After accompanying von Friedeburg back to his quarters, the British soldier barked at the admiral’s orderly to help him pack. The orderly nodded and began opening the drawers of the admiral’s bureau and stuffing their contents into a suitcase. The soldier sat down on von Friedeburg’s bed and lit a cigarette, casually flicking the spent match onto the floor.
After staring at his suitcase for a minute, Von Friedeburg turned to him and said he
needed to use the bathroom. “Help yourself,” the soldier replied, “just keep
the door open.” He accompanied him to the bathroom and stood his post outside
the doorway, to keep an eye on him.
Alarmed, he ran to the door and hammered on it with the butt of his rifle. His mission
had been dirt-simple; deliver the prisoner alive with his bag packed. As long
as he fulfilled that, he could get away with stealing anything he fancied. But
they’d made a point of warning him against just this sort of thing. Only a week
before, Preutzmann, one of the SS leaders, had committed suicide while in
custody. And this guy was a lot higher up on the Nazi food chain. He was head
of the Navy!
Finally the door came open and revealed the Admiral already slumped over on the toilet,
his eyelids in their last flutter, his face beginning to turn blue, and everywhere
the bitter scent of almonds. He’d taken cyanide!
The soldier ran back into the bedroom, where the orderly stood helpfully, but
disinterestedly at attention. “Get a doctor!” he shouted. “Now!”
(This is a chapter that got cut during the final edits of Germania, first published by Simon & Schuster in 2008, now also available on Kindle here).