not. Now please deliver my response to their message.”