Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Next Fuehrer Has to Be Someone Ike Will Like

It's April, 1945. The Red Army has Berlin surrounded. Hitler is deep inside his bunker and isn't coming out, except, maybe, feet-first. But even as Nazi Germany is being ripped apart and swallowed up by the Allies, Hitler’s henchmen are busily jockeying with each other over who will be the next Fuehrer. The problem is, it can’t be just anybody. They know it has to be someone Eisenhower won’t just respect, it has to be someone he’!

The next Fuehrer has to be likeable so Eisenhower will make him his partner, not only in the soon-to-commence war against Russia, but also afterwards to rule Europe together. Himmler, Goering, Speer; each believes he’s the man for the job. But then, just before he blows his brains out, Hitler gives the job to someone nobody expects, who then promptly surrenders.

Suddenly the war is over. Suddenly everything is different, but not in ways anyone expected. Fact it, even though the defeat is total and the surrender humiliating and unconditional, once it's been signed, nobody, not even the victorious Allies, have any idea what to do next. For nearly three weeks, in a little town on the Danish border, the new Nazi government is allowed to exist. Ministers are appointed, meetings are held, reports and edicts are issued. And for a while, at least, the surviving Nazis are free to imagine any rosy, surreal future they wish. Welcome to the Flensburg Reich of Hitler’s successor, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz!

And into this unhinged world sail four brothers, Manni, Franzi, Ziggy and Sebastian, the once-famous Flying Magical Loerber Brothers and the toast of Prewar Berlin. This time, though, they’re not out to entertain. They’re Jews, they’re spies, they’re assassins and they’re out for revenge. Check out "Germania," by Brendan McNally (first published by Simon & Schuster in 2008, now available on Kindle here)

Friday, March 29, 2013

SS Spy Chief Walter Schellenberg: A Spinmaster in Search of Peace

The Third Reich certainly had its share of whiz kids and SS General Walter Schellenberg was among the brightest. By the time he was thirty, Schellenberg was already head of all foreign intelligence services in the Third Reich. The fact was, though, that aside from his mastery of gamesmanship and political intrigue, he probably wasn't actually that sharp. Where Schellenberg really excelled was as an indefatigable optimist.

Schellenberg knew the war was lost and that Hitler had to be gotten rid of for Germany to survive. He figured that the man for the job had to be his boss, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler. It was a logical assumption. After all, only Himmler had the enormous power to take Hitler's place. He had a massive private army, the Waffen SS, whose loyalty, when push came to shove, was more towards him that to Hitler. He also sat on top of a vast financial empire that stretched all over the world. Himmler also controlled the police and the intelligence services. He also was in charge of the vast concentration camp system, but in Schellenberg's mind, it wasn't really that big a deal and from his high-level foreign contacts, he'd come to the conclusion that Eisenhower and the rest of the western leadership felt the same way.

All Schellenberg had to do was get Himmler to move against Hitler; to depose him, make him step down, kill him, hand him over to the West, anything would work. If Himmler could do that, then the path was open for a peace agreement, and ultimately a partnership, with the West.  Schellenberg was convinced that the West needed a post-Hitler Germany as a bulwark against Russia and that they were so eager for it that they would see Himmler more for his good points than his bad ones.  All that had to happen was for Himmler to make his move against The Fuhrer. Himmler had the power, he had all the cards. All he had to do was show some backbone, some initiative.

But Schellenberg didn't quite grasp how profoundly incapable Himmler was of independent action.  He simply could not.  Hitler had made him what he was, and Himmler was too gutless to do more than talk about it.  Schellenberg spent more than two years on one peace initiative after another with the West. And each time they failed, precisely because Himmler could not stand up to Hitler and bring up unpleasant facts.  Himmler had risen to his high postition of unbelievable power, strictly because he was incapable of acting on his own.  Taken on Darwinian terms, this is nothing short of fantastic.

But Schellenberg never quite figured any of this out. The breadth of his optimism is truly an awesome thing. Below is an excerpt from my novel GERMANIA that shows Schellenberg at his finest.

During the flight back from Stockholm, Schellenberg went over and over what he was going to tell Himmler. "The discussions with Count Bernadotte went very satisfactorily, Reichsfuhrer,” he figured he’d start off saying. “He assures me General Eisenhower is receptive to our proposal. The Anglo-Americans are eager to join in an alliance against the Russians.”

Not that Bernadotte had actually said anything of the sort, but Schellenberg, the thirty-year old Head of Foreign Intelligence, needed to get Himmler motivated into moving against Hitler and if fudging a few minor points was what it required, well then so be it.

“The Count said he’d been told by Eisenhower himself that they now consider the Russians a much bigger worry than ourselves. They are absolutely convinced the Russians will turn on them.”

Bernadotte hadn’t said that either. What he’d said was that there was growing nervousness in Allied circles about what would happen with the Russians once Germany was defeated. But Schellenberg was smart enough to know what that meant without having to be told.

“Eisenhower is ready to make a deal, Reichsfuhrer, he merely requires us to make the first move. Until then, his hands are tied.” Of course what Count Bernadotte had actually said was, “This is all very nice, General Schellenberg, but until I get some concrete declaration from the Reichsfuhrer that he is taking over the reins of government from Hitler, nothing I say to Eisenhower will make any difference. There must be immediate action. Force Hitler to step down, arrest him, kill him. How you do it is not his concern. Just get it done.”

That was what Schellenberg really needed to tell Himmler, and perhaps in a perfect world, he would. But he knew from experience how terribly skittish his boss was when it came to things like this. Anything requiring definitive action sent him into one of his massive panic attacks. His stomach would go into spasms and next thing he’d be screaming for Kersten, his Finnish masseur, to come in and take the pain away. Schellenberg didn’t want that to happen this time because Kersten wouldn’t be there. He was supposed to fly back with Schellenberg from Stockholm, but at the last minute he’d made up some excuse and stayed behind. That put Schellenberg in a doubly sensitive situation, since he’d have to force Himmler into making a difficult decision without having Kersten on hand to rescue him.

With a Finnish passport which allowed him to come and go seamlessly, Kersten was the Reichsfuhrer’s secret envoy to Allied intelligence. Schellenberg had flown up with him the day before to see Count Folke Bernadotte, head of the Swedish Red Cross and a member of the Royal Family, who was their intermediary to Eisenhower to explore ways of making a deal to end the war.

Schellenberg and Bernadotte had both agreed that the single best choice for new head of state would have been, hands down, Field Marshall Rommel, the gallant head of the Afrika Korps, who was admired by both the British and Americans and no doubt might have cut a very favorable deal, except of course that Rommel was dead. So Schellenberg proposed his own boss, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler. Initially Bernadotte had his reservations, worrying that Himmler’s position as head of the SS would put off the Anglo-Americans. Then there was the thing about the Jews and the death camps. But Schellenberg kept pushing the idea until the Count finally relented and said, yes, Eisenhower would probably deal with Himmler as long as he could deliver.

So here they were and all that remained to be done was get Himmler to come across. The problem was, for all his icy efficiency in carrying out Hitler’s orders, when it came to thinking for himself Himmler was a hopeless waffler.

What could he tell him that would make him act? “It is the eleventh hour, Reichsfuhrer. It is late, but not too late. The sooner we move, the more we can bring to the table. But we have to move now. Time will not improve our position. You must move against the Fuhrer immediately!”

The other possibility would be to appeal to the Reichsfuhrer’s obsession with the mystical. "This is our supreme hour of destiny, Reichsfuhrer. We are at the threshold of a moment which might not come again for a thousand years.” And even though Schellenberg himself took a dim view of the Reichsfuhrer’s karma-laden ravings, in this case it wasn’t an exaggeration. If Himmler did move boldly, the rift between Germany and the West could be healed in a matter of days. The fact was, even at this late stage, Germany had an awful lot to bring to the table. There were still more than a hundred army divisions, thousands of aircraft and tanks and a populace dedicated to throwing back the Soviet horde. Eisenhower should be able to see the virtue in that.

And of course there were other things they had to sweeten the deal with, things which being also in charge of counter-intelligence, only Schellenberg knew about. There was, for instance, Source Moonpool, their secret network inside Red Army intelligence. Not only were they learning all there was to the Soviets’ intentions, their plans and capabilities, and more importantly, about their intelligence efforts against not only Germany, but the Western allies as well.

In fact, only the day before, Major Steiner, his man running Moonpool, had come to him with information about something he was calling the “Cambridge Spy Ring;” a group of deep-penetration agents whom the Soviets had recruited from Cambridge University during the thirties and who had since wormed their way to the top tiers of British intelligence. Steiner was confident that by the end of the month they would have their names. When Schellenberg thought about what that information might be worth, he got very excited.

Steiner was perfect, except for one thing. He was a homosexual and had found a boyfriend there at SS Headquarters among the Reichsfuhrer’s staff astrologers, and the transcript from a recent random bugging gave Schellenberg reason to believe their pillow talk might be getting too detailed. Once he had finished reporting to Himmler, his next order of business would be to see that that little issue got taken care of.

They started their descent into Berlin. He could hear the hydraulic whine of the aircraft’s landing gear coming down and locking into place. He looked out the window and recognized Templehof Airport’s long curving terminal buildings. A minute later they had landed and were taxiing down the tarmac.
(Excerpt from "Germania")

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Albert Speer Meets the Americans at Glucksburg

A week or so after the surrender, Albert Speer was visited by a group of American economists, bankers, and Wall Street lawyers dressed in US Army uniform. They were the directors of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, or USSBS, who had come to ask Speer questions about the effectiveness of the American daylight precision bombing campaign on the German war economy. Speer, it turned out, was happy to answer their questions and the single meeting quickly turned into a ten-day, very collegial, "University of Bombing," with Professor Albert Speer presiding. The alcohol-fueled symposium took place outside of Flensburg at Schloss Glucksburg, where Speer was staying with his friend, dive-bomber ace, Werner Baumbach.

The following is an excerpt from my novel Germania, originally published in 2008 by Simon & Schuster, now newly available on Kindle (buy it here).

Albert Speer
He awoke late in the morning with a terrible hangover. Staggering through the hall down to the kitchens he debated whether he should call in sick or just show up the way he was, since it seemed that was the way everyone else was half the time.

As he was working his way through a cup of tea, he heard agitated footsteps running up the corridor toward him. He started to feel a sense of dread. It was the captain of the honor guard, which had been assigned to him for security.

“Herr Reichsminister, we have an emergency!”


“What is it?"

“The American Army is here, demanding to see you.”


“The Americans, your Excellency! There must be twenty of them. They’ve come in Jeeps.”

“In Jeeps? But what do they want? Are you sure they’re not looking for Himmler?”

“No, your Excellency. They say they want you. Reichsminister for War Production Albert Speer. Do you want my men to shoot at them?”

“No, absolutely not. Tell them to wait. I must get dressed first.”

He went back to his room and found his best gray suit. Then he selected a French tie and put it on. He took a glimpse in the mirror and thought to himself that he looked pretty good.

Schloss Glucksburg
The Americans were waiting for him in the courtyard. Twenty of them, just like the captain had said. They wore uniforms, but no helmets or guns.

Two very tall men stood together. One looked like a hawk, the other like an enormous owl. Next to them was a much shorter man who, by his sheer proximity to them, looked like a hedgehog.

“Good Morning, Herr Speer,” said the owl. “I hope you don’t mind us dropping in like this, but we were making everybody nervous at the Marineschule.” They grinned good-naturedly at Speer.

“We’ve flown in from Frankfurt this morning to interview you,” said the hawk. “Do you have some time to spare?”

John Kenneth Galbraith
“We should introduce ourselves,” said the hedgehog. He began pointing out the various army officers and sergeants and reciting their names though not their ranks. “This is George Sklarz, this is Burton Klein, Bob Gilchrist, Ernie Doyle, Walter Farley, Dan Watson.” He went on and on with the names. Speer tried to take it all in, but the names and faces were more than he could process, so he just nodded and smiled like the good host.

Finally the man pointed to his tall colleagues, “This is George Ball, this is Ken Galbraith and I’m Paul Nitze.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Battle of Hamburg: U-boat Men Turned Naval Infantry

Ziggy Loerber’s assumption had always been that he’d die at sea. He was a U-Boatman, after all, and that was how U-Boatmen inevitably died. By now the war had gone on for nearly six years and except for Cremer and Luth and a small handful of others, everyone he’d ever known or served with had already found watery graves. They died from enemy depth charges, from bombs and cannon fire. They bled to death, drowned or asphyxiated from acid battery fumes or too much carbon dioxide when the air inside their submarines became unbreathable. They died when their boats sank or when they dived too deep and the water pressure crushed their iron hulls like eggshells.

More recently he’d embraced the idea of dying alongside his shipmates in one massive, glorious, final battle. He’d been given command of U-2514, one of the new ‘miracle’ U-Boats which promised to be everything the old boats were not. Underwater they were extremely fast and yet so quiet that they could run circles around the British and American warships without sonar picking them up. Once they were unleashed, they would sow terror all over the north Atlantic, torpedoing every destroyer, cruiser, frigate and flattop they could find. Of course they’d get killed in the process, but to get to show those British and American bastards what for just one last time would, in their minds, definitely be worth it.
But it didn’t work out that way. Instead, a week after it had been launched, his boat was blown up in an air raid at the shipyard where it sat waiting for its special binary fuel to arrive. Suddenly, without benefit of dying at sea, Ziggy’s career as a sea captain and U-Boat sailor was over. Instead, he and his crew were issued helmets and rifles, put into a Naval Infantry brigade, and sent to defend Hamburg against the British.

For the last two weeks they’d been footsloggers in the vast no man’s land of the outer suburbs, lurking among ruined buildings and burned-out vehicles, waiting for British tanks, trucks, and armored vehicles to pass through and then attacking them with grenades and Panzerfaust rockets.

This morning they had situated themselves in a wide field of bombed-out factories near what had been the marshalling yards for the city’s western train station. Tanks frequently passed through, exploring, but once they ventured just a short distance up any of the side streets, they were lost in a jagged wilderness of wrecked buildings, chunks of walls, and collapsed floors, any of which were perfect places to stage an ambush.

It was nothing like going after enemy ships, Ziggy told himself. A U-Boat is like a wolf, pursuing its prey over long distances. But now Ziggy was more like a crocodile, waiting for its prey to come to it. As a wolf, Ziggy Loerber had been fantastic, but as a crocodile, he was not so good. Ambushes required patience and timing and even under the best circumstances, they easily backfired. In the last two weeks, he’d lost more than half of his men.

Even so, it occured to Ziggy that with a little luck, he might be captured by the Tommies, and then who knows? In a couple of months, weeks, or even days, if he didn’t die of starvation or cholera, they would let him out and send him back to his loved ones. Except of course that Ziggy didn’t have any loved ones, unless you counted his family, which he didn’t. All Korvettenkapitän Zigmund Loerber had was the Navy and it frightened him to think what his life would be like without it.

It was a foregone conclusion that the defense of Hamburg wouldn’t be successful. They had none of the men, the weapons, ammunition, vehicles nor petrol to push the British Army back. They could only hope to fend them off for another day or two. There was a massive seaborne evacuation underway in the Eastern Baltic and each day dozens of freighters, warships and fishing boats arrived with refugees and soldiers escaping from the last German outposts in Latvia and Russia. It was imperative that the Navy keep Hamburg’s port open for them to put in.

So they hung on with whatever weapons and vehicles they could get their hands on. This morning they managed to commandeer some three-wheeled bread trucks and, with a couple crates of Panzerfausts in hand, drove out to the western suburbs. Their war chariots were noisy, underpowered vehicles with engines too small even for most motorcycles. Still, each could carry three people; a driver and two others kneeling on the back bed, with machine guns at the ready. Everyone else followed on foot, rifles slung over their shoulders, keeping a wary eye open as much for townspeople eager to stop the fighting as the British themselves.

As Ziggy sat with his back against a shattered wall, he closed his eyes and let his ears search out among the loose fabric of battlefield noise for the sound of approaching armor. He could hear a metallic clattering in the distance and as he listened closer, he began to make out the rumble and squealing grind of caterpillar treads against broken concrete.

He looked up from the wall to see the high rounded turret of a British Sherman emerging from behind the remains of a factory. He got his binoculars out to get a better look. It was a single tank, painted a brownish green with sandbags piled everywhere along the front below the turret, giving it the appearance of a moving pillbox.

The tank veered slightly to the left, giving him a full view of its side. There was an image painted on the hull. Ziggy tightened the focus on his binoculars. It was a nearly naked girl, busty, with big eyes, short bobbed hair and a garter prominently gracing her thigh. He almost had to laugh. Betty Boop!

For a moment, he was a teenager again, watching American cartoons and serial movies at the Titania Palace or the Cinema Universum. Mickey Mouse, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Bosko, and Betty Boop; how he’d loved them all. His brothers despised him for it. To them, his unabashed love of cartoon characters was all the proof they needed that he was brain damaged.

As the tank lumbered forward, Betty Boop seemed to bounce giddily to a rumba rhythm. The tank continued coming closer, and to calm himself, Ziggy started humming, “Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Big Bad Wolf? Big Bad Wolf?” He tried to remember whether he’d thought about cartoons at all during his years aboard U-Boats. It sure didn’t seem like it. But now that they were back, it seemed like they’d never been gone. What he’d give for the chance to talk with someone about cartoons. Who knows, Ziggy thought hopefully, staring at the tank. If anyone got out alive, maybe he’d get to.

Betty, Betty, Betty. The real love of his life and in the last ten years, she hadn’t aged a bit. Except now she was adorning a British Sherman and Ziggy wasn’t in a position to play favorites.

He gripped the rocket’s launching tube, holding it like a lance, and stared a hole into his target. That’s it, closer, come closer, a little bit more, a little bit more. He watched it climb over a mound of rubble, pitching its prow upward and, for a brief second, exposing its soft, lightly armored underbelly. Ziggy stood up, pointed the rocket, pulled the trigger and in a hot burst of propellant smoke watched it slam into the flat plate just below the driver’s hatch. There was a rumble, the tank shuddered, and bright plumes of red flame erupted from its different openings. Nobody climbed out. For nearly a minute he stared at Betty Boop burning. Then, turning away, Ziggy signaled his men to move to fresh positions.

Half an hour later, they were hidden along the remnant of a wall, when they heard a familiar rumbling coming from the east. They looked up and to their surprise, saw a lone German tank lurching its way across the moonscape. Something about its movements seemed stalwart almost to the point of being comical, like some self-important businessman trundling through an African jungle with his satchel and umbrella, determined not to let anything stop him from his appointed mission. It had been days since Ziggy had seen any German tanks moving around and he wondered what this single tank’s presence could possibly mean.

But almost as soon as he thought it, the air filled with a ragged, tearing noise that descended down from the sky. Artillery! “Everyone take cover!” Ziggy yelled. The men dropped to the ground just as the shells began exploding. It went on for nearly a minute and then stopped. Ziggy looked up and saw nothing but a dense cloud of dust that hung in the air. The tank was gone, not leaving behind even a smoking, burning carcass. Suddenly Ziggy imagined old Gustav, gloved hand to his top hat and giving a gracious bow, "Thank you, thank you, and now for my next magic trick...
(Excerpt from Germania, Simon & Schuster, 2008, now also available on Kindle here).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Granville Raid - My Version

Right now I'm writing an article for Defense Media Network about the Granville Raid, in which a German commando force from the Channel Islands successfully attacked a French port and destroyed a lot of stuff, and, among other things, took a lot of US Marine officers prisoner. What they accomplished at that raid was truly amazing, though kind of poitless because as soon as they got back, they learned the US Army had just successfully crossed the Rhine at Remagen. This alone is probably the main reason you've never heard of this spectacular event.

I used it as the basis for an attempted opening chapter of my novel Germania, but for various reason it got dropped for a different opening. Still, I think it makes pretty cool reading anyway. Enjoy!

Granville Raid - an alternate Chapter 1 from Germania:

The whole way to the French coast the water was choppy with a biting cold March wind bearing down from the Northeast. Because of that and the fact that at least half the other boats were underpowered auxiliaries, trawlers and barges, they had to make their way in slowly. The good thing was that the sky was mostly overcast with only an occasional sliver of moon, which made their approach nearly invisible. Being the force commander, Loerber was, of course, entitled to be on the bridge, but he mostly kept away, knowing first hand how young captains hated senior officers breathing down their necks. Instead he set up his command post on deck within easy earshot.

He watched one of the minesweepers draw alongside, close enough that even in the darkness he could see the faces of the helmeted soldiers standing on the decks, rifles in hand, trading serious looks with each other, hoping to hide their nervousness. A hundred yards past them, a flat-decked artillery carrier lumbered on the black waves, its guns peering out incongruously from behind hillocks of sandbags. Further back was a spread of lightly armed trawlers and behind them a captured American landing craft, loaded with soldiers, bouncing gracelessly as it crashed against each oncoming wave. The rest of the fleet were an array of shadows spread out over several miles of gray sea.

The captain-lieutenant leaned out from the open bridge window and waved Loerber to him. Loerber walked up. The captain-lieutenant pointed straight ahead. “See there, sir? The blinking green light? That’s the harbor buoy for Granville. We should reach it in another thirty minutes.”

Loerber looked down at the radium dial of his watch. It was 12:15. An hour late but otherwise going according to plan. “Carry on, keep me posted,” he said.

“Jawohl,” answered the captain-lieutenant, sliding the window shut. Loerber turned to stare ahead. By now he could clearly make out the French coastline; a thick jagged strip of black with the slightest wash of gray glow above it. In another two hours we’ll either be heroes, or prisoners or dead, he told himself. Loerber had no experience staging commando raids, having spent the war as a U-Boat captain. But since nobody on the island knew anything at all, he supposed he was the best man for the job.

Zigmund Loerber didn’t look like anyone’s idea of a warrior, at least not at first glance. He was a slightly built man, neither tall nor short, more wiry than muscular, but even so, his years as a naval officer had given him the unmistakable presence of a man in command, certainly not someone given to joking. At thirty, he was far older than anyone else on board, and, he assumed, other than perhaps some of the senior sergeants, older than any of the six hundred men in the entire raiding party.

He carefully made his way aft, keeping his hands on the rails, ready to grab on should a wave unexpectedly hit him. He pulled open a door and stepped inside where the men were waiting, boots, helmets, ammunition belts, all clutching sub-machineguns and looking grim and businesslike. Seeing him enter, they started to get to their feet, but he gestured for them to remain seated and continued up the ladder to the radio room.

They looked warlike enough, he thought, but then he remembered what the briefing officer had said as he walked him out of the Admiral’s command bunker: “Just try not to let them all surrender at once, Herr Korvettenkapitän. That’s all we’re really asking.”

They’d called him in the previous morning, sending a staff car out to the remote farm where he and his crew had been billeted. By this point the fuel shortage was so bad they didn’t send vehicles out for anybody, especially not for the captain of a wrecked U-Boat, who, technically speaking, didn’t belong to anybody.

“We have a little job for you, Korvettenkapitän,” said the Admiral, smiling ferociously as he pointed Loerber to a chair. He nodded to his briefing officer, a worn-out looking staff colonel, who immediately started reciting in a monotonous voice the fantastic details of the planned raid. What they had in mind was to send out a fleet of forty vessels; minesweepers, torpedo boats, harbor craft, anything they had that could carry troops and cross sixty miles of open sea without getting swamped. Their target: Granville, a decidedly minor port, but the one closest to them on the French coast. A few months ago, it was the primary port feeding the Allied advance against Germany. Today it had little purpose other than as an unloading point for British coal and foodstuffs.

Loerber remembered the profound sense of unreality he felt staring at the map, as if in the month since he and his men had come ashore there, he’d completely forgotten where they were: Jersey, one of the British Channel Islands, taken five years earlier along with all of France. One of Hitler’s most-prized and least strategic possessions, it had been turned into a fortress with gun batteries, tens of thousands of troops and miles of underground tunnels and bunkers. But France had been liberated and Germany had retreated behind the Rhine and now Jersey was part of an absurd constellation of remnant German outposts that dotted the Atlantic coast: La Rochelle, Lorient, St. Nazaire, Guernsey, Sark, Dunkirk, Dieppe, all run by die-hard fortress commandants who continued to preach faith in the Fuhrer and inevitable victory.

Every other day a convoy of coal ships arrives in Granville from Plymouth,” said the briefing officer. “It would be optimal if, along with wrecking the harbor facilities, you could capture some fully loaded coal ships and bring them here. They also have warehouses full of food. Get as much of it as you can and bring it back as well. For this you might need to commandeer enemy lorries or organize the prisoners into a passing line to load it onto the boats. There is also the Hotel Normandie, being used to house senior American officers. Try to capture as many of them as you can.”

“Sulfa drugs,” added the Admiral.

“That’s right,” said the briefing officer. “Intelligence reports that the clinic is well supplied with them.”

Loerber nodded. He didn’t need to be told why they wanted those. Venereal disease was completely rampant here on the islands. Too many men, not enough prostitutes and a surly civilian population with problems of their own.

The colonel went on with the order in which the harbor facilities were to be destroyed.

“...Five, plant explosive charges on the cranes, on the bridge supports and on the canal locks. Six, open the primary and secondary spigots at the fueling docks. Signal the artillery carriers to take their firing positions, which will be here and here,” he said, tapping his stick against different points outside the harbor.

“Seven, signal the artillery ships to begin bombardment, and begin the first and second phases of your withdrawal…”

“So are you interested?” asked the Admiral when the briefing officer had finished.

Loerber stared at him for a second. “If I may ask a question, Herr Admiral,” he said.

“Certainly, Korvettenkapitän.”

“Why me?”

The Admiral raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Isn’t it obvious? How long have you been with us here?”

“Almost a month.”

“And what is your opinion of Fortress Jersey? Please, speak freely. What do you think of the morale here? Extremely low, wouldn’t you say? It’s not surprising. There’s no food, no coal, nothing to do, bullying the civilians doesn’t do anything. They’ve spent four years preparing for the Allies to attack, and when the time came what did the Allies do?”

“Yes sir, I know,” said Loerber. The ignominy of having been bypassed was an insult they were finding particularly hard to bear.

“We need to do something. The men are in a bad way. They have lost faith in their officers, the officers have lost faith in themselves. Give the men their pride back, their fighting spirit. We need to let the people back in Germany know that we’re not just giving up. It’ll be like a pirate raid from the old days. Korvettenkapitän, you and your men will...”

“Excuse me, Admiral,” interrupted Loerber. “If I do this, I want my men kept out of it. They’re sick and they need to rest. Your garrison troops might need to prove themselves, Admiral. My men don’t.

The Admiral nodded and gave a relieved smile. “So you’ll do it, then?”

“Sir, you still haven’t answered my question. Why me?”

He’d expected the Admiral to get angry at his borderline insolence. But instead the Admiral leaned back in his chair and his face broke out into a big fat grin. “You think I don’t know who you are?” he said.

“You know how many times I saw you and your brothers perform at the Blue Star? At the Admiralspalast? Hah!” he said, slapping his hand against his belly. “Ziggy Loerber of the Flying Magical Loerber Brothers! All that singing and dancing! The acrobatics, the magic! And now you’re going to lead my own raiding party against Granville. Did you know Harlem Rhapsody is still one of the Fuhrer’s favorite songs? He told me so himself. Ach! He will be so pleased with us.”

The Admiral stood up from his chair and put his hand on Loerber’s shoulder. “Don’t you see, Korvettenkapitän? I am choosing you because nothing will ensure the mission’s success more than having one of the Loerber Brothers lead it. After all, you’re magic!”

Inside the radio room, two petty officers sat in swivel chairs, earphones on their heads, scanning the different frequencies for friendly and enemy traffic. “What are you hearing?” Loerber asked.

“Nothing much, sir. Communications back and forth between Plymouth and St. Malo. Jersey radar reports a convoy of ships coming from Bristol.” The radio operator looked at Loerber with hesitation. “Sir?”

“What is it?” asked Loerber.

“Sir, we intercepted a news bulletin on the American Armed Forces Radio. They claim the American Army has crossed the Rhine at Remagen.”

Loerber remained still, trying not to act shocked. The Rhine was the final barrier in the West and if it had been breached, then the war was as good as over. And if that was so, what were they doing staging a raid against a third rate little coal port? He leaned over and spoke in a low voice. “You’re not to mention this to anyone,” he told them. They nodded smartly. He doubted they would.

Loerber left the radio room and returned to his spot on the deck. I’m magic, he kept saying to himself as he stared out glumly at the dozens of black shadows covering the sea’s surface. The waves were kicking up heavy spray that pelted his face. The jagged strip of French coastline loomed larger. It wouldn’t be long now. I’m magic. I’m magic, I’m Ziggy of the Flying Magical Loerber Brothers, the toast of Old Berlin and I’m magic!

How long had it been since he’d heard any of that? Ten years. Ten years since Sebastian’s disappearance and ten years since Manni and Franzi, his two other brothers, had confided in him their decisions to become enemy spies inside the Nazi Party and SS. Ten years since the act broke up and he stopped talking with them and ten years since he’d entered the Flensburg Marineschule as a naval cadet and put his old life completely behind him. And he assumed that was it, since not once in that whole time had anyone shown the slightest awareness of his child-star past.

Two of the petty officers came up, both dressed in naval infantry gray. He found himself looking at them with suspicion, but it turned out they only wanted to report one of the men had broken his foot. He nodded and they returned aft. Loerber continued staring at the waves.

Or was it simply that they wouldn’t have dared to speak that way of a Navy officer? Had everyone been secretly whispering Ziggy, Ziggy, Ziggy the whole time behind his back? He hated the thought of Ziggy Loerber. He hated remembering the cabarets and variety theaters with their greasy elegance, and the audiences and the endless corny routines; Mystery of the Disappearing Bluebird, Hawaiian Hallucination, April in Nanking. He wondered why anyone would want to remember that awful stuff. Old Berlin was so long ago. And besides, if they started remembering that, they might also start remembering that the Loerbers were Jews.

Then he heard the thick low moan of a shell coming in. A second later, an explosion and a splash, far enough away he knew they’d been missed completely.

“Lookouts!” he shouted, then, putting his binoculars to his eyes, he began scanning in the direction the shot came. “Starboard, third back! Patrol craft!”

“Guns, get coordinates and prepare to fire.”

He saw the silhouette of the gunboat and wondered what kind it was. No torpedoes, probably a single 37mm deck gun. Why haven’t they fired a second salvo? It had been almost thirty seconds. What were they waiting for? Loerber stared into the black spot and felt himself inside the breech of the cannon and all around him the fevered shouting: Skipper, something’s wrong! It won’t lock! Hard right! Full speed! Evasive! Radioman, get on the horn to Granville, tell them...”

Loerber jerked his head back and shut off the stream just as he heard the Lieutenant on the bridge shouting, “Main gun, fire!”

A tearing through the air, then another, and another. Then the shells exploded, first one in the water, but then the second one hit and an instant later the patrol boat was blown in two, followed by tiny arpeggios of explosions as their ammunition cooked off. Then it was over.

“Finish her off, sir?”

“Don’t bother,” Loerber said. “Continue course.”

Ten minutes later, as they approached the signal buoy, two more patrol craft came out of the darkness, this time flashing challenge signals. The seconds ticked by as Loerber hesitated over how to respond. They repeated the challenge. He watched the gun crew swiveling the cannon into position. How long would it take them to figure out they were Germans and start shooting. Do something, he told himself. What had his father, old Gustav Loerber, always said? Give them something, anything. As long as you put something in front of them, the audience won’t notice. Fill the space! First rule of magic.

“Signalman,” he barked. “Send them back the same signal they sent you. Now!”

The signalman held up his light and began blinking back the message. A long, tense moment followed as they waited for a response, but then to everyone’s surprise, the two patrol craft moved on and they were alone again. This isn’t right, thought Loerber. It was like being pitted against apparitions, which might put up a big show, only to evaporate into a swirl of fog. He stared at the innocently blinking harbor light, trying to sense if the quiet concealed something foreboding. The thin crescent of moon came out and then hid again behind the clouds. “How much time?” Loerber asked.

“Five minutes,” came the answer.

Five minutes.

“Five minutes, Magical Loerber Brothers!”

As usual, none of them answered. They were all staring intently into their illuminated mirrors. The stage manager’s assistant chuckled to himself and tried again. “Manni, Ziggy, Franzi, Sebastian? Are you ready?”

The four put down their powder brushes and combs, turned and nodded in unison.“All right!” answered the stage manager’s assistant. “Let’s go, then.” And they’d get up and put on their sequin jackets and top hats and follow him out to the stage right wings. On stage, the lights would go down as the orchestra started its signature medley of Harlem Rhapsody and Sweet Georgia Brown. Then they’d get their signal and run out onstage and just seeing them, the audience always went nuts.

“Sir,” said the signalman, “Minesweeper Two is signaling that they’re ready to take the lead.”

“Tell them to proceed,” answered Loerber. “Petty Officer, tell the landing parties to prepare for action.”


As they approached the harbor, Loerber quickly made his way aft to the back deck where the troops had formed into assault squads. One of the men helped him into an ammo harness, then handed him a submachine gun and a helmet, which he put on, tightening the leather strap under his chin. Well, he thought, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.

Clearing past the rocky point and getting their first view of the harbor, Loerber was surprised to find it was lit up by bright lights blazing from above the embankments, like their arrival was expected. But except for an ancient bucket crane, chuffing tiredly as it scooped coal from one ship’s hold and then carried it over to a waiting line of rail cars, everything was eerily quiet.

He counted three small coastal steamers docked on the left bank at the bottom of the hill, while on the other side of the harbor five decent-sized ships were waiting their turn at the bucket crane. All they’d have to do was turn them around and bring them back to Jersey. That and steal all the food and medicine they could grab. Pull this off, and, as the admiral had broadly hinted, he’d get diamonds and swords added on his Knight’s Cross. Everybody else would probably get the Iron Cross. They were handing them out now like paper roses at a shooting gallery.

He watched a single dockworker strolling out of a warehouse, cigarette dangling from his lips, apparently unconcerned at the appearance of enemy warships in his harbor. Had he not noticed the rows of gleaming helmets, the bayonets or the red and black Reich battle flags fluttering from the masts? Or was it merely that it was one thirty in the morning at a port hundreds of miles from enemy lines. Hundreds of miles, unless you bothered to remember the fortress islands just offshore, full of armed, dangerous, and very hungry men.

The dockworker let out a yawn and pushed open the door to a small wooden hut and went inside. Loerber felt his heart pounding as they pulled closer to the embankment. Everything looked so still. It seemed terribly wrong that in another moment, the quiet would be shredded by gunfire and otherwise peaceful people would be killing each other. And to one degree or another, it would be his fault. Of course if this turned out to be an ambush, a hundred windows might suddenly open and a hundred enemy rifles and machine guns start raining lead down on them. Why had he agreed to lead this harebrained raid? Why? So his crew could sit out the rest of the war, pretending to repair an unrepairable submarine, that’s why.

Closer, closer, twenty feet, eighteen feet, fifteen feet. He fingered the safety above the trigger on his submachinegun. Twelve feet, ten feet. He remembered how queasy he’d always get standing in the wings just before he and his brothers would go on stage. You’re Ziggy Loerber, you’re magic! Once or twice at the Marineschule, someone had asked him if he was Ziggy Loerber, but each time he shook his head and it was never brought up again. Eight feet, five feet. And then the stage manager would point at them and out they’d run and from that moment, everything was like clockwork. First they’d toss Manni up high into the air, and as he was coming down, Sebastian would jump to the far side of the springboard. Manni would come down onto the other end, propelling Sebastian high into the air to the first trapeze. Then Ziggy would boost Franzi up onto his shoulders, Franzi would jump down onto the springboard, launching Manni upwards where he was caught by Sebastian, who swung him around and around before flying him off to the other trapeze. They were like cogs in a machine, spinning and flying from trapeze to trapeze, precise, every movement timed exactly in abeyance to the laws of velocity, trajectory, resistance. To the audience, of course, it was all magic, magic. You’re Ziggy Loerber! You’re magic! Like it was going to make a difference out here. What the Admiral didn’t understand was that magic could only happen when it was safe to dream. In wars, dreams and illusion were what got people killed.

Three feet, two feet, then a metallic groan as the ship scraped and bounced against the stone quayside. Immediately the men began leaping off the deck onto the embankment and then racing toward their assigned target points; the warehouses, the cranes, the harbormaster’s tower, the dockworkers’ huts, the telephone exchange, the power station, the coal ships.

Loerber stepped onto the embankment and hurried toward a protected spot near a wall, where he established his command post. “Machine gun crews, take your positions,” he shouted. “Security detail, set up the inner perimeter, now! Petty officer, take your squad and check out those warehouses.”

From inside one of the buildings a burst of pistol fire erupted. A few seconds after that a machinegun opened up and then another. A grenade exploded, blowing out the doors and windows of one of the huts. Then all the lights went out and it was quiet again. A few seconds later, word came back that all the cranes were theirs and the demolition teams were already placing charges.

Loerber put his field glasses to his eyes and looked across the harbor. Over on the coal dock, a gun battle had broken out. Within a few seconds, the duet of gunfire became a quartet, then an octet, then a full chorus, before suddenly stopping altogether. Two minutes later a man with signal light started blinking a message from the deck of one of the ships. The docks and five coal ships were all theirs. Five minutes had passed. Everything looked like it was running according to plan.

One of the troopers ran out of the warehouse. “Sir, we’ve got some prisoners. Five Americans and three French workers.” Loerber looked at them; all very fat and, except for the Frenchmen, utterly harmless-looking.

“Have you looked at the contents yet?”

“Yes sir, it’s full of sacks of flour. Hundreds, thousands of sacks.”

“Sir, there’s crates of canned food; meat, vegetables, condensed milk!”

“Chocolate, sir, and coffee!”

“Sir! They’ve got beer! Cases and cases of it!”

“All right then, start loading. Put these birds to work,” said Loerber, pointing at the prisoners. “Everyone else not doing security, start a line.”


Loerber looked at his watch. By now the diversionary attack should have started on the Hotel Sur-la-Plage farther down the coast. But he hadn’t heard any shot fired from that direction. Had they reached it yet? Was there a problem?

On the other side of the harbor, the coal ships’ engines started coming to life. White smoke blew from their smokestacks and the water behind them began churning white as their screws started to turn. Looking through his glasses he could see lines being cast off. Good, he thought, in another few minutes they’ll all be out of the harbor. Then we can get out of here.

A grenade exploded and then a machine gun opened up, raking the embankment a few feet away from him. One of the soldiers grabbed him and pulled him behind the wall for cover. “It’s coming from the church tower.”

“Suppressing fire!” shouted one of the sergeants. “Keep him pinned down.”

The men began firing back. A man in Luftwaffe camouflage ran up. “Sir,” he shouted. “Red Team reports they’ve set up the outer perimeter. No sign of counter-attack yet.”

A petty officer in naval infantry gray followed. “We’ve got the clinic secured. We’re loading up some Jeeps we found. Sir, we’ve got enough penicillin for the whole island.”

“Good,” said Loerber. “Now if we could just get everything loaded and get out of there before the Americans get organized.” He looked at his watch again. Twelve minutes had passed.

In the distance he could hear the steady rattle of machineguns. They didn’t sound German. Then he heard cannonfire. The Americans had apparently rallied faster than the planners back on Jersey had expected. They were going to need to get out of there quickly.

On the other side of the harbor, the first coal ship had pushed away from the dock, and was making its way toward the harbor entrance. He waited for the others to follow, but they weren’t moving. Their engines rumbled louder, the water around their screws churned a furious white. Then Loerber realized why. It was the low tide. The ships’ full loads had them stuck on the bottom. It would be hours before there’d be enough water to float any of them. They couldn’t hang around that long.

Loerber turned to the signalman. “Tell the coal ship crews to abort. They should carry off any food they can, load it onto the trawlers and then get out.” He turned to one of the runners. “Go down to the demolition crews, tell them to send a team onto the coal ships to set charges. I want them ready to detonate in fifteen minutes. Go!”

As the signalman began flashing out the message, Loerber glanced over at the one coal ship steaming out of the harbor. It had sailed out of the lit-up areas and with the gleam on its hull already beginning to fade, it was turning into a shadow. There’s probably enough coal for several months in there, he told himself. Enough to last till the end of the war.

“Sir, Red Team reports six tanks approaching from the west, infantry company strength. Request artillery support.”

Loerber nodded. “Tell Red Team to send the firing coordinates to the artillery ships. Radio the artillery ships, tell them to fire when ready.”


A forklift pulled out of the warehouse with a huge crate in its prongs and a half dozen carts trailing behind it, piled high with boxes. But then someone opened up with rifle fire, bullets ricocheted against the ground and a second later, the forklift driver slumped over the steering wheel. “Covering fire!”

As the soldiers began shooting back, one of them ran up and pulled the driver off the forklift, hoisting him on his back and carrying him to cover. Another took the driver’s place and brought it all the way over to where the minesweeper was docked. Within seconds, its contents were carried aboard and he was driving it back inside the warehouse for another load.

“Sir! More prisoners!”

Loerber looked up and saw a group of middle-aged men in dressing gowns and slippers with their hands behind their heads. The soldiers escorting them grinned. “American officers,” explained one. “We got ‘em out of the Hotel Normandie. Pretty warlike, wouldn’t you say, sir?”

“Get them aboard Minesweeper Two, forward hold,” ordered Loerber.


“Sir, Blue Team leader reports Trawlers Eberhardt, Gustav, and Jochen all fully loaded, requesting permission to withdraw.”

“Given,” said Loerber. He turned to one of the sergeants. “Begin Phase One of withdrawal. Any word from the coal ships?”

“Yes sir, the raiding parties are all off and the demolition crews are finishing up laying the explosives. Demolition team leader says another five minutes.”

“Very good.”

He watched the first wave of boats heading out of the harbor and felt a tremendous relief. So far it had all been easy. Offshore, the artillery ships were firing off round after round which shrieked overhead in a steady stream, crashing in the fields east of town. The Americans were keeping themselves out of range, which was all any of them wanted. In another few minutes it would all be over.

“Hey look! We’ve caught a nigger!” some men were shouting. They led out a black American soldier at bayonet point, holding his hands above his head and looking both frightened and angry. “We found him hiding behind some bins,” one of the soldiers said excitedly. “Thought you were going to get away, did you, nigger?”

Loerber waved them out of the way and stepped in front of the American. “Where are you from?” he asked.

“New Yawk,” the black man answered warily.

"Harlem?” asked Loerber.

“Harlem Rhapsody,” one of the sergeants snickered.

Loerber shot him an angry look, then turned back to face his captive. The black man nodded back. “Yeah, Harlem,” he said, almost like he was daring Loerber to make something of it.

Loerber leaned in closer to him. “I’ll make you a deal,” he said. “If I let you live, will you think about me in Harlem, on Lexington Avenue?”

The man looked back at Loerber long and hard, like he wasn’t sure it was a joke or not.

“Man, I’ll think of you in the Apollo. Just don’t fucking shoot me.”

"Good, then we have a deal.” Loerber looked around. “You don’t have a rifle hidden here, do you? You’re not going to start shooting at us when we let you go.”

The man made a grimace. “Man, you think the motherfuckers let us even touch rifles?”

Loerber nodded and turned to leave. “Wait!” called out the black man. “What’s your name? The A-Train will want to know.”

Loerber turned and saw the man was grinning. He made a polite smile. “Korvettenkapitan,” he started to say, but then paused and said, “Ziggy, Ziggy Loerber.”

“Ziggy-loe-bahr,” the man said back, like it was all one continuous word. “That’s easy to remember.”

Loerber returned to the embankment and gave the order to start the detonations. One by one the charges went off and the cranes toppled obediently into the water. One crashed into the stern of a steamer, causing its bow to jerk upward and then come down on its side, capsizing. The men cheered. Then the coal ships went up; loud, dull thuds echoing across the harbor like thunderclaps. Another explosion and the bucket crane blew apart. Suddenly the ships were on fire. They were pulling out. The trawlers were on their way out of the harbor and all that remained was their gunboat. The last of the Red Team were coming down from their abandoned perimeter. He watched them troop aboard the boat, slapping each other on the back. Then Loerber stepped aboard the back deck and signaled the Captain Lieutenant to head out. The engines thundered under his boots as the land slipped away.

“Well done, everybody,” said Loerber to the men standing on the back deck as the boat sped up the channel toward the open sea. “So how did it go, Sergeant? Any casualties?”

“Two men seriously wounded, five with minor wounds. Mortar team reports one man missing.”

Loerber didn’t like that. “Missing? Who? What happened.”

“Bootsman Brier,” answered the sergeant. “They said they were coming back from the line. They heard some shooting, one minute he was there, next minute he was gone.”

“Did they search for him?”

“They said they did.”

“Bring them here,” said Loerber. A minute later the mortar team was standing before him. He listened to them go over the story and knew they were lying. Then he informed them that if they liked, he would convene a court martial on the spot and that if they kept lying to him he’d have them shot. “What’s it going to be?” he asked. The men looked at each other, then began explaining how Brier had a girlfriend in town and that he’d gone off to be with her.

“Turn the boat around,” Loerber shouted to the Captain-lieutenant, “We’re going back.”

By the time they got back to the dock, one of the coal ships was already on its side, flames licking up from its holds. Back at the embankment, Loerber told the men to take him to the house where the girlfriend lived. They led him up an alleyway to a door around the corner from a shuttered pub. He had them kick open the door and stepped inside, pistol in hand. Brier was sitting at the kitchen table with a girl next to him who was holding a baby. He was a skinny, fidgety man with dark eyes and small ears set so low on his head that he looked more like some grazing animal than a man. The girl herself was lumpy and though Loerber guessed she was barely out of her teens, there was nothing about her that seemed either particularly young or pretty.

Brier looked surprised at first to see Loerber and the others, but he quickly sank in to a kind of determined fatalism. “I’m not going back,” he declared.

“That’s desertion,” said Loerber. “Desertion in the face of the enemy. You know the punishment for that. Don’t make me shoot you.”

“Do what you want, Herr Kapitan, I’m staying here. She is my wife, this is my home. I’m not going back to that stupid island. To hell with Hitler, to hell with Germany and the whole goddamn Third Reich!”

It was obvious the girl didn’t understand what they were saying, but she glared at Loerber with defiance, like she wasn’t hiding anymore, here in her house they were making their stand. Her face had scars and her nose looked like it had been broken and not set back very well. She had still-short blonde hair which must have been shorn off several months earlier. It was one of the things that happened to French women who’d slept with Germans.

“Brier, listen to me,” said Loerber. “What you are doing is a very stupid thing. Do you love this woman?”


“Then do her a favor and come back to the ship. I’ll forget this incident ever happened. In a couple weeks this war will be over, and before you know it, you’ll be a civilian again and you can come back here. What you’ve got here isn’t something to die for. It’s something to live for. Now I’m giving you an order. Pick up your rifle and come with me.”

But Brier shook his head resolutely. “No, Herr Kapitan. I’ve been sitting on that island for ten months, twiddling my thumbs while my wife gets beaten and raped and I’m not leaving her again. And for what? Those Nazi bastards? I’d rather die than spend another minute of my life serving them.”

Loerber had his pistol out pointing at Brier. “This isn’t about Hitler or the Nazis, Brier. It’s about the Navy. It’s what we both volunteered for. That means following orders. You can’t desert your comrades in battle. All we have to count on right now is each other. Now for the last time, I’m giving you an order. Get up. Get your rifle, kiss your wife goodbye if you’d like and come back to the boat.”

Brier shook his head. “No. I’m not going.” He turned his back on Loerber and for a second, brushed his hand against hers. Loerber felt his finger tightening against the trigger. The sound the pistol made was loud and sharp and it was still ringing in his ears when the man fell onto the floor, blood gushing from his forehead. And then all Loerber heard was the woman screaming.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Germania is Back!

April, 1945. Hitler’s deep inside his bunker in Berlin and he’s not coming out, except maybe, eventually feet-first. The war is finally ending and now, suddenly, people have started wondering what comes next?

But even as Nazi Germany is being torn to pieces and swallowed up by the Allies, Hitler’s henchmen are jockeying with each other over who will be the next Fuhrer. The problem is it can’t be just anybody. It has to be someone Eisenhower won’t just respect, it has to be someone he’!

Himmler, Goering, Speer; each believes he’s the one. But someone else unexpected gets the job. Suddenly the war is over. Suddenly everything is different, but not different in the ways they’d expected.

Even though the defeat is total, the surrender, unconditional, nobody, not even the victorious Allies, know what to do next. For a while, at least, the surviving Nazis are free to imagine any rosy, surreal future they wish. Days turn into weeks and a caretaker regime does what all governments naturally do; it grows. Welcome to the Flensburg Reich of Hitler’s successor, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz!

And into this unhinged world sail four brothers, Manni, Franzi, Ziggy and Sebastian, the once-famous Flying Magical Loerber Brothers and the toast of Prewar Berlin. This time, though, they’re not out to entertain. They’re Jews, they’re spies, they’re assassins and they’re out for revenge.

Originally published by Simon & Schuster in 2008, now available on Kindle at an afordable price! Here is the link

Do us a big favor and buy the book.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Time for a Little Old-Time Texas Twang?

It's about twenty years past the time of Herbert T. Barrow, Bonnie and Clyde and the other characters from my novel "Friend of the Devil," but their deep-rooted sense of Southern resentment and stick-it-where-the-sun-don't-shine rebelliousness still rings true in this song. Enjoy!

Listen to the clip on YouTube here: Duane Eddy Rebel Rouser


"Friend of the Devil" is a piece of Texas gothic about what happens when a reefer-addled, unreconstructed Texas atheist runs into the Devil and a guy who may or may not be God, and decides to show them both what for.