Then the day came when everyone wanted submarines.
There must have been a rumor that someone had been given one to escape to Argentina, or maybe it was the growing presence of British and American officers wandering around that unleashed a fresh panic. Or perhaps it was just an idea whose time had come. Whichever the case, suddenly everybody who was anybody was back in front of Ziggy’s desk, bombarding him with requests for the temporary loan of a submarine or two, along with an able-bodied crew.
“...But seriously young man,
there has to be dozens of U-Boats out there in the harbor. I’m sure nobody at
all would mind if one were to disappear. The British couldn’t possibly need
“...Now I’m not asking for
the biggest or the fastest one you’ve got. I’m not even insisting on my own
stateroom. I’d be willing to work, pull my weight. Just let me have a hammock
of my own. We can leave anytime, just the sooner the better. What do you say?”
“...Now see here! I have secret orders requiring me to go to Rio de
Janeiro at once. As you can see, they have been signed by Otto Ohlendorff
himself...highest operational priority... It’s not something the Grand Admiral
has to actually know about. Please do not bother him. Just do as I ask.”
“You’re a U-Boat captain. Aren’t you? What do you say you help me
out on this?"
Ziggy’s answer to all these requests had been exactly the same. By
order of the Grand Admiral, no submarines were available, no matter what the
circumstances. Nothing was leaving, not now, not anytime.
(Excerpt from Germania, Simon & Schuster, 2008, now also available on Kindle).