Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Speer's Rebellion Against Hitler: Consorting with Assassins while Driving through the Ruhr

It happened again the following afternoon, only this time instead of coming out the front door he emerged from the alley, moving even quicker than he had the day before. On the third occasion he went into a regional police prefecture only to reappear a few minutes later, leading a frightened-looking man by the elbow. The man was wearing a raincoat which fit him so poorly Speer guessed they’d nicked it on their way out. Manni opened the rear door and let the man get in beside Speer. “He’s a friend of mine. I told him we’d give him a ride,” he said. Then he got behind the wheel, put the car into gear and they were off again. For the next two hours the man remained rigid, wild-eyed and trembling, like he thought he was still under the interrogator’s lamp. Eventually Manni glanced back from behind the wheel and asked Speer to find him something to eat. Speer went into his bag, and pulled out a can opener and a tin of mixed vegetables. He went to work opening it, then pulled back the lid and handed it to the man, who stared at it warily before taking it in his hands, and gulping down its contents in a few seconds. Once he finished, he looked around ravenously, then sank back in embarrassed silence. Finally, just as it was getting dark, they drove into a forest and let him out near a logging road. Without saying goodbye or waving the man hurried up the path and disappeared into the trees.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Germania-Brendan-McNally-ebook/dp/B00BROR8RQ/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1391531074&sr=8-3-fkmr0&keywords=germania+brendan+mcnallyAfter that it got even stranger. He’d pull up to different party offices, and for several minutes would wait, meditatively staring into the building, never saying anything. And then he would either get out and go in or simply change his mind and drive off. Either way, he never explained anything.

During one such time, it occurred to Speer that perhaps the young man was an assassin, whose real mission was killing off Nazi Party officials. But he immediately told himself he was being silly. But then the next time the young man went out, it occurred to him again, and again the next time and the time after. And each time Speer dismissed the idea, until one day, just as he was getting ready to go, the young man took out his pistol and casually screwed a silencer onto the barrel before returning it to his jacket. As they watched him disappear into the building, von Poser suggested they could drive away at that moment. But for some reason Speer said no.

An hour later as they were driving down the road, hidden inside a military convoy, Speer asked himself what it was that actually bothered him about it, other than the prospect of getting caught. Was it that he murdered somebody or that it was someone whose only crime was slavishly obeying the Fuhrer just as he had been only a few days earlier?

When Speer had finally decided to go against Hitler, he never imagined it would suddenly put him in league with murderers and assassins. But then, why should he have such a problem with that? The fact was he’d been consorting with thugs and murderers for twelve years now anyway. Of course the difference was the SS and Stormtroopers were supposed to be the good guys. They’d been on the side of the law. They were following orders. They were supposed to stand for what was right and decent in the world. Manni Loerber was a lone crazy acting on his own, without orders or moderating influence or any kind of official justification. But was that the only real difference? It sure didn’t feel that way.

Or was it the way he operated? Was it knowing that when he put the bullet in their head he had them laughing and reminiscing about the good old days at the Blue Star Cabaret and the Admiralspalast? Was it better to be assassinated when you were happy than when you were scared?

Speer tried to remember what he knew about the Magical Loerber Brothers. Like most Germans he’d seen them perform easily a dozen times and certainly he’d enjoyed their act. It was impossible not to. But at the same time he’d never been part of the Loerber Brothers Mania which went on through the 1920s and ‘30s. He remembered seeing the cover of one particular variety magazine with their four clean-scrubbed, blonde haired, blue-eyed, smiling and utterly indistinguishable faces arranged in a half-moon. Which one is your favorite? it asked. Until then he had never imagined that such a thing as a favorite Loerber Brother could exist. Since he’d never been able to tell any of them apart, it hadn’t occurred to him that they might possess individual personalities. But everyone else apparently could and they obsessed endlessly over the supposed minutia of their lives. Franzi’s Secret Crush! Twenty things you don’t know about Manni! How does somebody like that turn into someone like this? What had happened?
(An abbreviated version of this chapter appears in Germania, Simon & Schuster, 2008, now also available on Kindle here).

Friend of the Devil: Bluesman on the Run from the Law Shares His Sandwiches with God

He eats the other sandwich quickly and rather than look sated, he seems even hungrier than before. He looks at me again with his big mournful eyes. “I feel terrible asking you this,” he says, “but, seeing how you’re not going to eat with me, would you terribly mind if I had the last sandwich?”

“It’s yours,” I say.

He reaches into the back seat and takes the paper bag and then sets it down on his lap and begins unwrapping the last sandwich. He puts the first half up to his mouth, leaving the other sitting in its bed of white paper on his lap. I feel my stomach start to rumble. I could ask for the other half, but I think I’d rather starve.

http://www.amazon.com/Friend-Devil-Brendan-McNally-ebook/dp/B004VXK1LK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1403642850&sr=8-3&keywords=friend+of+the+devil“Funny you should say, ‘It’s yours,’” he says. “Isn’t that what you told that woman when she robbed you?”

“Why is it funny?”

“Well, you didn’t have to say it. By telling her those sandwiches were hers, you were giving them to her. Technically speaking, after that she wasn’t stealing them.”

“I’m not really interested in technicalities,” I say.

The young man looks surprised. “You aren’t? Didn’t you get sent to prison on a technicality?”

“Well, what if I did?”

“Well, it’s a lot easier to get a conviction overturned if it’s on just a technicality. It’s just a question of having the right connections; a good lawyer, for example.”

“Good lawyer?” I snort. “I’m not sure such a thing exists, least not in Texas.”

We pass an old church. He stares at it like it’s reminding him of something he’d completely forgotten about.

(Excerpt from Friend of the Devil, available on Kindle).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Schellenberg Learns Kersten Is Gone, Calls for a Substitute

Normally Schellenberg was wary of letting Himmler veer off on a different topic, but this was a good sign. It meant the Reichsfuhrer was solidly thinking about running things after Hitler was gotten rid of.

"Reichsfuhrer,” he began solemnly, “I would say the best thing to do would be bow. Why? Because it shows your gallantry and your readiness to approach Eisenhower as a supplicant. Offering to shake hands right off could create the impression of being too forward. But when you bow, he will feel compelled to put his hand on your shoulder and be gracious.”

Himmler was suddenly a whirl of activity, speaking quickly as he paced back and forth. “You’re right, you’re absolutely right. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll come up to him and I’ll bow.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Germania-Brendan-McNally-ebook/dp/B00BROR8RQ/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1391531074&sr=8-3-fkmr0&keywords=germania+brendan+mcnallySchellenberg smiled.

"Now I just need to see about getting the Fuhrer’s permission,” Himmler added almost as an afterthought.

Schellenberg stood dumbfounded.

...Getting the Fuhrer’s permission?

Could he possibly have heard it wrong? The understanding was supposed to be that if Hitler didn’t agree to step down, he should be shot. ... Permission? He stared up at Himmler, who stared back, his watery eyes imperceptible as ever behind the pebble lenses of his glasses.

There is also the matter of my uniform. Should I wear the green one or the black. I think black would be ideal,” he ventured.

Schellenberg tried to keep from exploding. “Reichsfuhrer, you need to tell me, are we still on the same page on this?”

Himmler dabbed at his mouth with his forefinger. “Whatever do you mean?” he asked, absently.

"None of this can happen until you confront the Fuhrer and make him step aside. We’ve already discussed this.”

Himmler twitched.

"Now are you going to do it or not?”

A bigger twitch this time.

"Count Bernadotte is going out on a limb telling Eisenhower you are ready to take over the government. That was the whole point of my flying up to Stockholm. That was what we agreed on, wasn’t it?”

Himmler’s stomach jerked.

"They both expect immediate action from us, Reichsfuhrer. And I’d say they are also definitely starting to lose their patience.”

Another twitch. Himmler’s mouth gaped.

Schellenberg pushed it further. “Reichsfuhrer, the situation is critical. The Russians are going to chew us up and spit us out. They’re going to rape and kill everyone they find. Is this what you want to happen?”

Himmler was all frantic motion now, waving his arms like he was battling an onslaught of flies. “General Schellenberg, you know it’s not as simple as that. You really must understand my situation here. I owe everything to the Fuhrer. Everything! And while yes, I might agree in principle, I just can’t come to him and say ‘Get out of the way, it’s now my turn... It’s just not, it’s just not, it’s unthinkable...I’ve sworn an oath of allegiance, a sacred oath, and I, for one, take that sort of thing very seriously...”

"Reichsfuhrer...,” interjected Schellenberg. But Himmler waved him to silence.

"You must understand the karmic implications of what you are suggesting. It would be much better for everyone if the Fuhrer elected to step down, that would minimize the celestial trauma. I think we should give it a few more days and see if something might alter the forces in our favor. Karmically speaking, it would be the thing to shoot for. And my astrologer assures me there are some major events on the horizon, so who knows?”

Schellenberg cursed himself. The whole trip had been a waste. All of his efforts over the last two years had been a waste.

"We need to be patient, Schellenberg, and not rush anything. It’s the cosmic thing to do.” Beads of sweat were forming on Himmler’s forehead and his left eyebrow was fluttering.

Schellenberg began shouting. “Reichsfuhrer, do you understand the situation we’re in as a nation? We are facing racial extermination. And unless you move immediately, now, today, we will all be destroyed. You must find the strength inside yourself to do what must be done.”

"But you don’t understand,” shot back Himmler in a high- pitched voice. “I owe him everything. I swore an oath to him.” Suddenly Himmler clutched at his stomach and began shrieking in pain. “It’s starting again, Schellenberg! The pain, it’s tearing me up!” he screamed. “Aaahhhh, I can’t take this! It’s killing me, it’s killing me. Call Kersten. Get him in here at once.”

"Reichsfuhrer,” said Schellenberg calmly. “Kersten is still in Stockholm.”

"Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!” Himmler shrieked as he thrashed about on the couch. “Do something, Schellenberg! Do something! I can’t take it.”

Schellenberg went to the door. In the outer office, Himmler’s adjutants, aides and secretaries all waited in hushed terror. “Shouldn’t we send for Kersten?” suggested one of the women.

"Kersten isn’t coming back,” said Schellenberg. “Is there anyone else we can call?”

Everyone looked at each other helplessly. There wasn’t a doctor Himmler would let touch him. There was only Kersten. Nobody could take the pain away like Kersten. Nobody could listen to him and give him advice like Kersten. In the next room Himmler screamed like he was being gutted.

"There has to be somebody,” repeated Schellenberg.

One of the adjutants shifted nervously. “Ummm, there’s Sub-lieutenant Loerber from the Astrology Branch. He’s supposed to be pretty good.”

Himmler shrieked louder.

Then get this Loerber up here on the double!” ordered Schellenberg.
(Excerpt from Germania, Simon & Schuster, 2008, now also available on Kindle here).

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Sinking of the Battleship Roma and the Dawn of the Age of Precision Guided Munitions

The Sinking of the Battleship Roma and the Dawn of the Age of Precision Guided Munitions

A couple of hours after midnight on the morning of Sept. 9, 1943, a large force of Italian warships – three battleships, three cruisers, and eight destroyers – slipped out of the northern Italian port of La Spezia. Leading them was the Roma, the Italian Navy’s newest and largest battleship, and they were going out to attack a large Allied naval force, which was, at that moment, staging an amphibious invasion further down the coast at Salerno. At least that was what Adm. Carlo Bergamini told a local German commander. But what they were really doing that night was switching sides and joining the Allies.  
To read the full article, visit Defense Media Network at http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/the-sinking-of-the-battleship-roma-and-the-dawn-of-the-age-of-precision-guided-munitions/