Franzi followed the adjutant through the padded door to the inner office. It was a far different scene from his earlier visit. Himmler was on the couch, his spectacles lying on the table, shirt unbuttoned and his undershirt pulled up above his chest, revealing the pasty white stomach which was already starting to spasm obscenely.
“Oh, Professor Loerber,” he groaned. “Something terrible has happened.”
Franzi looked around at the others, who seemed frozen in a kind of alert helplessness
and wondered if the supreme moment had arrived. “Is the Fuhrer ... dead?” he asked.
Painfully, Himmler shook his head. “No, worse!” he answered. “He’s found out about my negotiations
with Eisenhower and now he’s removed me from all my posts! I’m no longer Reichsfuhrer SS. I’m not even in the Party anymore.” He wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. “Oh, God, I feel just terrible. I should never have listened to Schellenberg!” Himmler buried his head in his hands and began to weep.
Franzi looked at the generals, the adjutants and aides de camp. With their eyes, they
all seemed to implore him; Do something.”
“Reichsfuhrer,” Franzi began, “When you and everyone else in this room swore their oath of
loyalty to Adolf Hitler, it was to a man who was the living embodiment of Germany. Well, he is no longer that man. What is happening in Berlin right now is merely the natural course of things, which each of us must
embrace. Nothing lasts forever, change is constant. The old is always replaced by the new. The wheels of destiny are in perpetual motion. You can throw yourself in front of them, but you can’t stop them. Regrettably, the Fuhrer let
himself believe otherwise. Had he possessed the grace to accept his destiny, things might not have become such a terrible mess. You did the right thing, Reichsfuhrer, and in a few hours all this unpleasantness with the Fuhrer will
be over and you’ll be free to lead Europe into a bright day.”
“But he has given my post to Gauleiter Hanke,” moaned Himmler. “I’ve been demoted. This has never happened to me in my life! And now Grand Admiral Doenitz is coming to arrest me!”
For a moment Franzi felt thrown off. Then one of the adjutants handed him a piece of paper. It was a radiogram from Naval Headquarters, Ploen, tersely informing Himmler that, on instructions of the Fuhrer, Doenitz was on his way there.
“He just met with me this morning. Why else would he be coming back here?”
Franzi gave a shrill laugh. “You’ve got to be kidding, Reichsfuhrer! That little
pipsqueak? He’s more scared of you than you are of him. He’s coming back here
only because he’s been ordered to. All you have to do is tell him that it’s all
enemy propaganda. You think he won’t accept it? Of course he will! He doesn’t
need to get into a fight with you. He’s got enough problems as it is. And the
Fuhrer no longer has the power to enforce anything. You need to let the Grand
Admiral know who’s boss and let the rest take care of itself.
“Honestly Reichsfuhrer, looking around me here, I don’t see anybody leaving you to serve
Gauleiter Hanke. Correct me if I’m wrong, gentlemen.” Franzi looked at the
shocked faces of the generals and colonels, giving them his very best,
drip-dry, Gustav Loerber smile and noted with great satisfaction how positively
they all responded.
He turned back to Himmler. “Now whether the Fuhrer knows it or not, he’s already
dead. Reichsfuhrer, you need to calm down and accept that your moment of
destiny has come and it’s right now. Not tomorrow, not in an hour. Now!”
Franzi faced the others and in his most commanding voice declared, “Gentlemen, I
present to you our new Fuhrer, Heinrich Himmler!” Turning back to Himmler, he
snapped his right arm into a stiff salute and shouted, “Heil Himmler!”
There was stunned silence in the room as the others looked to Himmler to offer some
qualification, to chastise the strange young man for his brashness. So what if
he was a prophet? He was still only a junior officer. It wasn’t his place.
But Himmler only smiled.
“Heil Himmler!” shouted Franzi again. “Heil Himmler!”
They joined him on the third chant. “Heil Himmler!”
Himmler stood up from the couch. His shirt seemed to have buttoned itself and his
thick-lensed spectacles were back on his nose. When he spoke, he was as calm
and confident as Franzi had ever seen him.
“Gentlemen, we have a new millennium opening before us. The cosmos requires that we seize
this moment. We all have our jobs to do. Let’s get to work.”
Grand Admiral Doenitz arrived soon after that, and was gone five minutes later,
apparently satisfied with whatever explanation Himmler had offered him. That
seemed to take care of that, everyone said and began settling into a
celebratory evening, toasting the new Fuhrer of the German Reich and the man
destined to lead Europe.
(Excerpt from Germania, first published in 2008 by Simon & Schuster, now also available on Kindle here).