Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 3
Jeff Evans

Papa Bear Awards 20072007 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Marya

Papa Bear Awards 20072007 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Overall Story

This story takes place immediately after the story Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 2 in the same universe, and follows certain events in the time span from June 9, 1944 to August 28, 1944. This is the fourth story in what I call the Operation Deflection series, the previous three being Two Missions for the Price of One and Weaving the Webs of Deception, Parts 1 and 2.


The flow of this story may seem a bit disjointed when reading one scene to the next. There are several threads being followed by this story, and these threads are not always interrelated. However, the threads all play a part in the weaving of the webs of deception, which I hope you will see by the end of the series.


I would like to extend many huge thanks to Patti and Marg. It’s a long story, but they graciously donated the basis for several of the characters, events and story lines that are present in this story. And so I give them credit for the birth of some of the plot bunnies contained herein, but I accept all blame for what I might have done to them!


I have opted to go without beta reading again this time. All mistakes are mine, and mine alone!


The opening of this story takes place soon after the close of the story Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 2 and several days after the events in the episode D-Day at Stalag 13. Portions of the first chapter of this story have previously appeared in my story, D-Day Plus Three.


As usual, I make no claims to any characters or events from the Hogan’s Heroes Universe, or to any actual dialog or plot details from any episode referenced. This story contains scenes and dialog from the episodes Operation Briefcase, written by Laurence Marks and Klink vs. the Gonkulator, written by Phil Sharp. These have been used without permission.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Hammelburg, Luftwaffe Regional Headquarters, Office of General Albert Burkhalter

June 9, 1944, 2230 hours


The General flipped through the reports that he had been given and smiled. The beachhead from the Normandy landings appears to have taken hold, he read from one report. Another reported that there seemed to be no unified German counterattack. Still another reported the German units were not coordinating their defense.


The General filled his glass from the bottle on his desk and glanced at the last report. He read the contents and felt satisfied. The delay of the Germans to bring the Panzers up to defend the landing had been the key to its success.


“I have to give Colonel Hogan credit,” the General said. “If anyone could have delayed the German General Staff, it would be him. But this succeeded far better than I had hoped for.”


General Albert Burkhalter stood and raised his glass in the air. “Here’s to you, Colonel Robert Hogan,” he said. “You’ve accomplished more than I had hoped when I convinced the General Staff to meet at Stalag 13.” He drained his glass.


“Colonel Klink, the new Chief of Staff,” he muttered, shaking his head in disbelief. He began to laugh as he poured himself another celebratory drink from his schnapps bottle.


“Colonel Hogan certainly does come up with some very interesting ideas,” Burkhalter said to himself as he sipped his second drink. “It took quite a lot of wrangling for me to clear Klink of any charges from the Führer on this. Hitler was incensed that a Luftwaffe Colonel would dare assume command of the Army operations.” Burkhalter drained his glass before refilling it. He reflected on that morning’s meeting at Berchtesgaden.


* * * * *


Mein, Führer, how could a lowly Colonel manage to take control away from General von Scheider unless he wanted it to happen?” Burkhalter asked.


“What?” von Scheider exclaimed. “Are you accusing me of complicity in this Allied landing?”


Burkhalter shrugged. “I am just saying that Colonel Klink could not have taken your command without your support.”


“But I received a call from the Führer himself!” von Scheider exclaimed hysterically.


“I made no such call, General,” Hitler replied, his manner unusually calm for a situation of this sort.


“That cannot be!” von Scheider said. He opened his mouth to continue but was silenced by an icy glare from the Führer.


“If you did receive a phone call, it could have been a trick by the Underground,” Burkhalter suggested.


“The reports I have obtained from our intelligence department have indicated that Underground activity has been high since the invasion began,” Himmler suggested.


“Are they being investigated?” Hitler asked.


“General Schlesinger has informed me personally that Major Hochstetter, the local Gestapo head in the Hammelburg area has investigated and found no such evidence to back up the General’s assertion in this case,” Himmler replied.


“But I tell you, I did receive a phone call!” von Scheider insisted. “Just ask the rest of the Generals on the staff.”


“We have,” Himmler replied. “They tell us that they do not know exactly who you talked to on the phone. They only have your word that it was the Führer.”


“Maybe it is the General himself who organized this plan to sabotage our response to this invasion,” Burkhalter said. “And at the same time, try to pass the blame to an innocent officer.”


“How dare you make that accusation!” von Scheider replied angrily. “I am a loyal officer!”


“Loyal to who, General von Scheider,” Hitler said. “Colonel Klunk’s record is very exemplary. He is a fine officer and would never conspire against me.”


Burkhalter had to hold back a laugh. Aside from never getting his name correct, the thought of the Führer calling Klink a fine officer was laughable. Klink was a babbling buffoon with an over inflated ego. Come to think of it, that’s just the kind of officer the Führer wants on his staff.


“But …” von Scheider started.


“But nothing!” Hitler shouted. “I am tired of Generals who think they know better than me how to win this war. And I am also tired of the incompetence shown by those Generals.”


Von Scheider cringed noticeably. “Jawohl, mein Führer,” he replied meekly.


“Von Scheider, you are dismissed,” Hitler replied.


Von Scheider released the breath he had been holding, seemingly relieved that nothing had happened to him. His relief was short lived.


“You are dismissed from your duties as Chief of Staff,” Hitler continued. “And you will be held here pending your transfer to a unit in the Ukrainian Army.”


“The Russian Front?” von Scheider asked in shock. “But sir, a combat …”


“If you utter another word, General, I will rescind this order and simply have you shot,” Hitler interrupted. “Do I make myself clear?”


Von Scheider nodded before giving a disheartened salute.


Hitler turned to Burkhalter. “General, you are to inform Klunk that I have determined that he is not to blame for his actions,” Hitler said. “He is to continue with the fine job he is doing to keep the Allied prisoners in line.”


“Jawohl, mein Führer,” Burkhalter replied.


* * * * *


Burkhalter sipped his schnapps. It had been a close call for Klink, but in the end, it had been General von Scheider who took the blame. Before Burkhalter had left the Berghof that morning, he had heard that General Adolf Heusinger would be taking over as the Chief of Staff of the OKH and von Scheider was to be shipped out to the Russian Front in the morning.


Burkhalter raised his glass in salute again. “Hogan, not only did we manage to confuse the German army, we were ultimately able to remove one of the most capable military planners on the staff,” he said, taking a drink. “We make a very good team … even if I am the only one who knows it!”


Stalag 13, Barracks 2

June 12, 1944, 1030 hours


Hogan emerged from his office looking impatiently at his watch. “Has Kinch come up yet?” he asked.


“No, Colonel,” Carter answered. “He’s still in the tunnel waiting for the message from London.”


“Great … just great!” Hogan exclaimed. “We’re told to expect important orders that need to be carried out as soon as possible, and London takes their sweet old time getting them to us.”


“They’ll get here, Colonel,” Newkirk said from his bunk. “Kinch is probably just verifying them right now.”


“It could be that London is taking a tea break,” Baker said jokingly. “You know how the English are.”


“Tea time is in the afternoon, mate,” Newkirk said in mock indignation.


“All right, hold it down!” Hogan ordered. “We don’t have time for that now. When Kinch gets the orders, we’ve got to make our plans quickly. London will want them carried out starting tonight.”


“Tonight?” the men echoed.


“Yes, tonight,” Hogan said. “In case you have forgotten, there is an invasion being carried out on the French coast. London wants all the Underground units to step up the sabotage and harassment activities to support it. And that means us!”


“Yes, sir,” the men said.


The door opened and LeBeau walked into the barracks. “The mail courier just came, Colonel.”


“Great,” Hogan sighed. “That means Schultz will be around with the mail and will want to hang around for some of LeBeau’s strudel.”


“But I don’t have any strudel today,” LeBeau said.


“He’ll wait while you bake it,” Newkirk commented.


The bunk covering the tunnel entrance clattered as the bed rose. The men watched as Kinch climbed up the ladder. “Got it, Colonel,” he said as he stepped off the ladder. “You’re going to love this,” he said handing Hogan several sheets of paper.


Hogan stared at the papers. “What’s this, a novel?” he exclaimed. He began reading. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he said, reading the first page.


“What is it?” Carter asked.


“I don’t believe it!” Hogan said, beginning to read the second page.


“Must be good news,” Newkirk muttered.


“Are they out of their mind?” Hogan said as he finished reading the third page.


“Kinch, maybe you can tell us what they said,” Baker said, hopping down from his bunk and taking a seat at the table.


Hogan rearranged the papers and adjusted his hat. “Carter, watch the door,” he ordered.


Carter hopped up from the table and took his post by the door, opening it a crack to peer outside into the compound.


Hogan took a deep breath and started reading. “In order to support the Allied landings at Normandy, we have been ordered to perform the following tasks, which will be accompanied by stepped up activities from Nimrod …” He stopped and looked at his men. “And they want all this to happen within the next three days.”


“They want what to happen, mon Colonel?” LeBeau asked.


Hogan smiled. “A troop train will be bringing reinforcements from the south along the Düsseldorf rail line. The train must be stopped.”


“That doesn’t sound too difficult,” Newkirk commented.


“They would prefer that the train be destroyed – along with the reinforcements,” Hogan went on, eliciting several whistles of amazement from his men. “In addition, there is an armor division massing just north of here before heading to the coast. They want that delayed or destroyed.”


“A whole armor division?” Baker asked.


“And then there are the bridges over the Düsseldorf River,” Hogan continued.


“Which one?” Carter asked.


“All of them,” Hogan said.


“All of them?” Newkirk exclaimed. “Are they daft? There’s got to be at least three that are still standing.”


“Four, if you count the rail line,” Hogan said. “And they want them all to be put out of commission.”


“Colonel, if we are going to be doing all of this, what is Nimrod going to be doing?” Baker asked.


“Probably not as much as we are!” Newkirk exclaimed.


“Wrong, Newkirk,” Hogan said. “Nimrod will be doing the same thing to the forces heading north from Paris as well as trying to tie up the forces in the Alps to aid a push up through Italy.”


London is getting pretty ambitious,” Newkirk said. “Nimrod is going to be stretched thin.”


“I still think Nimrod is …” Carter began.


“We know, Carter,” an annoyed Newkirk replied. “Nimrod is not one person. You say that every time.”


“Well, I can’t help what I think,” Carter replied, turning away from the door. “He does too much for one man, or even one group like us, to do.”


Fellas, it doesn’t matter who Nimrod is,” Hogan said, hoping to avoid a lengthy discussion by his men. At that moment, the door opened, crashing into Carter and sending him stumbling across the room as Schultz entered the barracks. “We have a lot of work to plan for the next few days,” Hogan finished.


“What work?” Schultz asked. “Colonel Hogan, are you planning some monkey business?”


“Carter, I thought you were supposed to announce our visitors?” Hogan admonished.


“Sorry sir,” Carter replied. “Sergeant Hans Schultz,” he said formally. Hogan rolled his eyes.


“Colonel Hogan, you did not answer my question,” Schultz said. “Are you planning some monkey business? Because if you are …”


“Schultz, do you have our mail?” Hogan asked, interrupted the sergeant.


Ja, I have your mail,” Schultz replied. “Now are you …”


“Can you pass it out quickly and leave?” Hogan asked.


“Why do you want me to leave?” Schultz asked, suddenly suspicious.


“Do you really want to know?” Hogan asked.

“Should I know?” Schultz asked.


“I think it would be better if you didn’t,” Hogan said.


“Since you are an officer, I think you know best,” Schultz said. “I would prefer to know nothing.” He looked at the bundle of letters in his hand. “In fact, I think it would be better if you passed these out,” he said, handing the bundle to Hogan and scurrying from the barracks.


“Good old Schultz,” Newkirk said laughing. “Always one to stand up in the face of adversity.”


“Carter, watch the door,” Hogan ordered. “And this time pay attention!” Carter hurried back to his post at the door. “LeBeau, pass these out while we go over what we have to do.” He handed the bundle of letters to the Frenchman.


“Sir, how can we possibly tackle all those things ourselves?” Kinch asked.


“We won’t,” Hogan said. “We will have to have help. Kinch, when we’re done here, get in touch with Erich. I want to meet with him here tonight to go over things.”


“Right, Colonel,” Kinch acknowledged.


“And tell him to have Hans Wagner with him as well, we’ll need everyone working on this,” Hogan said. Kinch nodded. “If we play our cards right, we’ll have Hochstetter chasing his tail all around this part of Germany!”


* * * * *


The meeting had broken up and Hans Wagner had left to go back to his farm. Erich Jonach, the senior local Underground leader had remained behind to continue talking with Hogan.


“Do you think we can pull it off?” Jonach asked.


Hogan shrugged. “If everything goes smoothly, we should be able to,” he replied. “Timing is the key. If we destroy the rail bridge over the river when the troop train is on it, we’ll be able to take care of both at the same time. The armor division is massing in a clearing area that is accessible only from either end. If we can mine the roads at each end, they will be forced to deal with that. The terrain won’t let them go around.”


“What about Hans and his team?” Jonach asked. Erich was still suspicious of the man who had defied the Colonel’s orders and tried to destroy the massive fuel depot that was being constructed near town.


“He’s been better since we had our talk,” Hogan replied, referring to the meeting he had called after Wagner’s failed attempt on the depot. “Besides, we have no choice. We need all the teams we have to get all this done in the next few days.”


“Why is London being so aggressive?” Jonach asked.


“The more was can do here in the middle of Germany, the harder it will be for them to concentrate on the invasion forces,” Hogan said.


Jonach nodded. “I understand,” he replied. “You can count on me and my men, Colonel Hogan.”


Hogan smiled. “That goes without saying, Erich,” Hogan replied. “Let’s just hope that everything we are doing will help speed up the end of this war.”


The men shook hands and Hogan watched as Erich climbed up the ladder to the emergency tunnel exit. After taking a quick look around, the man scrambled all the way up and out of the tree stump.


“I know I can count on you, Erich,” Hogan said to the empty ladder where the Underground leader had been. “But can I really depend on Hans and his team?” He shook his head. Whether he could count on Hans or not, he had no choice but to depend on them for this. God help us if he screws up again.


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters, Office of Major Wolfgang Hochstetter

June 20, 1944, 1615 hours


Captain August Dorfmann handed the reports to Hochstetter as the Major sat behind his desk. He dreaded Hochstetter’s reaction to the news – it would be the same reaction it had been for the past three days. The news was the same. Underground sabotage activity was on the increase and no there was clue as to who was responsible. Actually, it was Hochstetter who had no clue as to who was responsible for the sabotage … Dorfmann had a very good idea.


It had been almost three months ago when Dorfmann had stumbled upon a meeting of the Underground in the area. He had been shocked to discover that the meeting was being held at the farm of Friedrich Wagner, the father of Ilse Wagner, who he had fallen in love with. Even before this discovery, he had had suspicions that Ilse’s brothers, Hans and Karl, were responsible for some of the sabotage activity in the area, but discovering the meeting being held at their farm was proof positive.


At first, he believed that Ilse had been simply using him to discover information on the Gestapo investigation of all of the activities, but after a couple weeks of not seeing her, he had begun to reconsider that thought.


After handing the reports to Hochstetter, Dorfmann turned to leave.


“Captain, wait here,” Hochstetter ordered.


Dorfmann cringed before turning back to face the Major. He knew what would be coming. Hochstetter would read the reports, complain that nothing was being done to find those responsible and then begin yelling and screaming like a spoiled school child. “Is there anything else, Major?” he asked as politely as he could.


Hochstetter was reading the first report. “Have you discovered anything new on the destruction of the rail bridge?” he asked.


Nein, Major,” Dorfmann replied. “It is still destroyed, and the wrecked railroad cars will still not tell us what they know.” Dorfmann was being facetious, which he knew was a mistake with Major Hochstetter, but he was getting tired of the same questions every day.


Hochstetter looked up from the papers. “Captain, I do not like that attitude,” he warned.


And I don’t like your stupidity, Major! Your idea of an investigation is to round up everyone in town and torture them until they confess to anything you suggest. Dorfmann remained silent.


“Have you interrogated anyone else today?” Hochstetter asked.


Dorfmann nodded wearily. “Ja, Major,” he replied. “We talked to several people, and none of them knew anything about the rail bridge, or the mined roads, or the other three bridges over the Düsseldorf River.”


“Bah, you do not try hard enough!” Hochstetter screamed. “You should have found out something by now! We know it is Papa Bear who is responsible for all of this. We should be able to discover just who he is?”


“We did get some information, Major,” Dorfmann said. “But it wasn’t anything connected to the recent sabotage activity.”


“Captain, do I need to remind you that Berlin wants results?” Hochstetter asked, rising from his chair to stand in front of Dorfmann.


Nein, Major,” Dorfmann replied. “I am quite aware of what Berlin wants.”


“If that is the case, then you had better try harder,” Hochstetter growled.


“Am I to arrest people for the sabotage even if they are not guilty?” Dorfmann asked. He tried hard to keep the sarcasm from his voice, but as soon as the words were out, he knew he was not successful.


“Everybody is guilty of something!” Hochstetter screamed.


Dorfmann’s patience had finally run thin. He didn’t like Hochstetter. He didn’t like the way men like Hochstetter operated. And he no longer liked the Gestapo, mainly because it was run by men like Hochstetter. “And just what are you guilty of, Major?” he asked coldly.


Hochstetter’s eyes widened when he heard the question. With sudden viciousness, Hochstetter lashed out and struck Dorfmann hard in the face. “I can have you shot for that comment,” Hochstetter said menacingly.


Dorfmann’s head twisted around at the force of Hochstetter’s blow. He tasted blood and he reached up to wipe his mouth. His fingers came away with red streaks from the cut on his lip. He turned around and faced the Major, looking down upon him with a look of contempt. Hochstetter was a short man, and not only did Dorfmann have at least twenty centimeters height advantage, he outweighed him by at least a dozen kilos. He balled his fists by his side. “Ja, you can have me shot, Major Hochstetter,” he said calmly. He was surprised that he was able to control his anger. “But it would not be because I am not doing my duty.”


Hochstetter stared back at Dorfmann for a long moment and then broke eye contact and began pacing the room. “Captain, you and I do not always agree on the best methods of performing our duties,” he said.


“Major, we have never agreed on that,” Dorfmann admitted.


Hochstetter stopped to glare at Dorfmann. “You are correct, Captain,” he replied. “And I am starting to wonder if we even agree on what the duties are.”


Dorfmann returned Hochstetter’s glare. “My duty is to the Fatherland,” he replied. “And to punish those who seek to bring it to ruin.” He did not add that he thought it was men like Hochstetter who were bringing his beloved Fatherland to the brink of ruin.


Hochstetter nodded slightly. “I am glad to hear you say that, Captain,” he replied. “Maybe we are working towards the same goal … and maybe now you will try harder to find those responsible for the recent sabotage. They must be executed for their actions.”


“And if we execute the wrong people, Major?” Dorfmann asked. “The sabotage will continue.”


Hochstetter smiled. There was no warmth in the smile – only evil … pure unadulterated evil. “Then we will find more people to execute.”


“When will it end, Major?” Dorfmann asked.


“It will end when we rid the country of the traitors who wish to bring the glorious Third Reich to ruin!” Hochstetter said forcefully.


Or it will end when you run out of people to murder. Dorfmann dared not mention that thought to Hochstetter. Instead, he simply asked, “Is that all?”


Hochstetter nodded. “Ja, ja, return to you duties,” he said dismissively.


* * * * *


When Dorfmann closed the door to Hochstetter’s office, he leaned against the wall. More than ever, he wanted to leave this assignment. He knew that his options were limited. He could, of course, do something drastic, like kill the Major. That would earn him an appointment with a firing squad. I suppose that’s one way out of this mess, he thought. But killing someone in cold blood was not in his nature, even if the person was someone like Major Hochstetter.


No, his options were very limited. He could request a transfer, but he knew that would most likely mean a combat assignment. He had no desire to become a target in the sight of a Russian soldier. If he were lucky enough to be reassigned to another Gestapo office in Germany, he was sure that he would be working for a man just as bad as Hochstetter … if not worse. Is it possible to find someone worse than Hochstetter?


He pushed himself away from the wall and walked towards his office. He knew that if he transferred away from Hammelburg, he would not see Ilse again. Would she care? Maybe she would simply become friendly with my replacement and use him as she had been using me. He shook his head. No, she has not been using me. I refuse to believe that. It is true that she and her brothers are involved in the local Underground, but when we are together, I can tell that her feelings are genuine.


He entered his office and dropped down hard in his chair. Maybe I can move to another city and take her with me. That thought, regardless of its improbability, cheered him slightly. But as quickly as it had come, the good feeling disappeared. But if I am replaced here, what if it is someone who thinks like Hochstetter? If he found any evidence that Ilse’s brothers are responsible for the sabotage, he wouldn’t hesitate to arrest them.


Dorfmann put his head on his desk. I hate this! It seems that no matter what I decide, the outcome will be unpleasant for somebody. After a moment, he straightened up. He knew he really didn’t have any choices. He would simply have to keep doing his job … but he vowed that if it were within his power, he would make sure that no harm came to Ilse and her family. And just how the hell I am going to do that is something I don’t know.


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

June 27, 1944, 2200 hours


Vladimir sat at the kitchen table of the small farmhouse with the rest of his small team. He had recently been reunited with them after being called away when Hitler had left the Wolfsschanze in the spring. Tadeauz Malewicz and his wife, Jacinta, had welcomed him back warmly, as had Grzegorz, the other member of the team. After being back for only one day, it seemed almost to Vladimir as if he had never left.


They had spent the evening sitting at the table, sharing drinks from a jug of homemade vodka that Grzegorz had traded for and sharing news of the past several months. Vladimir was happy to learn that the time had passed uneventfully for his friends in Rastenburg.


Vladimir was filling them in on the trouble that Marya had found herself in, and his role in her rescue.


“And it was Jack who was able to get her away from this Gestapo Major?” Tadeauz asked.


Vladimir nodded. “We got her away and took her to the prison camp where I had been before coming here,” he replied.


“I still cannot believe that there is an operation that can run from a German prison camp,” Grzegorz said. “The German’s are so brutal to their prisoners.”


Vladimir shook his head. “Not to the Americans and English,” he said. “It seems that they save their brutality for their Russian captives.”


“Except for you, Wladimir, my friend,” Tadeauz commented.


“This camp is a special case,” Vladimir said. “The American Colonel who heads the operation was able to convince the Kommandant that it would be in his best interests to tell everyone that I was an American flyer. I was the only Russian in the camp.”


“The Kommandant of that camp sounds like he is not too bright,” Grzegorz said laughing.


“And it sounds as if you have met him before, my friend!” Vladimir replied. “We were able to allow Marya to rest until she was able to travel again.”


“I am glad to hear that she is well,” Jacinta said. “Where is she now?”


Vladimir shrugged. “I do not know,” he replied. “I was told to return here and wait for Hitler’s return. The Center believes it will be sometime soon.”


“So you did nothing but sit around the camp and wait?” Grzegorz asked, pouring Vladimir another cup of the homemade vodka.


Vladimir drank the strong liquid and felt the pleasant burn travel down his throat. He shook his head. “No, that wasn’t the only thing,” he replied. He then proceeded to tell them about the meeting Colonel Hogan had with Hans Wagner.


“And Colonel Hogan accepted this man’s word that he would cooperate?” Tadeauz asked.


“He did,” Vladimir replied nodding. “And Hans Wagner might keep his word … but only for a while. He hungers for the power that goes along with leadership.”


“He reminds me of the man you replaced, Wladimir,” Grzegorz observed. “He wanted the power and didn’t care about anyone but himself.”


“I would have killed this Hans Wagner on the spot,” Tadeauz said. “I’m surprised Colonel Hogan didn’t do it.”


Vladimir shook his head. “It is not the Colonel’s way,” he said. “He will not hesitate to kill, but for him, it is not the first choice.”


“It does not seem to be your first choice either, my friend,” Tadeauz observed.


Vladimir shook his head. “I will kill to protect my family and friends … and even myself,” he said. “But I don’t feel the need to kill just because it is possible.”


Grzegorz filled the cups again. “One more drink,” he said. “And a toast to the return of our friend.” He held his cup out to meet the others in toast. “To victory!” The cups clinked and everyone drank.


* * * * *


Vladimir was surprised at how quickly he had forgotten the aroma of a barn full of animals. He had again insisted that he help out with the chores around the farm, and again he found himself, pitchfork in hand, mucking out the stalls. He didn’t mind – it gave him something to do and made him appreciate the fact that when the war was over, he would live in the city for the rest of his remaining days.


Vladimir jumped when the barn door opened. He whirled around to find General Stauffen standing in the doorway letting his eyes adjust to the relative darkness of the barn’s interior. When he finally saw Vladimir, he smiled. “Ah, I am glad I found you here,” he said.


“You are back in the area?” Vladimir asked. “Does that mean he is …” His voice trailed off.


“No, he is not here yet,” Stauffen said. “He is due back here two weeks.”


“My friends will be glad to hear that,” Vladimir said with a small nod.


“Your friends will also be glad to hear something else,” Stauffen said.


Vladimir said nothing. He raised an eyebrow as an invitation for the man to continue.


“The time has come,” Stauffen said. “When he returns, it will happen.”


Vladimir nodded. He didn’t have to ask what would happen – he knew. Stauffen had told him of the plan they had to assassinate Hitler and take over the government. “When?” he asked.


Stauffen shook his head. “You will know when it happens,” he replied. “I will tell you. Until then, you will not see me.”

Vladimir nodded his acknowledgement. “Many people will be glad when it is done,” he replied.


“None more than me,” Stauffen said. Without another word, the German left the barn.


Vladimir stared at the door. You are wrong – there will be many millions of people happier than you when that madman is killed.


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

June 28, 1944, 2015 hours


Major Hans Teppel entered the Brauhaus and waved wearily at Max behind the bar. Without stopping, he walked to his normal table in the back of the room, where Major Kurt Wagner was already sitting. He dropped down into the chair and let out a sigh.


“Rough day?” Wagner asked, taking a sip from his beer.


“You should know,” Teppel replied. “You are going through the same thing I am.” He looked up as Heidi set a large stein of beer in front of him. “Danke, Heidi. I needed this.”


Heidi smiled at him. “You look like you have been in a fight,” she commented lightly.


“In a manner of speaking, I have,” he replied. “And I am beat.”


Heidi looked around at the full room. “Well, I am busy now, but maybe I can help take your mind off of things later,” she said and hurried away.


Wagner snorted into his beer at the remark, sending foam flying all over the table. “Is that all you two ever do?” he asked, wiping the beer from his chin and the front of his uniform.


“Jealous?” Teppel asked playfully.


Wagner shook his head. “I have got my own worries right now,” he replied.


“Let me guess, one Captain Beckett of the SS,” Teppel surmised. When Wagner nodded, he went on, “I thought as much. I have my own headache by the name of Captain Wurtz.” Teppel took a sip from his beer before continuing. “I cannot understand why they do not trust us to do our jobs,” he said.


“Hans, the SS does not even trust itself,” Wagner commented. “They have been keeping an eye on us ever since they took over at the beginning of the month. And they will continue to keep an eye on us … looking for any little excuse to get rid of us.”


“They probably will anyway,” Teppel said.


“There is no probably about it,” Wagner agreed. “I would be surprised if we last another month.”


“You think it will be that soon?” Teppel asked.


“Hans, every day that they watch us, our SS advisors learn our contacts and sources of information,” Wagner said. “Once they feel comfortable enough, they will not need us, and off we go – cannon fodder on the Eastern Front.”


“But you do not plan to be here long enough for them to do that?” Teppel guessed.


Wagner shook his head. “Major Kurt Wagner will be involved in a terrible auto accident and his charred body will be burned beyond recognition,” he recited.


“I do not think I want to ask about the body,” Teppel said.


“Good, it saves me the trouble of telling you nothing about it,” Wagner replied with a smile.


As if on cue, Heidi returned with two full steins of beer to replace the just-emptied pair on the table. “Danke, Heidi,” the men said.


“What about you?” Wagner asked after Heidi had disappeared. “And her?”


“I am working on it,” Teppel replied.


“Work quickly,” Wagner warned. “I have heard that something may be happening in the coming weeks.”


“Something affecting us?” Teppel asked.


Wagner shrugged. “Maybe not directly, if it is successful,” he said vaguely. “But maybe fatally if it isn’t.”


Teppel nodded thoughtfully. He didn’t have to ask what was going to happen. They had had several conversations about the potential of a plot against the Führer.


“Anyway, what did you find out today?” Wagner asked, changing the subject.


“More of the same,” Teppel replied. “In Italy, they are slowly moving north and in France they are slowly moving south. In the east, the offensive that started two weeks ago is moving west … rather quickly.”


Wagner nodded. “Same thing I found out,” he replied.


“But that information is easy to find out,” Teppel said. “The daily battle reports will have that.”


“Will they?” Wagner asked with a tinge of sarcasm. “The people compiling the reports may have that information, but they may decline to put it in the report.”


“Good point,” Teppel said. “I have noticed the same from our advisors. If it is particularly unpleasant intelligence, it seems to be omitted from the reports … sometimes even altered to look like good news.”


Wagner shrugged. “It is their way to ensure they are around to report the news another day,” he commented. “Look out for your own skin. And that is just exactly what I plan to do.”


Teppel nodded. “A very wise plan,” he said.


Hammelburg, Luftwaffe Regional Headquarters, Supply Office

July 8, 1944, 1945 hours


Author’s Note: This chapter contains scenes and dialogue from the episode Klink vs. the Gonkulator, written by Phil Sharp. They have been used without permission.


Captain Ernst Dingle sat at his desk in Luftwaffe Headquarters playing a game of solitaire. He hated working evenings – the headquarters building was empty and nobody ever called to requisition anything after hours. But it had been General Burkhalter’s orders that the supply office be manned until midnight and after seeing the grief the General gave Captain Dunkelberger a few months back with the mail fiasco, Dingle didn’t want to take any chances. So he sat in his office most evenings and played cards.


The phone on his desk rang and he picked it up. “Captain Dingle, supply officer,” he said. “Yes, Colonel Klink.” He listened to the Kommandant of the local Luft Stalag, a frown slowly appearing on his face. “Information about a gonkulator?” He reached over to grab his master supply notebook and began leafing through it. “Well of course I know what it is.” In truth, he had no idea what the Colonel was talking about. What the hell is a gonkulator?

He leafed through the pages of the notebook hoping to find something. “What model number did you want to know about?” he asked. He reached for another notebook. “Well naturally sir, we must have the model number.” That ought to satisfy him. If he can give me a model number, I can find it. And if he can’t, I won’t be able to tell him anything. His smile was short-lived as he listened to the telephone headset. “General information?” Damn! He would want to know general information about something that I have never heard of!


An idea came to him suddenly as he remembered the advice he had once gotten from another supply officer. “Well, I’m … I’m sorry sir. The gonkulator is classified secret and we are not allowed to give that information out.” He listened to Klink express his disappointment in bothering him at the late hour. “Yes, sir,” he said, hanging up the phone.


He had begun to leaf through the notebooks once more. What the hell is a gonkulator? The phone rang again and he picked it up. “Captain Dingle, supply officer,” he said. “Oh yes, General Burkhalter.” Great, what does he want?


As he listened to the phone, a look of disbelief spread across his face. “You want to know about the gonkulator?” he asked. What is it with this gonkulator tonight? Well, if it worked once, I might as well try it again. “Well I’m sorry sir but the gonkulator is classified secret and we are not allowed to give that information out.” He was pleased when he heard the General accept the explanation. “Yes, sir,” he said, hanging up the phone. I’d better find out what this gonkulator is. He reached for his other supply books to look through them.


* * * * *


Burkhalter chuckled as he hung up the phone. “Classified secret – that is a good one,” he mumbled to himself. He had been suspicious ever since he had heard the word from Klink – he did not think there was such a thing as a gonkulator. Now he knew for sure. It was the oldest trick in the book of supply officers to call something classified secret if you didn’t know what it was. That was a piece of knowledge he picked up from his friend General Webber, who worked his way up through the supply office.


Burkhalter smiled. “Hogan is up to something again,” he said to himself. “I can feel it. I wonder what it is.” He had learned to accept some strange things to come out of Colonel Hogan’s mind, and he knew he should try to play along with them. And now he was curious to see the thing that Hogan called a gonkulator.


He heard a car stop in front of his chalet. “That will be Elsa,” he said, his smile growing wider. “Thoughts of the gonkulator will have to wait … it is time for some more pleasant thoughts!” He rose and walked to the door. “Elsa, my dear, come in, come in!”


* * * * *


Elsa cuddled beside the General in the bedroom of the chalet, her fingers tracing the girth of Burkhalter’s bare chest. Their bodies were sticky with sweat – partly from the oppressive heat of the summer night and partly from their recent strenuous activity.


“Do you really have to go away again, Albert?” Elsa said. “I was hoping we would have more time together.”


“You know I must, my dear,” he replied. “The Führer is returning to his headquarters in the east tomorrow and I must report for a meeting.”


“But I will miss you,” she complained.


“And if I do not go, the Führer will put me in front on some men with guns who will not miss me,” he countered. He caressed her cheek. “It will only be for a few days. I do not have to stay there.”


She snuggled closer to him. “Good,” she murmured.


Burkhalter smiled in the darkness. Yes it is good, my dear. I would hate to have to remain there and listen to the lies being told by all the Generals. I would much rather be here with you … fighting the war in my own way. And I really want to find out what kind of thing Hogan is trying to pass off as a gonkulator!


“What are you thinking about, Albert?” she asked softly, continuing to caress his chest.


“I was thinking about gonkulators,” he said truthfully.


Elsa giggled and reached her hand down below Burkhalter’s abdomen. “It seems like your gonkulator was thinking about something else,” she said.


Burkhalter burst out laughing as he pulled her to him. “Elsa my dear, you say the funniest things!” he said.


Stalag 13, Barracks Two

July 18, 1944, 0210 hours


Author’s Note: This chapter contains scenes and dialogue from the episode Operation Briefcase, written by Laurence Marks. They have been used without permission.


“We had to stop and let him rest on the way back, sir,” Newkirk said somberly. He was sitting at the table in the barracks after having returned with Kinch from meeting Hercules, a courier from London. “When he was conscious, he talked.”


“Yeah, before he passed out, he told us this General Stauffen is part of a gang of German brass that’s getting ready to assassinate Hitler,” Kinch explained. “The General got in touch with the Underground and asked for a special type of bomb … delayed action.”


“And this is it?” Hogan asked, pointing at the briefcase on the table.


“False bottom and sides,” Kinch said, picking up the briefcase. “And it’s loaded with a new lightweight explosive. The timer is in the latch, right here.” He pointed to the briefcase latch. “When you use the bottom slot, the timer is activated.”


“Thirty minutes later,” Newkirk added, snapping his fingers. “Up she goes.”


“Stauffen has a duplicate of this briefcase, huh?” Hogan asked.


“Right,” Kinch confirmed. “Hercules’ mission is to get this to us so that the bags can be switched when the General gets here.”


“And Stauffen is using his position on the Führer’s staff to arrange this inspection trip so that he can pick up the bomb,” Hogan said.


“That’s about the size of it, Colonel,” Newkirk said.


Hogan turned to see Sergeant Wilson, one of the camp’s three medics, leading a procession of men from his office.


“He was most likely dead when you brought him in,” Wilson said, handing Hogan the man’s dog tags.


“He tried to bring him around, Colonel,” Carter said.


“This lousy war,” LeBeau said with a scowl.


“It’s a mugs game, I’ll tell you that,” Newkirk said. He stubbed out his cigarette. “A filthy rotten mugs game.”


“Nothing could have saved him, Colonel,” Wilson said. “Never had a chance.”


“Okay, Sergeant,” Hogan said, staring at the dog tags in his hand.


“Wish I could have done more,” Wilson said dejectedly as he walked away. LeBeau gave the man a pat on the back as he passed.


Hogan contemplated the dog tags in his hand – and their meaning. He hated to see Allied men get killed in the line of duty – let alone in his quarters. And this time, it was just to deliver a briefcase full of explosives so that some lousy Kraut General could try to kill the nut that they had put into power and had started this whole war. “Kinch, get in touch with London, tell them what happened,” he ordered. “Make sure they understand that Hercules completed his mission.”


“Right,” Kinch said, standing to head to the tunnel.


When Kinch left, Hogan reached over and picked up the briefcase. “This plan better work,” he said. “It’s already got an expensive price tag on it.” The men were silent as Hogan retreated to his office.


* * * * *


Hogan sat in the chair in his office, staring alternately at the briefcase on his table and the covered lifeless form of Hercules that still remained in his bottom bunk. He didn’t mind death – he had seen it many times, and caused it almost as often. But this one bothered him, and he didn’t fully understand why.


“So they want to assassinate Hitler,” he muttered. “Why send the briefcase this way? Why use us?”


He knew the answer. It was the easiest way to get things from London. “And Papa Bear has the best track record in the Underground,” he said with a sigh.


It was wartime, and good men die – and he knew that, but he didn’t have to like it.


“This plan of theirs better work,” he mumbled, repeating the words he said in the outer room to the dead man. “I’d hate to see your life wasted.”


* * * * *


Hogan glanced at his watch. It was time for the switch to happen. “It’s a little warm in here, isn’t it?” Hogan asked, rising from his chair to head to the window.


“You Americans apparently have no capacity for brandy,” Stauffen said with a laugh. The remark caused Klink to laugh along with the General.


“I’m a buttermilk man myself,” Hogan said, throwing open the windows of the Kommandant’s quarters.


At that moment, the lights went out, causing a commotion from the Germans inside the quarters. Hogan reached out and grabbed the briefcase from LeBeau, who was dangling from the roof, and handed him the bag that Stauffen brought with him. He quickly put the explosive case down on the table where the other bag had been and waited for the lights to come on.


When the lights came on, Klink was at a loss to explain the situation. “General, we hardly ever have any electrical failure here at Stalag 13,” Klink said.


“That’s right General,” Hogan said. “And the Kommandant’s on top of every snafu instantly – like a vulture swooping down on its prey.” Klink puffed his chest out in pride.


“Commendable,” Stauffen said.


“I bet he’s dying to investigate the cause of the blackout right now,” Hogan said.


Klink suddenly looked shocked. “I am?” he asked. When everyone looked back at him, Klink suddenly smiled. “Yes sir, I am,” he said.


“Well in that case, go ahead,” Stauffen said.


“General, General, you are my guest,” Klink babbled. “This gathering is in your honor.”


“Don’t be bashful!” Hogan prodded.


“Of course not,” Stauffen agreed.


“No really, I … I … I …” Klink stammered. He stopped when he saw it was a losing battle. “I was just about to excuse myself, sir,” he said.


“You’re excused,” Stauffen said promptly. “Major, perhaps you can be of assistance to Colonel Klink.”


Jawohl, Herr General,” his aide replied.


Klink, still looking shocked at the turn of events, saluted. “Thank you, sir,” he said before walking to the door to leave. Before he left, he turned around and saluted again. “Thank you,” he said blandly and left the room with Stauffen’s aide, Major Gunther, following.


Stauffen turned to the waiter who was standing by the kitchen. “You are excused,” he said. The waiter bowed and left the room.


When he was gone, Hogan walked over and picked up the briefcase. “We made the switch during the blackout,” he said.


“You are very resourceful, Colonel,” Stauffen said, walking over to Hogan.


“Yeah,” Hogan commented. “This bottom latch activates the timer. Once it starts you’ve got exactly thirty minutes to get away.”


“I understand,” Stauffen said, taking the case from Hogan. “Thirty minutes is all I will need.” He began examining the briefcase with what Hogan thought was an arrogant air of superiority.


“This caper of yours better come off,” Hogan said. “We lost a man to give you what you asked for.”


“Don’t worry,” Stauffen replied smugly. “We are determined to destroy this fool at any cost.”


“I know who the fool is, but who’s we?” Hogan asked.


Stauffen fixed his arrogant gaze on the American Colonel. “The greatest military minds Germany has ever produced,” he said, walking over to face a portrait of the Führer hanging on the wall. “He dares call himself Supreme Commander.” Stauffen turned his back on the portrait. “We’ll put him out of business, I promise you.”


Hogan couldn’t believe the arrogance of this man. If I knew I could get away with it, I’d punch him right in the nose. “It’s the least you could do … considering,” Hogan said.


“Considering what?” Stauffen asked.

“Considering you’re the same bunch of guys that put him in business,” Hogan said with a tinge of hostility.


* * * * *


Kinch watched as Schultz picked up the briefcase to carry it to the General’s car. He was shocked when he saw the Sergeant fasten the loose flap in the bottom latch. “Hey Colonel, did you see that?” he asked, stepping up to Hogan.


“What happened?” Hogan asked, looking around.


“Schultz. He picked up the briefcase. He activated the timer,” Kinch said.


“You sure?” Hogan asked.


“No question about it, Colonel,” Newkirk confirmed.


“Hmm, one of their generals is missing and doesn’t even know it yet,” LeBeau commented.


“Does Stauffen know it happened?” Hogan asked.


“No, I don’t think he saw it,” Kinch replied.


Hogan looked at his watch. “That means we’ve got slightly less than thirty minutes,” he said.


“What’ll we do?” Carter asked.


“Carter, LeBeau – get lost … disappear,” Hogan ordered.


“Where?” Carter asked.


“Get over to the motor pool,” he replied. “Wait for me there and keep out of sight.”


“Right,” LeBeau said as he and Carter hurried away.


Hogan was not happy. Damn! First Hercules dies bringing the case from London and now Stauffen could buy it on his way to meet Hitler – all because of an ignorant German Sergeant.


* * * * *


Hogan was impatient – why wouldn’t Schultz quit talking? He kept tapping the big man on the shoulder and pointing to where LeBeau and Carter were yelling and trying to attract their attention. Finally, Schultz noticed them. “There they are!” he exclaimed happily, pointing towards the two prisoners.


“The prisoners!” Major Gunther said. “Arrest them!” He took off towards the prisoners with Schultz and the roadside guard following.


As soon as they had gone, Hogan reached over and grabbed the briefcase from Stauffen. He unclasped the flap and handed it back to a stunned Stauffen, who stared at it in disbelief.


Hogan let out his breath as he looked at his watch. “Nothing to it. Fifteen seconds to spare,” he said.


The men were silent as the recaptured prisoners were led back to the truck. As he passed, Major said, “Everything is clear, General. I think we may proceed.”


“Very well,” Stauffen said. When the Major walked away, Stauffen turned to Hogan. “Hogan, you saved my life, and our cause,” he said. “How can I thank you?”


“When you see Hitler, make sure the meeting goes over with a bang,” Hogan replied.


* * * * *


Hogan was silent as he drove the truck back to camp. He had a bad feeling about this plan. It had started off wrong – with Hercules getting killed delivering the case. It had gone wrong when Schultz activated the bomb without knowing it. Hogan knew he was lucky to have been able to stop it before it blew up, but there wasn’t much time left. Fifteen seconds, more or less. That’s not enough time for Stauffen to get away. And somehow I don’t get the feeling that he’s the type of guy who would sacrifice his own life to make sure the bomb blows up in the right place.


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Wolfsschanze

July 20, 1944, 1220 hours


General Stauffen felt nervous for the very first time. Now that the time was at hand, he knew that he would have only one chance. If this explosion did not kill the Führer, the plot would fail.


But he had confidence that the plot would succeed. They had been planning this for many months, and everything was in place in Berlin. All he had to do was to arm the bomb and place it under the table near Hitler during the briefing. He would excuse himself, claiming to have to make a phone call to verify some information for the briefing and when he was out of the briefing room, he would wait for the explosion.


The trickiest part would be getting out of the compound. Once the explosion occurred, he knew that a security lockdown would be called for. That meant everyone in the compound had to remain in the compound – the guards at the gate had orders to prevent anyone from leaving. Somehow he would either have to make it out of the camp before the blast occurred, or talk his way though.


The he remembered … the timer on the briefcase had less than a minute left on it. He would not have time to get out of the compound before the explosion occurred. He might not even have time to get out of the briefing room before the explosion occurred. He was committed to the cause – ridding the country of the fool who has ruined it – but he wasn’t necessarily sure he was committed enough to die along with it. His place was not in a briefing room, buried beneath rubble from an explosion. His place was in Berlin, taking charge of the Home Guard to declare martial law and arrest anyone still clinging to the hope that Hitler would be alive.


He stopped his car on the drive near the building housing the Führer’s briefing room and left the keys in it. He would need to make a fast getaway and didn’t want to waste any extra time. He had planned his entrance to the compound so that if anyone made a comment about his car, he could claim that he was almost late to a meeting with the Führer – and everyone knew Hitler’s intolerance for being kept waiting.


Stauffen entered the building and went straight to the toilet. He still had ten minutes until the midday briefing began, and he needed to compose himself. He locked the door behind him and stared into the mirror on the wall. He saw a nervous man looking back at him. This will never do! We’ve come this far – it’s got to happen now. You can’t let that madman continue to run this country into the ground!


He splashed some water on his face. When he looked back at the mirror, the man looking back seemed to be calmer and surer of himself. He ran his finger along the scar on his cheek … yes, that had come in the heat of battle, and he had not been scared then … why should he be scared now.


He looked quickly at his watch – it was time. He splashed more water on his face, toweled off and picked up his briefcase. The moment was at hand – the plan would begin now.


He left the toilet and walked briskly to the briefing room, as if he were a man running behind schedule. When he entered the room, he saw that everyone was present, and the briefing was about to begin. He maneuvered himself so that he ended up at Hitler’s left side – as close as he dared to get. He set the briefcase at his feet – not a meter away from where the Führer was standing.


He looked around, hoping that he appeared normal to the occupants of the room. Now, how can I excuse myself from this room without making it seem obvious? He was about to open his mouth to say something when Major Büchsdorf leaned over and asked him, “Did you get the fighter deployment information in the western sector that I asked for?”


Stauffen put on his best act. “Damn!” he exclaimed. “I was running behind from that inspection tour of the Luft Stalags and forgot. Let me make a phone call and get it. Please, do not hold the briefing up for me.” He bent down and removed a small sheet of paper from his briefcase. When he closed it, he made sure to activate the timing mechanism and set the briefcase where it could do the most damage. He straightened up. “I will be just a minute,” he said, and hurried from the room.


* * * * *


Major Büchsdorf shook his head in annoyance. I’m supposed to present that information to the Führer first, and he forgets. He moved closer to Hitler in preparation of the start of his presentation. As he did, he kicked Stauffen’s briefcase, knocking it over.


“Not only does he forget information, he leaves his bag in the middle of the floor,” Büchsdorf grumbled. He bent over and moved the bag behind the thick concrete leg of the heavy briefing table, where it would be out of the way.


He was just about to straighten up when the blast ripped through the room with a loud roar. Acrid black smoke billowed throughout the room as beams from the ceiling rained down on the occupants. The heavy solid oak briefing table was ripped to shreds, and those shreds were flung about like tiny darts.


Büchsdorf, had he remained among the living for more than a split second after the blast, would have been annoyed that his presentation would be delayed.


* * * * *


Stauffen hurried from the room and had reached the outside door when the blast shook the building. Even though he was a hundred meters away from the room, the blast propelled him out the door, stumbling and falling on the gravel walkway. He quickly looked around to take stock of the situation. The reaction was slow in coming, but several people were running around screaming orders at anyone and everyone in sight.


Stauffen decided that his best chance of getting out of the compound was to appear to be calm and in charge of the situation. He pulled his pistol from his holster and yelled at several black-clad SS guards. “Quick, get inside and help,” he ordered. “A bomb has exploded in the briefing room. The Führer is in there! Schnell!” The guards ran into the building.


Stauffen hurried to his car and drove to the main gate. This was going to be touch and go … could he make it out without being stopped. When he arrived at the main gate, he decided to take the initiative. “Guards, there has been an explosion in the Führer’s briefing room,” he shouted. “I must travel to Berlin immediately to make a face-to-face report to Herr Himmler.” This was a bluff – he didn’t even know if Himmler was currently in Berlin. But his bet was that the guards at the gate also did not know. He only hoped that Himmler was not currently in the compound. “After I leave, I want nobody to enter or leave this compound until this matter is cleared up. Now open the gate!”


He was a little surprised when the guards snapped him a salute and one of them hurried to open the gate. This was easy. Hitler is now dead and I’m on my way to Berlin to take charge of the Home Guard. By tonight, Germany will have new leadership!


He turned onto the road leading towards the airfield. His plane was waiting – he would pilot it himself – and he wanted to be in the air before anyone thought of grounding all flights from the area.


But he had one stop to make before heading to Berlin.


* * * * *


Major Rudolf Gerstein hurried about the compound, making sure the security was as tight as a drum before he left. It was a miracle that the Führer had not been killed in the explosion. It took several minutes, but once the dust cleared and several of the large ceiling beams had been moved, they discovered Hitler in the corner of the room sheltered by a large slab of the solid oak briefing desk. It had been flipped so that it had shielded the Führer from the brunt of several of the falling beams.


Hitler had emerged from the room shaken, but not severely injured. Four others had not been lucky enough to come out of the room alive, and several more were seriously hurt.


Strangely enough, the compounds communications equipment was not functional immediately after the blast. The technicians were frantically trying to determine if it was damaged by the blast or by sabotage. It was because of the latter that Major Gerstein had been ordered to leave the Wolfsschanze and head to Berlin. In his pocket was a list of known or suspected conspirators – he knew it made no difference now whether they really were guilty – that he was to round up for execution.


He climbed in his car and headed for the main gate. He was happy to see that the guards were at their post, turning back those persons who were trying to leave. Nobody would be leaving until they had found the ones responsible for the blast. He stopped the car in front of the gate and bounded out. “Has anybody left the compound?” he asked the guards.


“No sir,” one of the guards answered. “No one has left since General Stauffen gave us the order to keep everyone inside.”


The guard’s answer did not sound right to Gerstein. “Since General Stauffen gave the order?” he asked. “What about before?”


The guard shook his head. “Nobody … except General Stauffen,” he replied.


“Stauffen left the compound? When?” Gerstein asked.


“Right after the explosion,” the guard answered. “He said he had to report in person to Reichsführer Himmler in Berlin.”


“Himmler is in Leipzig conferring with General Schlesinger,” Gerstein said. “Stauffen was lying.” The guard was silent, hoping that he would not be blamed for allowing the General to leave. “Nobody else leaves here until Major Reinhardt gives the order,” Gerstein said. “And report to him what you just told me. I am going after Stauffen – open the gate.”


The guard saluted and hurried to open the gate. Once it was open, Gerstein sped off down the road in pursuit of the person he knew had to have set off the explosion.


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

July 20, 1944, 1300 hours


Vladimir was walking to the barn when he saw a car had stopped along the road and a man was bounding hurriedly across the field. As the man drew nearer, he noticed that it was General Stauffen, and he looked to be in an excited state.


“We must talk,” Stauffen said breathlessly as he came alongside Vladimir. “In the barn, out of sight.”


Vladimir followed Stauffen to the barn and closed the door behind them. Stauffen had stopped in the middle of the barn and Vladimir walked around in front of him to lean on a small pile of hay bales. “What do we need to talk about?” he asked.


“It is done,” Stauffen said excitedly. “Hitler is dead.”


“Are you sure?” Vladimir asked in disbelief.


Stauffen nodded. “I am sure,” he replied. “I set the bomb near him myself, and he did not have a chance to move before it exploded.”


“You saw his body?” Vladimir asked again. If the news was true, it was a great relief and The Center would want to know. But if it wasn’t true, he didn’t want to send an incorrect report to Moscow.


Stauffen shook his head. “No, but the explosion was so great that the whole room must have been destroyed,” he replied. “He could not have survived.”


“But you are not positive,” Vladimir said.


“I am as positive as I can be,” Stauffen said. “I am on my way to Berlin to put Valkyrie into action. By tonight, Germany will have new leadership!”


“I must report this to my friends,” Vladimir said. “Who will be in charge of the country?”


“They will know,” Stauffen said. “We will make the announcement tonight. The Allies will know who they will be dealing with then.”


“Will it be you?” Vladimir asked.


Stauffen shook his head. “I am in charge of the Home Guard,” he replied. “I will be busy rounding up the remnants of the current corrupt government.”


Vladimir thought about the news. From their conversations before, he knew that Stauffen and his people wished to end the war as quickly as possible. They seemed to be under the impression that if Germany asked for peace, the Allies would be happy to give it to them, and also to allow them to keep the territory they had already conquered. Vladimir knew that it was an idea that the Allies would never accept.


“I said I would tell you when it has occurred, and I have done so,” Stauffen said, bringing Vladimir up from his thoughts. “You can tell your friends that there is about to be a new Germany – a Germany that can take its rightful place among the great countries of the world.”


Vladimir doubted that and was about to say so when the door to the barn burst open. He froze as he saw an SS Major standing in the doorway.


At the sound of the door crashing open, Stauffen whirled around, his hand on the butt of his holstered pistol.


“Do not move or you will die!” the Major ordered. “General Stauffen, please throw your weapon to the ground.” Stauffen hesitated. “Now!” the Major screamed, raising his own pistol to fire. Stauffen carefully withdrew his pistol and tossed it on the ground.


“Your plan did not work, General Stauffen,” the Major said.


“Who are you?” Stauffen asked. “And what are you talking about?”


“I am Major Gerstein, SS Security” Gerstein replied. “I have just come from the Wolfsschanze where your explosive device has done a great deal of damage.”


My explosive device?” Stauffen bluffed. “I think you are mistaken.”


“No, Herr General, it is you that was mistaken,” Gerstein replied. “Your plot has failed. The Führer lives.”


“That cannot be!” Stauffen exclaimed. “I placed the briefcase …” He stopped, suddenly aware of what he had just admitted.


Gerstein smiled. “A confession,” he said calmly. “Very convenient. I could shoot you now … both of you … because of what you just said.”


Vladimir had remained silent. He was scared – more scared than he ever had been in his life. Major Gerstein had them and he didn’t see any way out. He knew that Tadeauz was due back from town soon, and Vladimir hoped he wouldn’t return to find two dead bodies in the barn.


“But you are lucky today, General Stauffen,” Gerstein said. “I will not shoot you now.”


Stauffen studied the Major closely. “You are letting us go?” he asked.


Gerstein laughed. “On the contrary,” he said. “You will be held until I can round up the rest of your conspirator friends.” He removed a folded piece of paper from his pocket. “I have a list of names here – all of them are as dead as you. And you will all be killed together.”


“But,” Stauffen said, and fell silent.


“But you are innocent?” Gerstein said mockingly. “You have already admitted your guilt.”


Vladimir had been watching Gerstein. The Major had relaxed noticeably once Stauffen had tossed away his weapon. He now held his pistol casually at his side. Without moving his head, Vladimir searched for Stauffen’s pistol. It had landed about a meter away from Vladimir. He did some quick thinking … was it close enough?


“I still do not believe you,” Stauffen said. “The Führer must be dead. Nobody could survive the blast.”


Gerstein shook his head. “I saw him with my own eyes,” he replied. “He is alive … and he will have the pleasure of seeing you executed.”


Vladimir saw his chance. Gerstein was fully engaged with Stauffen and was not paying him a bit of attention. As quickly as he could, he dove towards Stauffen’s pistol. After grabbing it, he continued to roll.


Gerstein saw the movement and reacted quickly. He raised his pistol and fired at the ground where Vladimir landed. The bullet hit the ground in the exact spot where Vladimir had been a split second earlier.


Before Gerstein could adjust his aim and fire again, Vladimir stopped rolling. From his belly with his arms extended in front of him, he fired three quick shots from the Luger. He saw Gerstein jerk violently as each bullet hit home. After the third shot, Gerstein fell – blood oozing from three holes in his chest.


Vladimir got up carefully, keeping the gun aimed at the lifeless body of the SS Major. Stauffen had not moved, his face frozen in a mask of shock. Vladimir walked slowly towards the body, bending down to roll it onto its back. Gerstein stared back at Vladimir with vacant eyes – Vladimir knew at once he was dead.


“You killed him,” Stauffen said.


“You are very perceptive,” Vladimir replied sarcastically. “Maybe you do know what a dead person looks like after all.”


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

July 20, 1944, 1310 hours


Vladimir had just straightened up when the barn door opened again. Instinctively Vladimir raised the pistol toward the shape in the door and just as quickly lowered it when he realized it was Tadeauz.


“I was almost to the house and I heard gunshots,” Tadeauz said breathlessly. “What the hell happened in here?” He looked at the lifeless body on the ground and back up at Vladimir.


“Who is this?” Stauffen asked.


“I live here,” Tadeauz shot back. “Who are you?”


Jacinta appeared at the barn door and gasped when she saw the dead body on the ground. “Oh dear,” she said. “This is bad.”


“Who are these people?” Stauffen asked Vladimir.


“Keep quiet,” Vladimir said. “This is their farm.”


At that moment, Grzegorz appeared behind Jacinta. He was breathless from having run across the fields. “I heard shots,” he gasped. “Is everyone all right?”


“Everyone but him,” Vladimir said, pointing at Major Gerstein.

“Another person?” Stauffen asked. “This place is getting to be more crowded than a train car.”


Vladimir turned towards Stauffen. “I said keep quiet!” he ordered. He turned back to his team. “This is General Stauffen, my contact from the Wolfsschanze. He is also the one that was supposed to kill Hitler today, but apparently failed.”


“I did not!” Stauffen insisted. “That man was lying. No one could survive that blast!”


“Regardless, this Major followed Stauffen here and was about to take us away,” Vladimir said. “I shot him instead.”


Tadeauz looked the situation over for a moment before replying. “Where were you heading?” he asked Stauffen.


“I was on my way to Berlin to help take charge of things now that the Führer is dead,” Stauffen replied.


“Then go,” Tadeauz said. “Do what you were going to do. Vladimir, let him have his gun.”


Vladimir handed Stauffen his pistol. The General took it and put it in its holster. “What about him?” he asked, pointing towards Gerstein.


“We will take care of that,” Tadeauz said, causing Vladimir to stare at him. “You get out of here. I do not want anyone else to find you here.”


Stauffen nodded and quickly left the barn.


“We will take care of him?” Vladimir asked. “How?”


“I saw his car parked on the road, beside the other one,” Tadeauz said. “We will take his body up there to make it look like he was shot by the car.”


“What about Stauffen?” Grzegorz asked.


“He is as good as dead,” Tadeauz said. “If they tracked him here then they obviously know he’s guilty of something.”


Vladimir nodded. “This is true,” he replied. “So we make it look like they scuffled on the road instead of in here?” he asked.

Tadeauz nodded. “Exactly,” he replied.


“What about the blood on the ground here?” Vladimir asked. “And there will not be any blood on the ground by the car.”


Tadeauz smiled. “We needed some meat, so we just butchered a pig,” he replied.


“We did?” Grzegorz asked in surprise. “When?”


“Right now,” Tadeauz said. “Go get one of ours and kill it … here in the barn. Try to save as much of its blood as you can and bring it out to the car.” He turned to Vladimir. “Help me get him to the car.”


“If we are butchering, I must get things ready in the kitchen,” Jacinta said, and scurried to the house.


* * * * *


Vladimir and Tadeauz carried Gerstein’s body to his car and arranged it on the ground nearby. The tracks of Stauffen’s car were still visible in the soft earth around the roadside, which would lend validity to the scenario they were attempting to paint. Grzegorz arrived with a pail of blood from the dead pig and they poured it on the ground and arranged Gerstein over the spill.


“Now what?” Vladimir asked.


“We go back to the house and finish our butchering,” Tadeauz replied. “We should burn these clothes – they have too much blood on them to be explained by the killing of one pig.”


Vladimir looked at his clothes. Tadeauz was right – he was covered with Gerstein’s blood from carrying the body to the car. “And we just leave him here to be found?”


Tadeauz shrugged. “When we are finished and have everything cleaned up, I could go into town to tell the authorities,” he said.


“Tell them what – that there is a dead SS Major on the road by our house?” Grzegorz asked.


“I will tell them that while butchering one of our pigs, we saw two cars on the road, heard gunshots and then one of the cars disappeared,” Tadeauz said. “This car never left, so we went to investigate and found a dead man.”


“Do you think they will believe that?” Vladimir asked skeptically.


“Can you think of something better?” Tadeauz asked.


Vladimir shook his head. “No – but I do not like this,” he replied. “We might think about leaving as soon as we can.”


“I had the same thought,” Tadeauz said. Grzegorz nodded his head in agreement.


“Come, we have work to do,” Tadeauz said and started back to the house.


Vladimir had taken a few steps when he remembered the list of names that Gerstein had shown them in the barn. “Wait – I want to get that list he has,” Vladimir said. He ran back to the body and removed the paper from the jacket pocket. The paper was blood soaked, but the text was still legible.


“What do you want that for?” Grzegorz asked.


“I might recognize some of these names,” Vladimir said. “Those people are in danger. And I also must radio The Center and tell them what has happened here.”


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

July 20, 1944, 1425 hours


When the returned to the house, Tadeauz and Grzegorz hurried to finish the butchering while Vladimir went to the radio. Before sending the message, he wanted to take a look at the list. He carefully unfolded the sticky paper, careful not to rip it. When it was unfolded, he began to read. He was surprised at the names the list contained – Admiral Canaris was on there, as was General Rommel. There were many other names that he did not know. He wasn’t surprised to find Stauffen’s name on the list. “And he thought he would get away with this,” he muttered. “Tadeauz was right … Stauffen is as good as dead.”


Then he came to a name and stopped. “Major Hans Teppel, Abwehr.” Vladimir stared at the name – he knew the name from his days at Stalag 13. Teppel was an Allied agent. He was also the agent that was working with Michael in Berlin. If Teppel was on the list …

He quickly scanned the list. He did not find Major Kurt Wagner on it anywhere, but he knew that might not mean anything. If Teppel was caught, his close associates would also be rounded up. Michael was not safe … and Teppel was in grave danger. He must get a message to Berlin.


He quickly set up the radio gear and waited for the set to warm up. As soon as it was ready, he sent his first message to The Center. He told them in detail about the assassination attempt, Stauffen’s visit and the now deceased Major Gerstein. He also told them about the list of names he pulled from the dead body and gave each and every name on the list. He closed the message by telling them he was going to contact Michael. Moscow’s reply was a simple “Message received, proceed as you see fit.”


Vladimir didn’t know what he expected them to say, but he was disappointed with their lack of helpful advice. “Thanks for nothing,” he muttered in English. He had heard Carter utter that phrase while in Stalag 13, and it seemed very appropriate at this time. After signing off, he readjusted the frequency dial to Michael’s listening band. He tapped a message out and waited for a reply. Nothing. He tapped again and waited. Same result.


“Damn, I was hoping he would be monitoring,” Vladimir swore. “I know it’s the middle of the day, but this is an emergency.”


He got an idea and quickly switched frequencies. He would try Jack in Leipzig to see if he was monitoring. If not, he would try his old friends at Stalag 13. They had an interest in Teppel’s safety, and Vladimir knew that Colonel Hogan would do whatever he could to help. If that didn’t work, he thought he remembered the frequencies and codes that Kinch used to contact London. The codes were probably outdated by now, but he had to keep trying to contact someone.


He tapped in a message on Jack’s frequency and listened for a reply. He was surprised when a response came almost immediately. He hurriedly tapped in his message …


“Attempt to kill Hitler today. Attempt failed. Stauffen on way to Berlin. Stopped here but was followed. Major Gerstein, SS, killed. Carried list of names of people to round up. One name important. Major Hans Teppel. Must get word to Teppel. He is not safe. Michael also in danger, but not on list. Over.”


He listened for a reply. After a long moment it came … “Are you sure?”


He smiled. Jack had received the message and understood it. He tapped back his one word answer … “Da.”


He signed off and put the radio equipment back into its hiding place. He took extra care to make sure the hiding place was well hidden – if the SS would come investigating the death of one of their officers, he didn’t want to have the radio found.


“That would be bad,” he muttered.

Hans Teppel


Leipzig, House of Major Josef Freitag

July 20, 1944, 1435 hours


Marya turned off the radio and frowned at the message she had transcribed. “This is bad,” she muttered. She had been staying with Jack – Major Josef Freitag – in Leipzig since leaving Stalag 13, and after receiving this message, she was glad that she was still around. He would not have been home to receive this message, and from the sound of things, time was not an ally.


She walked to the phone and dialed a number. When the other party answered, she said, “Josef, darling, this is your sister. I just received a disturbing message from home and we need to talk about it.” She listened into the handset. “Yes, very important. Can you come home right now? You can? Good. I will see you soon.” She hung up the phone.


While she waited, she thought. Teppel was in trouble – she hoped that he had figured out his escape plan already. He would have little time now to come up with one now. Michael was also in trouble and should leave. She had to get word to him, and would do so after talking with Jack.


Their plan of action would depend on how much Jack would be able to help … after all - he was a Gestapo Major and the personal aide to General Schlesinger.


* * * * *


When Freitag arrive home, Marya showed him the message she had transcribed. He read the message and looked at her. “Is he sure?” he asked.


Marya nodded. “Vladimir is sure,” she replied. “He would not have sent the message if he was not.”


“If it is true that he has a dead SS Major, he will be in danger,” Freitag said.


“I know,” Marya replied. “But the team is good – they will handle things. Teppel I am not so sure about.”


Freitag looked at Marya. “How so?” he asked.


“Complications,” she replied. “He may or may not have an escape plan, and he has, um, picked up a passenger.”


Freitag nodded knowingly. “She would have to go with him or be left behind,” he said.


“Michael is also in danger because they are closely associated,” Marya said.


“Michael can get out,” Freitag said. “He has it planned and we have a team in Berlin to help.”


“But Michael will help Teppel,” Marya said. “And he will need help with that.”


“Do you have any ideas?” Freitag asked.

“How much can you help?” she replied.


Freitag shook his head. “Very little,” he replied. “Word has not reached here yet, but I suspect I will be too busy rounding up enemies of the Fatherland to be of much help.”


Marya nodded. “I thought as much,” she replied. “But I have an idea. Teppel has friends … you met them – Colonel Hogan and his men.”


Freitag nodded. “You think they will help?” Freitag asked.


“If you can get them out of Stalag 13 long enough,” she replied. “I am sure I can talk Hogan into helping.”


Freitag smiled. “I have seen how persuasive you can be,” he said. He thought for a moment. “I think I can get them out. Periodically we take prisoners from the various camps and interrogate them.”


“You can authorize that?” she asked.


Freitag nodded. “I will not need the General’s permission, and if asked, he will verify that I can do it.”


Marya nodded. “I need you to make such a request,” she said. She thought for a moment before continuing. “Ask for four men. He has a small team, and two of his men, Kinch and Baker, will be useless posing as Germans in the daylight.”


Freitag nodded. “They will need to have a guard who will drive them,” he said. “Unless you plan to arrange transportation.”


“An officer?” she asked.


He shook his head. “Some of the other branches required that,” he replied. “Like the Abwehr when it existed. But we are the Gestapo and can do whatever we want.” He said the last sentence with mock superiority.


Marya laughed. “Good,” she replied. “I will leave today for Stalag 13 so I can talk to Hogan. Tomorrow morning I need you to call the camp and make the request. I will go out with them and we will meet Michael in Berlin.”


Freitag nodded. “Are you planning to contact Michael to tell him he is in danger?” he asked.


“You do that,” she replied. “And be sure to let him know that Hans is also in trouble. You know the code we’ve worked out?”


Freitag nodded. “I remember it,” he replied.


“One more thing,” she said. “I need you to draft some papers ordering a small SS team from the Hammelburg area to travel to Berlin to help round up conspirators. Hogan’s men could make the papers, but with everything going on now, I want them to be legitimate.”


He nodded. “I can have those within the hour,” he said.


“Did I forget anything?” she asked.


He thought for a moment and shook his head. “I do not think so,” he replied. “Keep in mind that I will most likely be called to Berlin to help with the round up. I can’t help you directly, but I can try to keep the real SS teams away from you.” Marya nodded. “And you should stress this to Colonel Hogan – if our teams meet and he is dressed in an SS uniform, I may have to order him to do things he might find unpleasant.”


“I think he will understand,” she replied.


Freitag nodded. “I think so as well,” he said. “We had a long conversation when I was at Stalag 13.” He paused and looked at Marya. “I just hope you are able to pull this off.”


Marya looked back without smiling. “If I fail, it will be my last mission,” she said. “I will not leave them behind.”


* * * * *


Freitag picked up the phone in his office. He had just finished the papers that Marya had requested and sent her on her way to Stalag 13. Now he had to warn Michael.


“Get me SS Intelligence Headquarters in Berlin,” he said into the phone. Ja, that is correct – the former Abwehr Headquarters.” He waited while the connection was made. He figured he would try to catch Michael at his office since it was the middle of the afternoon.


He heard a voice at the other end of the line. “Major Kurt Wagner, bitte,” he said. “Ja, I will wait.”


After a moment, Freitag heard Michael’s voice on the line. “This is Major Wagner,” he said.


“Kurt, this is your cousin Jakob,” Freitag said, giving Michael the first sign that this was a coded phone call.


Jakob, it is good to hear from you,” Wagner replied.


“I wish I could say I was calling with good news,” Freitag continued. “I just talked to Aunt Maria.” Now Michael knew that there was some important – and bad – news that Freitag had heard from their intelligence network.


Aunt Maria?” Wagner asked. “Is she all right?


“She is fine,” Freitag replied. “But Uncle Frederick was taken ill rather suddenly.” Freitag had just given to code to warn Michael that he was in danger.


Is he still alive?” Wagner asked. He wanted to know if his cover had been compromised.


Ja, he is still alive,” Freitag replied, telling him that he was safe for the moment.


Do you know what caused his illness?” Wagner asked.


“His friend Hans died suddenly this afternoon and that greatly upset him,” Freitag replied. “Aunt Maria says that Uncle Frederick becomes more ill as each minute passes.” Freitag had just told Michael that he was in danger because his friend Hans had been compromised, and he would be in danger soon.


I understand,” Wagner replied. “I must call him and arrange to pay him a visit before he becomes too ill.


“That would be good,” Freitag replied. Michael had gotten the message.


Danke, Jakob,” Wagner said. “Auf Wiedersehn.


“Auf Wiedersehn,” Freitag said, hanging up the phone.


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters, Office of Major Wolfgang Hochstetter

July 20, 1944, 1515 hours


Major Hochstetter answered the phone on his desk when it rang. “Hallo?” He listened for a long moment to the voice on the other end of the line. “An assassination attempt on the Führer? When? This afternoon? Is the Führer still alive?” He listened some more. “Ja, that is good to hear.”


Hochstetter leaned forward in his chair and listened. “I understand, General,” he said. “I will place my office on a high state of alert.” He paused to listen. “I will expect the list of names tomorrow. If I find any of the people, I will detain them.”


Hochstetter smiled. “Herr General, you can count on me,” he said. “We cannot allow the traitors in this country to get away with a deed like this.” He listened. “Ja, I understand. Heil Hitler!”


Hochstetter’s smile grew wider as he hung up the phone. “I will round up the traitors in this town, and I do not need a list to tell me who to get!” he said to himself.


He picked up a pen and scribbled several names on a sheet of paper. When he was finished, he picked up his phone. “Tell Captain Dorfmann I want to see him right away,” he said.


He sat back and looked at the list. “I have been waiting a long time to get even with these people,” he said gleefully.


There was a knock at the door and it opened to admit Captain Dorfmann. “You wanted to see me, Major?” he asked.


Ja,” Hochstetter replied. “I just got a phone call from General Schlesinger. There has been an assassination attempt on the Führer’s life.”


“Oh, no,” Dorfmann gasped. “Is he …”


“He is alive,” Hochstetter replied. “We will be getting a list of suspected conspirators by special courier tomorrow. If we see any of those people, we are to arrest them immediately.”


Jawohl, Major,” Dorfmann replied. “Anything else?”


Hochstetter handed him his list of names. “Bring these people in for interrogation,” he said.


Dorfmann looked at the list and his eyes grew wide. “Are these people conspirators, Major?” he asked.


“We will not know unless we bring them in for interrogation,” Hochstetter replied.


“And if they have not done anything?” Dorfmann asked.


“Everyone has done something!” Hochstetter barked, repeating one of his favorite phrases. “We will interrogate them until they tell us what that something is!”


“But sir, Lieutenant Heidrick is the Chief of Police,” Dorfmann said.


“I do not care if he is Chancellor of Germany,” Hochstetter screamed. “I want him brought in immediately or I will add another name to the list … YOURS!”


Dorfmann straightened and saluted. “Jawohl, Major Hochstetter. It will be done,” he said.


* * * * *


Dorfmann looked at the list of names Hochstetter had given him. He knew none of these people had done anything wrong. Hochstetter was just using this as an excuse to bring people in.


Dorfmann felt sick at the thought. Innocent people would be brought in and interrogated, which usually meant torture. They would eventually admit to anything just to make the torture stop – and it would stop … with their execution.


And if it is true that there was an assassination attempt on the Führer today, it is just going to get worse around here. Innocent people are going to be tortured and killed simply because someone else didn’t like them. He walked slowly back to his office, shaking his head sadly.


“I cannot arrest these people,” he muttered. “I just cannot do it.” He looked at the list again and mentally put his name at the bottom. “But if I do not, I will be on the list.”


He shook his head again and then picked up the phone. He could not arrest and innocent person … so he had to pass the list on to someone who could. “Tell the Sergeant on duty to see me at once,” he said into the phone. “I have a list of people that need to be brought in for interrogation.”


He hung up the phone and sat back in his chair, fighting back the wave of nausea that had crept over him.


Berlin, SS Intelligence Headquarters

July 20, 1944, 1520 hours


As Major Kurt Wagner walked out of SS Intelligence Headquarters, he tried not to look as if he were in a hurry. He had no doubt that his phone conversation with his “cousin” Jakob was heard, but he doubted that anyone would understand the true meaning. The most important thing now was to find Hans Teppel. Wagner had stopped by his office, but Teppel was not in. He didn’t even know if Teppel was in the building – but he had to find him, or find a way to contact him.


He would have waited around Headquarters to find out what was happening, but he also had plans to make. Josef’s message indicated that he was also in danger – so he needed to make his own arrangements for leaving. He would make radio contact this evening to find out the details of what went wrong.


But first, he had to let Teppel know that he was in great danger. But how could he do that when he couldn’t find him?


“Heidi,” he said aloud. “He will visit Heidi as soon as he is done with work.”


* * * * *


Wagner entered the Brauhaus and looked around. He was hoping that Teppel would already be there, taking a late lunch or ending his work day early. Their normal table was empty … in fact, the entire room was mostly empty. Heidi was wiping a table on the other side of the room. She looked up when he entered.


Hallo Kurt,” she said with a smile, walking over to him. “How are you today?”


“Have you seen Hans?” he asked seriously.


Her smile quickly faded. “Nein, what is the matter?” she asked. “Is he all right?”


He motioned her over to a table and sat down. “I do not know,” Wager replied. “But I must talk with him.”


“I will tell him when I see him,” she replied.


“If he comes in here, tell him to go,” Wagner said.


“Go?” she asked. “Kurt – is Hans in danger?”


Wagner nodded. “Tell him that I need to talk to him immediately and he should not be seen in public.”


“Why?” she asked. “What is the matter? Should I tell him to go home and wait for you?”


“I cannot tell you here,” he replied. “And he should not go home.” Wagner stopped to think. “Tell him to go to your flat and wait for me. I will come by tonight to talk with him.”


“My flat?” she asked. “Kurt, I do not like the sound of this.”


“It will not sound any better tonight,” he replied. “In fact, it is going to get much worse.”


Heidi’s eyes grew large. “Did Hans do something wrong?” she asked.


Wagner shook his head. “He did nothing that he doesn’t do every day,” Wagner said truthfully. He neglected to tell her that it was the things he did every day that has put him in danger.


“I do not understand,” she said.


“Tonight, Heidi,” Wagner said. “Tell him I will talk to him tonight. You will understand everything then.” Heidi nodded. “Remember, he is to go directly to your flat. He should not go anywhere near his own place.  And he should not go out in public.” Heidi nodded again. Wagner looked into her scared eyes. He reached out and took hold of her hands. “Heidi, everything will be fine as long as you do what I say,” he said.


“I will tell him, Kurt,” she said softly.


Wagner rose and walked out of the Brauhaus, leaving a stunned Heidi sitting at the table.


* * * * *


Wagner hurried back to his flat. He had to get out of his uniform and make his last radio contacts. It was time. Major Kurt Wagner was about to disappear … forever.


Hammelburg, Luftwaffe Regional Headquarters, Office of General Albert Burkhalter

July 20, 1944, 1530 hours


Burkhalter ignored the phone ringing on his desk, opting instead to continue working on the report due in Berlin the next day. After the sixth ring, he angrily picked up the handset. “What is it?” he growled. He listened to the voice on the phone. Reichsmarshall Göring? Yes, put him on.” He waited while to connection was made.


Hallo, Herr Reichsmarshall,” Burkhalter said. “Ignoring you? Nein, I was not ignoring you. I was working on the report you …”


He stopped and his eyes went wide. “What?” he exclaimed. “An attempt was made on the Führer’s life? Is he …”


Burkhalter nodded. “He is safe, I understand sir,” he said. “Conspirators are being rounded up. Ja, I understand.” He paused to listen. “Ja, Herr Reichsmarshall, I will make sure my officers get the news. Jawohl. Heil Hitler!”


He hung up the phone in shock. Someone tried to kill Hitler? The fact that someone tried was not all that upsetting to Burkhalter. But whoever tried had failed – and that upset the General. Things are going to get worse now. Hitler thought he was invincible before, and now he’ll think that he’s totally infallible. Burkhalter sighed. Now he knew life would become more difficult for him – he had to find a way out.


Getting out was not going to be easy, and it was not going to happen tomorrow. He had to plan – and it had to be a good plan. He got up and walked to his liquor table to pour a glass of schnapps. He downed the glass in one swallow and poured another. You know, I could have been in that briefing room when the bomb exploded. He downed his second drink. I could have been killed. He gave a sarcastic laugh as he poured his third drink. I suppose that is one way to get out!


He downed his third drink and shook his head. “I had better not get drunk here,” he said to himself. “And I had better make sure my officers hear the news.”


He went to his desk and hurriedly scribbled out a message to be sent to the Kommandants of all his Luft Stalags. On his way out of the building, he gave the message to his aid. The Major’s eyes went wide with shock as he read the message. “Is this true, General?” he asked.


Burkhalter nodded. “It is true,” he replied. “Make sure that is sent immediately.” His aide nodded. “The news has upset me, Major. I am leaving for the day,” he said.


“I understand, sir,” the Major replied, giving his superior a salute.


No, you don’t understand why I am upset – but it is better that way. Burkhalter dejectedly returned the salute and left the building.


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

July 20, 1944, 1600 hours


Teppel walked into the Brauhaus and looked around. It had been a rough day and he was looking forward to enjoying a nice large beer. He smiled when he saw Heidi, but his smile quickly disappeared when she looked at him. Her eyes were wide and her face looked worried. She hurried across the room to meet him at the door.


“Heidi, what is wrong?” he asked worriedly.


“I do not know,” she replied. “I had the same question.”


“I do not understand,” he said.


“Kurt was here earlier,” she said. “He had a message for you.”


Hundreds of possibilities ran through Teppel’s mind. “What was the message?” he asked.


“He said that you should go to my flat and stay there,” she said, he voice tinged with fear. “He said he would come by tonight to talk to you – and that you are in danger.”


Panic rose inside of Teppel. “Did he say what kind of danger?” he asked.


She shook her head. “Nein, just that you were to stay away from your own flat and not go out in public,” she replied. “Oh Hans, what is wrong?”


He patted her shoulder reassuringly. “Now Heidi, do not worry yourself,” he said. “Kurt will tell us tonight.”


“You will be all right?” she asked.


He nodded. “I will be fine,” he replied. “I will go to your flat and when you get off work, we can be together.”


Heidi smiled. “You better be careful,” she said. “I have never seen Kurt that worried before.”


Teppel smiled back. “Sometimes he worries too much,” he replied. He turned to leave but stopped. “Heidi, if anyone comes looking for me, you have not seen me today,” he said. She nodded. “You do not know where I am.”


She leaned forward and kissed him. “Go,” she said. “We will talk tonight and you can tell me what this is about.”


* * * * *


Heidi watched Hans leave the Brauhaus. She was scared, and she didn’t know why. First Kurt comes in acting all nervous and now Hans gets all scared when he hears what Kurt said. I wish I knew what was going on!


She knew that both men had been worried when their department had been taken over by the SS. They had wondered for the last month whether they would be kept or shipped out to a combat unit. Maybe Kurt found out they were going to be shipped out? Oh, I hope that’s not what going on!


She went back to her work as the afternoon patrons slowly made their way in.


* * * * *


Teppel left the Brauhaus and hurried his way across town. He tried not to run, but he felt very vulnerable out in the open streets. He knew that Wagner would not have given the warning if he didn’t know something had gone wrong … but what was it? Had they been found out? Were they being transferred away from Berlin? There were many possibilities – none of them good.


As he walked down the street, he continued to think. Heidi has to be told the truth tonight. From the way it sounds, Kurt is off putting his escape plan into place. Damn! I should have taken his advice – I hadn’t given it much thought. He began to walk faster. I thought I would have more time … and now my time just might be up.


He continued walking - looking around for signs that he was being followed. He felt as if he had the word traitor tattooed on his forehead for all to see. He was relieved when he could finally climb the stairs to Heidi’s building and let himself into her flat with the key she had given him months ago. He hurried into the flat and bolted the door behind him.


After quickly looking around to make sure he was alone, he dropped heavily onto the settee. Robert J. Morrison, you are in a whole heap of trouble. “Scheisse!” he said aloud, slamming his fist into his knee.


Stalag 13, Barracks 2

July 20, 1944, 1730 hours


Hogan slammed the door to the barracks as he and the men entered. “Damn!” he exclaimed.


“What’s wrong, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


“We just heard that Stauffen exploded the bomb,” LeBeau answered.


“Yeah, Klink just got a message from Burkhalter,” Carter added.


“But that’s good, isn’t it?” Newkirk asked.


“It would be if it had worked!” Hogan exclaimed loudly.


“But we don’t know that it didn’t, mon Colonel,” LeBeau said.


“You heard the message,” Hogan said. “It said that an attempt had been made to kill Hitler. You know that if it had been successful, the message would’ve said he was dead.”


“I suppose you’re right, sir,” Carter replied.


“That’s a bloody shame,” Newkirk commented.


“It’s worse than that,” Hogan said.


“How do you figure, Colonel?” Baker asked.


“This was their one shot,” he said. “Now that the attempt failed, they’re never going to get another chance.”


“Do you think they’d try again?” Carter asked.


Hogan shook his head. “I don’t think they’ll live long enough to think about it,” Hogan replied.


“You think they’ll be executed?” Carter asked.


“Carter, with the Gestapo full of men like Hochstetter, do you even doubt it?” Kinch asked. Carter shook his head.


“Do you think they’ll get caught, Colonel?” Baker asked.


“In a minute,” Hogan replied, snapping his fingers to show how quick. “And not only that, our lives are going to get much more difficult.”


“Why?” LeBeau asked.


“The Krauts are going to be jumpy now,” Hogan replied. “They’ll be on the lookout for anything unusual. We’re going to have to lay low for a while.”


“How long?” Newkirk asked.


“I don’t know,” Hogan said with a sigh. “Until things quiet down. Kinch, get in touch with Erich and let him know – no more sabotage until we’re sure things are quiet. Have him pass the word along.”


“Right,” Kinch said, rising from his chair.


“Oh, and Kinch – radio London and tell them the good news as well,” Hogan said sarcastically. Kinch nodded and headed for the tunnel.


“It’s a shame the General wasn’t successful,” Carter commented.


“It’s more than just a shame,” Hogan said. “It means that Hercules died in vain.”


The men were quiet, thinking of the fallen agent who they had just buried in an unused portion of their tunnel system. After a moment, Newkirk rose from the table and threw his empty tin coffee cup against the barrack wall. “I hate this ruddy stinkin’ war!” he exclaimed.


“I couldn’t have said it better myself, Newkirk,” Hogan agreed somberly.


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

July 20, 1944, 2000 hours


Heidi left the Brauhaus that evening as soon as she finished work. She had heard about the explosion in the Führer’s compound and wondered if Hans was somehow involved. I can’t imagine he could have anything to do with that, she thought as she walked quickly towards her flat.


After a few blocks, she was aware of someone following her. Without turning around, she started to run.


“Heidi, wait!” a familiar voice called out behind her.


She stopped and turned around to see Kurt Wagner running after her. “Kurt, was that you following me?” she asked. “I was afraid to turn around and look.”


“It was me,” he said. “Did you talk to Hans?”


She nodded. “He should be at my flat now,” she replied.


“Good, I will walk with you,” he said. “Has he said anything to you?”


“He did not tell me what this was all about, if that is what you mean,” she replied. “He said he would tell me everything tonight after he talks to you.”


Wagner nodded. “Then we must go,” he said. “We do not have time to waste.”


The pair remained silent as they walked the rest of the way to Heidi’s flat. When they arrived, Wagner told Heidi to go into the building and wait. He then walked to the corner and looked the building over. He looked back the way they had come, and satisfied that they hadn’t been followed, bounded up the steps into the building.


Heidi put her key into the lock and tried to open the door. It wouldn’t open. “It is bolted from the inside,” she said.


Wagner knocked on the door. “Hans. Open the door. It is Kurt and Heidi,” he said quietly.


Immediately they heard the clock of the lock and the door opened. Heidi rushed in. “Oh Hans,” she cried as he wrapped his arms around her.


* * * * *


“All right Kurt, what is going on?” Teppel asked once they had closed and bolted the door.


“That’s what I would like to know,” Heidi said. “Hans, what is all of this?”


Wagner shot an inquisitive look at Teppel. Teppel understood the meaning and shook his head. “Heidi, let me explain first,” Wagner said. “I have a feeling Hans’ explanation will take a lot longer.”


“Explanation?” Heidi asked. “I just want to know what is going on!”


Teppel patted Heidi on the arm. “I promise, you will,” he said softly. “What has happened, Kurt?” he asked his friend.


“Have you heard any news today?” Wagner asked. When Teppel shook his head, Wagner continued. “General Stauffen exploded a bomb in Hitler’s briefing room before the midday meeting.”


Heidi nodded her head. “I head some officers talking about it tonight,” she said.


“Is Hitler dead?” Teppel asked.


“Unfortunately no,” Wagner said, causing Heidi’s head to swing around to him in surprise. He held up his hand to stop her question. “Stauffen left immediately for Berlin, thinking he had succeeded. He will be arrested soon – they know about him.”


Teppel looked at his friend. “He will not be the only one,” he commented.


Wagner shook his head. “No, they already had a list,” he said. “Your name was on that list.”


Teppel sat down hard. “How? Why?” he said.


“Friend and associate of Admiral Canaris,” Wagner replied. “You need to leave, my friend. And you need to leave now.”


“Are you sure about this?” Teppel asked.


“Before Stauffen left Rastenburg, he made a stop at a farm,” Wagner explained. “While he was talking to his contact – one of our agents – they were surprised by an SS Major. The Major had a list of people who were to be arrested in the first wave. After they killed the Major, they radioed to let me know you were in danger.”


Teppel was silent for a moment before speaking. “I suppose that does mean I am in danger,” he commented.


Heidi had continued to stare dumbly at the two men as they talked. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.


“Both of us,” Wagner replied. “I am closely associated with you. Have you thought about how to leave?”


Teppel shook his head. “I have no definitive plan,” he said.


Hans, now is not the time to try and think of one!” Wagner admonished. He began pacing. “Luckily, Marya also received the message and is on her way to Hammelburg to recruit your friends. She has a plan that should be able to get you out of here.”


“Who is Marya?” Heidi asked quietly. Both men turned to look at the woman as if they didn’t realize she was still there.


“An associate of mine,” Wagner replied. Then he smiled. “You know her better as my sister Greta.”


Heidi nodded slowly. “Hans, are you …” she paused and swallowed hard, “Are you involved in the plot against the Führer?” she asked. Teppel held out his hands and motioned her to sit beside him. She shook her head quickly. “No, just please tell me … are you involved?”


Teppel looked at Wagner and let out a sigh. “I suppose it is now time for the truth,” he said. Wagner nodded.


“Yes, I want the truth, Hans,” she said. She stared at him blankly. Her face had paled and she looked as though she was about to be ill.


“Many years ago …” he started.


“I do not want many years ago!” she shouted, suddenly standing. “I want to know about now. Tell me the truth!”


“Heidi, it all started many years ago,” Teppel said.


“Tell me!” Heidi said angrily.


“Heidi, Hans Teppel is an American spy,” Wagner said suddenly.


Heidi’s mouth opened wordlessly as she stared at the two men. Suddenly her eyes rolled back and she fainted.


“Well that went over well,” Wagner commented.


Berlin, Flat of Heidi Kaufmann

July 20, 1944, 2345 hours


When Heidi woke up, she found herself in her own bed. The room was dark and the flat was silent. She sat up.


“Heidi?” a voice said in the darkness.


“Hans? Is that you?” she asked.


Ja, it is me,” he replied.


Suddenly the events of the evening came flooding back to her. “Hans, is it true? Are you an American spy?” she asked.


“It is true,” he said softly. She was silent for a long moment. “Heidi?” he asked.


“Please tell me what you were going to tell me tonight,” she requested. She felt the bed move as he sat down on the edge.


“My name is Robert Morrison,” he began. “I am an American, though my ancestors were from Germany. Soon after Hitler came to power, I was asked to join a German patriotic organization and renounce my American citizenship.”


“So you are not an American?” she asked.


“I am,” he said. “It was all a front to bring me to Germany. I am an agent for the American OSS organization – it’s similar to what the Abwehr was. I became Hans Teppel and joined German intelligence.”


“So your whole life here is a lie?” she asked softly.


Nein, not my whole life,” he replied.


“I do not understand,” she said.


“Heidi, Hans Teppel joined Abwehr and became a German intelligence officer,” he said. “That life was a lie. Robert Morrison met a lovely young barmaid named Heidi Kaufmann and fell in love. That is no lie.”


“Hans … I mean Robert …” She stopped with an exasperated sigh. “Oh I do not even know what to call you!”


“Heidi, do you love me?” he asked.


“I do,” she replied. “I mean I did.” She let out another sigh. “I fell in love with Hans Teppel and now you are telling me you are not Hans Teppel!”


“You fell in love with me,” he said softly. “Whether I am Hans Teppel or Robert Morrison, you fell in love with me.”


“I’m so confused,” she moaned.


“Heidi, I never wished to hurt you,” he replied. “And if you wish, I will leave and never bother you again.”


“No, I do not want that!” she said. “I just want everything to be the way it was yesterday!”


“You know that cannot happen,” he said.


“I know,” she agreed with a sob. “But what are you going to do now?”


“I must leave Germany,” he replied.


“What about me?” she asked.


“You have a choice,” he said. “I would like you to come with me. But if you do not wish to, I will leave and you can go on living your life here.”


“You want me to leave Germany?” she asked.


“That is my wish,” he said. “You also have another choice,” he added.


“What?” she asked.


“You can do your patriotic duty and turn me in to the Gestapo,” he said without a hint of emotion.


“And they would kill you!” she exclaimed.


“If they catch me, I am a dead man,” he agreed. “Whether I call myself Hans Teppel or Robert Morrison. But there is something else you should know. If you do not turn me in and still remain here, the Gestapo will turn on you because they will find out you and I were lovers.”


“So I do not have much of a choice, do I?” she asked bitterly.


“I am sorry,” he said softly.


The room was quiet for a long time. Finally, Heidi said, “Hans, I love you and I do not want to see anything happen to you. How can I help you?”


“The best thing you can do is to say you have not seen me,” he replied. “I need to hide until I can escape – but I do not want to be found here.”


“They would look here?” she asked.


“I am afraid they will,” he said. “When they find out we were close, they will question you. They would search the flat to make sure you are not hiding me.”


“Would they arrest me?” she asked. Teppel could hear the fear creeping into her voice.


“Not immediately,” he said. “They would watch you for a while to see if you could lead them to me. But we will be gone before they move in.”


“Are you sure?” she asked.


“Kurt said that Marya is working on a plan,” he replied. “Marya is very good – and the people she went to contact are also very good. If there is any way out of this, they will think of it.”


“How long will it be?” she asked.


“I do not know,” he replied. “But I must find a place to hide until then. I cannot stay here.”


Heidi sighed resignedly. “Yes you can,” she said.


“Heidi, they will search here,” he insisted.


“They will not look where I had in mind,” she said. “Come, let me show you.”


* * * * *


Teppel looked at the wooden paneling on the wall. “I cannot see any opening,” he said.


“Of course not,” Heidi replied. “That is why I suggested it.”


Teppel watched as she bent over and lifted the bottom of the paneling. A section came off in her hands, revealing a dark opening in the wall.


“The stairs in the hall are right there,” she said, pointing at the underside of the stairs. “The crawlspace was left empty and covered. When I put the paneling back and push the bureau back in place, no one would ever think of looking here.”


Teppel nodded his head. “This would be perfect,” he said. “I am not looking forward to spending the next few days in there, but I would rather be uncomfortable in there than uncomfortable at the receiving end of a firing squad.”


“When I am home, you do not need to stay in there,” she said.


“I cannot take the chance of them finding me in your flat,” he replied. “And I do not want them to find me with you – you will be dead too.”


Heidi looked at Teppel with a serious expression. “Hans, you have already endangered me enough,” she said. “I will hide you here and you will get me out of Germany.”


Teppel stared back at Heidi. There was no hint of any expression on her face. “And after we are out of Germany?”


“I do not know right now,” she said.


Stalag 13, Tunnels Under the Camp

July 21, 1944, 0345 hours


It was Kinch’s turn to man the radio, and he sat at the desk reading a book. He always enjoyed the solitude of the tunnels and had long ago learned how to occupy his mind enough to keep from falling asleep. He was so engrossed in the book that he did not see the woman appear from the emergency tunnel.


“Sergeant Kinchloe,” she said.


Kinch jumped and whirled around at the sound of her voice. “Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed. He saw the woman standing there. “Marya! What are you doing here?” he asked. “You nearly scared me to death!”


Marya did not smile. “I did not mean to,” she replied. “Is Colonel Hogan in camp?”


Kinch nodded. “He’s upstairs sleeping,” he replied.


“Please go get him,” she said. “And get the rest of your team as well.”


“It sounds important,” Kinch replied.


“Very,” she answered. “And we do not have much time.”


Kinch scrambled up the ladder into the barracks. After a few moments, the men came down, one by one. Hogan was the last one down the ladder.


“Hello, Marya,” Hogan said smiling. “I must say, this isn’t the way you usually enter the camp.”


“This is not a normal situation,” she said without smiling.


Hogan looked at the Russian. She did not have the playful look in her eyes tonight. “What’s the problem?” he asked.


“Have you heard about the attempt to kill Hitler?” she asked.


Hogan nodded. “General Stauffen came through here to pick up the briefcase packed with explosives.”


Marya nodded. “I thought as much,” she said. “Our contact – your friend Vladimir – told us that Stauffen had requested such a case from London. You would have been the best person to pass it along.”


“We also heard that the attempt was unsuccessful,” Hogan said.


“That is correct,” she replied. “Hitler is still alive. But many other people are now going to pay for the failed attempt.”


“Are you in trouble?” LeBeau asked quickly. “You can stay here as long as necessary. I’ll be glad to cook for you.”


“LeBeau, not now,” Hogan ordered.


Marya allowed herself a small smile towards the Frenchman. “At some other time, that would be nice,” she replied. “But it is not me who is in trouble.” She turned to Hogan. “You have a friend in Berlin – Major Hans Teppel?”


Hogan nodded. “We’ve met,” he replied. “You know that.”


Marya nodded. “He is in trouble,” she said.


“Was he involved in this plot?” Kinch asked.


“No, he was not,” Marya replied. “But this attempt has given the Gestapo the excuse they need to begin rounding people up. Guilt will not matter - old scores will be settled. Anyone who has spoken out against Hitler or against the war will be rounded up … as will anyone who is a close friend of theirs.”


“And Teppel is one of those?” Hogan asked.


Marya nodded. “Teppel’s name was on a list of people to round up initially,” she said. “He is listed as a friend of Admiral Canaris, who is not thought of kindly by the Führer at the moment.”


“What list?” Hogan asked.


“Stauffen was followed after he set off the explosion, and he stopped to inform Vladimir of the assassination,” Marya explained. “The SS Major who followed them had the list on him.”


“How did you get to know what was on the list?” Hogan asked.


Vladimir was able to take the list from the SS Major,” she replied. Hogan looked at her quizzically and she added, “After he shot him.”


Hogan’s eyes widened at her statement. Vladimir shot an SS Major? “So Teppel is in danger, does he know it?” Hogan asked.


Marya nodded. “He does. And he will need our help to get out of Berlin,” she said.


“How can we help ‘im?” Newkirk asked. “We’re bloody stuck here in this camp!”


“Hogan, I need you and your men to go to Berlin with me to get him out,” she said.


Hogan laughed. “Oh sure, I’ll just walk right up to Klink and ask him for a three day pass,” he said sarcastically.


“How you get out of camp is being arranged, do not worry,” she said.


“You seem to have this all worked out,” Hogan said.


Marya shook her head. “No, just getting us to Berlin,” she said. “Major Freitag will be calling Klink in the morning to request that four prisoners be sent to him in Berlin for interrogation.”


“That sounds familiar, Colonel,” Carter commented. “Teppel took several of us to Berlin once.”


Hogan nodded. “And Klink had to go with us,” Hogan said. “Can Freitag make that request?”


“Yes he can,” Marya replied. “And it will not be questioned by his superiors. And he assures me that an officer does not have to accompany you – a simple guard will do. You do have a guard that you can depend on to not be any trouble?”


“Schultz!” was the reply from all the men.


“Okay, we’re out of camp, then what?” Hogan asked.


“I also have papers from Freitag for a small team of SS men from the Hammelburg area to travel to Berlin to help round up conspirators,” she said.


“A small team … you mean us?” Hogan asked. Marya nodded. “And you’ll go along too? A female SS officer?”


“That is not unheard of,” she said. “But I will be disguised – it will be five men.”


Hogan laughed. “You don’t exactly strike me as very masculine,” he said.


Marya laughed for the first time. “I have been trying to get you to notice that for a long time, Hogan darling,” she said.


Hogan thought about the situation for a moment. “Well, it’s risky,” he said. “But I’ll be damned if I’m going to leave Teppel in Berlin.”


Marya smiled. “I did not think you would,” she said.


* * * * *


Preparations began immediately as the five SS uniforms were altered. Marya instructed Newkirk and LeBeau which insignia and ranks were needed, and the men set to work altering the uniforms they had.


“I still can’t see how you are going to pass for anything but a woman,” Hogan said.


“The uniform can be a little baggy to hide my, shall I say, assets,” Marya said with a smile.


“I’ve never seen an SS man with long hair,” Hogan observed.


Marya laughed again. “You have a barber in camp?” she asked.


“Now I know you’re serious!” he shot back.


Leipzig, Gestapo Headquarters, Office of Major Josef Freitag

July 21, 1944, 0810 hours


Everything was ready for Freitag to take his team to Berlin. As expected, he had been ordered by General Schlesinger to oversee the arrest of the conspirators that were being rounded up – however he saw fit. He could have stayed in Leipzig and directed the Berlin garrison over the phone. But since Michael was in Berlin and Marya would be bringing Colonel Hogan and his team to the capital, he decided it was best for him to actually be in Berlin in case he was needed.


That would be tricky – he had to watch the kind of help he provided. Anything obvious could leave him dangling at the end of a rope. But Marya and Michael were two of the biggest agents in their network, and he knew that their safety was more important than his position as General Schlesinger’s right hand man.


He looked at his watch. By now, Marya would have reached Stalag 13 and briefed Colonel Hogan on her plan. Now the only thing left was to call the Kommandant of the camp and request Colonel Hogan and three of his men for interrogation. He didn’t expect any problems with that – he had met Klink before, and the Colonel did not strike him as the kind of man who would – or could – stand up to the Gestapo.


He picked up the phone. “Get me Luft Stalag 13. I wish to speak to the Kommandant.” He waited while the call was put through.


Hallo, this is Colonel Klink,” Klink said wearily. “Do you know what time it is?”


“Yes, I do Colonel Klink,” Freitag replied. “Do you know who you are speaking to?” The phone was silent for a moment allowing Freitag to continue, “This is Major Freitag of the Leipzig Gestapo. We have met before.”


Ah, Major Freitag,” Klink replied more alertly. “What I meant to say was how are you this fine morning?”


“Yes, I thought so,” Freitag replied dryly. “Colonel, I am calling to request several of your prisoners for interrogation.”


My prisoners?” Klink asked. “Impossible!”


“Impossible, Colonel?” Freitag countered.


Well, maybe not impossible,” Klink groveled. “I meant to say unusual. Why do you want to talk to my prisoners?”


“Believe me Colonel, if it was up to me, I would not talk to any prisoners,” Freitag replied. “I would simply shoot them and be done with it.”


Klink laughed nervously. “Ah yes, I can see your point,” he said.


“Did I have a point, Colonel Klink?” Freitag said.


No sir, you did not have a point,” Klink agreed. “I mean, you did not say anything important.” Klink paused, realizing what he was saying. “I mean how many prisoners did you wish to talk to?” he groveled.


“I wish to speak to your senior POW officer and three of his men,” Freitag said. “They are to be delivered to Berlin by tomorrow.”


Oh sir, I cannot possibly get away from camp at the moment,” Klink said.


“I do not wish to talk to you,” Freitag said.


Why not?” Klink sounded surprised. “I mean, I thought an officer should accompany the men?”


“That is not necessary,” Freitag said. “Send along your head Sergeant.”


But sir,” Klink started.


“But what, Klink?” Freitag prodded.


This is highly irregular,” Klink insisted.


“Not to me,” Freitag replied. “I do this all the time. Now, I wish to have your senior POW officer and three of his men put in a truck along with your head Sergeant and sent to Berlin. They are to report to me at Gestapo Headquarters by tomorrow, or I will personally send a truck to your camp … to bring you to Gestapo Headquarters. Do I make myself clear?”


Yes, Major Freitag,” Klink replied meekly. Perfectly clear. The men will be in Berlin tomorrow.”


Danke, Colonel Klink,” Freitag replied. “Heil Hitler.” He hung up before Klink could reply.


* * * * *


Danke, Colonel Klink,” Freitag replied. “Heil Hitler.”


The line went dead before Klink could reply. He looked at the handset with a look of disgust before putting it back in the cradle. “Colonel Hogan and three of his prisoners along with Sergeant Schultz?” he puzzled. “This is most irregular.”


He thought more about the situation. “Why would the Gestapo be interested in my prisoners?” he muttered. He shook his head. “This cannot be right. I better check with General Burkhalter.”


He picked up the phone again. “Get me General Burkhalter,” he barked. In a moment, the General came onto the line.


Yes, what is it?” Burkhalter asked.


“Good morning, General Burkhalter. This is Colonel Klink,” Klink said cheerfully.


It was a good morning, Klink,” Burkhalter replied. “But talking to you is like drinking curdled milk.”


“Ha, ha, yes sir, curdled milk,” Klink said.


What do you want, Klink?” Burkhalter asked.


“Sir, I need some guidance from you,” Klink began.


Klink, you need more than guidance,” Burkhalter growled. “You need wisdom and humility – not to mention a new personality.”


“Ah, yes sir,” Klink said. “So kind of you to point that out.”


Go on, Klink,” Burkhalter said testily.


“Yes sir, I just received a very strange phone call from a Major Freitag of the Gestapo,” Klink explained.


Major Freitag?” Burkhalter asked. “That is General Schlesinger’s aide if I’m not mistaken.”


“Yes sir, I believe it is,” Klink agreed. “He has requested that I send my senior POW officer and three of the other prisoners along with Sergeant Schultz to Berlin for interrogation by the Gestapo. Now I thought that this was a rather strange request, so I thought I would clear it with you first.”


Klink, the request came from the Gestapo,” Burkhalter pointed out.


“Yes sir, it did,” Klink replied.


And you have to ask for my guidance before cooperating with a Gestapo request?” Burkhalter asked.


“But sir, sending four prisoners alone with Schultz to Berlin?” Klink asked.


The way I see it, Klink,” Burkhalter said. “You can send four prisoners and Schultz to Berlin, or you can go to Berlin yourself and question the order in person.”


“I would not want to do that,” Klink said.


I did not think you would,” Burkhalter replied. “Is that all?”


“Yes sir, that is all,” Klink replied.


Good. Heil Hitler,” Burkhalter said. The line went dead before Klink could reply.


* * * * *


“Good. Heil Hitler,” Burkhalter said. He hung up the phone before Klink could reply.


Burkhalter stared at the phone for a moment. “That is a strange request,” he said to himself. “Sending Colonel Hogan and three of his men to Berlin … while all of this other mess is going on? It sounds very suspicious.”


Could this be another of Colonel Hogan’s plans? What could it be? Why would he actually want to go to Berlin now? Burkhalter shook his head. This plan seemed even too outlandish for Colonel Hogan. It was too easy to check up on.


Burkhalter smiled. “And I think I should do some checking just to satisfy my own curiosity,” he said.


He picked up the phone. “Get me General Schlesinger, Gestapo,” he said. “I believe he is in Leipzig at the moment.” Burkhalter waited while the connection was put through.


Hallo, this is General Schlesinger,” Schlesinger said.


“Klaus, this is Albert Burkhalter,” Burkhalter said.


Albert, what can I do for you?” Schlesinger replied. “Are you having trouble with your local Gestapo man again?”


Nein, nothing like that,” Burkhalter said. “I have a question for you. Is it Gestapo policy to randomly interrogate POWs from the various camps?”


Not in general,” Schlesinger replied. “Only my office can do it. Why do you ask?”


“One of my camp Kommandants has received a request from your aide, Major Freitag, to send four prisoners to Berlin for interrogation,” Burkhalter explained.


Freitag is the one who would be making the request,” Schlesinger replied. “He has my blanket authority to perform the random interrogations.”


“He is based in Leipzig with you?” Burkhalter asked.


Normally,” Schlesinger answered. “But he will be in Berlin for a little while. As you might have heard, we will be busy for the next few days.”


“I heard the news,” Burkhalter said. “That is why I wanted to call and check. Sorry to bother you.”


Anytime, Albert,” Schlesinger replied. “When are you due to report to the Führer next?”


“The end of the month,” Burkhalter replied.


I should be there around that time as well,” Schlesinger said. “I will see you then. Auf Wiedersehn, Albert.”


Auf Wiedersehn, Klaus,” Burkhalter replied, hanging up the phone.


Burkhalter shook his head. “So it was a legitimate request,” he muttered. At least it all seems to be … unless Hogan has more connections than I realized!


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

July 21, 1944, 0830 hours


They were all in the kitchen of the small farmhouse when the pounding on the door began. Vladimir looked at Tadeauz. “It has begun,” he said.


Tadeauz nodded as he rose from the table to answer the door. When he opened it, an SS Major pushed his way into the room, followed by two of his guards.


“You are the ones who reported finding the body of Major Gerstein?” he asked.


“Yes, sir,” Tadeauz replied. “I was the one who rode into town to tell you.”


The Major nodded. “I am Major Reinhardt,” he said. “I was a friend of Major Gerstein.”


“Please accept our condolences for the loss of your friend,” Jacinta said from the table. She was chopping scraps of meat to make sausage.


“I do not want condolences. I want to find the person who killed him.” Reinhardt replied. “What do you know about it?”


Tadeauz shrugged. “I know only what I told your man yesterday,” he replied. “We were butchering a pig and we saw two cars stopped on the road. When we looked back later, we saw only the one car. We did not walk out there until much later when that one car did not leave.”


“Did you see anyone at the cars?” Reinhardt asked.


“There were two men when we first looked,” Vladimir replied. “We did not see anyone later … until we found the Major.”


Reinhardt looked around the room, studying everything closely. “Do you all live here?” he asked.


Tadeauz nodded. “Yes, we all live here and work on the farm,” he replied.


“You work nowhere else?” Reinhardt asked.


“I have a small market in town,” Tadeauz replied. “I use it to sell vegetables and food to make extra money.”


Vladimir noticed Reinhardt nod slightly. The Major had obviously checked up on them before coming out here.


“Do you mind if we look around?” Reinhardt asked.


Even though the Major phrased it as a question, Vladimir knew that it was not. The SS would look around whether they wanted them to or not … in fact, they would look harder if they objected.


“Not at all,” Tadeauz replied. “It is a small house, but very cozy.”


Reinhardt looked at Tadeauz. “I’m not interested in cozy,” he replied tersely. He made a motion for his men to fan out and they went to explore the rest of the house. No one in the kitchen made a move to accompany them.


“I still do not understand why you waited so long to investigate the car on the road,” Reinhardt commented.


“As I said, we were butchering a pig,” Tadeauz replied. “Once we started, we could not stop until we were finished.”


The farmhouse door opened and another of Reinhardt’s men entered. “Sir, we found something in the barn,” he said. “You should take a look.”


Reinhardt drew his pistol and waved it at the people gathered in the kitchen. “I must ask you to accompany me to the barn,” he said.


Without a word, Tadeauz, Vladimir and Grzegorz filed out of the house. Jacinta sighed heavily before putting down her knife and leaving the meat on the table. “I must get my sausage made,” she complained.


“Depending on what we find in the barn, you might not need the sausage,” Reinhardt said. “Now move!” He gave Jacinta a small shove towards the door.


When they got to the barn, another SS man was waiting. Reinhardt pushed his way through to look at what the man was pointing at. “This looks like blood, sir,” the man said.


Reinhardt knelt down and touched the darkened soil. “It is blood,” he said. He looked up at Tadeauz. “How do you explain this?” he asked.


“That is from the pig,” he replied calmly. “When you kill a pig, it bleeds.”


“And when you kill a person, he bleeds,” Reinhardt countered with a sarcastic tone.


“I do not know what to say to that, sir,” Vladimir said, stepping forward. “We did butcher a pig yesterday. I do not know what we can do to make you believe that.


“If you did butcher a pig, where are the unused portions?” Reinhardt asked.


“Sir, here on the farm there is very little that is unused,” Tadeauz replied. “What we do not eat, we feed to the remaining animals. The only thing left are some of the larger bones.”


“Sir, we did find a small pile of bones outside,” the guard said.


Reinhardt nodded. “Okay, I believe you,” he said.


The two guards that had left to search the house appeared in the doorway. “There is nothing unusual in there,” one of them said.


Reinhardt straightened up. “I guess we have bothered you enough,” he said. “Please accept my apology for the intrusion.”


Tadeauz waved away the apology. “I just wish there was more we could do to help you,” he said.


“So do I,” Reinhardt replied. “So do I.”


* * * * *


“Do you think we convinced them?” Tadeauz asked. He and Vladimir were walking along one of the fields of the farm.


“I doubt it,” Vladimir replied. “We may have satisfied them for now, but if they do not find anything, I feel they will return.”


“I am afraid my thoughts match yours, my friend,” Tadeauz said.


“So where does that leave us?” Vladimir asked. “Do we sit here and wait for them to return?”


“That is not a pleasant thought,” Tadeauz said.


“I think we should make arrangements to leave in the next few days,” Vladimir said.


“And go where?” Tadeauz asked.


Vladimir shrugged. “I do not know,” he replied. “I will radio The Center tonight and tell them we are not safe. They will have a suggestion.”


“It is settled then,” Tadeauz said. “You tell Grzegorz and I will go tell Jacinta. We will plan to leave tomorrow.”


Berlin, Safe House

July 21, 1944, 0945 hours


Wagner walked slowly up the walk of the house. He looked around quickly before giving the coded knock on the door. After a moment, the door opened and he was waved inside.


“We have been expecting you,” a man said. “I am Gerhardt Lang.”


Wagner looked around the room and saw two other men. “Is it just the three of you?” he asked. Lang nodded. “What do you know?”


“We know that you need to get out of Berlin,” Lang replied. “And we also know that we are to give you any help you need.”


Wagner sighed. “One of the big problems is that I don’t know everything I need yet,” he commented.


“Have you been out all night?” Lang asked.


Wagner nodded. “I have been making some arrangements,” he replied. “And there are more to be made.”


“You will stay here and rest,” Lang said.


Wagner shook his head. “I will stay here for the moment,” he replied. “But I have other arrangements to make and other people to meet.” He thought for a moment. “One thing I need from you is to watch.”


“Watch?” Lang asked.


“There is a man and a woman who need to leave with me,” Wagner explained. “But right now they cannot travel. I need you to watch the flat they are staying in. If someone comes and takes them, you will need to stop them.”


“Someone?” Lang asked. “I do not like the sound of that.”


“There is no reason you should,” Wagner replied. “I was referring to the SS. Do you have weapons?”


Lang nodded. “We have guns,” he replied. “We can prevent them from being taken.”


“Good,” Wagner replied. “One other thing you should know … there will be another group that may come to take them away. They are working with me.”


“How will we be able to identify this group?” Lang asked.


“One of them is Smersh,” Wagner replied. “I will tell you the identification code that will be used. You will allow them to take the couple.”


Lang nodded. “I understand,” he replied.


Wagner stayed long enough to tell them the information they needed. He stressed the point that the identification code was to be given before anyone could take the couple away – and that they should not be surprised by who used the code. He gave them Heidi’s address and a quick description of both her and Teppel before he left. Lang gave his assurance that they would make sure the couple stayed safe.


As Wagner left the house though, he was not so sure that these three men could stand up to a team of SS guards.


Stalag 13

July 21, 1944, 1310 hours


Hogan called his men to attention in front of the Kommandant. “We’re ready to go, sir,” he said.


“I don’t see why I have to leave a perfectly good Stalag to go to Berlin,” Carter complained.


“Yeah, I’d rather take a trip to London,” Newkirk said.


“How about Paris?” LeBeau asked. “I can take you all to this nice little café where they make the best crepes in town.”


“Colonel Hogan, control your men!” Klink admonished.


“All right fellas, hold it down!” Hogan ordered. The men grew quiet.


“You have been ordered to Berlin by the Gestapo,” Klink said. “If you have any complaints, tell them when you get there.”


“I do not see why I have to go,” Schultz whispered, leaning over so that Hogan can hear.


“Schultz!” Klink bellowed. “If you have any complaints, you can send me a postcard from the Russian Front!”


Schultz saluted his commanding officer. “Jawohl, Herr Kommandant,” he said.


“Now Schultz, remember, you must go to Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin,” Klink said. “And you must be there by tomorrow.”


I understand, Herr Kommandant,” Schultz replied. “You prisoners, get into the truck!”


LeBeau, Newkirk and Carter climbed into the back of the truck. Hogan accompanied Schultz to the front. “Should I drive, Schultz?” Hogan asked.


Nein!” Schultz exclaimed. “I will drive.”


“Suit yourself,” Hogan replied, climbing into the truck.


* * * * *


They were on the road to Hammelburg just as it doubled back near the camp. “Schultz, stop here for a minute,” Hogan said.


“Colonel Hogan, we are making no stops,” Schultz said.


“Schultz, we have to stop here,” Hogan insisted. “We have to pick up another passenger.”


“No, my orders are to drive you and three prisoners to Berlin,” Schultz said. “My orders say nothing about passengers.”


“All right, Schultz, it’s your funeral!” Hogan exclaimed.


Schultz slammed on the brakes. “What do you mean it is my funeral?” he asked.


“Hi Schultz! Kinch said, emerging from the side of the road carrying several black uniforms.


“Sergeant Kinchloe! What are you doing here?” Schultz exclaimed.


“I’ve got the SS uniforms for the trip to Berlin,” Kinch replied.


“And I’ve got the guns!” Baker said, emerging from the same spot at the side of the road.


“SS uniforms! Guns!” Schultz exclaimed. “Colonel Hogan, what is going on here?”


“Hello, Schultz,” Marya said, emerging from the same spot.


“Who is this?” Schultz asked.


“It is me, Marya,” Marya replied.


“The Russian woman?” Schultz said, squinting to get a better look. “It is the Russian woman! What happened to your hair?”


“Have you ever seen an SS man with long hair?” she replied.


Schultz laughed. “An SS man with long hair.” He suddenly stopped laughing. “No! There will be no SS men on this truck! Colonel Hogan I beg you, please. No SS men on this truck!”


Hogan let out a sigh. “Schultz, I’m going to level with you,” he said.


“No, I do not want you to level with me,” Schultz said. “In fact, I want to know nothing!”


“I’m afraid that’s not going to work this time,” Hogan said. “This is too important.”


“Colonel Hogan, I do not want to know!” Schultz insisted.


“Schultz, we have an important mission here, and we need you to cooperate,” Hogan said, raising his voice to the Sergeant for the first time since he had known him. Softening his tone, he added, “Imagine that your daughter was in trouble.”


Schultz stared back at Hogan, shocked at the words he had just heard. “I am listening, Colonel Hogan,” he said.


“The first thing I want to tell you is that we arranged this trip to Berlin,” Hogan said.


“What if we are caught?” Schultz asked.


“That’s not a problem,” Hogan said. “Major Freitag did call Colonel Klink - we are supposed to be on this truck. The second thing is that we have real orders, signed by Major Freitag, that identifies us as an SS team from the Hammelburg area, sent to Berlin to help with things there.”


“How did you get the orders?” Schultz asked, then immediately held up his hands. “No – I do not want to know.”


“We are going to Berlin because a friend of mine is in trouble,” Hogan said.


“You have a friend in Berlin?” Schultz asked.


Hogan nodded. “Major Hans Teppel of the Abwehr,” he said.


Schultz rolled his eyes and clucked his tongue. “An American prisoner with a friend in German intelligence,” he muttered.


“Major Teppel is really an American spy and he’s in big trouble,” Hogan continued. “His name appeared on the list of people the Gestapo is planning to arrest after the assassination attempt on Hitler.”


“He was involved in that?” Schultz asked.


“No, he just happened to know someone who is not very popular at the moment,” Hogan continued. “I will not allow him to be arrested. We are going to Berlin to bring him back to Stalag 13. Then we’ll …”


Schultz held up a finger. “Colonel Hogan, at this point I will have to stop you,” he said. “I do not want to know what goes on at Stalag 13 – that is our deal.”


Hogan laughed. “Fair enough,” he replied. “But you do see why we have to go to Berlin?”


Schultz nodded. “Ja, I understand,” he replied.


“Good,” Hogan said. “So now we go to Berlin and everything will be fine.” Schultz put the truck in gear and started to move. “Unless they start shooting at us,” Hogan added.


“Shooting!” Schultz exclaimed. “Colonel Hoooooogaaaaaaaan!”


* * * * *


Schultz kept the truck moving as Hogan climbed into the back to change into his SS uniform. As he drove, Schultz thought about the risk being taken by the prisoners. Once Colonel Hogan explained the situation, he knew that he could do nothing other than help them. After all, what if this would be happening to my Elena?


Colonel Hogan knew that Schultz’s oldest daughter Elena was active in the Underground in Heidelberg. It had been one of Hogan’s plans to send radio parts to her inside a potted plant – using Schultz as the courier – that made the Sergeant realize what Colonel Hogan was involved in. Since that time, Schultz had agreed to “see nothing” of Hogan’s activities – even though he still went through the charade of being shocked to see some of those things.


And now the Colonel was risking a lot to save someone else from being arrested by the Gestapo. Schultz shuddered when he thought of how people were treated during a Gestapo interrogation. For this reason, I will help Colonel HoganI owe it to my daughter.


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

July 21, 1944, 1445 hours


Heidi was serving drinks to a table of Wehrmacht officers when she saw the two men, clad in the black uniforms of the SS, enter the Brauhaus and walk over to the bar. She kept an eye on them as she set the full steins of beer on the table, and when she saw Max point in her direction, she almost dropped one of the steins into the lap of a startled Colonel.


“Be careful!” the Colonel shouted as he brushed a few splashes from his jacket.


“Sorry,” Heidi said, smiling and pulling out her rag to wipe the top of the table.


“Excuse me, are you Heidi Kaufmann?” one of the SS men asked as they arrived at the table.


Heidi straightened up abruptly. “Ja, I am Heidi,” she replied nervously.


“Could you step over here for a moment, we would like to have a word with you,” the man said, indicating an empty booth along the wall.


Heidi nodded and started to move towards the table indicated, but the Wehrmacht Colonel grabbed her arm. “Hey, you need to wipe this table first,” he said angrily.


“She will wipe it when we are through talking with her,” the SS man said.


“But the beer … it is dripping over the edge of the table,” the Colonel exclaimed.


The SS man reached over and took the rag from Heidi’s hand and tossed it to the Colonel. “Then I suggest you wipe it up,” he said. The harsh tone in his voice warned the Colonel that he’d better say no more … and the Colonel heeded that warning and began wiping the table.


Heidi walked over to the empty booth followed by the two SS men. She took a seat and waited while one of the SS men sat across from her.


“We are looking for Major Hans Teppel,” the SS man said. “Do you know him?”


Heidi nodded. “Ja, I know him,” she replied.


“When was the last time you saw him?” he asked.


“Yesterday,” she replied truthfully. “He came in here briefly and then left.”


“Do you know where he is now?” he asked.


Heidi shook her head. “Nein,” she replied.


“Did you talk to him while he was here yesterday?” he asked.


Heidi took a deep breath to mask her growing fear. Everything she was about to say was a lie, and even though she had rehearsed it in her mind many times that morning, she knew it was going to take all of her acting ability to be convincing enough for these men. “Ja, I talked to him,” she said bitterly. “And I do not ever want to talk to him again!”


The SS man looked surprised for a moment. “Why not?” he asked.


“Because he’s a schwein!” she spat. “He told me he loved me – and made me believe him. And then yesterday he comes in and tells me he cannot see me anymore.” She paused and took a deep breath. “He made up some lie about being transferred to another city.”


“That is a lie,” he replied. “Major Teppel was not being transferred.”


“Of course it is a lie!” she said forcefully. “A woman knows when she is being taken advantage of!”


The SS man was taken aback by her outburst, but continued to calmly ask questions. “How was Major Teppel taking advantage of you?” he asked.


Heidi glared at the SS man. “You men are all the same,” she said angrily. “I suppose you think it is all right for a man to prey upon the virtue of a woman like me and then move on to another when he is tired of it?”


The SS man looked uncomfortable. “Um, did Major Teppel ever say anything that could be considered traitorous?” he asked.


“All he said was lies!” Heidi said loudly. “He told me loved me. He told me I was the only woman for him. He told me he could not live without me. And what does he do? He leaves me!” She took a few angry breaths. “And I know where he went!”


The SS man looked surprised. “You do?” he asked. “Maybe you can tell me.”


“He took off with another woman!” she said.


The SS man tried to suppress a small laugh and ended up coughing. “Ah, I see,” he said politely. “Well I think we have taken up enough of your time. If you happen to see Major Teppel …”


“If I happen to see him, I will kill him!” she said.


The SS man rose from the table. “Fraulein Kaufmann, if you see Major Teppel, please tell us,” he said.


Heidi sat frozen in the booth watching the SS men walk out the door. She was surprised to think that her outburst had worked, but also scared – very scared – of what the SS men would do to her if they found out she was lying. She slowly got up and walked to the bar where Max was waiting. “Max, I need a few minutes to myself,” she said softly.


“I could not help overhearing what you said,” Max replied. “Heidi, I am sorry. Major Teppel had me fooled as well.” He looked at Heidi with eyes that were full of sympathy. “Go. Take as much time as you need. I will cover for you out here.”


Danke, Max,” she said. She slowly walked through the kitchen and into the small storage room. She locked the door behind her then slumped on the floor in the corner. Burying her face in her hands, she began crying. “Oh God, what have I got myself into?”


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

July 21, 1944, 1605 hours


Vladimir and Tadeauz walked out of the farmhouse to find Major Reinhardt standing by the door. The Major had his pistol in his hand and was pointing it at them. They stopped dead in their tracks.


“I had to come back,” Reinhardt said.


“You are going to arrest us?” Vladimir asked nervously.


Reinhardt smiled an evil smile. “No, I am going to kill you,” he said. “Major Gerstein was a friend of mine.”


“We told you what we know about your friend,” Tadeauz insisted.


“Yes, I know what you told me,” Reinhardt replied. “And since I was raised on a farm, let me tell you what I think of your story.”


Vladimir and Tadeauz exchanged nervous glances.


“First, you claim to be butchering a pig,” Reinhardt said. “Butchering is usually done when the weather is colder.”


“We needed the meat,” Tadeauz explained.


“So you have said,” Reinhardt replied. “You claim that you did not check on the car parked on the road because you were in the middle of butchering.”


“Once you start …” Tadeauz said.


“I know, you do not stop until you are finished,” Reinhardt interrupted. “And you claim that the blood on the ground in your barn is from the pig.”


“Of course, the pig will bleed,” Tadeauz said.


“But if the killing is done correctly, the blood would be drained after the pig is dead, not during the killing,” Reinhardt countered. “I do not believe your story.”


“We can only tell you what happened,” Vladimir said.


Reinhardt shook his head. “Let me tell you what I think happened,” he said. “Stauffen came here to meet with you and Major Gerstein followed. Together with Stauffen, you killed Gerstein in the barn and took his body to the car. You killed a pig so that you could explain the blood in the barn and also supply blood to put on the ground near the car to make it look like Stauffen killed him there. Then Stauffen left to fly his plane to Berlin.”


Vladimir was shocked. Reinhardt had guessed the entire scenario.


“You seem to be at a loss for words,” Reinhardt said with a smile. “I must be correct.”


Vladimir shook his head immediately. “It happened the way we told you,” he said.


Reinhardt laughed. “You continue to lie even when confronted with the truth,” he said. “Stauffen was arrested in Berlin last night. We shot him.” Reinhardt stopped to let the fact sink in. “And now, I will shoot you.” He slowly raised his weapon.


Out of the corner of his eye, Vladimir saw Grzegorz slowly sneaking up behind the Major with a long club in his hand. Vladimir remained motionless.


Suddenly, Reinhardt whiled around and aimed his weapon at Grzegorz. “I would not try it,” he said.


Vladimir saw his chance and leapt at the Major, landing on his back. He wrapped both arms around Reinhardt’s head and began twisting. He felt bones cracking and heard Reinhardt screaming in pain, being only vaguely aware of the man scratching and clawing at him and of Grzegorz and Tadeauz attempting to grab the pistol from his flailing arms. With all his strength, Vladimir gave one last twist. He felt the man’s bones popping loudly and with one last horrendous scream, Reinhardt crumpled limply to the ground.


Vladimir rolled off and looked at the man. His head was grotesquely twisted sideways – almost turned completely around – and blood oozed from his nose and mouth. Blank eyes stared back at him. Vladimir stared at the man for a moment before scrambling up and running to the corner of the house. He bent over and vomited on the ground. As he stood there retching, he became aware of a hand on his shoulder. When he straightened, he saw Tadeauz standing beside him.


“Are you all right?” Tadeauz asked.


Vladimir looked back at Reinhardt’s lifeless body. “None of us are,” he replied. “We must leave immediately.”


* * * * *


Vladimir signed off the radio and out of habit, began to tuck it back into its hiding place. He stopped and laughed. “No use hiding it anymore,” he muttered. He had just informed The Center of what happened and they had ordered the entire team to proceed to a safe house in Konigsberg. Vladimir knew the journey would be difficult – once Reinhardt’s body was found, they would be hunted down and killed.


He stood and looked around at the small room that had been his home. He felt sadness at leaving – not just for himself, but for Tadeauz and Jacinta, who had spent their lives on this farm. He turned to leave but stopped when an idea came to him suddenly. He quickly went back to the hiding niche and retrieved the SS uniform he had used when he was working with Major Freitag in Leipzig. “This may come in handy,” he said. He quickly stripped off his farm clothes and put on the uniform. He checked the pocket to make sure his papers were still there. Satisfied everything was in order, he climbed down the ladder.


When he got to the kitchen, everyone stood there staring at him. He smiled at their surprise. “I am a Corporal in the SS and you are my prisoners,” he said laughing.


Wladimir, you look so …” Jacinta began.


“Evil,” Tadeauz completed his wife’s sentence with a smile. “Do you think this will help us?”


Vladimir nodded. “I still have the papers,” he said. “We also have guns, so if we travel as if you are my prisoners and I am taking you to Konigsberg, we should have no trouble.” He noticed that they had brought Reinhardt into the kitchen. “You are keeping him here?”


Tadeauz nodded. “His body will be burned when we set fire to the farmhouse,” he said grimly.


Vladimir noticed a can of petrol in his hands. “You’re going to burn the house?” he asked.


“It is the best way to destroy everything in the house,” Grzegorz replied.


Vladimir looked at Jacinta and noticed tears welling in her eyes. He nodded. “I agree,” he said. “Let us do it quickly … it will be less painful.”


Berlin, Outside the Flat of Heidi Kaufmann

July 21, 1944, 1825 hours


Heidi rounded the corner of her building and stopped in her tracks – there was a small group of SS men standing in front of her building. She thought quickly – should she run away? Where would she run to? Had they been inside and found Hans?


One of the guards saw here standing there and motioned for the officer. He turned and saw her. “Fraulein Kaufmann,” he said waving her over. “Come here.”


It was too late to run. She walked slowly and nervously to where the men were standing. She recognized the officer as the one who had questioned her earlier in the Brauhaus.


“I hope you do not mind, but we would like to take a look at your flat,” he said in a tone that told her that they would search even if she minded.


“Of course,” she said. “Follow me.” I hope Hans keeps quiet! She walked up the steps and into the building. When she unlocked the door, several of the guards pushed her aside and rushed into the room.


When Heidi entered, the officer put his hand on her shoulder and said, “I am afraid I am going to ask you to stay right here.”


Heidi nodded nervously and watched as the guards proceeded to upend the rooms of her flat. They went through every drawer, dumping the contents onto the floor. From where she was standing, she could see them rifle through her wardrobe, depositing her clothes in a heap on the floor. They overturned the mattress on the bed – even slitting it open to feel through the inside.


She held her breath as they went through the bureau that sat in front of the niche where Hans was hiding. She hoped they would not move the piece of furniture and find the hiding place.


After what seemed like hours, the guards finished their search. They made a negative gesture towards the officer, who motioned for them to leave the flat.


“I am sorry, Fraulein Kaufmann,” he said. “We had to be sure that you were telling us the truth.”


Heidi was angry – angry at the guards for destroying her home – angry at Hans for getting her into this situation – and angry at the war for making life this terrible. She glanced around the room with a look of disgust. “And now I have one more thing to hate Hans Teppel for,” she said.


The officer nodded his head. “We will find him,” he said as he left the flat.


* * * * *


Heidi watched from her window as the SS men left. When she was sure they had gone, she closed and bolted her door and drew the curtains. She pushed the bureau away from the wall and yanked off the paneling covering the hiding niche. “Come out here and look what they did to my home!” she said angrily.


Teppel climbed out slowly, blinking his eyes at the brightness of the room. When his eyes had adjusted, he looked around in shock. “Heidi, I am sorry,” he said.


“You are sorry?” she cried. “My life is in danger, my home is wrecked and all you say is that you are sorry?”


Teppel was quiet, not knowing what he could say.


“You are not going to say anything else?” she demanded.


“What else can I say?” he said. “I am truly sorry that this has happened. I never wanted any harm to come to you, but …”


“But what?” she asked. “But we spent all that time together telling each other about our lives and I find out that yours is a made up tale?”


“Heidi, please,” Teppel said. “You must believe me. I love you and never wanted to hurt you.”


Nein!” she said angrily. “No more words – I do not know if I will be able to believe them.”


Teppel looked at the angry woman. His heart felt heavy. “Would you like me to leave?” he asked.


“Leave?” she sputtered. “The damage is already done! If you leave, they will still come after me!”


Teppel knew Heidi was right. She was not safe anymore – she would have to leave with him. “Heidi, it will only be another day or two and we will be able to leave.”


“And then what?” she said. “I leave the only life I have ever known … for what? A bunch of lies?”


Teppel sighed. He knew she was right to be angry, and it hurt him deeply to see her like this. “Heidi,” he said.


“Hans, please do not talk to me tonight,” she said and stomped into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.


Berlin, Gestapo Headquarters

July 22, 1944, 0200 hours


Major Freitag looked at his watch – it was time for him to meet Michael. They had planned the meeting so they could discuss how best to stage Wagner’s ‘death’ and disappearance from Berlin. He left the Headquarters building and got in his car.


He drove through the deserted streets of Berlin, heading for the remote location that had been agreed upon earlier. When he arrived, he stopped the car and waited. In a few minutes, the passenger door of the car opened and Wagner slid in beside him. Freitag started the car and began driving.


“Have you talked with Gerhardt?” Freitag asked.


“I have,” Wagner replied. “They will watch the woman’s flat.”


“Good,” Freitag said. “When Marya arrives with Colonel Hogan, I will place them in charge of finding and arresting Major Teppel.”


“Is there already a team looking for him?” Wagner asked.


“There is, but they will be sent to look for different targets,” Freitag replied.


“And if Hogan’s men have problems?” Wagner asked.


“I will tell them that they are to radio me directly,” Freitag said. “General Schlesinger has placed me in charge of the efforts here in the city.”


“It is nice to have friends in high places,” Wagner replied with a smile.


Freitag laughed. “You mean still have friends in high places,” he said. “Losing Major Kurt Wagner will hurt the organization.” He turned to look at Wagner. “But losing you, Gregori Gregorovich, would be worse. We will get you out of Berlin safely.”


“And we will get the American out safely as well,” Wagner said.


The men were silent for a while as Freitag drove around the outskirts of the city. After a while, Wagner asked, “Have preparations been made for the accident?”


“I have a vehicle parked and waiting,” Freitag replied. “I will need identification.”


Wagner reached into his pocket and pulled out two identification booklets and hanged then to Freitag. “Major Kurt Wagner and Major Hans Teppel,” he said.


“And the woman?” Freitag asked.


“Not necessary,” Wagner replied. “She will either come with us – and simply disappear.”


“Not die in the accident?” Freitag asked.


Wagner shook his head.


“That saves me from having to find a woman,” Freitag commented.


“Do you have the bodies?” Wagner asked.


“Not yet,” Freitag replied. “I will get them at the last minute.”


“Two more people killed,” Wagner commented.


“Two more Germans killed,” Freitag corrected him. He gave a small shrug. “I am Smersh and I am SS. In either case, I will kill when I feel the need is there.”


Wagner nodded his agreement. “We must do what we have to,” he replied.


Freitag nodded and was silent as he turned a corner. “I will stage the accident in twenty four hours,” he said. “You have until then to get out of the city. After that, it becomes more difficult to explain if you happen to be caught.”


“I understand,” Wagner said. “I will be leaving with them.”


“Then you should wait near the woman’s flat,” Freitag advised. “You can join them there.”


Wagner nodded. Freitag had been driving back to the spot where Wagner had entered the car. He now stopped and Wagner opened the door to get out.


Freitag extended his hand. “Good luck, Gregori Gregorovich,” he said.


Wagner shook his hand. “Spasibo,” he said before disappearing into the darkness.


Berlin, Flat of Heidi Kaufmann

July 22, 1944, 0825 hours


Teppel had not slept at all. He spent the night cleaning and straightening the mess made by the SS guards – all except for Heidi’s bedroom. She had not emerged from the room all night, and occasionally Teppel thought he could hear the sound of sobbing coming from behind the closed door.


He could not fault Heidi for being angry, though her anger hurt him deeply. He had never wanted to put her in harms way and yet he had done just that. Maybe I should have told her sooner. He shook his head. He knew that would have also been a mistake. To have her react like this as he was leaving was one thing, but if she would have reacted this way before, his whole existence would have been in jeopardy. He thought about trying to explain why he hadn’t told her, but he knew that in her current state of mind, she would not listen to him.


He sighed as he sat on the window sill. He was in a no-win situation with Heidi. His feelings for her were genuine, but after having found out that his life was a lie, she didn’t want to believe it.


He slowly moved back an edge of the draperies to look out the window. What he saw made him gasp. Sitting across the street was a car with two men inside. Gestapo! It has to be! What are they doing here?


He got up and began pacing the room. I am trapped here now. If they are watching the building, there is no way for me to leave even if I wanted to.


He heard the bedroom door open and turned to see Heidi standing in the doorway. She looked as if she hadn’t slept at all either. “Heidi,” he said.


“Hans, I am going to work now,” she said brusquely. “If you want to hide in here today, you need to get in now so I can close up the opening.”


Teppel sighed. He had hoped they could talk about things before she left, but it was obvious that she was not in the mood for that. He nodded and climbed into the dark hiding place under the stairs.


* * * * *


Heidi replaced the paneling and slid the bureau into its place in front of the opening before leaving her flat. She felt bad about speaking to Hans so harshly - she hadn’t intended to do so. She had actually hoped to talk to him about the situation before she left for work. But when she opened the door to her bedroom that morning and saw him standing there, the anger came welling back up inside her. I will talk to him tonight.


As she walked down the steps from her building, she became aware of a car parked across the street. She saw two men inside watching her. Oh no, the Gestapo! Her first instinct was to turn around and run back inside, but she knew that would be a mistake. Without paying the car any further notice, she began walking down the street as she normally would. Just another boring day in the life of Heidi Kaufmann.


Berlin, Gestapo Headquarters

July 22, 1944, 1610 hours


Schultz pulled the truck to a stop in front of Gestapo Headquarters. “Colonel Hogan, we are here,” he said.


“Thanks, Schultz,” Hogan called from the back of the truck. He looked at his men – and Marya – all decked out in SS uniforms. “Into the lions den,” he said with a small smile.


“Don’t worry, Colonel,” Carter said. “This will be a piece of pie. All we have to do is find Major Teppel, get him in the truck and get back to camp without being caught!”


Newkirk gave his friend a shove. “You make it sound like a walk in the park, Andrew,” he said.


“All right, that’s enough!” Hogan admonished. “Let’s try to act like real SS men.” He looked at Marya. “You too, missie!”


Jawohl, Herr Captain, darling,” she purred, causing everyone in the truck to laugh.


“You know, you do look ridiculous with that moustache!” he quipped.


“Hogan, darling, admit it,” she cooed. “You are just dying to kiss me right now.”


Hogan looked at Marya with a serious expression. “Marya, there’s one bit of advice my mother gave me that I have always heeded,” he said. “Never kiss a woman with a moustache!”


* * * * *


“Captain Hoganhoffer reporting from Hammelburg, sir,” Hogan said, giving Freitag a salute.


Freitag returned the salute and looked over the five men standing before him. His eyes widened slightly when he saw Marya standing in front of him wearing a large bushy moustache. He had to fight to keep from laughing at the sight. “Captain, I am glad you were able to come,” he replied. “I already have an assignment for you.”


“We are glad to help out wherever is needed, Major,” Hogan replied.


“You are to arrest a Major Hans Teppel – formerly of Abwehr,” Freitag said. “He is suspected of being a conspirator and has disappeared.”


“We will catch him, Major,” Hogan said. “These conspirators must be dealt with.”


“You should also be on the lookout for a Major Kurt Wagner, also of Abwehr.” Freitag said, making eye contact with Marya. He wanted her to understand that Wagner was to leave with them. She barely nodded her acknowledgement. “He has also disappeared.”


“And if they resist?” Hogan asked.


“If they resist, you will shoot them of course,” Freitag said nonchalantly. “Here are your orders, Captain.” He handed Hogan a folded piece of paper. “I suggest that you read them now.”


Hogan nodded and unfolded the paper.


Teppel hiding in girlfriend’s flat at the address below. Wagner will meet you there. The woman must leave as well. Leave the city immediately afterwards. Preparations already made to explain the death of Teppel and Wagner.


Hogan folded the paper and handed it to Marya, who began reading it. “I understand, sir,” he said.


“Sir, this woman,” Marya said in a deep voice. “Has anyone spoken to her yet?”


Freitag’s face was a mask of seriousness, but his eyes sparkled in amusement at Marya’s act. “She has been spoken to and has said she does not know where Teppel is,” he replied.


Marya nodded. He had told her what she needed to know.


“Is there anything else?” Freitag asked.


“Sir, we have commandeered a Luftwaffe truck and driver,” Hogan said. “We request that he accompany us.”


“Yes, of course,” Freitag replied. “That would be best.” Freitag paused as if trying to remember something. “Oh yes, Captain. Please take a radio set along with you. If you have any troubles at all, please do not hesitate to contact me immediately.”


Hogan nodded. “Danke, sir,” he replied.


* * * * *


When they got back to the truck, Schultz began complaining. “Colonel Hogan, maybe you should leave me somewhere while you do your looking,” he said. “You can pick me up when everything is over.”


“Sorry, Schultz,” Hogan replied. “You are going with us.


“But Colonel Hogan,” Schultz whined.


“That’s Captain Hoganhoffer,” Hogan corrected with a smile.


“Please Colonel,” Schultz said. “You said there might be shooting. I am allergic to bullets. Whenever I am near people who are shooting, I break out in a rash!”


“Don’t worry, Schultzie,” Newkirk said. “When the shooting starts, we’ll be right behind you.”


“Couldn’t you be in front of me?” Schultz asked hopefully.


East Prussia, Konigsberg Road, Roadside Checkpoint

July 22, 1944, 1750 hours


Vladimir sat in the front seat of the car as it rolled down the road towards Konigsberg. Already he was glad that he had been able to retain the uniform and papers that he had needed when working with Major Freitag in Leipzig. The uniform and papers were a last minute thought before they had destroyed the farmhouse and ran – Vladimir figuring that they might get farther if they could look as if he had captured the other three as saboteurs.


The vehicle was a benefit of the uniform. He was able to commandeer it from a local citizen who, while not happy to part with his means of transportation, was more than happy to cooperate with a member of the SS who was carrying a weapon.


Tadeauz slowed the car even more. “It looks like a checkpoint up ahead,” he said.


Vladimir looked up the road. It was indeed an SS checkpoint that blocked the road ahead. “SS,” he said simply.


“What do we do?” Jacinta said from the backseat, leaning forward to look towards the roadblock.


Vladimir had been expecting to encounter more than one checkpoint along the way, but now that the moment was at hand, he was starting to worry that their cover story wouldn’t be believed. No use worrying about that now. We have been seen, and if we turn around or seem to be avoiding it, they will come after us and never believe the story. “Keep driving,” Vladimir said. “We proceed as planned. I have captured you and am taking you to the headquarters in Konigsberg.”


“Are you sure about this plan?” Tadeauz asked pensively. “If it doesn’t work, we are dead.”


“And if we avoid them now, we are dead,” Vladimir said. “With what has happened, this is our best chance.” He was silent for a moment before adding, “Remember, my papers are legitimate and can be confirmed.”


If they decide to confirm them,” Grzegorz said skeptically.


“They will,” Vladimir said confidently. “As long as we do not give them any reason to think otherwise, they will believe I am one of them.” Vladimir removed his pistol from his holster. “Now, whatever I say or do, you play along. Remember … do not do anything to provoke them.”


Tadeauz rolled slowly to a stop in front of the checkpoint. As the guards pointed their weapons at the vehicle, the officer in charge strode forward. Seeing Vladimir in the passenger seat, he walked to that side of the car.


As the officer neared, Vladimir barked out at his passengers. “Stay here. Do not move!” he said in Polish. He opened the car door and got out. “If they try to get away, shoot them,” he said to the checkpoint guards.


The officer looked surprised. “Your papers please, Corporal,” he said, bending down get a better look into the car. “And you, out of the car,” he said, pointing to the three who remained inside.


Nein,” Vladimir said, holstering his pistol and shifting his rifle to point casually at the car. If something started happening, he wanted his rifle ready to get a better shot at the guards. “They are my prisoners.”


The officer looked at Vladimir’s papers. “Prisoners?” he asked. “It says here you are assigned to a Major Freitag in Leipzig.” He looked at Vladimir. “You are a long way from Leipzig.”


Vladimir smiled easily. “Yes, my prisoners,” he said. “And though we are a long way from Leipzig, we are not as far away from the Eastern Front. If something should happen to my prisoners, my superiors would not have very far to send me …” he looked sharply at the officer, “or anyone else involved.”


The officer did not flinch. “I am not familiar with Major Freitag,” he commented.


“He is the head of the Leipzig Gestapo,” Vladimir said. “And he is also the personal aide to General Schlesinger.” He paused to allow that fact to sink in. “I assume you are familiar with the General?”


The officer nodded. “Ja, I am,” he replied. “Why are you in this area?”


“The General was here meeting with the Führer and Reichsführer Himmler at Rastenburg,” Vladimir replied casually. “I was accompanying Major Freitag as his guard.”


“If you are Major Freitag’s guard, where is the Major now?” the officer asked.


Vladimir took a deep breath, hoping that it would come across as growing impatience. “You have heard what happened at the Wolfsschanze?” he asked somewhat testily.


The officer nodded. “That is why I must ask these questions, Corporal,” he said. “My orders are to round up anybody who seems suspicious.”


Vladimir nodded. “I was present when the General gave those orders,” Vladimir lied. “Major Freitag was sent back to Leipzig to direct the activities there. Along the way, we encountered these three,” he waved his rifle towards the car, “and took them into custody. The Major sent me along with them to Konigsberg while he continued to Leipzig.” He looked around impatiently. “I am to join him there as soon as I deliver them.”


The officer nodded as if he believed the story, but still seemed unconvinced. “I notice that your uniform is SS Galizien … Ukrainian,” he said, pointing at the Waffen SS insignia on Vladimir’s sleeve. “Why aren’t you at the front?”


Vladimir shrugged. “For that answer, you will have to ask Major Freitag,” he replied. “I assume it is because I can speak the language of these scum,” he said, waving his rifle again at the car. “And as the Major spends much of his time accompanying the General to this area, I have proven valuable at times … such as now.”


The officer handed Vladimir’s papers back to him. “Even so, I am supposed to report anything suspicious,” he said.


Vladimir nodded. “Very well,” he said, returning his papers to his pocket. “Do you have a radio here? We will contact General Schlesinger at the Wolfsschanze to ease your suspicions,” he said confidently. It was a bluff – Vladimir had no way of knowing where Schlesinger was, or for that matter, where Freitag was at this moment. But Vladimir began walking towards the little shack that served as the checkpoint. This is it – either he’ll believe me, or it is going to get ugly. When he realized that the officer was not following him, he stopped and turned around. “Well?” he asked impatiently.


“Perhaps we don’t have to bother the General at this time,” the officer said.


Vladimir took stock of the situation. He had moved so that the officer and guards were now between him and the car, which was what he had wanted. If he had to, he was sure he could get a shot at the two guards before the officer could react, and he was hoping that Tadeauz and Grzegorz would be able to react quickly enough to help dispatch him. He smiled. “Then perhaps we can continue on our way,” he said. “As I mentioned, Major Freitag expects me to join him in Leipzig as soon as possible.” He gave a significant look at the officer. “And Major Freitag is not a patient man.”


The officer nodded as if he knew the Major personally. “Corporal, maybe we can take the prisoners off your hands so that you can join the Major in Leipzig sooner,” he said.


Vladimir shook his head. “I was ordered to deliver them to Konigsberg personally,” he replied. “They are expecting me.” He smiled and tugged at his Corporal’s insignia. “Besides, I have been wearing this for a long time … I would love to trade them in for something new, if you know what I mean.”


The officer laughed. “Very well, Corporal,” he said. “I won’t detain you any further.”


Vladimir clicked his heels and gave a slight bow. “Danke, Captain,” he said. “May I have your name? I will put in a good word for you when I get to Konigsberg. Maybe you too could upgrade your adornments.”


The Captain smiled. “Captain Fritz Schenker,” he replied as he motioned the guards aside.


Vladimir shifted his rifle again and pulled out his pistol. As he opened the door and got in the car, he waved it at Tadeauz and spoke to him harshly in Polish. “Get going!” The car began to move, and as it passed the Captain, Vladimir gave him a small wave and said, “Keep up the good work, Captain!”


* * * * *


When they were clear of the checkpoint, everyone relaxed. “You took a big chance back there with your offer to phone the General,” Tadeauz said. He had been able to follow the German conversation better than Jacinta or Grzegorz.


“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Vladimir said. “Showing that we were willing to check with the General directly made the Captain nervous. It might have been detrimental to his career if he was seen as interfering with the General’s orders … or questioning the validity of my papers, which came from the General’s personal aide.”


“I noticed that you moved away from the car at that point,” Grzegorz observed.


“I wanted to get them between the car and myself,” Vladimir said. “If something happened, I had a better shot at the two guards – and they would have two targets to deal with.”


“What about the Captain?” Grzegorz asked.


Vladimir turned to face the man in the back seat, smiling broadly. “You were in the car,” he replied. “I was confident that the Captain would not be in any position to harm me.”


Tadeauz laughed in the driver seat. “You are too trusting, Wladimir my friend,” he said. “That might prove to be fatal someday.”


Vladimir shrugged. “We are a team,” he said. “We are in this together. If we do not trust that we will all look out for each other, then we will all be dead together.”


Grzegorz laughed and slapped Vladimir on the back. “You can count on us, my friend,” he said.


Vladimir smiled. They had been forced to flee the farm in Rastenburg after the events of the past few days, and now that they had made it past their first major hurdle, he was sure they would all make it through the ordeal … together.


Berlin, Outside the Flat of Heidi Kaufmann

July 22, 1944, 1820 hours


“This is the building, here on the corner,” Marya said, sticking her head out from the back of the truck and pointing.


Hogan looked at the building. “Hmm, right on the corner,” he said. “That could be good and it could be bad. Are there two entrances?”


Marya nodded. “There is one main entrance in the front, and if I remember right, one from the basement in the back to the alley.”


“Schultz, stop the truck right here,” Hogan said. “And stay on the side of the building.”


Jawohl, Herr Captain,” Schultz replied. Hogan could sense a little sarcasm in the Sergeant’s voice.


“Relax, Schultz,” Hogan said. “We’ll be out of here and heading back to camp in no time.”


“What now, mon Colonel?” LeBeau asked. “Do we go in and get him?”


“I think we should wait,” Marya said. “Heidi will be working now.”


“Heidi?” Carter asked.


“That’s Teppel’s girlfriend,” Hogan replied. “At least I assume so if I read Freitag’s note correctly.”


Marya nodded. “You are correct,” she said. “And we need to wait for Wagner to show up.”


Hogan shifted in the passenger seat. “Well, I guess there’s nothing to do but wait.”


* * * * *


Gerhardt Lang peered through the binoculars at the truck parked next to the building. “I see two in the front and at least two more in the back – but that truck can hold many more than that,” he told his men.


“And that is in addition to the two in the car?” one of his men asked.


“Yes, they are still there,” Lang replied. “This will make it tricky if they make their move now.”


“We need more men,” his other man said.


“There is no time for that,” Lang replied. “We will just have to make do.” He adjusted his binoculars. “Wait – the ones in the car are heading towards the truck,” he said excitedly. “This could be it.”


* * * * *


Hogan spotted the two men as soon as they emerged from the car parked across the street from the building. “Uh oh, we’ve got company,” he said softly.


“Colonel Hogan,” Schultz whined. “What will we do?”


“You just sit there,” Hogan said. He turned to his men in the back of the truck. “Be ready. I don’t want to start any trouble, but if they won’t leave, we might have to.”


Hogan stepped out of the truck to meet the men. “Can I help you gentlemen?” he said amiably.


“I don’t believe I know you,” one man said. “You are new to Berlin?”


“Captain Hoganhoffer,” Hogan replied, raising his hand in an informal Nazi salute. “We were called in to help round up the traitors.”


“In a Luftwaffe truck?” the man asked. “And a Luftwaffe guard?”


“We needed a truck and well, beggars can’t be choosers,” Hogan quipped.


“Apparently not,” the man said. “Why are you here?”


“I told you,” Hogan replied.


“No, why are you stopped here in front of this building?” he said, sounding more agitated.


“We were given orders by Major Freitag to look for a certain officer,” Hogan said. “We were told to wait here for a woman to come home.”


The man eyed Hogan suspiciously. “You are looking for Major Hans Teppel and waiting for Heidi Kaufmann?” he asked.


Hogan nodded. “That’s right,” he replied. “How did you know?”


“Because we are watching this place,” he replied. “We have our suspicions about Fraulein Kaufmann.”


“You’re watching her too?” Hogan said, clucking his tongue. “Major Freitag told us he called off the other teams to look for more promising targets. You see, we’re the B-team.”


“We received no such order from a Major Freitag,” the man replied. “We take our orders from the Berlin Gestapo.”


“Oh, didn’t you know? General Schlesinger put Major Freitag in charge of things here in Berlin until all the traitors are arrested,” Hogan said.


The two men looked at each other. “We were not informed of that,” one man replied.


“You do know who General Schlesinger is,” Hogan asked warily.


“Of course,” the man replied.


“I hear that Major Freitag is his personal aide,” Hogan said. “An order from Freitag is like an order from the General.”


“We have received no such orders from either the Major or the General,” the man said.


“I’ll tell you what, we’ve got a radio here in the truck,” Hogan said. “I’ll just radio back and let you talk to Major Freitag.” Hogan turned back to the truck. “Corporal, get Major Freitag on the radio. These men want to question his orders.”


Jawohl, Captain,” Newkirk replied, picking up the radio.


The two men looked nervously at each other and then back to Hogan. “I don’t think there’s any need to bother the Major,” one man said. “Since you are here keeping watch, we’ll just return to Headquarters.”


“Suit yourself,” Hogan said. “Sorry about the mix-up.”


The two men returned to their car and in a moment, drove away.


* * * * *


Gerhardt Lang kept looking through the binoculars. “The car just drove away,” he said. “The truck is still sitting there.”


“Did anyone go inside yet?” one of his men asked.


“No, not yet,” Lang replied. “It is just sitting there … and we shall keep sitting here.”


* * * * *

As the car drove away, the two SS men in it stared at the truck.


“Did you get the number of the truck, Karl?” the driver asked.


Ja, I did, Dieter,” Karl replied. “We can check on it when we get back to Headquarters.”


“We are not going back to Headquarters yet,” Dieter said. “We are going down the street a few blocks and keep an eye on the entrance to the building.”


“You do not trust them?” Karl asked.


Dieter shook his head. “Since when does the Gestapo need help from the Luftwaffe.


“Good point,” Karl replied.


Berlin, Outside the Flat of Heidi Kaufmann

July 22, 1944, 1820 hours


They had been sitting for a couple hours when Hogan spotted a woman walking down the street towards the building. “Marya, is this Heidi?” he asked.


Marya looked at the woman. “Yes, it is Heidi,” she replied. “We will talk to her before she goes in.”


Hogan and Marya got out of the truck and met Heidi on the corner. “Fraulein Kaufmann?” Hogan asked.


Heidi looked at the two SS men in front of her in disgust. “You have not bothered me enough?” she asked.


“Heidi, it is me,” Marya said.


Heidi looked at Marya. “You are Greta, Kurt Wagner’s sister,” she said. “Only I know your name is Marya.”


Marya nodded. “I see that you know the situation,” she replied.


“I know that I am in danger because of people like you,” Heidi replied bitterly.


“We have come to get take you away from here,” Marya said. “Do you know where Hans is?”


Heidi nodded. “He is hiding in my flat,” she replied. “I will show you.”


Hogan put a hand on her shoulder to stop her. “It would be better if my men went in,” he said. “We will get you settled in the truck.”


“But there are some things I want to take with me!” she exclaimed.


Hogan shook his head. “I am afraid that’s not possible,” he said. “We need to travel light.”


Heidi mumbled a curse as she removed her keys from her bag and handed them to Hogan. “First floor,” she said. “Hans is hidden in a small niche behind the bureau in the front room. Move the bureau and remove the paneling.”


Hogan smiled at her before turning towards the truck. “Carter. Newkirk.” The two men came running. “Go in and get Teppel. First floor flat, you’ll find him hiding in a niche behind the bureau in the front room.”


“Right,” the two men said.


“LeBeau, come and help Marya get Heidi settled in the truck,” Hogan ordered.


Marya put her arm around the visible upset Heidi. “It will be fine, Heidi,” she said. “Soon you and Hans will be away from here and safe.”


Heidi looked at Marya. “I was safe until all of this happened,” she said dryly.


* * * * *


“They have stopped the woman,” Gerhardt Lang said, adjusting his binoculars. “And two men have gone inside the building.” He heard his two men shifting on either side of him. “I think we had better move in.”


“What about the men in the truck?” one of his men asked.


“I will come in from the front and you two come in from behind,” Lang said. “Get everyone out of the truck and get their weapons.”


His men nodded their acknowledgement.


“Go!” Lang said, emerging from his hiding place.


* * * * *


Hogan watched as Carter and Newkirk led Major Teppel down the steps to where he was standing. “Major Teppel, how nice to finally see you again,” Hogan said with a smile.


“Colonel Hogan,” Teppel said. “I assume you’ve come to get me out of this mess?”


“Captain Hoganhoffer,” Hogan corrected. “Come on, let’s go.”


Before they could move, Gerhardt Lang came running across the street. “Nobody move!” he shouted, pointing a gun directly at Hogan.


Hogan stared at the man without making a move. He heard scuffling behind him and could tell that his men were being rounded up.


“What is the meaning of this?” Hogan asked angrily, putting on his best SS officer act.


“We cannot allow you to take these two people,” Lang replied.


“What is going on, Hogan?” Marya asked as she was herded to the side of the truck with the rest of Hogan’s men.


At the sound of her voice, Lang looked over at her curiously. “That one, bring him here,” he ordered his men.  Marya was shoved over to stand by Hogan. Lang studied her closely and then suddenly ripped off her moustache. “This one is a woman!” he exclaimed.


At Lang’s sudden movement, Hogan flinched protectively, planning to come to Marya’s aid. Lang was quick and turned his gun on Hogan. “Do not move or you are dead,” he said.


Marya stepped forward. “Who are you?” she asked.


Lang shoved her back into place. “No questions,” he said harshly.


Marya cocked her head and stepped forward again. She said several words in Russian. Lang lashed out and backhanded her across the face. Marya staggered but did not fall. Once she had steadied herself, she ran towards Lang, surprising the man. She punched him in the face, all the time repeating the Russian words she had said before.


Lang staggered backwards, his free hand rubbing the side of his face. With a growl, he raised his gun towards her.


Hogan tensed, about ready to charge the man. Suddenly, another man came running up and grabbed Lang’s arm, pointing the gun skyward. “Lang, what are you doing!” the man shouted.


“He is making a very big mistake,” Marya replied. “Colonel Hogan, this is Major Kurt Wagner – the last person we have been waiting for.”


“You came just in time,” Hogan said.


Wagner took the gun from Lang. “Do you know who this is?” he asked.


“No,” Lang replied. “They looked like SS to us.”


“Yes, SS who happened to be yelling the recognition code you were supposed to ask for!” Wagner said angrily. “The woman that I saw you strike is Marya.”


At the mention of the name, Lang’s eyes widened. “She did not say,” he mumbled.


“Of course she did,” Wagner replied. “She was using the recognition code. I heard her.”


Marya had been very silent, glaring at Lang. Now she calmly walked over to Wagner and took Lang’s gun from him. Without a word she raised the gun and shot Lang between the eyes. “I cannot have idiots working for me,” she said, throwing the gun down on his body.


Berlin, Outside the Flat of Heidi Kaufmann

July 22, 1944, 1835 hours


Karl and Dieter had been watching the proceedings from several blocks down the street. When Lang and his men arrived, they had gotten out of the car and started to walk slowly down the street towards the group of people. They hadn’t gotten far when they saw another man arrive.


“What the hell is going on down there?” Karl asked.


“I do not know, but it does not look good,” Dieter replied.


At that moment, they saw one of the SS men take a gun and shoot one of the men in the head.


Scheisse!” Dieter exclaimed. “You get the car. I am going down there!” He began running towards the group. “Hey! You there!” he shouted.


* * * * *


Hogan heard his men gasp when Marya pulled the trigger. He watched Lang crumple to the ground and Marya throw the gun on top of him. “I cannot have idiots working for me,” she said.


“What the hell are you doing?” Hogan asked incredulously.


Marya whirled towards Hogan with fire in her eyes. Before she could say anything, they heard a shout from down the street and saw a man running towards them and a car starting to move.


“Damn!” Hogan swore. “Everyone in the truck! And pick up those guns.” He ran towards the truck where Schultz still sat behind the wheel, staring at the dead man on the pavement. “Move over, Schultz,” he said. “I’ll drive.”


“No, Colonel Hogan,” Schultz said firmly. “You brought me along to drive and that is what I am going to do.” He started the truck.


“We’re all set, Colonel,” Carter said from the back. “The other two men ran away.”


“Come on, Schultz, there’s no time to argue,” Hogan urged.


Without a word, Schultz pressed down on the accelerator and the truck shot forward, slamming Hogan back in his seat. He heard voices of protest from the back of the truck.


“Hold on back there,” Schultz ordered as he screeched the truck around the corner. “I knew there would be trouble,” the Sergeant grumbled.


“Colonel, there’s a car following us,” Carter said, sticking his head out from the back.


“Damn,” Hogan said. “Why did Marya have to go and shoot that man?”


“You want me to ask her?” Carter asked.


“Later, Carter,” Hogan groaned. “I think we’ve got more important things to do right now.” To emphasize the point, Hogan heard a gunshot from behind the truck.


“They are shooting at us!” Schultz moaned. He turned the truck hard to round another corner. The truck swerved violently until Hogan thought they were going to tip over. At the last moment, Schultz deftly turned the wheel the other way and the truck straightened out.


“Schultz, I’m impressed,” Hogan commented. “Where’d you learn to drive like this?


“I used to drive the getaway car for a gang of bank robbers in Heidelberg,” Schultz deadpanned.


Hogan stared speechless at the Sergeant. After a moment, he saw a smile forming at the corners of Schultz’s mouth. He began laughing. “Is this where I’m supposed to say Jolly Joker?” he asked playfully.


“You could,” Schultz replied, taking another corner. “Or you could just keep quiet and let me drive.”


Hogan held on as the truck sped through the streets of Berlin. It swerved around cars on the road and made corners that Hogan didn’t think possible. After a while, Hogan heard more gunshots from the back of the truck and realized that his men were shooting back at the car following them.


Suddenly Schultz shouted, “Everyone hold on tight!”


Hogan wasn’t sure what was going to happen. They were coming up on a cross street, but Schultz had taken tighter corners than what he saw ahead. Then it happened. Schultz turned the wheel and jammed on the brakes. The truck began tilting and the Sergeant kept manipulating the pedals and the wheel and suddenly the truck was stopped and facing the other direction. The car that was following them was now heading straight for them. Schultz jammed his foot on the accelerator and the truck took off … straight towards the car! At the last minute, Hogan saw the surprised look on the two men’s faces as the car swerved to avoid a head on collision with the truck. After they passed, he heard a loud crash and the sound of breaking glass.


The truck kept going and after a minute, Newkirk’s head popped out from the back. “Are you bloody crazy, Schultz!” he yelled. “You could have killed us!”


Schultz smiled. “Do not look at me, I know nothing … noooothing!” he said.


Berlin, Gestapo Headquarters

July 22, 1944, 2120 hours


Karl and Dieter walked into the large Gestapo Headquarters building feeling very tired. It had been a long boring day sitting in the car and waiting for something to happen. Then when it did happen, it all happened so fast – culminating with their car being wrecked beyond drivability.


“What should we do now, Dieter?” Karl asked.


“I think we should try and track down that truck,” Dieter replied. “There was something fishy about the whole situation from the start, and when they started to run away, that proved it.”


“And what if we find out where the truck came from?” Karl asked.


Dieter shrugged. “I do not know,” he replied. “We must find out first.”


* * * * *


After two hours, Dieter hung up the phone and smiled. “I got it,” he said.


“You do?” Karl replied. “Where?”


“Registered to one of the Luft Stalags – Stalag 13, near Hammelburg,” Dieter said.


“They were a long way from home,” Karl commented. “But now we know … what do we do about it?”


Dieter pulled out a small book and started leafing through it. “Here it is,” he said, putting his finger at a spot on the page. “Hammelburg. A Major Hochstetter is in charge.”


“Are you going to call him?” Karl asked.


“We cannot go investigate it ourselves, now can we?” Dieter said, picking up the phone. “Get me the Hammelburg Gestapo. I would like to speak to Major Hochstetter,” he said into the handset.


“It is late. Do you think this Hochstetter is still in the office?” Karl asked.


“If not, there will be somebody there I can leave the information with,” Dieter replied. He heard the phone connection crackle.


Hallo, Hammelburg Gestapo. This is Sergeant Schneider,” the voice said.


“This is Dieter Hess from the Berlin office,” Dieter said. “Is Major Hochstetter in?”


I am sorry, he is out until the morning,” Schneider said. “Is there something I can do for you?”


“Yes, I have some information that I would like to leave for him to investigate,” Dieter said. He proceeded to relate the events of the evening to the Captain.


When he was finished, Schneider was quiet for a moment. “There, I think I have it all written down,” he said. “You say this Luftwaffe truck was registered to Stalag 13?”


Ja, we got a good look at the registration number and traced it there,” Dieter said.


All right, I will make sure Major Hochstetter gets the information,” Schneider said. “Should he call you back tomorrow?”


“If he finds out anything about the truck, he can call us back,” Dieter said.


“I do not think that will be necessary,” a voice from the doorway said. Dieter and Karl both looked up sharply to see a Major standing in the doorway. “Gentlemen, I am Major Freitag and I have temporarily been placed in charge of this office by General Schlesinger.”


Both men jumped to their feet. Dieter looked at the phone handset in his hand and quickly said, “Danke Sergeant. That will be all. Heil Hitler.” He hung up the phone.


Freitag looked at the two men silently for a moment. “Maybe you would like to follow me to my office and tell me what you have been doing to interfere with my orders this evening,” he suggested. Both men nodded their acknowledgement. “And then you can pack for your next assignment.” Freitag smiled humorlessly. “We need a couple more men on the Eastern Front.”


Dieter and Karl gulped nervously and followed the Major down the hall.


Konigsberg, Safe House

July 23, 1944, 0015 hours


Vladimir’s team had reached the outskirts of Konigsberg after dark and abandoned their vehicle outside the city, feeling it was less conspicuous to arrive at the safe house on foot. They had been keeping to the shadows and avoiding any human contact as they searched for the proper location. Vladimir had heard of Konigsberg before, but he did not realize how big a city it was – or that it actually was a seaport. He could smell the sea when the breeze blew.


“I think this is it,” Tadeauz said, pointing to a non-descript cottage that was located in a quiet section of the city.


Vladimir nodded. “I think you are right,” he said. “They should be expecting us.”


“There are no lights on,” Jacinta remarked.


“Not surprising,” Vladimir said. “They would not want to draw attention to themselves.” He pointed the other nearby houses whose windows were dark.


“Do we go up?” Grzegorz asked.


Vladimir looked around. Seeing nothing moving, he nodded. “Let us go,” he said, inching forward towards the house.


When they reached the door, Tadeauz knocked quietly. After a moment of silence, he knocked again. Vladimir began to feel worried. They should be expecting us. Why aren’t they answering? Tadeauz was about to knock again when they heard some rustling on either side of them.


Before he could look around, Vladimir felt himself being propelled against the house, his face pinned between the rough wood and a strong arm. He heard some scuffling and grunts and assumed that the rest of his team was being treated similarly. Then he heard a raspy voice say, “If you struggle, you will die, schwein.” It was said in German, though the accent was foreign to Vladimir.


“You are expecting us,” Vladimir gasped, replying in German. Then he switched to Russian, “We are the ones you are expecting from Rastenburg.”


The arm pushed harder against him. “Silence!” the raspy voice said, switching to Russian. “Do not attempt to pacify us by speaking that language.”


“Tadeauz, what is going on?” Vladimir head Jacinta say, her voice tinged with fear. “I thought we were supposed to come here.”


“Quiet!” commanded the raspy voice. “We will go inside where we can talk, and deal with this one for you.”


The door opened and Vladimir was propelled into the house, coming to a stop when he slammed into the far wall of the hallway. Before he could orient himself, he felt the side of his head explode. He crumpled to the floor, unable to grab anything to prevent the fall.


“Who are you and why are you with these people?” the raspy voice asked angrily.


“He is with us,” Tadeauz said. “We were sent here after we were compromised in Rastenburg. You should have received word to expect us.”


“We did,” raspy voice replied.


“He is with us,” Tadeauz said again. “He is our leader.”


“In that uniform?” raspy voice scoffed. “Then maybe you all will die with him.”


Vladimir suddenly realized the reason for his rude reception. He was still wearing his SS uniform. These people obviously were not expecting that, and do not believe that he would be a member of the group. “Excuse me,” he said, his voice cracking. He tried to get up, but he was harshly kicked and fell back to the floor.


“That uniform is what got us here,” Tadeauz said, stepping between the man with the raspy voice and Vladimir. “You will not hit him again.”


Raspy voice laughed. “Strong words from someone in your position,” he replied. The rest of the group from the safe house had already removed the weapons from Vladimir’s team and were standing around the tiny group.


Tadeauz said nothing, but reached down to help Vladimir to a standing position.


“If you are who you say you are, tell me the recognition code,” raspy voice demanded.


Tadeauz opened his mouth to reply but was stopped when raspy voice pointed a gun at him. “Not you, him,” he said, waving at Vladimir.


Vladimir was leaning against the wall, his head still reeling from the initial blow. He wiped a trickle of blood from the side of his mouth and recited the recognition code.


“See, he knows the code,” Grzegorz said with some hostility.


“You could have told him,” raspy voice said. “And how do I know that you are the people we are expecting?”


“I gave you the recognition code,” Vladimir said. “Yes, I am wearing an SS uniform. But as you can hear, I speak Russian without an accent.”


“That means nothing,” raspy voice said.


“Are you stupid?” Tadeauz exclaimed.


Raspy voice immediately lashed out to strike Tadeauz. Vladimir reached out and grabbed the man’s arm. “Nyet!” he yelled. “You will not touch them – you will deal with me.”


Raspy voice yanked his arm away and swung the rifle around, causing the butt to smack Vladimir on the side of the face. Vladimir went staggering back against the wall, but did not fall. “The next time you touch me,” raspy voice said, “I will shoot you.”


Vladimir had taken enough of this. “Do you have a radio? Radio The Center … NOW!” he said forcefully.


“Why should I?” raspy voice asked.


“If you want verification that we are who you expect, you will radio them now,” Vladimir repeated. “They will be expecting me to check in when I arrive.”


“Maybe you just won’t arrive,” raspy voice commented, causing Jacinta to gasp.


Vladimir shook his head. “That would be a very unwise decision,” he replied icily. “I will say this again - get on the radio to The Center … now.”


Raspy voice shrugged and made a motion to one of his men. The man knelt on the floor and began prying up floorboards. Soon he had pulled out a small radio transmitter and set it up. Raspy voice motioned to another of his men, who came over to glare menacingly at Vladimir. “If he moves, shoot him,” raspy voice commanded.


Raspy voice tuned the radio to the proper frequency and began tapping out a message. After pausing a moment, he tapped some more. This continued for a minute until he turned to Vladimir. “Your radio code?” he asked.


“Sam,” Vladimir replied.


Raspy voice seemed to nod slightly and began tapping again. His face turned to a frown as he listened to the response. Turning to Vladimir again, he asked, “Do you have papers?”


Vladimir nodded and began to reach into his pocket. He was immediately slammed back against the wall and held there. The man pinning him to the wall reached into the pocket and extracted the papers, handing them to raspy voice. “You should be more careful,” raspy voice said to Vladimir.


“And you should get on with this,” Vladimir shot back.


Raspy voice ignored him and began looking at the papers. “There are very good,” he commented. “You would almost think they are genuine.”


“They are,” Vladimir replied with a smile. Raspy voice looked up at him sharply. “They must have asked you to check me for papers,” Vladimir guessed. “Did they tell you what should be on the papers?”


“The information checks out,” raspy voice replied. He turned back to the radio and began tapping another message. As he listened to the reply, his face molded into a shocked expression and he looked quickly at Vladimir. “They want to talk to you,” he said.


Still being pinned to the wall, Vladimir pushed the man out of his way and knelt by the radio. He put on the headphones and began tapping a message. He continued alternating listening and tapping until he removed the headset and handed it to raspy voice. “They have something to say to you,” he said.


Raspy voice donned the headset and listened to the message. He then signed off, removed the headset and turned to face Vladimir.


“Did they tell you what they told me?” Vladimir asked, wiping another stream of blood from the side of his face. Raspy voice nodded slowly, his face a stone mask. “Then tell everyone what they said,” Vladimir ordered.


Raspy voice cleared his throat. “These are the people we are expecting,” he said. “Their transit is top priority.”


“And …” Vladimir prompted. Tadeauz looked at him quizzically, and Vladimir began smiling.


“And if they do not arrive to their final destination alive …” raspy voice continued.


“And without any visible signs of abuse,” Vladimir interrupted.


“And that,” raspy voice agreed. He looked at his men gathered around the room. “We will be sacrificed.”


Tadeauz’s eyes grew wide. “Does that mean what I think it means?” he asked.


Vladimir nodded. “Yes, my friend,” he said. “It means that these men made a big mistake, and now if anything happens to us at any point before we get to our final destination, their lives will be forfeit.”


“Even if it is not their fault?” Jacinta asked.


Vladimir nodded again. “That is correct,” he replied. “But that is not all they said,” he added, looking at raspy voice. “Is it?”


Raspy voice shook his head. “They also said that …” he paused, suddenly looking very nervous. “They said that as long as they are here, we are to follow his direction,” he finished, motioning towards Vladimir.


Vladimir smiled and stepped closer to raspy voice. He put his face right up to the man and said, “I could kill you now for the way you treated me.” Then he smiled and gave a small shrug. “But that would be a waste of a useful life,” he said.


Raspy voice seemed to visibly relax, thankful that his life was spared. Vladimir suddenly reared back and hit the man on the side of the jaw. Raspy voice staggered and fell into a heap in the corner of the room, groaning in pain. “But I do owe you something for your welcome,” he said, rubbing his sore knuckles.


* * * * *


The pale sky was brightening as Vladimir sat outside the front door of the house. He had not been able to sleep – the events of the past few days replaying constantly in his mind. Two people dead by his own hand, a farmhouse and barn destroyed and four people uprooted to avoid capture … all because of Vladimir’s known association with the man who had tried to kill Hitler. Vladimir sighed and shook his head. “And he was not even successful,” he muttered to himself.


He was suddenly aware of a presence beside him and looked up to see raspy voice standing in the doorway. He motioned for the man to sit beside him.


“You are not sleeping?” raspy voice asked softly in Russian as he sat.


Vladimir shook his head. “Nyet,” he replied. “Too many things have happened and we are still not out of danger.” He looked at the man. “And now you are in danger.”


Raspy voice shrugged. “We are always in danger in this line of work,” he replied. He paused and took a deep breath. “I feel I owe you an explanation for the welcome you received.”


Vladimir shook his head. “Nyet, you do not,” he replied. “You were taking precautions, and I was in an SS uniform.”


“Still, maybe we were a little, um, too cautious,” raspy voice continued.


“I will not argue with that,” Vladimir chuckled. “But nothing was broken and everything was straightened out.”


Raspy voice held out his hand. “Alexander,” he said, introducing himself. “But you can call me Sasha.”


Vladimir shook his hand. “Vladimir,” he replied. “Some people I have known have called me Sam.” He chuckled, thinking of his friends at Stalag 13 who had begun calling him Sam to pass him off as a captured American.


“You might be here a while before you hear back from The Center,” Sasha commented. Vladimir nodded. “So I feel I should explain your welcome.” Vladimir was silent, waiting for the man to continue. “We have been a little nervous lately,” Sasha continued. “One other safe house here in Konigsberg was recently broken up and the agents executed. We do not think anyone talked, but we cannot be sure.”


Vladimir nodded. “You were correct to be so suspicious,” he replied. He rubbed his sore jaw. “It is just a little painful being on the receiving end of those suspicions!” he said with a laugh.


Sasha laughed. “As you pointed out to me afterwards,” he said, rubbing his own jaw. “And since you have been placed in charge …”


Vladimir waved him off. “That will change nothing,” he said. “You operate the same as you have been. I will only interfere if it is necessary.”


Sasha eyed Vladimir curiously. “Necessary?” he asked.


“You and your team have been here and know what you are doing,” Vladimir explained. “If that needs to change because of any orders we receive, then I will tell you. Until then it is … there is a phrase that I learned from an American friend,” he said and then switched to English. “Business as usual,” he said. “Things will remain as they were,” giving Sasha a rough Russian translation of the phrase.


Sasha nodded. Vladimir thought he looked pleased with their conversation. He should be pleased. If I were truly NKVD, he would most likely be dead now after the way I was treated last night. They heard some stirring in the house. “Come,” Vladimir said. “When everyone is awake, you need to tell us about the things you do here – what your cover is and what things you have been asked to do.”


Sasha smiled. “Have you ever been to sea as a fisherman?” he asked.


Vladimir felt his eyes grow wide. “Fisherman?” he asked. Oh no. First I had to learn how to be a farm hand and now I have to learn how to be a sailor! Life was much simpler when I was just making clothes!


Berlin, Safe House

July 23, 1944, 0115 hours


Freitag stepped out of the vehicle and walked quickly up the walk to the safe house. He gave the coded knock at the door and waited impatiently. He knocked again. The door opened crack. “Open the damn door!” he growled.


The door opened and Freitag entered a darkened room.


“We were not sure who it was?” a man said.


Freitag mumbled an intelligible curse at the stupidity of the man. “How many people know the knock code in use for this assignment?” he asked harshly. The room was silent.


“I have found out that Gerhardt was killed tonight,” he said. “Tell me about it.”


The two men left from Gerhardt’s team told the story of the events of the evening. He had already heard some of the story from Dieter and Karl, before they were unfortunately transferred. Now he got to hear what actually happened within the group.


“Marya shot Gerhardt because he hit her?” Freitag asked. He heard an affirmation from one of the men. “Are you sure she did not shoot him because he failed to acknowledge the recognition codes?” His question was met with silence. “No matter, it is done.” He moved to the door. “You two will come with me. We have an accident to stage.”


He opened the door and left with the two men following close behind.


* * * * *


Freitag drove outside of Berlin where he had hidden the car for the accident. He had chosen the location carefully – a narrow, winding, heavily wooded road that was very isolated. The car he had taken had already been in an accident, so it was just a matter of moving it to make it look like it had slammed into one of the large oak trees that surrounded the road.


It took the three men over an hour to move the car into position. Freitag then removed several cans of petrol from his own car and brought them over.


“You are going to burn it?” one man asked.


Freitag looked at the man without answering. The intelligence of these people leaves a lot to be desired. How did they ever manage to survive this long? He took one of the cans of petrol and sloshed its contents throughout the interior of the vehicle. When he was through, he stood back. “Now, we just need two more things,” he said. “First, I need both of you to take a petrol can and do the same thing I just did.”


The two men stepped forward to take a can. Freitag removed his pistol from under his jacket. “And second, we need two bodies,” he said softly, aiming the pistol. He fired two shots and both men slumped to the ground with a bullet in the back of the head. He shook his head sadly. “What a waste,” he muttered.


He quickly finished the job at hand. He put the two bodies in the front seat of the car and emptied the remaining petrol cans. Then he stepped back and lit a match, throwing it into the car. It burst into flames immediately with a huge fireball.


He stood for a moment to make sure the entire interior would be scorched and then he removed the two identification books and tossed them on the ground. The wreckage would be found with two bodies burnt beyond recognition. The identification found would say that Major Hans Teppel and Major Kurt Wagner were not lucky enough to escape alive.


Satisfied, Freitag went back to his car and drove away.


Stalag 13

July 23, 1944, 0945 hours


Schultz drove the truck through the main gate of camp and brought it to a stop in front of the Kommandant’s office. They had stopped on the road outside of camp to unload their passengers – Marya would take charge of getting everyone back into camp. Hogan had quickly gone over their story – which was unchanged from the story that got them out of camp. They had gone to Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin and were interrogated.


Klink emerged from his office as the truck came to a halt. “Colonel Hogan, Sergeant Schultz! I want to see you in my office immediately!” he shouted.


“Well Schultz, it looks like someone reported something back to the bald eagle!” Hogan quipped.


“Oh boy,” Schultz muttered.


Fellas, get back into the barracks and tune in,” Hogan ordered. “I don’t know what this is about, but I want you in on it.”


The men scrambled out of the truck and hurried back to the barracks as Schultz and Hogan took their time getting to Klink’s office.


* * * * *


“Now Hogan, you were supposed to be at Gestapo Headquarters being interrogated,” Klink said. “That is where you were, isn’t it?”


“Of course, Kommandant,” Hogan replied. “They asked us all sorts of questions about our life in the camp. We all told them that it was great – a real home away from home.”


Hogannnn, that’s not funny,” Klink said.


“It’s also not even close,” Schultz muttered.


“Schultz!” Klink bellowed.


Jawohl, Herr Kommandant,” Schultz said, snapping to attention.


“You were supposed to be guarding the prisoners,” Klink said.


“Oh I did, Herr Kommandant,” Schultz replied. “They did not leave my sight the entire time!”


“Are you sure about that?” Klink asked.


“Yes, sir!” Schultz replied.


“What’s this about, Kommandant?” Hogan asked. “Are you afraid we gave a bad impression of Stalag 13?”


“How can you give a bad impression of Stalag 13?” Klink asked. “My record speaks for itself!”


“Then why the third degree here?” Hogan asked.


“Major Hochstetter just called,” Klink said.


“Why, did he run out of little old ladies to torture?” Hogan quipped. Schultz chuckled in amusement.


“Schultz!” Klink shouted. Schultz stiffened to attention again.


“For your information, Major Hochstetter received a report from two Gestapo agents in Berlin,” Klink said.


“Is that a fact?” Hogan said.


“Yes, and they said that a truck registered to Stalag 13 and driven by a Luftwaffe Sergeant was seen at an apartment in Berlin where a conspirator was supposed to be hiding.”


“Fascinating,” Hogan commented.


“And that this truck sped away from them after taking that conspirator,” Klink continued. “People from the truck even shot at them.”


“No kidding?” Hogan said. “Boy, those guys ought to be writing movies in Hollywood. That sounds like a real exciting movie.”


“Now Hogan. I want an explanation!” Klink commanded. “Can you explain to me why these men would tell Hochstetter a thing like that?”


“I could explain it to you,” Hogan said.


“You can?” Both Klink and Schultz asked in amazement.


“But you wouldn’t like it,” Hogan finished.


“Why wouldn’t I like it?” Klink asked.


“They’re jealous of you, Colonel!” Hogan said.


“Jealous of me?” Klink asked incredulously.


“Jealous of him?” Schultz asked, just as incredulously.


“Schultz!” Klink yelled. Schultz once again snapped to attention.


“Of course,” Hogan said. “It’s your perfect record. Here they are trying to round up a bunch of conspirators, and you’re sitting in this camp surrounded by ferocious Allied prisoners with nothing but a few measly under-qualified guards. And yet not once has a prisoner escaped from here.”


Klink rubbed his chin in contemplation. “You know Hogan, I think you’re right,” he said. “They are jealous of me.”


“Don’t let it bother you, sir,” Hogan said. “They can try to discredit you, but we all know the truth. Don’t we Schultz?”


Jawohl, Colonel Hogan,” Schultz replied with a slight smile. “We do know the truth!”


“Oh, Major Hochstetter is coming here tomorrow,” Klink said, almost as an afterthought. “He wants to talk to both of you about this story. Maybe he would be interested in hearing your theory.”


“He’s the last person you should mention it to, Kommandant,” Hogan replied.


“Why?” Klink asked.


“Do you really want to make him feel inferior when faced with the truth about your success?” Hogan asked.


“Maybe you’re right,” Klink said. “I think it would be best if we didn’t tell Hochstetter.”


“You know best, Kommandant,” Hogan said, saluting. He turned and left the office.


* * * * *


“Damn,” Hogan swore as he entered the barracks. He looked around and saw that everyone had come up from the tunnel.


“We heard, Colonel,” Teppel said. “Do you think Hochstetter will make trouble for Klink?”


“He’ll try,” Hogan said. “But as long as we stick to the original story, and get backing from Freitag if Hochstetter checks up on it, we should be fine. Hochstetter is just a big pain in the ass.”


“Who is this Hochstetter?” Heidi asked, sipping on a cup of coffee.


“He’s the local Gestapo,” Hogan replied.


“You’re not afraid of the Gestapo?” she asked in amazement.


“The Gestapo, yes,” Hogan said. “Hochstetter, no.”


“And you went through all this trouble for us?” she asked.


Hogan saw her glance towards Teppel. I wonder what’s going on between those two. She wasn’t exactly warm and cozy towards him on the trip from Berlin. He nodded. “In this business, you help out your friends when they need it the most,” he said.


Stalag 13, Office of the Kommandant

July 24, 1944, 1010 hours


“Colonel Hogan, can you give me an explanation for the news I received from the Berlin Gestapo?” Hochstetter said.


“No,” Hogan replied.


“You have no explanation?” Hochstetter asked.


“No,” Hogan repeated. “I was in Gestapo Headquarters being interrogated by Major Freitag.”


“So you have said,” Hochstetter replied. “That does not explain why your truck was reported driving around Berlin.”


“It’s not my truck,” Hogan said. “I would be driving an American model.”


“You know what I meant, Hogan,” Hochstetter growled.


Hogan shook his head. “I know what you said. I never actually know what you mean,” Hogan said.


Hochstetter ignored the insult. “So for all you know, someone could have taken the truck while you were at Gestapo Headquarters, found a Luftwaffe Sergeant to drive them around, and kidnap a known and wanted conspirator?” Hochstetter proposed.


Hogan snapped his fingers. “Hey, that sounds pretty good,” he said. “That would make an even better movie than the story the guy from Berlin told you.”


“Are you saying that the man from Berlin lied to me?” Hochstetter asked.


Hogan shrugged. “You know how those Gestapo people are,” he said. “Can’t tell the truth if their life depended on it.”


Hogannnnnn,” Klink warned.


“Klink!” Hochstetter shouted.


“Hochstetter!” Hogan added. Both Germans turned to look at the American, who looked back at them with surprise. “What? I thought it was my turn.”


“Hogan, I do not believe you,” Hochstetter said.


“You never do,” Hogan retorted. “Why start now.”


Hochstetter let out a low growl. “I will keep investigating, and when I find out that you and your men were the ones seen in Berlin, I will take care of you,” he said. Hogan shook his head. “Do not shake your head, Hogan,” Hochstetter said. “Once I find out that you are guilty of impersonating an SS officer, your precious Geneva Convention will not protect you.”


“You know, your needle is stuck in the same groove,” Hogan said. “It’s the same thing over and over. What is this man doing here and heads will roll. The same thing, time after time.”


Hogannnnn,” Klink said softly.


Hogan waved Klink’s warning away. “It gets old,” Hogan continued. “You come into camp, swagger around yelling and screaming as if being louder than everyone else meant you were smarter than everyone else.”


“Are you quite through, Hogan?” Hochstetter asked.


“Not by a long shot!” Hogan replied. “It seems that whenever something goes wrong in this area, you come to this camp and scream about how it was my doing.” Hogan was starting to become agitated. He hadn’t planned to lash out at Hochstetter, but once he started, he found he had a hard time stopping. “Face it, Hochstetter, this area of Germany has more acts of sabotage than anywhere else because you are too incompetent to do your job!”


“Bah!” Hochstetter screamed.


“That’s another one of your overused catch phrases!” Hogan exclaimed.


“Hogan! That’s enough!” Klink warned.


“Kommandant, stay out of this!” Hogan said forcefully.

“You are walking a very dangerous tightrope, Colonel Hogan,” Hochstetter said.


“Major, you can’t threaten me because you can’t touch me,” Hogan said. “And the reason you can’t touch me is that you have no proof that I am the person you say I am.”


“I will find proof,” Hochstetter replied.


“How? But stealing my mail again?” Hogan blurted. “You tried that once and obviously didn’t find anything.”


“He did what?” Klink asked


“Klink, stay out of this!” Hochstetter ordered.


“That’s right, Klink didn’t know about how you held my mail for months,” Hogan said. “Another one of your brilliant ideas to catch me – and yet all the while, it seemed that the sabotage activities continued.”


“I will catch you, Hogan,” Hochstetter said.


“I’ve been caught!” Hogan exclaimed. “I’m spending the war in this lousy dump of a prison camp!”


“Lousy?” Klink gasped.


“You concentrate on me and the sabotage continues,” Hogan repeated. “I suppose you are going to tell me that is part of my plan? I distract you by pretending to be a helpless prisoner of war, all the while masterminding one of the largest sabotage rings in the country.”


“You will slip one day, Hogan,” Hochstetter said.


“Don’t make me laugh,” Hogan retorted.


“I will discover the truth about you, Hogan!” Hochstetter exclaimed. “And then …”


“Heads will roll!” Hogan exclaimed, sounding exactly like Hochstetter.


Hochstetter glared at Hogan. “How dare you mock me,” he growled.


Hogan stood. “Hochstetter, maybe someday you will learn the truth,” Hogan said. “You’ll learn that you are an incompetent fool with the brain the size of a peanut. And you’ll also learn that everyone laughs at you behind your back because you are so incompetent. And finally, you’ll learn that the only reason people fear you is because you wear that black uniform with the red arm band – and people are afraid of what that can do to them and not what you can do to them.” Hogan stopped and glared at the Major. “Face it Hochstetter, you are nothing.” He turned and walked towards the door.


“Hogan, you have not been dismissed!” Hochstetter yelled.


Hogan opened the door and turned around. “Bah!” he exclaimed, mocking Hochstetter again before slamming the office door.


* * * * *


“Sergeant Schultz, I have already talked to Hogan about what went on in Berlin,” Hochstetter said.


“You have?” Schultz said. “What did he say?”


“Never mind what he said,” Hochstetter said. “I want to hear it from you.”


“Me? But I am just a Sergeant. He is a Colonel,” Schultz said evasively.


“How would you like to be a Private?” Klink asked.


“I think I would like to tell you what happened in Berlin,” Schultz said.


“Go ahead, Schultz,” Hochstetter prompted. “I want you to tell me everything.”


“Everything?” Schultz asked.


Hochstetter nodded. “Everything.”


“Well, Colonel Hogan and his men got into the truck which was parked in the compound in front of Kommandant Klink’s office,” Schultz explained. “Then Colonel Hogan offered to drive, but I told him no. It would not be right to have an American drive a German truck into Berlin in the middle of a war. So I drove.” He paused and took a breath. “Then the truck started moving and we went through the main gate. We followed the road into Hammelburg before turning onto the Berlin road.” He leaned forward in his chair towards Hochstetter. “The scenery was beautiful that day. The sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky.”


“Schultz!” Hochstetter bellowed. “I do not want you to give me a weather report!”


“But you said to tell you everything,” Schultz said.


“Just tell me what happened in Berlin!” Hochstetter ordered.


“Major Freitag interrogated the prisoners,” Schultz said.


“That is all?” Hochstetter asked.


“Was there something else that should have happened?” Schultz wondered.


“What if I told you that Colonel Hogan gave me a different story?” Hochstetter asked.


Schultz laughed. “I would say that Colonel Hogan was telling a lie,” Schultz replied. “You should have heard the lie that he told Major Freitag.”


“Oh? And what was that?” Hochstetter said, suddenly seeming interested.


Schultz laughed again. “He told the Major that this was like a home away from home,” he said.


“Schultz! That was not a lie!” Klink exclaimed.


“What are you running here, Klink, a country club?” Hochstetter asked.


“Oh no, sir,” Klink said. “This is a very tough prison camp.”


“Sure it is,” Schultz muttered.


“Sergeant, are you sure Colonel Hogan and his men did not dress in SS uniforms?” Hochstetter asked.


“Oh, I am sure about that, Herr Major,” Schultz replied.


“And are you sure Colonel Hogan’s men did not kidnap the known conspirator?” Hochstetter asked.


“Absolutely!” Schultz replied.


And are you sure you were not driving the truck wildly through the streets of Berlin as it sped away from the two Gestapo men who were chasing it?” Hochstetter asked.


“Major Hochstetter, do I look like the kind of a person who could control a speeding truck?” Schultz asked.


Hochstetter stared at Schultz for a moment before shaking his head. “No Schultz, you seem too incompetent for that,” he replied.


Danke, Major Hochstetter!” Schultz exclaimed. “I mean I am glad you believe me.” He added in a whisper, “Oh boy am I glad you believed me!”


“All right, Schultz,” Hochstetter said. “You can go. I have heard enough from you.”


Schultz stood and saluted. “Danke, Major,” Schultz said, and left the office.


* * * * *


Hogan was waiting for Schultz in the outer office. They left and walked across the compound together.


“How did it go, Schultz?” Hogan asked.


“He believed me,” Schultz replied.


“Thanks for helping us get them out, Schultz,” Hogan said.


“Colonel Hogan, when I thought of how I would feel if it were my daughter in that position, I had no choice,” Schultz replied.


“And if it were your daughter, I would’ve done the same to help her,” Hogan said.


“I know you would,” Schultz said softly.


The men grew silent as the continued walking. Then Schultz chuckled. “When he asked if I was the one driving the truck through the streets of Berlin, I asked him if he thought I could actually control a speeding truck that well,” he said. “That was when he believed my story!”


“You surprised me there, Schultz,” Hogan said honestly. “I never knew you could drive like that.”


“I surprised myself,” Schultz admitted. “I never knew I could drive that that either.”


Hogan slapped the Sergeant on the back. “Now you tell me!” he exclaimed.


Stalag 13, Barracks Two, Quarters of Colonel Hogan

July 24, 1944, 1500 hours


Hogan sat in his office with Hans Teppel – or Robert Morrison, he had to keep reminding himself – going over their plans to get him back to London.


London is happy that we managed to get you out of Berlin,” Hogan said.


“It’s nice to know somebody cares,” Teppel said with a smile.


“We’ll be able to get you out of here in a few days,” Hogan said. “We’ll get you on a sub and back home.”


“Home was Milwaukee,” Teppel replied. “But I suppose London is one step closer!”


“Do you have any big plans?” Hogan asked.


“For when I get back?” Teppel asked.


“For when you both get back,” Hogan prompted. “You are bringing along a passenger, in case you have forgotten.”


“No, I haven’t forgotten,” Teppel said dejectedly.


Hogan stood and began pacing. “Look, it’s probably none of my business,” he said. “But I haven’t seen the warmest of feelings between you two.”


Teppel sighed. “It’s my fault,” he said. “She didn’t know anything about this until it all went sour. I think she’s having a hard time with it.”


Hogan leaned against the corner of his bunk. “That’s understandable,” he said. “One day she’s happy with Hans Teppel from Berlin and then next day her life is in danger with Robert Morrison from Milwaukee.”


“I’ve been thinking if I could have handled it differently,” Teppel said.


Hogan shook his head quickly. “I doubt it,” he said. “The less people who know about you, the safer you are. You couldn’t have told her sooner.”


“I know that, but …” Teppel said.


“She’ll come around,” Hogan said. “Give her time.”


Teppel fixed his gaze on Hogan. “She’s not just a wartime fling, Hogan,” he said. “I love her.” Hogan nodded silently. “And I think she loves me,” he continued. “Or at least I thought she did.”


“Look, Teppel … I mean Morrison,” Hogan started.


Teppel laughed. “I’ve been Has Teppel for so long, I don’t think it matters what you call me,” he said.


Hogan chuckled. “Better watch how you phrase that,” he said. He paused while Teppel laughed. “Morrison, put yourself in her shoes. She’s just found out her boyfriend was not who he said he was, had her life put in danger, and has had to leave behind everything and everyone that made her who she is,” he said. “How would you feel?”


“Mad as hell,” Teppel said softly.


“Exactly,” Hogan agreed. “Give her some time. I think she’ll come around.”


“And if she doesn’t?” Teppel asked.


Hogan smiled. “She did come with you, didn’t she?” he countered.


“She knew her life was in danger if she stayed,” Teppel said.


Hogan smiled and shook his head. “She could have stayed and turned you in,” he said.


Teppel thought about this for a moment. “But she didn’t,” he said softly.


“But she didn’t,” Hogan echoed. “That should tell you something.”


* * * * *


Late that night when everyone was sleeping, Hogan ventured down into the tunnel to check on their visitors. He had commandeered the solitary confinement cell for them to sleep, figuring it would be quieter than the tunnels. He was surprised to find Heidi sitting at the radio desk with Baker drinking a cup of coffee. “Having trouble sleeping?” he asked her.


Heidi nodded. “A lot has happened in the past few days,” she said, taking a sip of coffee.


Hogan chuckled. “All in a days work,” he said.


“You do this every day?” she asked.


“A little of this, a little of that,” he replied.


“Not every day is filled with chaos,” Baker added.


Hogan chuckled again. “No, some days it’s merely hectic!” he quipped.


The room grew quiet. Hogan poured himself a cup from the coffeepot. “Baker, why don’t you go and get some sleep,” he said. “I’ll watch the radio tonight.”


Baker nodded, correctly understanding that Hogan wished to talk to Heidi. “Thanks, Colonel,” he said.


When Baker had climbed the ladder and closed the tunnel entrance, Hogan sat at the desk across from Heidi. “So how do you feel about all of this?” he asked.


“Angry,” she replied. “Confused. Scared. And probably some other things that I cannot think of right now.”


Hogan nodded. “I’m not surprised,” he said. “I doubt that you ever imagined yourself sitting in a hole in the ground waiting to be shipped away from your homeland.”


She smiled and shook her head. “No, that was not one of the daydreams I had as a child,” she replied.


“This is more like a nightmare than a daydream,” Hogan said. “When I wake up every day, I keep hoping that I am back home in my own bed with my wife beside me.”


She nodded sadly. “Many times after my husband was killed I wished that I would wake up with him beside me,” she said. “That is until I met …”


“Until you met Hans,” Hogan finished for her.


“You mean Robert Morrison,” she corrected him with some bitterness.


“Heidi, I can’t tell you how to feel about this,” Hogan said. “But I can tell you that Robert Morrison loves you just as much as Hans Teppel.”


“Why did he not tell me?” Heidi blurted out. “Why did he have to tell me those lies?”


“The less you knew, the safer everyone would be,” Hogan said.


“But I would not have said anything!” she cried.


“I know, Heidi,” Hogan said softly. “But we are in a business where secrecy is very important.” He looked at her kindly. “Do you think my wife knows what I am doing here?”


“She does not?” Heidi asked.


Hogan shook his head. “As far as she knows, I am just a normal prisoner of war,” he replied. “And that’s all she will ever know.”


“You will not tell her when you get back home?” Heidi asked.


Hogan was silent for a long while. He knew that there was a lot he had to tell her eventually – all of the indiscretions he committed in the line of duty – but he still wrestled with how he was going to handle that situation. “For me it is a little more complicated,” he said. She looked at him inquisitively. “I have had to do some things while I have been here that I am not very proud of,” he said.


She nodded knowingly. “And your wife will be hurt when she finds out,” she said. He nodded. “Then why did you do them?”


Hogan sighed. “There are times when you have to do things that will hurt someone you love … for the greater good,” he replied.


She pondered this silently and took another sip of coffee. “And you think that is what Hans did?” she asked.


Hogan smiled. “Here is what I think,” he said. “I think that Hans loves you very much. And I think that deep down, you love him.”


She stared at her tin cup and nodded slowly.


“And I think that right now, you are trying to deal with the shock of the situation,” he continued. “And eventually, when you have had a chance to really think about it, you will realize how you feel about him and everything will be fine.”


Heidi looked at him and he could see her eyes moistening. “Thank you,” she said softly.


He smiled. “All in a day’s work,” he replied.


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters, Office of Major Wolfgang Hochstetter

July 25, 1944, 0950 hours


The phone on Hochstetter’s desk rang and the Major picked it up. “Hallo, Hochstetter here,” he said.


Major Hochstetter, this is General Schlesinger,” the voice on the other end said.


“Ah, General, I am glad you returned my call,” Hochstetter said pleasantly. “I am looking into a matter involving the local prison camp and had a question for you.”


You are harassing the Luftwaffe camp again, Hochstetter?” Schlesinger asked.


Nein, Herr General,” Hochstetter replied. “I am simply trying to investigate some information that I was given by the Gestapo in Berlin. It seems that a Luftwaffe truck was seen driving around Berlin with SS personnel. These men were seen to kidnap a known conspirator and speed away. The truck was registered to Stalag 13.”


Go on,” Schlesinger prompted dubiously.


“When I questioned the men at Stalag 13, they gave me a story about being summoned to Berlin by your Major Freitag for interrogation,” Hochstetter said.


Have you spoken to Freitag?” Schlesinger asked.


“Not yet, sir,” Hochstetter said. “I wanted to check with you first. Frankly, I doubt the whole story.”


Hochstetter, you must like to waste my time,” Schlesinger said testily. “Because if you would have bothered to check with Freitag, you would have found out that my office does periodically question prisoners of war, and that Freitag is the man who directs those interrogations.”


“I was not aware of that,” Hochstetter said.


And I was not aware that my office had to clear its activities with you,” Schlesinger said.


“Sir, I …” Hochstetter began.


Is there anything else, Hochstetter?” Schlesinger asked.


“Sir, all of this does not explain the report I received about the truck from Stalag 13 and the SS men,” Hochstetter said.


Speak to Freitag,” Schlesinger ordered. “I am sure he has a perfectly logical explanation.”


“I am sure he does,” Hochstetter said sarcastically.


Major, are you implying something by that remark?” Schlesinger asked.


“Now that you mention it, I do have my doubts about him,” Hochstetter said.


Hochstetter, Major Freitag is my personal aide and I have no doubts about him,” Schlesinger said menacingly. “I suppose you have doubts about me?”


“Absolutely not, sir!” Hochstetter insisted.


Then maybe you should forget about this incident,” Schlesinger said. “Freitag handles these interrogations with my full support. And …” The General paused, “I have already spoken to General Burkhalter about this and he has no issues with my office interrogating his prisoners.”


Jawohl, General,” Hochstetter said through clenched teeth. “I understand.”


Good,” Schlesinger said. “Oh, and while I have you on the phone, there is a bit of information that I thought you should know about … and it is about something that you should be looking into rather than harassing the Luft Stalags.”


“What is it, sir?” Hochstetter asked.


We had an agent infiltrate the Underground in your area,” Schlesinger said. “We have since lost contact with him, but in his last report a couple months ago, he reported that there seems to be some dissention between the Underground groups.”


“Oh?” Hochstetter said.


Yes, it seems that at least one of the groups has been trying to usurp the authority of Papa Bear,” Schlesinger explained. “You should stay alert. This kind of dissention among the saboteurs could lead to mistakes. You might yet capture the infamous Papa Bear.”


“I shall do my best, General,” Hochstetter said.


And I shall hope for success anyway,” Schlesinger replied, hanging up the phone abruptly.


Hochstetter hung up the phone. “So Papa Bear is having a little trouble controlling his cubs,” Hochstetter said, smiling. “Maybe that is why Hogan was a little angry yesterday.” He rubbed his hands together eagerly. “I know you are the great Papa Bear, Hogan … and hopefully soon I will have the evidence to prove it!”


Stalag 13, Solitary Confinement Cell

July 25, 1944, 2040 hours


Marya crawled from the tunnel and looked at the woman lying on the cot staring at the ceiling. “How are you holding up?” she asked Heidi.


Heidi looked over as if she hadn’t heard Marya enter the cell. “Good, I suppose,” she replied.


“Are you still upset?” Marya asked, taking a seat on the end of the cot.


Heidi sat up to give Marya more room. She shrugged. “It is getting better,” she replied. “There is a lot to get used to.”


Marya nodded. “I know,” she replied softly. “Have you talked with Hans yet?”


“Does he still want to be called Hans, or is it Robert now?” Heidi retorted with a tinge of bitterness. He quickly shook her head. I am sorry, I just …”


Marya smiled at the woman. “I think he would not care what you called him … as long as you talked to him,” she said.


Heidi nodded but remained silent.


Marya sighed and tried a different approach. “Heidi, are you angry with me?” she asked. Heidi shook her head. “With Kurt?” Another head shake. “Then why are you angry with Hans?”


“I do not know,” Heidi replied.


“I do,” Marya said. “You are angry with him because he lied to you and told you he was someone he was not.” Heidi nodded. “But Kurt also told you he was someone else … and you knew me as Kurt’s sister. Why are you not mad at us?”


Heidi stared silently at Marya. After a moment, she shrugged.


“I think you do know,” Marya said.


Heidi nodded and bowed her head to hide her face.


“You are angry at Hans because you love him,” Marya said.


Heidi didn’t answer. Marya saw her begin shaking and she knew the woman had started to cry. She stood. “Heidi, I think you should talk to Hans now,” she said, walking over to the tunnel entrance. She bent down and motioned into the entrance. Teppel crawled out into the cell.


“Heidi, I am sorry,” he said softly.


Heidi looked up with tears streaming down her cheeks. “Oh Hans,” she cried, holding her arms out to him. Teppel moved to her quickly and embraced her.


Marya smiled at the sight. “I think it is time to leave you two alone,” she said quietly, and retreated to the tunnel.


* * * * *


Marya walked into the large area of the tunnel and found Michael talking with Colonel Hogan. “Comparing stories about me?” she asked lightly.


Both men looked at her and smiled. “We’re not telling!” Hogan quipped.


“So did it work?” Michael asked.


Marya smiled. “I think we should stay out of the solitary confinement cell for a while,” she answered. “Or there will be two very embarrassed people in there!”


Hammelburg Area, Hammelburg Branch Rail Line

July 25, 1944, 2345 hours


Hans Wagner rested his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Not yet,” he said quietly. “Give it another few seconds.”


The rest of their group gathered around and together they watched the dark silhouette of the supply train moving along the tracks in the moonlight.


Hans gave Karl’s shoulder a squeeze. “Now, Karl!” he said.


Karl pushed down on the plunger. The whirring sound it made was loud in the darkness. A split second later, a large explosion lit up the area as the train buckled and heaved. Shards of wood from the boxcars flew in every direction, mingling with pieces of whatever the train was carrying. The group gave a cheer as they watched the destruction unfold before them.


“Unhook that and get going,” Hans ordered, taking off into the woods with his team following.


Karl quickly unhooked the wires and carried the plunger as he ran to catch up with the group.


* * * * *


After the barn door was closed, Hans slapped his brother on the back happily. “We did it,” he said excitedly. “We have proved that we can operate without the expert guidance of Colonel Hogan!”


There was a low murmur of excitement as the five other men agreed with Hans.


“So what did you prove?” Ilse asked stubbornly. “You proved you can blow up a defenseless train.”


“It is not just the train, Ilse,” Karl countered. “It is the idea that we alone picked the target and successfully destroyed it. Colonel Hogan will not have any complaints about this mission.”


“And if he does, we will not have to listen to them,” Hans added determinedly. “We have shown that we can be successful without him telling us what to do.”


“But Hans, you promised him you would work together,” Ilse begged.


“I have changed my mind now,” he replied grimly. “We were able to destroy that vital supply train tonight, and I think we should do what we think is best from here on out.”


Ilse huffed in disgust. “Hans, you are asking for trouble,” she said, and stomped from the barn.


“Ilse!” Karl shouted after her.


“Let her go Karl,” Hans said. “She will get over it. Besides, we need to talk about what to do next.”


“What do you have in mind?” Karl asked.


Hans smiled broadly. “I think it is time to take another look at the fuel depot,” he replied.


His group moved closer to him as they spend the next several hours discussing and planning their approach. Since their last attempt, security at the depot had been tightened and they needed to find another way to get to it. They drew a rough sketch of the facility and its surroundings on the dusty ground and then drew in all of the security that was known. It turned out that there was a lot that they didn’t know. But that didn’t deter Hans – he was determined that the fuel depot would be destroyed … and when it was, he would prove to Colonel Hogan that he was a force to be reckoned with.


It was almost sunup when the group left the barn, each with their separate reconnaissance assignment.


Konigsberg, Safe House

July 26, 1944, 1330 hours


Vladimir and his team had settled into the safe house to await their orders from The Center without any lingering animosity between his team and Sasha’s team. Vladimir had learned that everyone in the house was a fisherman by trade. That gave them the opportunity to “notice” the German maritime traffic on the Baltic Sea while making a living.


As it turned out, Vladimir and Sasha had much in common, and had spent their time discussing these common interests over games of chess. Tadeauz and Grzegorz had also befriended the rest of the Konigsberg team, spending their time swapping tall tales about fishing and hunting. Jacinta had been an instant favorite. With everyone in the house being male, she immediately took command of the kitchen, much to the delight of Sasha and his men. After a very rocky – and for Vladimir, painful – start, this leg of their escape had turned out to be very pleasant.


Now, Vladimir was on the radio with The Center, waiting for their orders to be transmitted. When the message began, Vladimir transcribed the words – becoming more and more dumbfounded with each letter he wrote. When the message concluded, he stared at the paper. This can’t be right. He tapped out a request for a repeat and when the reply came, it matched the previous message exactly. He acknowledged receipt and signed off.


“What is it, Wladimir?” Tadeauz said as he approached. “You look like you just got some bad news.”


Vladimir shook his head. “Not bad,” he said. “Just unbelievable.” When Tadeauz’s brow furrowed in question, Vladimir added, “Round everyone up – Sasha and his men as well – and I will tell you.”


While Tadeauz went to gather people from the various rooms of the house, Vladimir stared at the message he had transcribed. If I wouldn’t have written this with my own hand, I just wouldn’t believe it.


After everyone had gathered into the small room, Vladimir looked around. “The Center finally sent us our orders,” he said. “And yours as well, Sasha.” Sasha nodded his head in anticipation. Vladimir kept looking at Sasha. “You and your men have made deliveries along the coast before, correct?” he asked.


Sasha nodded. “Many times,” he replied. “Do we have another delivery to make?” Vladimir nodded. “What are we to deliver?”


Vladimir couldn’t hold it in anymore and began smiling. “Me,” he said. “They are ordering me back to Moscow so I can tell them what happened at Rastenburg.”


“Are we to go to Moscow with you?” Jacinta asked. Vladimir could tell by the tone of her question that she was hoping the answer was no.


Vladimir shrugged. “That is up to you … and Tadeauz and Grzegorz,” he replied. “They give you the option of remaining here to work with Sasha’s team, or travel to Moscow with me to report.” He paused and looked at Tadeauz. “I should say that if you return to Moscow, your next assignment location will not be your choice.” Tadeauz nodded.


“We would be pleased to have you remain with us,” Sasha said, prompting nods of agreement from his men.


“Our stomachs will also be pleased if Jacinta stays,” one of Sasha’s men added. Vladimir could see the woman blush in happy embarrassment. One thing Vladimir had found out from his time with the couple was that Jacinta was never happier than when she was feeding a hungry mouth.


“I cannot speak for Tadeauz and Jacinta,” Grzegorz said, “but I would prefer to stay here.” He looked at Tadeauz and Jacinta and added, “But I will only remain if you do, my friends. I wish for us to remain together.”


Tadeauz looked quickly at Jacinta, who nodded. “We have the same thoughts, my friend,” he said. Turning to Sasha, he continued, “We would like to remain here. Fishing is much different than farming, but we are willing to learn.” He turned back to Vladimir. “We have spent our entire lives in this area, you understand. Moscow would seem so … foreign to us.”


Vladimir smiled as he nodded. “I understand,” he replied. “And now that we have that settled, we have some planning to do,” he said happily. “I have to get home!”


“When do they want us to go?” Sasha asked.


“Rendezvous is tomorrow night,” Vladimir said.


“So soon?” Jacinta asked. Vladimir nodded. Jacinta smiled. “Then you men do your planning,” she said. “I have a special going away meal to prepare!” She gave Vladimir a hug and whispered, “I am happy you are getting to go home again, Wladimir.”


Vladimir watched her scurry into the kitchen to begin her preparations. He too was happy that he would be going home … but he was going to miss the friends he had made here.


* * * * *


When Vladimir had first settled at Tadeauz’s farm, he thought that the farm chores were the hardest work he had done in his life. After four hours on the fishing boat helping deploy and haul the nets from Sasha’s little trawler, he had changed his opinion. Work on the farm was easy compared to this! Not only was this harder, the smell of fish permeated everything. He was sure that he would smell of fish forever, no matter how many baths he took when he arrived home.


The boat was slowly making its way north and east along the coast. They were to meet with another fishing boat that night in Russian waters. As he looked at the vastness of the water, with the coastline far off to the south, he wondered how they would ever find another small boat when it became dark. But Sasha had done this before and Vladimir was confident that they would arrive safely.


Sasha had warned him that the journey would not be without its potential hazards. There was always the possibility, Sasha had said, that they could be boarded and searched – or even sunk outright – by the German navy if they saw anything suspicious. Vladimir had tried his best to put that thought out of his mind. He had never been this far away from dry land before, and the thought of not having the firm boat deck under his feet was not a pleasant one.


* * * * *


But the daylight cruise passed uneventfully, and as the darkness drew near, Sasha readied everything for the last leg. There would be no fishing, no lights, and no noise as the boat made its way towards the rendezvous point. Sasha had even warned Vladimir that there would be no smoking, as the light from a cigarette could be seen for miles in the flat, open sea.


Once they had started towards the rendezvous, there was nothing more for Vladimir to do except sit … and think. He thought about the events of the last few days and how his new friends from Rastenburg would now become part of the team in Konigsberg. He thought about the events that had triggered his exodus from German territory. Was Michael safe in Berlin? He had not heard from Marya – was she on the run as well? Would Jack still be able to operate as Major Josef Freitag, or would he too find himself on a list of suspects?


He tried to push those thoughts aside and think about what was ahead of him. He was going home! He wasn’t sure how long he would get to remain in Moscow, but even one day of seeing his wife and family would be a joy.


He was pulled from his thoughts when he heard Sasha moving around on deck. “I hear something,” Sasha said quietly to one of his men. “Give the signal.”


The man held up a flashlight and turned it on and off repeatedly in a set sequence that reminded Vladimir of the code used for radio messages. He looked out over the edge of the boat into the total blackness beyond. In a second, he saw return flashes in a similar pattern.


“It is them,” Sasha said. “Your troika awaits,” he said to Vladimir.


Vladimir scrambled up and stood next to Sasha. “How can you see them in this darkness,” he asked.


Sasha chuckled. “When you have been at sea most of your life, you get a feel for using all your senses,” he said. “At this distance, it is mostly by ear … but when they get closer, you will be able to see them.”


Over the next few minutes, Vladimir discovered that Sasha was correct. He first heard the boat moving in their direction and then saw it emerge from the black curtain of darkness. The two boats moved along side each other, and one of Sasha’s men threw a rope to a man waiting on the other vessel. Immediately men began to pull the boats together.


“You will need to climb over the side and into their boat,” Sasha said. The man stuck out his hand. “Good luck,” he said. “Have a safe journey home.”


Vladimir shook his hand. “And to you as well,” he said.


Tadeauz appeared next to Vladimir. The two friends embraced. “Be well, my friend,” he said.


“Be safe,” Vladimir replied. “I hope our paths cross again someday.”


Vladimir climbed over the edge of the boat and accepted a helping hand onto his new transport. Almost immediately, the rope was thrown clear and the boats began separating. As he watched Sasha’s boat fade into the darkness, Vladimir felt a conflicting mix of emotions. He was sad to leave his friends behind, but his insides churned in eager anticipation of what lie ahead. I’m going home!


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters, Office of Major Wolfgang Hochstetter

July 27, 1944, 0920 hours


Major Hochstetter was not a happy man at the moment. It could be said that he was never a happy man – and that he would never be happy until he had evidence of the identity of the infamous Papa Bear. Hochstetter was confident he knew who Papa Bear was, but could never find any evidence to support his claims. Because of this, he was ridiculed often by those who outranked him.


Today his mood was worse than normal. He stared at the paper containing the report from the Gestapo agent in Berlin – a Dieter Hess. When Hochstetter was first given this information, he was jubilant. This could prove to be the missing piece of evidence that would point to Colonel Hogan and give Hochstetter is cherished prize. But it had turned out to be a dead end – everything could be explained. From General Schlesinger to Major Freitag to General Burkhalter – each corroborated the story that he had received from Hogan and Schultz.


This annoyed him greatly. Adding to this annoyance was the fact that he had been unable to reach the Gestapo agent in Berlin. It seems that he had been the recipient of an unexpected and sudden transfer to a unit on the Eastern Front. Why? Why would he be transferred so suddenly? Unless … Hochstetter had a theory about that, but he dared not say anything until he had definitive proof. Major Freitag had some very powerful connections and could make life very difficult for him.


And to top it all off, no progress had been made on the investigation of the destruction of the supply train the night before last. The train itself didn’t concern Hochstetter – it wasn’t an important military target. But the rail line would need several days to repair. No, it was the contents of the train that concerned him. “Blowing up a train containing barrels of sauerkraut to have it rot in this sweltering heat” he muttered. “The smell alone is enough to kill a man!”


The jangling of the phone brought him out of his thoughts, and he glared at the phone as if trying to decide what kind of punishment to give it. Finally he picked up the handset. “Ja, this is Hochstetter. What do you want?” he said testily.


Hochstetter heard a laugh at the other end of the line. “Why is it, Hochstetter, that whenever I speak to you, you sound annoyed?” the voice asked.


Hochstetter recognized the voice at the other end of the phone as Major Freitag and frowned. “Probably because I am talking to you,” he said. The laugh sounded again in Hochstetter’s ear.


Maybe it is I who should be annoyed to have to speak to you,” Freitag said.


“Do you want something, Major? Or are you just calling to pass idle pleasantries over the phone?” Hochstetter growled.


Major Hochstetter, I pass idle pleasantries with General Schlesinger,” Freitag replied with another laugh. “You are hardly worth the effort needed to pass gas.”


“I do not have to sit here and listen to these insults,” Hochstetter said angrily, the volume of his voice beginning to rise.


Ah, but you do, Major,” Freitag replied. “Because just this morning, while I was passing these so-called idle pleasantries with the General, I was informed that you seemed to have some question of my loyalties.”


Hochstetter was silent.


Come now, Major,” Freitag prompted. “If you are going to slander me, at least be man enough to do it to my face.”


“I am warning you …” Hochstetter grumbled.


Save your breath, Hochstetter,” Freitag said harshly.


Hochstetter took a deep breath. “Perhaps you could explain the report that I received about …” he said.


About the truck from Stalag 13 being used by a team of SS men?” Freitag finished. “I most definitely could explain – and even though I only need to explain it to the General, I will tell you.”


“That is so kind of you,” Hochstetter replied sarcastically.


I think so,” Freitag replied. “If I were unkind, I would allow you to keep making a fool of yourself and just sit back and watch.” Freitag fell silent.


Hochstetter felt the anger in him rise. This man has a very annoying way of making a pest of himself. “Well, are you going to explain it?” he exploded.


* * * * *


Well are you going to explain it?” Hochstetter screamed.


Freitag laughed. This man is so predictable. “You sound upset, Major?” he asked. The phone line was silent except for the crackle of static on the long distance connection. “Very well, as I reported to the General, I commissioned use of the truck while the prisoners were here from Stalag 13,” he said. “After all, they had no use for it until I was finished with them.”


Why did you need the truck?” Hochstetter asked.


“My, we are a little nosey, Major,” Freitag commented.


Freitag heard a huff into the phone. “Major, whenever something strange happens that involves Stalag 13, I am interested because …”


“Because you have this fanciful notion that a prisoner is the mastermind of the Underground throughout your area of Germany,” Freitag said. “Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?” Freitag laughed to himself – he knew how true it was.


I assure you that I will find evidence that will prove my theory,” Hochstetter said harshly. “Then you may not be able to treat me so casually.”


“You know Hochstetter, you do not realize it, but you are a funny man,” Freitag replied lightly. “Since you are interested, here is the situation. The General’s office has the authority to interrogate prisoners from the various camps, at its discretion. The decision of when and whom to question falls upon me, with the full backing of the General. It just so happens that I made the request of the Kommandant of Stalag 13 – Colonel Klink – because it was their turn.”


Why did I not hear of this procedure before now?” Hochstetter asked.


“Mainly because General Schlesinger did not feel he needed to clear his policies with you, Major,” Freitag replied.


Why Stalag 13? And why now?” Hochstetter asked.


“If you had been listening, I said it was their turn,” Freitag said. “I have done this with other camps, in some cases multiple times. I have not found the need to include Stalag 13 because the prisoners do not seem to be flocking out of the camp like rats deserting a sinking ship, as they do in the other camps.”


That is because …” Hochstetter began.


“Major, please do not be a total boor,” Freitag warned. “I called them to Berlin for interrogation. While they were here, I had need of their truck to round up a known conspirator.”


But my report indicated that a Luftwaffe Sergeant was driving the truck,” Hochstetter countered.


“Yes, it is amazing what a uniform will convey,” Freitag replied. “If I were to put on a Luftwaffe Sergeant’s uniform, you would infer that I was actually a Luftwaffe Sergeant.”


You are saying that you ordered the kidnapping of the conspirator?” Hochstetter asked.


“Kidnapping?” Freitag replied. “He was arrested, along with his accomplice – both of them, as a matter of fact. You see, Hochstetter, I know how to investigate – successfully investigate – the enemy.”


Freitag heard a low growl as the insult was recognized. “And now this conspirator will be tried,” Hochstetter stated.


“Not at all,” Freitag replied. “Two of the conspirators died tragically in an automobile accident as they were attempting to flee the scene of where they had killed the third conspirator – a female that they had been using to hide. Unfortunately, their vehicle burst into flames and they were killed. It was a rather nasty scene.”


How convenient,” Hochstetter said skeptically.


“I thought so,” Freitag said casually. “Which was why I staged it that way.


You staged the accident?” a surprised Hochstetter asked.


“Major, did you actually expect every conspirator to be tried in a public court?” Freitag asked. “The public trials will be for show – the outcome is already determined. Unless the conspirator is high-profile, our orders are to shoot them on sight. In this case, I decided to be a little greedy and allow them to make contact with others … and it turned out that we were able to kill an important Underground leader in the area.”


How lucky for you,” Hochstetter replied dryly.


“There was no luck involved, Major,” Freitag said. “Although the men you received the report from did almost manage to ruin things by operating against my orders and interfering.”


I have tried to reach the man that called my office …” Hochstetter began.


“Because of their transgression – there were two of them, not just the one that called you - they have been transferred to a unit that will teach them the importance of following orders,” Freitag replied.


You mean you got them out of the way so they could not tell what they saw,” Hochstetter countered.


Freitag laughed humorlessly. “Major, you are hardly one to be criticizing my actions,” he replied. “You sit in the middle of the most active sabotage area in the country, and yet none of the incidents have been solved. In fact, I understand that the Underground has been so successful in your area that they have run out of meaningful targets and have taken to destroying trains containing food. Why is that, Major? Why is the Underground so successful in your area? Is it because of your incompetence … or your complicity?”


Are you questioning my loyalties?” Hochstetter bellowed.


Freitag began to laugh. “No more than you were questioning mine, Major,” he replied. “But I do have one advantage over you, Hochstetter.”


What is that?” Hochstetter asked angrily.


“I have proven my abilities,” Freitag replied. “You have only proven your inabilities.” Freitag began laughing as he heard a loud roar emerge from the handset before it clicked dead. “It is so difficult to have a battle of wits with you Major Hochstetter,” he said to the phone as he hung up. “You always enter the battle unarmed!”


* * * * *


Hochstetter shoved the telephone off his desk and sent it clattering to the floor. “I hate that man,” he growled. He knew that Freitag was correct in one thing – until he managed to break up the sabotage in the area and capture a high profile Underground leader, he would never be taken seriously by the people in Berlin. Most of those people, he felt, were just like Freitag … smug and self-serving. “I will show them,” he grumbled, his voice dripping with hostility. “I will show them – and then they will regret not taking me seriously.”


Stalag 13, Office of the Kommandant

July 27, 1944, 1315 hours


Colonel Klink heard the door to his office open and felt a presence as someone walked in. Without looking up from his paperwork, he said, “Hogan, whatever it is, it will have to wait. I am much too busy. Dismissed!”


“Colonel, I came here to complain about your cooks,” Hogan said.


Klink put down his pencil and looked up at the American officer. “And what did they do this time, Hogan – forget the after-dinner mints?” he asked.


Hogan laughed. “Good one, Kommandant,” he said lightly. “You know, if you keep trying, you might even be funny some day.”


“Hogan, I do not have time for this,” Klink said impatiently. “What exactly is your complaint against my cooks?”


“Can’t you smell it?” Hogan asked. “It’s hard to miss.”


“For your information, Colonel, my cooks are not responsible for that terrible odor,” Klink replied. “You can blame your Underground for that.”


My Underground?” Hogan asked. “When did they become my Underground?”


Klink waved dismissively. “They are fighting for your side,” he said.


“What, have they started using a secret stink bomb or something?” Hogan asked.


“The other night they blew up a train,” Klink said.


“That’s hardly earth shattering news around here, Kommandant,” Hogan replied. “It seems to be open season on trains in this area.”


“As Major Hochstetter has repeatedly reminded me,” Klink muttered.


Hogan laughed. “Yeah, you can’t pull much over on old Hochstetter,” he said.


“Hogan, can I get back to my work now?” Klink asked.


“But blowing up a train doesn’t explain the horrible smell,” Hogan said.


“It wasn’t the train, it was what the train was carrying,” Klink replied. “Twelve hundred barrels of sauerkraut.”


Hogan stared at the German. “Excuse me, did you say sauerkraut?” he asked, not believing what he had heard.


“Yes, sauerkraut!” Klink replied.


“Why would they …” Hogan started.


“I do not know, Hogan,” Klink interrupted. “But Major Hochstetter will find those responsible!”


“He likes sauerkraut that much?” Hogan asked lightly.


Klink glared at Hogan. “If you have a problem with the smell, write a letter to the Red Cross!” he exclaimed. “Now get out of here and let me get back to work!”


* * * * *


Hogan was angry as he left Klink’s office. The malodorous aroma that wafted over the entire camp had put him in a bad mood, and now he finds out that it was caused by the destruction of a train carrying sauerkraut. He wouldn’t have to ask Erich who would have done such a thing … he knew immediately. He slammed the door as he entered the barracks, causing the men to jump.


“Did you find out what was causing the smell, mon Colonel?” LeBeau asked.


“Yeah, sauerkraut,” Hogan huffed as he headed to the stove to pour a cup of coffee.


“The camp cooks have never been this bad,” Carter observed.


“It isn’t the cooks,” Hogan said. “A train carrying over a thousand barrels of sauerkraut was blown up on the rail line outside of town the other night.”


“That’s bleedin’ crazy!” Newkirk exclaimed. “Who would do a thing like that?”


“I’ll give you three guesses … and the first two don’t count,” Hogan replied.


“You think Hans Wagner is responsible, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


“Who else?” Hogan replied. “Erich wouldn’t have done that. He would have coordinated with us first. And besides, he knows a supply train from a munition train.”


“What are you going to do about it?” Carter asked.


Hogan shrugged. “Nothing at the moment,” he replied. “Kinch, are our visitors ready to go tonight? I have a feeling Hochstetter is going to be scurrying around after this. It will be risky to get them out tonight, but I have a feeling the next couple of days will be even more difficult.”


Kinch nodded. “Marya and Wagner are set to rendezvous with their contact,” he replied. “And the sub will be waiting for Teppel and Heidi tomorrow night – so they’d better move out tonight as well.”


Hogan nodded. “Good, let’s make sure they all make it home safely,” he said. “I could use some good news for a change.”


Hammelburg, Shop of Johann Mueller

July 27, 1944, 1645 hours


Dorfmann eased the staff car to a stop in front of Johann Mueller’s small shop and turned off the engine. He sat in the car, preparing himself for the short walk into the building. He had kept the windows up in the car even though it made the car stifling hot. He knew that it wouldn’t stop the odor from coming in, but it did lessen the intensity.


He had come to Mueller’s shop to escort Ilse home, as he had been doing for the past several weeks. He had done a lot of thinking about his relationship with Ilse since he had found out for sure that she and her family were involved in the Underground. He had been hurt when he found out – thinking that Ilse had been using him to get information. Then he had realized that Ilse had never asked any questions of him, and if they had ever talked about his work, he had been the one to bring it up. She had never once – or so he told himself – expressed interest in anything that could be considered helpful to her family’s cause. This realization had allowed him to give in to his feelings and begin seeing Ilse again.


And it had been a wonderful few weeks. He had missed spending time with Ilse and was glad that they could be together again. He still kept an eye out for any sign she might be using him, but had seen none. And in fact, it was he who would volunteer information to her when he thought her family might be in danger. But he knew that in the long run, things could not remain as they were. Either her family would have stop committing acts of sabotage in the area, or he would have to leave. He did not want to be put in the position where he had to arrest anyone in Ilse’s family.


Taking a deep breath, he opened the car door and hurried to the shop.


* * * * *


Ilse was sitting at the small desk at the back of the shop when she heard the door open. She looked up to find Dorfmann standing in the doorway. “August, come in quickly and shut the door,” she said. “The smell is so much worse when the door is open! I will be ready in a minute.”


Dorfmann walked in and shut the door as Johann Mueller emerged from the back room.


“Ah, Captain Dorfmann,” Mueller said. “How are you today?”


“Hot and smelly,” Dorfmann replied smiling. Ilse began gathering her belongings.


“Yes, the odor does seem to permeate everything,” Mueller replied. “I wonder what is causing it.”


“The Underground destroyed a train carrying a load of sauerkraut the other night,” Dorfmann replied.


When Ilse heard this, she froze momentarily, dropping her bag to the floor. She quickly bent down to pick it up.


“That is terrible!” Mueller exclaimed. “Who would do a thing like that?”


 “I do not know,” he said. “But whoever it was would not be very popular around town if their identity was known today.”


Ilse picked up her bag and stood upright. Dorfmann was staring directly at her, his face an emotionless mask. Her heart skipped a beat. Why is he staring at me like that? She opened her mouth to tell him she was ready, but nothing came out.


Dorfmann continued to stare at Ilse. “Major Hochstetter is also not happy and has ordered more patrols around the area,” he said. “He is hoping that whoever did this will try something else soon.”


The longer Dorfmann stared at Ilse, the more uncomfortable she became. She looked away, rearranging items on her desk to give her something to do.


“Well, I will not keep you two,” Mueller said. “I will see you tomorrow, Ilse.”


Ilse grabbed the rest of her belongings. “Danke, Johann,” she replied, walking to the door. Dorfmann opened the door and held it for her, tipping his hat at Mueller before leaving the shop.


* * * * *


As he drove the car down the road, Dorfmann said, “It is so hot, it would be a nice day for a walk,” he said. “If it were not for the smell,” he added.


“It is bad,” she replied, wrinkling her nose.


Dorfmann smiled. She didn’t know that the train contained sauerkraut. That was a surprise to her. I hope she managed to understand my message – Hochstetter has increased the patrols because of this and because of the increased level of paranoia since last week’s bombing in the Führer’s compound. “It makes me never want to eat sauerkraut again!” he said.


Ilse chuckled. “Speaking of eating, will you stay for supper this evening, August?” she asked.


Dorfmann shook his head. “I am afraid that I have a lot of work to do,” he replied. “With the increased patrols Hochstetter ordered, I have a lot more coordination to do.”


Ilse nodded silently. Dorfmann looked at her out of the corner of his eye. I wish I knew what was going on inside her head right now. Does she suspect that I know about her family at all? Is she plotting another act of sabotage? He remained silent as they drove out of town. I have a hard time believing that Ilse is a mastermind in this. Her brother Hans – yes, but Ilse doesn’t seem to have the personality of a saboteur. So why is she participating?


The pair remained silent until the car pulled to a stop in front of the Wagner farmhouse.


Ilse put her hand on Dorfmann’s arm. “I am sorry you cannot stay,” she said. “Will I see you tomorrow?”


Dorfmann took her hand in his and nodded. “If I am free for lunch, we can eat together,” he replied. Then he smiled. “Anything but sauerkraut!”


Ilse smiled back. “That would be nice,” she said softly. She leaned slightly toward him, inviting him to kiss her.


Dorfmann leaned forward and kissed her. “Until tomorrow,” he said when their lips parted. He watched Ilse get out of the car and hurry into the farmhouse.


* * * * *


Ilse walked into her house to find her brothers sitting at the kitchen table and her father busy getting the dishes to the table.


“Did you enjoy your drive home?” Hans asked mischievously. “Your Captain Dorfmann didn’t stay this evening – did you scare him off?”


Ilse glared at her brother. “How many times do I have to tell you he is not my Captain?” she shot back. “Besides, he is busy tonight. It seems that there are trains being destroyed around here.” She heard her father huff in annoyance. She knew he was not happy about his children’s activities.


Hans smiled back at her broadly. “It is a shame that is happening,” he said sarcastically.


”It could be a shame if they try something again,” she countered. “August said that Major Hochstetter has increased the patrols in the hopes of catching the people responsible.”


Hans nodded. “Very good information to know,” he said, looking at his brother Karl. “See Ilse, I told you that you could get useful information from your Captain if you tried.”


Ilse was now standing beside her brother and hit him hard in the head. “I told you that I am not seeing him for that purpose!” she shouted.


Hans stood up, anger burning in his eyes. “What other purpose is there for you to see him?” he asked


“I see him because I like him!” Ilse retorted.


Hans shrugged. “As long as you keep learning useful information, I suppose you can keep seeing him,” he said.


Ilse narrowed her eyes as she looked back at her brother. “You cannot tell me what to do,” she said angrily.


Hans, leave your sister alone,” Friedrich Wagner said, setting the dishes on the table. “She is a smart girl and knows what she is doing.”


“Which is more than I can say for you, Hans,” Ilse exclaimed. “I learned one more piece of information tonight.” She paused, seeing that the statement caught her brother’s attention. “Apparently you are not as smart as you think you are,” she said with a smile. “The train we blew up the other night contained nothing but sauerkraut.”


“What?” Hans cried.


“That is right, Hans,” Ilse continued. “You are responsible for this terrible stench that everyone in the town has to suffer through.”


“That cannot be,” Hans said.


“It is,” she replied. “So I guess you had better not tell me what I should do until you stop making your own mistakes!” She huffed in anger as she stomped from the room.


“Hans, one of these days your headstrong ways are going to lead you to trouble,” Friedrich said. “And I fear that someone will be hurt.”


“Father, I know what I am doing,” Hans replied. “I do not care what she says!”


“Hans, maybe we should not do anything for a while,” Karl said helpfully. “If it is true that Major Hochstetter has increased the patrols, we should not take the chance.”


Hans thought about it for a moment before slowly nodding his head. “Maybe you are right, Karl,” he replied. “We should concentrate on gathering the information we need on the fuel depot instead.”


Ach,” Friedrich sighed. “Maybe you should concentrate on giving up the whole notion and let the Underground make the decisions,” he said softly.


“Father, we are part of the Underground,” Hans replied. “And once we destroy that fuel depot, I am confident that the Underground will be taking direction from me.”


Friedrich shook his head sadly. “This will end in no good,” he muttered as he walked away from the table.


Stalag 13, Tunnels Under the Camp

July 27, 1944, 2220 hours


Colonel Hogan hopped off the ladder into the common room of the tunnel below the barracks. “Is everyone all set to go?” he asked the assembled people.


“Hogan darling,” Marya cooed. “You have come to kiss me goodbye again.”


Hogan smiled. “Not hardly,” he quipped. “Last time I did, look what happened. You came back, I had to go to Berlin to get shot at, and I have more hair on my head than you do!”


Marya wrapped her arms around Hogan’s neck. “Hogan darling, it’s not the amount of hair on the head – it’s the amount of passion in the heart,” she said playfully. “Now kiss me.”


Hogan smiled at her. “Still trying?” he asked. “Don’t you know a hopeless cause when you see one?”


“I know a challenge when I see one,” she replied. As he opened his mouth to reply, she pushed forward and kissed him. When they parted, he playfully pushed her away and when she had turned, he patted her behind. She quickly turned back around, wagging her finger. “Naughty, naughty, Hogan darling!” she teased.


Hogan feigned a look of surprise. “Who, me?” he asked. The room erupted in laughter. When it died down, Hogan looked at his watch and asked, “Who’s leaving first? They should probably get going.”


“We will be leaving first, Colonel,” Wagner said, extending his hand to Hogan. “Thank you for the help in getting us out of Berlin.”


Hogan shook the man’s hand. “Always glad to help a friend in need,” he replied.


Marya and Wagner exchanged good-byes and accepted wishes of good luck from the rest of the prisoners. When they came to Teppel and Heidi, they stopped.


Teppel held his hand out to Wagner. “Kurt, good luck to you,” he said.


Wagner accepted the hand. “Please, call me Gregori, Hans” he said. “Kurt Wagner is dead.”


Teppel laughed. “In that case, Hans Teppel is dead,” he replied. “Call me Robert.”


“And call me a doctor, I think I am going to be ill,” Marya said with a laugh. “Hansie, you’ll always be Hans Teppel to me.” She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a kiss.


“Please, not in front of Heidi!” he exclaimed playfully.


“But Hansie, we were going to share you,” Marya cooed, causing Heidi and Wagner to laugh.


“I think we’re missing a lot being stuck here in this prison camp,” Newkirk whispered to LeBeau.


Oui,” the Frenchman agreed. “You would think they were French!”


Marya hugged Heidi. “I wish you two all the happiness in the world,” she said.


“Ha … I mean, Rob,” Heidi said, still trying to get used to Teppel’s real name. “Do you think Maria would be a good name for our daughter?” she asked.


“Daughter?” Teppel asked in surprised. “You mean …”


Heidi laughed. “I mean when we have one, silly!” she said.


“Morrison, you look a little shaken!” Hogan exclaimed with a smile. “Can I get you a glass of water or something?”


Teppel patted his chest. “Don’t scare me like that!” he said. “I think I’ve had enough excitement for one week!”


With all the goodbyes said, Wagner and Marya turned to leave.


“Are you sure you don’t want an escort?” Hogan asked.


Marya shook her head. “We will be fine, Hogan darling,” she said. “You just make sure the happy couple makes it to England safely.”


They all watched as the two disappeared down the emergency tunnel.

* * * * *


Teppel and Heidi sat relaxing in the common area of the tunnel. After Marya and Wagner left, Hogan had informed them that it would be a couple hours before they needed to begin their journey, and then he had discretely ordered everyone out of the tunnel to give the pair some privacy before they left.


Teppel looked at Heidi fidgeting as she sat. “Nervous?” he asked.


She nodded. “A lot has happened in the past few days,” she said. “And I am still afraid of being caught.”


Teppel nodded. “That would be bad,” he said. “But Hogan and his men are good at this. We are not the first ones that they have sent out of here.”


“I know,” she replied. “I am just glad we’ll be together. I do not think I could manage it on my own.”


Teppel put his arm around her and squeezed. “You will be fine,” he said. “And you are going to get to see England!”


Heidi smiled. “Before the war, I always dreamed about traveling to different countries,” she said. “Will we go to America soon?”


Teppel shrugged. “Probably not until after the war,” he replied. “They will want to keep me in London to use the knowledge that I gained in my ten years of being Hans Teppel.”


“Ten years,” she said softly. “You had to give up your life for that long … and for what - to send information back to the Allies?”


He smiled at her. “I am heading back with more than I ever imagined,” he said, kissing her forehead.


She smiled back at him. “What will they think about me?” she asked. “What if they think I am a spy being sent back with you?”


Teppel laughed. “You should not worry about that,” he said. “They will have some questions for you at first, but Colonel Hogan told me he would talk to them. He has a lot of connections back in London.”


Heidi was silent for a moment before letting out a deep sigh. “It is hard to believe I am leaving Germany forever,” she said.


“Maybe not forever,” he replied. When she looked at him skeptically, he continued, “The war will end someday, and Germany will need all of its people to help it get back on its feet. You could come back then.”


“What about you?” she asked. “I do not want to leave you.”


Teppel chuckled. “You will not,” he said. “I have spent the last ten years living in Germany. It is more of a home for me now than Milwaukee.”


“You would come back with me?” she asked.


“You are leaving with me now,” he replied. “Do you think I could let you come back without me?”


They sat quietly with their arms wrapped around each other, enjoying the quiet moment. After a few minutes, they heard a rattling as the wooden stairs descended from the bunk of the barracks above.


“It must be time to go,” Teppel said softly.


* * * * *


Hogan handed Teppel a small packet. “Here are your papers,” he said. He and his men had gathered in the tunnel’s common area to see the pair off to London.


Teppel opened the packet and scanned the papers. “These are perfect,” he commented. He held one of the papers up to the light of the oil lamp. “You’ve got every little detail correct.”


“We aim to please,” Hogan replied smiled. “Newkirk’s a perfectionist.” The English corporal beamed proudly.


Teppel handed a set of papers to Heidi. “That’s important in this line of work,” he said to Hogan. “That helps explain your success rate.”


Heidi had been reading her papers. “Now I am Hilda Kaufmeyer?” she asked.


Hogan laughed. “Just until you get to England,” he said. “We wouldn’t want your real papers to be checked. You’re probably on a list by now.”


Teppel nodded. “I’m positive of it,” he replied. He looked at Heidi and smiled. “Which is why I’m Heinrich Teppelmann.” Heidi laughed.


“I’m sure I don’t have to remind you to act like a real German,” Hogan said with a twinkle in his eye.


Heidi continued laughing. “I am sure I can handle that!” she replied.


Hogan extended his hand. “Morrison, I’ll meet you in London after the war,” he said. “I’ll buy the first round!”


Teppel shook the Colonel’s hand. “You’ve got a deal,” he replied.


“Now, I don’t care what you say, Morrison. I’m going to kiss the blushing bride here!” Hogan said. He walked over to Heidi. “Scared?” he asked.


Heidi nodded. “A little,” she replied. “I do not know what to expect in London.”


Hogan smiled at her. “Some people may look at you suspiciously because you are German,” he replied. “But mostly you will be questioned about what you observed while in Berlin. I’ve already talked to London – they know you are coming, and they know you are with Rob. You’ll be fine.”


Heidi smiled. “Danke,” she replied.


Hogan leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. “Now you take care of this troublemaker!” he said.


“Hey!” Teppel exclaimed.


Heidi laughed. “It will be difficult, but I think I can manage that,” she replied.


The departing couple accepted good luck wished from the rest of the group before Newkirk and Carter escorted them down the Emergency Tunnel and out into the German countryside.


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Wolfsschanze

August 1, 1944, 0245 hours


Author’s Note: This chapter contains dialogue from the transcriptions of Hitler’s military briefings and meetings as contained in the book Hitler and His Generals – Military Conferences 1942-1945 edited by Helmut Heiber and David M. Glantz. Is has been used without permission.


Burkhalter paced the length of the small visitor quarters he had been given at the Wolfsschanze. He was not happy – he did not want to be here. He had come to East Prussia for a normal midday status meeting with the Führer … a meeting which never happened. Instead, he had been forced to wait until almost midnight to participate in a meeting that turned out to be anything but a status meeting. Participate, that’s a laugh. All I did was stand there and listen!


Indeed, Burkhalter had not been asked for the status of his Luft Stalags, or for anything else for that matter. He had simply stood there for the hour long meeting and listened, all the while wishing he could be allowed to fly back to the Hammelburg area. But that wasn’t to be – when the meeting broke up, it was too late for him to fly out of the area safely. He briefly thought about taking the chance – being shot out of the sky seemed less painful than remaining here for any more meetings. But in the end, he had decided to stay and leave the next morning.


Burkhalter reflected on the meeting that that evening. As far the Führer’s meetings went, this one was unusual. Hitler still rambled on and on about the state of the war and how they could still somehow succeed, but the tone was for the most part calm and reasonable.


But even later we can only conduct the war here if we manage to rebuild the Luftwaffe to some extent. So I considered the question: what are the most dangerous moments that could occur during the entire war? First, of course, would be a breakthrough in the East with a real threat to the German homeland – whether in the Upper Silesian industrial area or in East Prussia – with the accompanying difficult psychological effects. But I believe that with the forces we are putting up now, which are slowly coming out, we are in a position to stabilize the East – I believe that – and that we will overcome this human crisis, this moral crisis. It can’t be separated from the even that took place here.


Even when Hitler made this first reference to the assassination attempt, he did not erupt.


Because the action is not to be taken as an isolated action. But this act which happened here is, I would like to say, just a symptom of an inner circulatory problem, of an inner blood poisoning, that we are suffering from. What do you expect in the end from the front’s highest leadership, if behind them (as we can see now) the most important positions are occupied by absolutely destructive people – not defeatists, but destructive people and traitors? Because it is like that. If the communications service and the quartermaster’s office are occupied by people who are absolute traitors – and you don’t really know how long they have been in contact with the enemy or the people over there – you can’t expect that the necessary initiative to stop such a thing will come from there.


Burkhalter had been shocked at that statement – not so much that the two Generals he was referring to – General Fellgiebel, the Communications Inspector and General Wagner, the Army Quartermaster General – were involved in the assassination plot, but because of what he himself had been doing for the past months. Were his actions different than the conspirators because he was only making information available to Colonel Hogan and not explicitly handing it to the American?


Because the Russians certainly didn’t improve so much in morale within one or two years. That is not the case. They didn’t improve in the human sense either. But our morale doubtlessly became worse – became worse because we had this place over there, which constantly spread poison over the path of these General Staff organizations, the organizations of the quartermaster general, of the intelligence chiefs, and so on. So we only have to ask ourselves today – or rather, we don’t have to ask ourselves anymore: how does the enemy learn about our thinking? Why are so many things neutralized? Why does he react to everything so quickly? It’s probably not the perception of the Russians at all, but permanent treason, constantly being carried out by some damned little clique.


Burkhalter chortled. Hitler was now blaming the fact that the Russians were countering every German offensive on the conspiracy – and certainly there was information leaking to the Russians. Burkhalter had no doubt about that. But to blame the failures in the East solely on the conspirators was laughable. It certainly wouldn’t be because of your overly predictable and unimaginative battle planning, mein Führer, would it?


Burkhalter sat down on the bed and stretched out, resting his head on the pillow. To actually think that the reason we are being driven back on all fronts is because the commanding generals are too self-serving and don’t follow the asinine orders coming from your sheltered bunker – how ludicrous!


And so I’ve also come to the decision now that I don’t care about this damned hierarchy at all. Here it’s about men, nothing else! If I imagine what men we have – like this little major in Berlin who made such a hard decision. If I put a man like him into such a position, instead of a lieutenant general or commanding general, he’s worth ten times as much. It really depends on one man, and the others are bastards. We raise them so they consider it to be obvious that others sacrifice themselves, but they don’t even consider it themselves. They already have one eye squinting over here: what can happen to us? If we’re imprisoned, we’ll be treated according to our rank, especially those of us from noble families, so we’ll be dealt with in keeping with our station and won’t be put together with all the plebian masses. Well, that’s unbearable, and that’s why we have to check all the commanders again.


How ironic that statement was – a complaint that the commanders expected their men to sacrifice themselves, but wouldn’t consider doing the same. It seems to me, main Führer, that the same could be said for you. You refuse to allow any retreat, even if it means the total annihilation of the men involved, but you wouldn’t consider stepping on a battlefield yourself. With a sigh, Burkhalter turned out the light and tried to get some sleep.


* * * * *


Burkhalter was awakened abruptly by a knock at his door. He sat up in the bed and listened. The knock sounded again – this time more insistently. “What is it?” he asked testily.


“General Burkhalter, the Führer requests your presence in his briefing room,” said a harsh voice from the other side of the door.


“Now?” he asked.


“Immediately,” came the terse reply. “You are to come as you are with no delay.”


Burkhalter rose from the bed, glad that he had not undressed for the night. He grabbed his uniform jacket and opened the door. He was surprised to find that his escort was not a single man, but rather three armed SS guards. “What is the problem?” he asked nervously.


The guards did not respond verbally, but pulled him into the hall and began prodding him along.


Burkhalter was in shock - he had no clue as to what was going on. Why did the Führer want to see him at this hour? Why were the guards treating his as if he were a prisoner? Unless … Did someone implicate me in the assassination plot? Who could have done that?


Burkhalter was escorted out of the guest quarters building and over to the bunker that served as the Führer’s private quarters. They reached the briefing room and the General was shoved into the room. The guards followed and took up a post beside the door.


Burkhalter looked around – he was not alone with the Führer. Assembled in the room with Hitler was the entire senior advisory staff, as well as Reichsmarshal Göring.


“I am very disappointed in you, Albert,” Göring said.


“Why?” Burkhalter asked. “What did I do?”


At that moment, the door to the briefing room opened and Burkhalter was amazed to see Hochstetter enter the room accompanying Reichsfürher Himmler. He was even more amazed when he saw that Hochstetter wore the insignia of a Colonel. “Hochstetter? A Colonel?” he said.


“General Burkhalter,” Hochstetter replied with a smile.


Burkhalter knew he was in trouble now. Hochstetter never smiled that genuinely. And the Colonel’s insignia proved that the man had a reason to be happy. “What are you doing here?” he asked.


“I am here to watch you try to explain yourself,” Hochstetter said. “I told you before that I would find proof of my suspicions about Stalag 13 – and I have … and more.”


“What proof?” Burkhalter asked. “What are you talking about?”


Hochstetter laughed. “You sound just like Klink,” he replied. “He claimed ignorance of Colonel Hogan’s actions as well.”


“Colonel Hogan? What’s he got to do with this?” Burkhalter asked. Oh no, they’ve found out that Colonel Hogan is not just a normal prisoner. But I still don’t understand what I have to explain – Klink is the one who should be here. “Where is Colonel Klink?”


Hochstetter laughed again. “Klink is … shall I say, past tense,” he replied. “I shot him for complicity this morning.”


“You shot him?” Burkhalter asked. “For complicity of what?”


“General, your precious Colonel Hogan is right now undergoing interrogation at Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin,” Hochstetter said. “My suspicions were correct all along – he is the cause of all the trouble around the Hammelburg area. He has been arrested for espionage and sabotage.”


Burkhalter was silent – his head jumbled with the confusion of the situation.


“And that is not all, General,” Hochstetter continued. “I have proof that you are not so innocent yourself.”


“What?” Burkhalter gasped. Proof? What proof can he have that I was funneling information to Hogan and his operation? Hogan didn’t even know it himself!


“Why is it that every time you suggest using Stalag 13 for one of our secret research projects, it always ends in disaster?” Himmler asked.


Burkhalter was silent, too stunned to reply.


“Because you are helping Colonel Hogan in his activities!” Hochstetter answered for him.


“That is a lie!” Burkhalter exclaimed. “I have never talked to Colonel Hogan about any of this!” They can’t accuse me of lying about that – I never have talked to Hogan about it.


“Is it a lie, Albert?” Göring asked. He then recited a list of projects that Burkhalter had indeed funneled to Stalag 13 for the sole purpose of providing Colonel Hogan the access to either obtain the information or destroy the project.


Burkhalter began shaking his head violently. “Mein Führer, this is not true. Do not listen to these lies,” he pleaded.


“Silence!” Hitler yelled. He walked up to Burkhalter and slapped him hard. “I am doing all I can to win this war for Germany and this is what I get in return? Traitors! We cannot win this war as long as there are traitors in command positions!” Hitler had begun pacing as he yelled. He whirled and pointed a finger at Burkhalter. “And you – you come here bragging about the exceptional record of Colonel Klunk and how no prisoners ever escaped from his camp. Why? Because those prisoners are busy doing your bidding, that is why!”


Mein Führer,” Burkhalter began.


“I said SILENCE!” Hitler screamed. “I do not want to hear any excuses for your treason!” Hitler began pacing again, balling his hands into fists and shaking them in the air. “We will only win this war if I can trust the military to follow my orders! Men like Hochstetter are what we need and deserve to be promoted.” Hitler stopped and glared at Burkhalter. “Men like you should not wear a uniform representing my military and deserve to be shot!”


Burkhalter’s blood ran cold. He still did not understand how this had happened. He had been careful to never leave a trail back to him. He had never come out and told Hogan he was helping him, afraid that the American would do something that could be traced back to him. What had happened? “But,” he uttered … then was silent as Hitler slapped him across the face again.


“Take him out of here,” Hitler said.


As the guards advanced towards Burkhalter, he began pleading. “Mein Führer, this is all a mistake. I did nothing wrong! Someone is telling lies about me. I am a loyal officer.”


Hitler had turned his back on Burkhalter and refused to respond. The guards grabbed Burkhalter and began to shove him towards the door. As he passed Hochstetter, Burkhalter saw the man smile and remove his pistol from his belt holster.


“I am going to enjoy this, General.” Hochstetter said gleefully.


Burkhalter resumed his begging and pleading as he was shoved out the door and out of the building. He fell silent as he was shoved up against the outer wall of the building and Hochstetter slowly raised his pistol.


“Goodbye, General,” Hochstetter said, and pulled the trigger.


* * * * *


Burkhalter sat bolt upright in his bed gasping for breath. His heart pounded in his chest and he was covered in a cold sweat. As he looked at his surroundings, his mind began to gain focus. “It was only a dream!” he gasped. “God, what a nightmare!”


He stumbled out of bed and turned on the light, double checking his surroundings to make sure what he had experienced was just a bad dream. “I need to get out of here,” he mumbled. “The first chance I get, I have to leave.”


It wasn’t just the Wolfsschanze that Burkhalter knew he had to leave … it was Germany. The time had come for him to make his escape while he still could. He didn’t want to take any chance of his nightmare becoming a reality.


Burkhalter wiped the sweat from his face and dropped hard into the chair by the bed. Now how the hell am I going to be able to get out of Germany? I always planned to enlist Colonel Hogan’s help, but will he believe that I am sincere in my desire to leave? If he believes it is a setup, he’ll just deny being involved in anything. Burkhalter knew he could threaten to expose the Colonel if he didn’t help, but he didn’t think that would impress the American. I might just find myself dead instead … which if I can’t get out of here, might not be a bad alternative.


His breathing returned to normal as he sat in the chair thinking of various plans. He was still in the chair several hours later when his driver knocked on his door to escort him to the airfield.


Hammelburg Area, Farm of Friedrich Wagner

August 9, 1944, 2110 hours


Hans Wagner stood over the crude map he had drawn of the nearby fuel depot. “So you are saying that they are not guarding the area here?” he asked, pointing to a position on the map.


His brother Karl nodded. “The concentration of guards is near the front of the installation,” he replied. “They seem to be focusing on the road leading to the facility.”


Hans smiled. “Good,” he said. “That is very good. What about mines?”


Otto Bauer spoke up. “There are mines around the entire perimeter,” he said. “Including the woods.”


“How concentrated are the mines?” Hans asked.


“More so in the open field at the front of the facility than in the rear,” Otto replied.


“How do we know where the mines are located?” Hans asked.


Now it was Heinrich Schneider’s turn to speak up. “We have identified as many as we could,” he replied. “We noticed they did not do a very good job of hiding them.”


“They expect someone to blindly stumble through them in the dark,” Hans replied. He laughed. “They do not think we have any brains.”


“We noticed one other thing,” Max Becker said. “When they are expecting a shipment to arrive, they will strengthen the guards.”


“Where?” Hans asked.


“By the gate,” replied Rudolf Albrecht. “At that time, the rear of the facility is virtually unguarded.”


Hans smiled. “That is most excellent news,” he said.


“You have an idea?” Karl asked.


Hans nodded. “I believe so,” he replied, smiling at his assembled group.


“And is your idea to forget about attacking the fuel depot?” Ilse asked.


“I will never forget about the fuel depot, my dear sister,” Hans replied. “We will destroy this facility.”


“But Colonel Hogan said to wait,” Ilse begged.


“Colonel Hogan is afraid,” Hans replied bitterly. “The depot is almost fully stocked and completely operational. We cannot allow it to remain.”


“You mean that you have to blow it up to try to prove to Colonel Hogan that you are as much of a man as he is,” she retorted.


Hans sighed. “Ilse, we have been through this many times,” he said. “Either you are with us or not.”


Ilse looked at her brother for a moment. “Hans, you are my brother,” she said. “You began doing this because of me. I will not go away.” Hans smiled and Ilse quickly added, “But I will not keep quiet.”


Hans shook his head sadly. “Ilse, you worry too much,” he said.


“And maybe you do not worry enough!” she shot back.


“I worry as much as I need to,” he replied. “We cannot fail on this, and we will not fail on this. Am I right?” he asked, looking at each of his men. Each of them nodded their agreement. “There, you see? Everyone is in agreement.”


“Just be careful,” she said quietly.


“Ilse, I plan to be very careful,” he replied.


* * * * *


Colonel Hogan was ready when he saw Newkirk leading Erich Jonach down the Emergency Tunnel.


“You wanted to see me, Colonel?” Jonach asked when he reached the common area of the tunnel where Hogan was waiting.


Hogan nodded. “I think we need to talk about Hans Wagner,” he replied.


Jonach nodded. “We need to do something about him,” he replied. “He seems to be doing more and more on his own.”


“Like destroying a trainload of dangerous sauerkraut,” Hogan commented, earning a chuckle from Jonach. “That was the last straw for me. If he would have checked, I could have told him that it was a civilian supply train running that night.”


“He does not want to check on anything,” Jonach said. “He will not even talk with me.”


Hogan shook his head angrily. “We can’t have that,” he replied. “It’s too dangerous. Someone is going to get hurt.”


“What can we do about it?” Jonach asked. “You have already talked to him to no avail.”


“I think the time for talking is over,” Hogan replied.


“Colonel, you’re not thinking of taking him out, are you?” Newkirk asked.


“I am, but not in the way you are thinking, Newkirk,” Hogan replied. “What I would like to do is to round up the entire group and get them out of the area.”


“Where?” Jonach asked.


“We can send them to London like we do with the downed Allied airmen,” Hogan replied. “They can sit out the war back there where they won’t endanger any of us.”


“They won’t go for that,” Newkirk commented.


“I never said they would go voluntarily,” Hogan replied.


“Kidnap the whole lot of them?” Newkirk asked. “There’s got to be about six or seven of them!”


Hogan nodded. “It won’t be an easy job,” he admitted. “Especially since they don’t want to talk to any of us.”


“How will we do it?” Jonach asked.


“I don’t know yet,” he replied. “Erich, talk to the rest of your men and let them know what we’re thinking. We should meet again in a few days to discuss ideas.”


Jonach nodded. “I will send word back with Oskar after I have spoken with everyone.”


“Good,” Hogan replied. “Until then, let’s hope Hans doesn’t do something stupid.”


“Like try to attack the fuel depot again,” Jonach said somberly.


“Exactly like that,” Hogan said. He shook hands with Jonach and watched as Newkirk escorted him back down the tunnel.


* * * * *


Dorfmann sat at the desk in the small office at the fuel depot looking over the requisition and supply paperwork. The progress they had made towards becoming operational had been excellent, and they were nearly ready to begin the coordinated supply shipments to the various parts of the Western Front.


He picked up the phone when it rang. “Hallo, this is Captain Dorfmann,” he said. “Major Hochstetter, yes, I was about to call you. Everything looks to be on schedule.” He listened into the earpiece. “Nein, there have been no complications with the additional guards. Berlin is sending a company of Waffen-SS guards along with another anti-aircraft battery.” He listened again. “Nein, they will be suspending the fuel shipments until the reinforcements have all arrived. No sir, the transportation officer informed me that they will simply deliver the men instead of the fuel on the same schedule as before.”


Dorfmann held the phone away from his ear as the receiver began squawking. When it quieted, he continued, “I understand, Major Hochstetter,” he said. “But those orders came from Reichsführer Himmler himself. If you do not agree with them …” He paused as the squawking resumed. “No sir, I was not suggesting anything,” he said. More squawking ensued. “No sir, I was not questioning your loyalties,” he said. He rolled his eyes in exasperation. “The orders arrived from Berlin last week. You gave them to me to implement. I am implementing them. If they are not to your satisfaction, then you should discuss it with Berlin.”


A loud burst of squawking emerged from the earpiece, causing Dorfmann to almost drop the phone. “Major Hochstetter, the reinforcements will arrive beginning tomorrow,” he said. “We are set to begin the regular supply shipments be the first of the month. Everything is on schedule and Berlin is satisfied.” He listened into the earpiece once more. “Jawohl, I knew you would be satisfied as well. “Heil Hitler, Major,” he said, hanging up the phone.


Dorfmann sighed. It annoyed him that Hochstetter couldn’t be bothered with the details of getting the depot operational. But it annoyed him more that he meddled in those details. Hochstetter would not provide any suggestions, telling him that he should proceed how he saw fit. Then the Major would ask how things were being done and loudly exclaim that things were not being done correctly.


Dorfmann shook his head. Let Hochstetter rant about the orders. I can’t change what Berlin wants.

His thoughts were interrupted as a Corporal stuck his head into the office. “The first nightly delivery has arrived, sir,” he said.


Danke, Corporal,” he replied as he stood. “I will be right there.” As he left the office, he brooded about his upcoming sleepless night as the trucks arrived one after another. How I wish I could be spending a sleepless night with Ilse


Moscow, Lubyanka Square, NKVD Headquarters

August 11, 1944, 0950 hours


Vladimir adjusted the plain drab uniform that he had been given to replace the battered and worn peasant clothing he had worn during his exodus from German territory. He was glad for the change, but he would have been happier if he had been able to bathe before putting on his new clothes. He could still smell the faint odor of fish even though it had been weeks since he had been on Sasha’s trawler … and knew that others could smell it as well. Well, if Tovarish Beria is so anxious to see me that he cannot wait for me to bathe, he will just have to put up with the odor.


As he finished climbing the stairs and started walking down the third floor hallway, he thought back to the fear he had felt the last time he entered this building. At that time, Marya had accompanied him and assured him that everything would be fine. Even so, he still had been terrified that he would be sent away for allowing himself to become a prisoner of the Germans. His fears had not been realized, and in fact, he had been rewarded for all he had done for his country. He couldn’t help wondering … what was in store for him this time?


True – he had done a good job on his Rastenburg assignment, and the fact that they all had to leave had not been of his doing. He had also been a part of rescuing Marya from Gestapo hands and even had been able to warn Michael in Berlin of the dangers he faced. But the fact that he had been recalled to Moscow just to talk about the events in Rastenburg worried him. Could they find a way to blame him for the destruction of the Rastenburg operation? He shook his head. Of course they can. They always can find a way to blame someone for anything. But there is nothing that I can do about that … I just have to make the best of whatever happens. He had reached the office and took a deep breath before entering.


The secretary looked up at the sound of the door. “Minsky?” she asked gruffly. When he nodded confirmation, she motioned towards the door behind her. “He awaits you,” she said, and turned her attention back to the papers on her desk.


Vladimir walked calmly past her to the door. He took another deep breath to settle his nerves and entered the private office of Laverenty Beria, chief of the NKVD – Soviet Security. He walked in and clicked his heels as he stiffened to attention. “Vladimir Ivanovich Minsky, reporting as ordered!” he said.


Beria chuckled as he rose from behind his desk and walked around to greet Vladimir. “Vladimir Ivanovich,” he said, extending his hand in greeting. ”You must be tired after your long journey. Sit down and relax while we talk.”


Vladimir shook his hand. “Spasibo, Tovarish Beria,” he replied as he sat in the large chair by the desk. “It has been a long and …” he tugged at his clothes and wrinkled his nose, “somewhat smelly endeavor.”


Beria laughed. “You cannot mask the smell of the sea,” he said lightly. “But that is no matter. You will have plenty of time to clean up and rest at home.”


Vladimir felt his eyes widen at the statement. “Home, sir?” he asked eagerly.


Beria nodded as he leaned against his desk. “Da, you will get a chance to see your family before you are questioned about the events in Rastenburg,” he replied.


“Questioned?” Vladimir asked. “Am I in trouble, Tovarish?”


Nyet, on the contrary,” Beria assured him. “You performed a great service in this mess. Because of your close contact with the man who attempted the assassination, we were able to warn our man in Berlin and get him safely away.”


Vladimir felt relief. He had not heard anything about Michael since the day Stauffen was killed and was not sure if he was safe. “Michael is safe?” he asked.


Beria nodded. “I understand that there was some excitement in his escape, but Svetlana Viktorovna assures me that all of the relevant persons in Berlin made it to safety because of your information,” he replied. “You can ask her about it yourself when she arrives here in Moscow.”


“Marya is returning to Moscow?” he asked. “When does she arrive?”


“Sometime in the upcoming days,” Beria replied. “As you are aware, it is hard to predict the timing on these journeys.” Vladimir nodded. “Until she arrives, we will allow you to rest with your family.”


That was the second time Beria had mentioned Vladimir’s family, and the impatience to see them was growing inside of Vladimir. “How long …” he started, “I mean, what will my assignment be when I am through in Moscow?” he asked.


Beria looked at him. There was a slight sparkle of amusement in the man’s eyes. “You will not be leaving Moscow,” he said.


Vladimir’s heart skipped a beat. He did not know how to interpret that statement. It had not been said with any hostility, but Vladimir knew that did not mean there wasn’t hostility behind it. “Not be leaving?” he asked tentatively.


Beria smiled broadly. “It has been decided that since you are now known to the German intelligence as a man associated with the failed assassination attempt, it would be best if you remain here to help coordinate the activities of our agents remaining in the field,” he said.


Vladimir was speechless. He opened his mouth but could not force any words to come out.


“Congratulations, Vladimir Ivanovich,” Beria said. “You can inform your family that you will remain here in Moscow for the rest of the war.”


Spasibo, Tovarish Beria,” Vladimir gasped. “I cannot believe it could be true.”


Beria’s smile continued. “The decision came from Iosif Vissarionovich himself,” he replied. “Would you question his decision?”


“Never!” Vladimir said forcefully. “I serve wherever he thinks is best.” He began to smile. “Home … Wait until Natalya hears this.”


“Speaking of your family,” Beria said, bringing Vladimir’s attention back to the issues at hand. “They have been moved again since you were last here.” He bent over his desk and scribbled on a scrap of paper. “Here is your new address,” he said, handing Vladimir the paper.


“A new flat as well?” he asked, looking at the paper.


Beria laughed. “Go!” he ordered. “Spend time with your family. We will send for you when Svetlana Viktorovna returns.”


Vladimir rose and stiffened to attention once more. “Spasibo,” he said, clicking his heels slightly. He was so happy that as he left the room, Vladimir was sure that his feet never touched the ground.


* * * * *


Vladimir walked up the steps to the building that was his new home. His knees were weak with anticipation. I am home again … this time for good. He could hardly believe his good fortune. When he first saw the address written on the paper, he thought it was a mistake. This flat was in a very good area of the city – close to Lubyanka Square. It was not the type of neighborhood that a lowly tailor could expect to live.


He stopped in the hallway outside the door to his flat. He could hear muffled conversation coming from inside. He felt himself smile as he reached his hand up to knock on the door. He would soon be part of those conversations … and never have to go away again! The talking stopped at the sound of his knock, and he could hear footsteps heading for the door. It opened slowly and Vladimir found himself smiling at the surprised face of his wife Natasha.


Vovochka! You are home again!” she shrieked as she leapt into his arms hugging him tightly. Vladimir could hear the shouts of welcome from the rest of the family and a shrill “Papa! Papa! Papa!” before he was knocked to the floor by what he thought was a small tank.


Vladimir found himself flat on his back with his son, Sasha, bouncing on his chest. “Papa doma! Papa doma!” Sasha shouted.


Vladimir’s mother appeared and lifted Sasha from his chest. “Yes Sashenka, your Papa is home. Now let him up off the floor,” she admonished. When Vladimir rose, he kissed his mother and accepted welcome from the rest of the family. He noticed an additional family member that wasn’t present on his last visit home – Ivan, his sister’s husband, was back from the front. Vladimir gave him a sympathetic handshake as he noticed the left sleeve of his shirt hanging empty by his side.


Vovochka, come see our new flat!” Natasha said, dragging him inside. “We have the entire floor – can you believe it? There are three bedrooms, our own kitchen and even our own bath!”


Vladimir looked around at the spacious flat. It was unbelievable that they would be given something this grand. “It is very nice,” he said. “I think I am going to be spoiled living here.”


“How long are you going to be visiting this time, Vovochka?” his father asked.


Vladimir smiled and looked at Natasha. “I will be staying here in Moscow,” he said. He watched his wife’s eyes grow wide in disbelief. “They are not sending me back into Germany. I am to stay here and help coordinate the people that are still there.” Natasha’s eyes were growing moist.


“Is it really true?” she asked. “You are home to stay?” Vladimir nodded as Natasha rushed to him and hugged him tightly again.


As Vladimir hugged his wife, he looked at the happy faces of the rest of his family. “It is good to finally be home,” he said softly.


* * * * *


Vladimir snuggled closer to his wife as they lay in the bed, their bodies sleek with sweat. They were quiet as their breathing returned to normal. The small bed in the room was empty – Vladimir’s mother had suggested that Sasha sleep in their room that night so that they, as she put it, could talk about a new brother for Sasha. Vladimir chuckled at the recollection.


“What are you laughing at?” Natasha asked, wrapping her arm tighter around him.


“I was just remembering what Sashenka said when Mama told him he was sleeping with them tonight,” he replied. “Imagine … he wanted to help us talk about a new brother for him.”


Natasha laughed. “You seemed to have no trouble talking for yourself,” she said.


Vladimir hugged her tighter. “And in a few minutes, I will be in the mood for some more talking,” he replied.


“I am so glad you are home,” she whispered. When Vladimir did not respond, she asked, “What is the matter?”


“I almost never made it,” he said quietly.


She shifted and raised herself up on her elbow to face him. “What do you mean?”


Vladimir took a deep breath and then slowly told her everything that had happened to him since he was home last. He did not leave any detail out – including how close he came to being killed after Stauffen had tried to kill Hitler and how he had killed a man with his bare hands.


Natasha was silent, listening to the entire story. When he finished, she leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek. “You are safe now,” she said. “But what of the others? Did your warning come in time for them to escape Berlin?”


“I think so,” he replied. “I was told today that everyone made it out safely – even Marya.”


“Svetlana?” Natasha asked, remembering Marya’s real name. “Have you seen her since you helped rescue her from that nasty German?”


Nyet,” he replied. “But she is due here in Moscow soon and I will see her then.”


“I am glad she is safe,” Natasha said. “When she is here, you must invite her to visit.”


Vladimir pulled Natasha to him. “I will do that,” he said. “But enough talk about that. I wish to talk more about a brother for Sashenka.”


They talked long into the night … though very few words were spoken.


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters,

August 11, 1944, 0825 hours


Major Hochstetter was so happy that he almost skipped down the hall towards his office. He had finally caught his break. Not only did he capture a major Underground leader, he captured four of them. “Now Berlin will stop overlooking me,” he muttered happily. “I should get a promotion for this!”


Indeed Hochstetter had gotten lucky. Several days ago, he had received notice from SS Intelligence that four of the major foreign leaders of the Underground planned to meet somewhere in the area around Hammelburg to plan their combined strategy. When he heard that news, he knew that if he could capture even one of them, his standing in Berlin would rise. This was the best thing that could happen to him, short of capturing Papa Bear himself.


He entered his office and picked up the phone. “Get me General Schlesinger,” he ordered. He bounced around impatiently while he waited to be connected.


Schlesinger here,” a voice said suddenly as the connection was made.


“General, Major Hochstetter here,” Hochstetter said. “I have good news for you.”


What have you done this time, Hochstetter?” Schlesinger asked skeptically.


“I have captured them!” Hochstetter replied excitedly. “Not just one of them … all four of them!”


What are you talking about?” Schlesinger asked.


“The four Underground leaders,” Hochstetter replied. “The ones that were to meet in this area. I have got them!”


Are you sure it is them?” Schlesinger countered.


“Positive, General,” Hochstetter said. “I have Leiden from Austria, Calarusso from Italy, Belay from France and Albins from Belgium … who seems to be the leader of the four.”


Hochstetter heard a low whistle over the phone connection. “Well it does seem that you do have the four we were informed about,” Schlesinger said. “I guess congratulations are in order, Major.”


Danke, General,” Hochstetter replied. “I shall begin interrogating them this morning.”


You will do no such thing,” Schlesinger ordered. “These are four very important prisoners and I want them interrogated at Headquarters in Berlin.”


“But sir,” Hochstetter started.


But nothing!” Schlesinger interrupted. “I will send a special guard from Headquarters to escort them to Berlin. You will hold them until the guard arrives.”


“I can interrogate them until the guard arrives,” Hochstetter suggested. “And then accompany them to Headquarters.”


Nein, Schlesinger replied. “You will hold them until the guard arrives. And if you cannot handle that order, Hochstetter, you can accompany them as a prisoner yourself!”


Jawohl, General,” Hochstetter replied dejectedly. “I will hold them here at Gestapo Headquarters until the guard arrives.”


Hochstetter, these are very important people to the Underground,” Schlesinger said. “They will try to rescue them.”


“I will be ready for them,” Hochstetter said.


Like you were ready when they freed the Allied paratrooper at the beginning of the year?” Schlesinger replied. “You will take them somewhere safer – where the Underground cannot reach them. Take them to the Luft Stalag in your area until the guard arrives.”


“But sir,” Hochstetter protested. “Need I remind you …


Remind me of what, Hochstetter?” Schlesinger asked. The tone of his voice warned Hochstetter that arguing with this order might not be the best thing.


“I will take them to Stalag 13,” Hochstetter said through clenched teeth. “They will remain there until the armed escort arrives.”


Good,” Schlesinger said. “It looks like you finally have done something right, Hochstetter!”


Hochstetter felt the anger rising in him. “Jawohl …” he said, but the line clicked dead before he could finish, “General.” Hochstetter slammed the handset down on the phone. His good mood had evaporated. “I will make sure those prisoners make it to Berlin!” he screamed at the phone. “And then I will make sure that I get what is coming to me!”


Moscow, Lubyanka Square, NKVD Headquarters

August 14, 1944, 0730 hours


It was a bright morning when Natasha accompanied Vladimir to Lubyanka Square. She would continue her walk to work while Vladimir attended his to his business. Vladimir knew that it would be a long day – a messenger had sent word the previous evening that Marya had returned and that they would be meeting with the intelligence department to discuss the state of things inside of Germany.


As they neared the large yellow building that housed the NKVD Headquarters, Vladimir noticed someone sitting on the front steps of the building. It wasn’t until they had moved closer that he saw it was Marya sitting there smoking a cigarette. She smiled and stood when she saw them approaching.


“Svetlana?” he asked in surprise. “You look more like a Boris! What the hell happened to your hair?”


“Vladimir Ivanovich,” she said in formal greeting. Turning to Natasha, she added, “Tovarish Minskaya, it is good to see you again.”


Natasha smiled. “You must call me Natasha,” she said. “Vovochka told me what you have been through. I am glad to see you are all right.”


Marya smiled. “You must also be glad to see Vladimir again … and to hear the news that he will be staying in Moscow,” she said.


Natasha smiled. “I am very glad about that,” she replied. “I cannot stay to talk now. I must be off to work. But you will come home with Vovochka tonight … I insist.”


Marya looked at Vladimir, who nodded his agreement. “Spasibo, Natasha. I will do that,” she replied.


They were quiet as they watched Natasha walk away. “You are a lucky man to have her,” Marya said. “And now you are home and able to be with your family.”


“And what about you?” he asked.


She looked at him before answering. “I have no family, you know that,” she said. “And I am not getting any younger!”


Vladimir laughed. “You are far from an old babushka, my dear!” he exclaimed. He kept laughing. “Although you may have trouble attracting men when you now look like one.” He was quiet for a moment. “I do have a brother who lost his wife during the birth of their second child,” he said speculatively. “But I suppose that you wouldn’t be interested in a simple cobbler after the opulent lifestyle you have been leading.”


She hit him playfully in the arm. “Do not start with me!” she said. “I just might have to tell Natasha a few things!”


“Lies, you mean?” he asked with a smile.


“As you well know, I can tell very believable lies!” she said laughing. “Come, we have as long day today and a lot of things to go over. Michael is also here in Moscow. He will also be working with you here since it would be dangerous for him to return to Germany now.”


Vladimir nodded as they began to climb the steps to the building. “I am glad he made it away safely.” He nudged Marya with his elbow. “If he is not attached, maybe he might interest you.”


Marya laughed and gave Vladimir a playful shove. “Do not give him any ideas!” she said.


* * * * *


Marya was correct – it was a very long day. In addition to Vladimir, Michael and Marya, several senior intelligence ministers were involved in the discussions. Beria was present for most of the day, and at one point, Stalin himself made an appearance to hear the information about the assassination attempt.


Vladimir had to recite the events that occurred on the farm in Rastenburg at least three times – and was getting tired of having to relive the events. The officials had agreed that he and Tadeauz had handled the situation correctly. It was a shame to lose the post so close to Hitler’s Eastern Headquarters, but as Stalin had commented, that area would soon be under Soviet control anyway.


Michael went into great detail on the information he had learned as a member of the now defunct Abwehr, as well as the possibilities now that the German intelligence service was completely under the control of Heinrich Himmler. There was also much conversation about the indiscriminant recriminations that were taking place throughout Germany. Officials seemed to be using the assassination attempt and the plot to overthrow Hitler as ammunition to even the score against former enemies. Vladimir found this appalling, but he noticed that the officials in the room seemed to treat this as a normal course of business.

Marya then presented the information that she had about her remaining network in Germany. Many people had to virtually shut down until the wave of arrests and executions were completed, for fear of being caught. She was doubtful that they would be able to place any more contacts high in the chain of command, but she was glad that Jack was still in place. He had been a good source of information on the state of the government since the bombing in July.


When they finally wrapped up the meeting for the day, Michael walked out of the room with Vladimir and Marya.


“How does it feel to no longer be Major Kurt Wagner?” Vladimir asked Michael.


Michael smiled. “It feels good to be Gregori Kharpov again,” he replied. “And I am very glad that you were able to get word to Jack in time to allow us to escape capture in Berlin … or else I would be past tense.”


“I am glad you were able to make it out,” Vladimir agreed. “When I saw Major Teppel on the list, I knew it could be trouble. I remembered his name from when he came to Stalag 13, and knew that you were working with him in Berlin.”


“It would have been trouble,” Michael replied. “They were looking for him within hours of the time I was able to get word to him.”


“And he was able to make it out of Germany safely?” Vladimir asked.


Michael shrugged. “Assuming that your friends in the Stalag are good enough to get him out, I would think so,” he said.


“Hogan is the best,” Marya said. “They will make it to England safely.”


“I will see you tomorrow,” Michael said, looking at his watch. “Now that I am home, I want to look up an old friend to collect on a bet.” Upon seeing Marya’s raised eyebrows, he added, “She bet me that I would not return to Moscow alive.”


“What kind of bet is that?” Vladimir asked.


“The kind of bet that she did not think she would have to repay,” Michael replied with a smile. “And will spend the entire night doing so!”


Gregori Gregorovich, you have not been in Moscow for six years,” Marya said. “What makes you think this woman is still around? And if she is, what if she is married?”


Michael smiled. “I have my connections,” he said mysteriously. “If I look tired tomorrow …”


“Get going!” Marya said with a laugh. “And make sure you are back tomorrow morning, or it might be the last night you ever do something like that!”


Michael laughed as he walked away.


“Well, you can cross him off your list,” Vladimir said with a sly smile. He ducked as Marya tried to bat him in the head.


“Do not start that again,” she warned. “Just because you also have someone to go home to …”


“Speaking of which,” Vladimir said. “We had better get going. I know Natasha and Mama will have made all sorts of things to eat tonight.”


Marya smiled her best saucy smile. “And what will your mama say about you bringing home another woman?” she asked.


Vladimir laughed. “With your hair cut that short, you do not look like another woman!” he exclaimed saucily. This time, he was not quite successful in dodging her playful slap to the back of the head. “Let me put it this way,” he said. “How do you feel about being a cobbler’s wife?” She gave him a shove. “I have another brother who is a milliner,” he offered


“What is it with your family?” she said laughing. “You are a tailor. You have one brother who is a cobbler and another who makes hats. Does your family have any occupation other than clothing?”


“Well, there is my sister’s husband,” Vladimir said.


“What is his occupation?” Marya asked, regarding him skeptically.


Vladimir smiled. “He was a leatherworker before the war,” he said. “Saddles were his specialty.”


“Clothes for horses,” Marya groaned. “I should have known!”


They both laughed as they left the building and began walking toward Vladimir’s flat.


Berlin, SS Headquarters, Office of General Klaus Schlesinger

August 15, 1944, 1730 hours


“Hochstetter, you incompetent fool!” General Schlesinger screamed.


Hochstetter stood nervously at attention in front of the General’s desk. He had accompanied Inspector General Busse from Stalag 13 to Berlin after the fiasco with the Underground prisoners, and he knew that the odds were very good that he would not be returning to Hammelburg. It was bad enough that the four Underground leaders had gotten away. What made it worse for Hochstetter was that he had actually let them go … and even given them his car to leave the camp!


“I told you that those four were very important to the Underground!” Schlesinger bellowed. “And yet you allowed yourself to be tricked into letting them go!”


“Sir, I realize …” Hochstetter started.


“To let them escape is one thing,” Schlesinger interrupted. “But to actually give them your car – what were you thinking?”


“Sir, I thought the war was over,” Hochstetter said meekly.


“Yes, you have said that,” Schlesinger replied. “You fell for an Underground ruse, you idiot! You could have at least checked with me.”


“I did call Colonel Baumberg,” Hochstetter said. “He confirmed it.”


“And I also checked with Baumberg,” Schlesinger said. “He recalls no such phone call from you.”


“But I talked with him,” Hochstetter insisted.


“You talked to someone impersonating Baumberg!” Schlesinger screamed. “The switchboard here at Headquarters remembers no such call coming through.”


“The Underground is quite resourceful,” Major Freitag replied from his seat at the side of the General’s desk. “Especially in that area of the country.”


“I promise you, I will catch them again,” Hochstetter said with conviction.


“Major Hochstetter,” Freitag said. “I think you would have a hard time catching a cold. So four Underground leaders that you let go should prove impossible.”


Hochstetter glared hatefully at Freitag. “They will not get away with this,” he said.


“I am afraid that I must agree with Freitag,” Schlesinger said. “You seem to have trouble catching saboteurs and spies … and when you do get lucky, you have trouble keeping them.”


“Sir, it is the prisoners in that camp!” Hochstetter insisted.


“The prisoners?” Schlesinger bellowed. “The prisoners made you think the war was over? The prisoners took over a radio station in the town and broadcast the message? The prisoners created a newspaper stating the war was over and then intercepted your call to Colonel Baumberg?”


“Sir, I know it is hard to believe,” Hochstetter countered.


“It is impossible to believe!” Schlesinger yelled. “Time after time this happens, and you are always blaming the prisoners in that Luft Stalag!”


“At least he is consistent,” Freitag commented.


Hochstetter let out a low growl. “I do not have to take that from you,” he said angrily. Freitag simply smiled.


Silence!” Schlesinger screamed. The General stood and leaned forward, resting his hands on the desktop. “Hochstetter, give me one good reason why I should not send you to the Eastern Front right now.”


“Because we are trying to defeat the Russians,” Freitag replied dryly. “We do not want to give them another advantage by sending him there.”


Before Hochstetter could reply, Schlesinger began chuckling. “You might be right, Freitag,” he replied.


Hochstetter stood silently in front of the desk. His head swirled with the events happening around him. His one big chance to prove to Berlin he was worthy of promotion had walked out of Stalag 13 … actually had driven out of the camp in his car. And now he was left with another black mark on his record. All because of … I know Colonel Hogan is behind this somehow. He was trying to get those men out of Stalag 13, and somehow he was able to succeed. I must find out how he is doing these things. He checked that thought – the way things were going, he was not going to have a chance to find out anything … except how cold the Russian winter was.


“Sir, perhaps we should give the Major one more chance,” Freitag suggested. Both Hochstetter and the General looked at him in surprise.


“Are you serious?” Schlesinger asked. “Another chance to mess things up?”


Freitag shrugged. “Sir, he is a loyal officer,” he replied. He then looked at Hochstetter. “You are a loyal officer, are you not?” Hochstetter nodded warily. “I do not think he is purposefully trying to mess things up – at least it does not seem that way.”


“I am not so sure about that,” Schlesinger muttered.


“Sir, I will find those men,” Hochstetter insisted. “And I will get to the bottom of all of the sabotage in the area.”


“Hochstetter, it would amaze me if you could even find your way back to Hammelburg,” Schlesinger commented. He said back down in his chair and thought for a moment. “Very well, I will give you one more chance,” he said. “But if you mess up just once more, you will not be so lucky.”


Danke, General,” Hochstetter said, breathing a sigh of relief.


“You are dismissed,” Schlesinger said, dismissing Hochstetter with a wave of his hand.


“Sir, um …” Hochstetter began.


“Major Hochstetter has no way to return to Hammelburg,” Freitag interrupted. “His car is currently … being used.”


“Used?” Schlesinger replied. “Oh yes, the Underground leaders that should be here in Berlin now are taking an automobile tour of the Reich. Arrange transportation for him, Freitag,” he ordered, dismissing the men with another wave. “Get him out of here before I change my mind.”


* * * * *


As he followed Freitag through the halls of Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin, Hochstetter was surprised at his good fortune. He knew he was lucky to be given another chance after everything that had gone wrong. But what surprised him most was that Freitag had suggested it. “I should thank you for suggesting that I be given another chance to prove myself, Major,” Hochstetter said. The words came out in a rush – almost getting caught in his throat. He didn’t like Freitag … but he knew he owed his life to the man at the moment.


“Not at all, Major,” Freitag replied. “I meant what I said to the General … we want to defeat the Russians, and I feel that sending you to the Eastern Front will give them a big advantage.”


“You are all heart, Major,” Hochstetter replied sarcastically.


Freitag stopped abruptly, causing Hochstetter to bump into him. He turned to face the diminutive Major. “I assure you, Hochstetter, I am not,” he said evenly. “I suggested it because I have every confidence that you will find a way to make another mistake, and when you do, I will enjoy hearing you try to talk yourself out of a firing squad.”


“There will be no more mistakes,” Hochstetter said, clenching his teeth so that his jaw muscles bulged. “And I will capture the man responsible for all of the sabotage in my area.”


Freitag began laughing. “There is always a first for everything!” he exclaimed.


Hochstetter felt himself burn with anger as he resumed following Freitag down the halls. God damn you Colonel Hogan! Someday soon you will slip and I will catch you. And then I will have the last laugh.


Hammelburg Area, Farm of Friedrich Wagner

August 28, 1944, 2345 hours


Hogan stopped at the edge of the clearing where the Wagner house stood and crouched in the bushes. He looked around for any signs of movement in the woods surrounding the clearing. He didn’t have a good feeling about the meeting he was about to have with Hans Wagner. He had requested to meet Hans alone – without any of their men – in the hopes of persuading him to stop going off on his own. He held little confidence that he would be able to convince the man, but he had to try once more before he made the decision to forcibly remove Hans and his team to London.


He saw that the coast was clear and slowly and silently crept to the barn. He could see flickering light coming through the cracks around the door and he knew Hans was already there waiting for him. He opened the door and entered the barn, closing the door behind him as quickly as possible. It took only a second for his eyes to adjust to the lantern light, and he saw Hans leaning against the corner post of a horse stall with his arms folded across his chest. Seeing this defiant attitude drained any last hope of convincing the man to cooperate with him.


“You wanted to talk with me, Hogan?” Hans asked.


Hogan heard the hostility in the man’s voice as he spoke. Hogan took a deep breath to control his own hostility before responding. “Yes,” he said finally. “We need to talk about your cooperation with Erich and myself.”


Hans sneered and shook his head. “No, Colonel Hogan,” he replied. “What we need to talk about is your insecurity about not being in total control of everyone in the Underground.”


“What I am insecure about is the fact that you do not know what you are doing,” Hogan replied. “And you are going to end up getting someone hurt.”


Hans laughed. “I doubt that,” he said. “And contrary to what you think, I do know what I am doing and have been proving it.”


“By destroying a train loaded with sauerkraut?” Hogan retorted.


Hans shrugged. “Whatever it was carrying, the train was destroyed,” he replied. “As was a section of the track, preventing other trains from coming through.”


“I happen to know that the track was repaired in two days,” Hogan replied. “And I also know that the next scheduled military train came through on schedule, four days after your little show.” Hogan watched Hans closely. He saw the man’s mask of bravado waver slightly for a moment, but just as quickly, the defiance returned.


“So you say, Colonel Hogan,” Hans replied. “For all I know you could be making that up.”


“For all you know … which is not much,” Hogan replied bitterly. “If you would have bothered to check with me before doing anything, I could have told you these things … as well as telling you that you would be destroying a load of food destined for the German civilians.”


Hans smiled humorlessly. “It all comes back to you and your ego,” he said. “You have to be the person running the show.”


“My ego?” Hogan asked incredulously. “I am not the one who is subjecting the people of Hammelburg to the horrible stench of rotting cabbage just to try to prove myself!”


Hans pushed himself away from the post, dropping his arms to his side. Hogan saw him ball his hands into fists and relax them several times. “I do not have to prove myself to you or anyone else!” he exclaimed. “And I do not have to accept having you try to control me.”


“Hans, if the only person that could get captured or killed was you – or even a member of your team - I would not even bother with you,” Hogan replied, trying with all his might to control his anger. “But I have the safety of my men, and Erich’s men and the civilians of Hammelburg to consider. You are a danger.”


The placating smile was back on Hans’ face. “Yes, I am a danger,” he said. “A danger to you and your precious authority.”


Hogan laughed. “You have already botched an attempt on the fuel depot,” he said. “And you have tortured the townspeople of Hammelburg by blowing up a train of sauerkraut … face it, your planning skills are terrible. For all I know, you are planning another attempt on the fuel depot.” Hogan saw a frown pass briefly on Hans’ face and he knew he was right.


“What if I am?” Hans asked defiantly.


“That depot is almost fully operational,” Hogan replied. “Any attack on it now, after your last attempt, will have to be planned perfectly. If not, people will get captured or killed.”


Hans shrugged. “So what is it to you if my men are killed?” he asked. “You said so yourself – you do not care about my team.”


“I do not care about them if you mess it up,” Hogan replied. “I do care if you were to get captured. The Gestapo has many very persuasive ways of getting information from people … and you and your team know too much about me and my men. I do care about that.”


Hans laughed. “I will not mess it up,” he said. “And I can promise you, Colonel Hogan, I will not talk if I am captured. The Gestapo will never find out anything from me … nor will they find out anything about my involvement. I know what I am doing.”


The two men glared silently at each other for a long moment. Hogan knew that there was nothing he could say to change the man’s mind – he would continue to operate on his own, putting everyone around him in danger. Finally, Hogan shrugged. He reached over and grabbed one of the pitchforks leaning against the wall and turned back to Hans. The man tensed up as if waiting for Hogan to attack. Hogan smiled and jammed the pitchfork into the pile of horse dung that had been extracted from the stalls. The pitchfork penetrated a few inches before striking something hard. He saw Hans’ jaw drop in amazement. “Since you know what you are doing, I do not have to tell you that this is the first place they would look to find something incriminating,” he said.


“How did you know?” Hans asked in amazement.


Hogan stared back at the man. Without answering, he turned and left the barn.


* * * * *


All the way back to camp, Hogan kept replaying the meeting in his mind, hoping to see if he could have done something different to convince the man to see his point. He couldn’t. Hans Wagner was bound and determined to do things his way, and there was nothing Hogan could say or do to change it. Except – Hogan thought – the one thing that he knew he had to do now. Hans and his team would have to be forced to travel to London and remain there for the rest of the war.

When he reached the clearing near camp, he stopped and waited for his chance to reach the tree stump that served as the entrance to their Emergency Tunnel. As he crouched there, he had a sudden image of the street corner scene in Berlin when they were rescuing another Hans from danger. In his mind, he saw Marya take a gun and shoot a member of her own network in the head. Her words echoed in his ears. I cannot have idiots working for me.


Hogan thought about that statement and suddenly understood her actions. In this business, anyone who was careless could endanger many more people with their actions. Hans Wagner was in that position now … and he was a definite danger to Hogan and his men. Could I actually kill a man just because he doesn’t want to take direction from me? No, of course not – but this is different. Hans could cause the death of several dozen men if he was captured and talked – my own men included. He thought about that and knew that he could – and had – killed to protect his men. So I will give Hans a choice. He can either go to London and live … or resist my offer and … He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. This was a decision that he could not make here in the woods. His men had a stake in this – their lives could also be hanging in the balance. He would have to discuss it with them.


He looked quickly around, and seeing the searchlights pointed away from him, sprinted the few yards to the tree stump and scrambled into the tunnel.


* * * * *


When Hans returned to the house, Karl was in the kitchen waiting for him. “How did it go?” Karl asked.


Hans smiled. “Like I expected,” he replied. “He expects us to make an attempt at the depot.”


“You told him?” Karl asked.


Hans shook his head. “He guessed it,” he replied. “But he has no idea when we plan to do it.”


“He is not the only one,” Karl said. “When do we plan to do it?”


“Tomorrow night,” Hans said with a smile. “Hogan will not be able to say anything once we have destroyed the depot, and he will not expect us to move so soon.”


“Are we ready?” Karl asked.


Hans nodded. “Ja, we are ready,” he replied. “Tomorrow morning we will have to tell the men that we are ready to move.” He clapped his hands together happily. “And by this time tomorrow, that depot will be gone.”


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


To be concluded …


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Author’s Notes


Historical Notes


In the episode D-Day at Stalag 13, we see a General von Scheider as “Chief of the General Staff” of the army. This is a very indistinct term to use. For the purposes of this story, I have placed von Scheider as the “Chief of the General Headquarters of the Army”, second to Hitler in the Army High Command (OKH), and being replaced by General Adolf Heusinger on June 9, 1944 – three days after the Normandy landings. In reality, General Kurt Zeitzler was the man in this position, and was replaced by Hitler with Heusinger on June 9. By blending the reality in to this fiction, I hoped to find a way to explain how Klink, who had messed things up by assuming command due to Hogan’s ruse, escaped any recriminations from the Führer.






Another episode that was based somewhat on actual events was Operation Briefcase. In this episode, we see General Stauffen arrive at Stalag 13 to pick up a briefcase bomb to make an attempt on Hitler’s life. In reality, Count von Stauffenburg did set off a briefcase bomb in the Führer’s briefing room at the Wolfsschanze. Four people were killed in the blast, but somehow Hitler survived, receiving some minor injuries. This assassination attempt was supposed to be the start of a plan by a group of officers to take control of the government and put an end to the war. When the attempt failed, the coup collapsed and many of the conspirators were arrested and executed … along with thousands of others. I have attempted to stay true to both history and the episode, and also mesh it into the events of this story.






The recollections Burkhalter has of the meeting with the Führer at the Wolfsschanze on July 31, 1944 are actual statements made by Hitler from a meeting he held with General Jodl on this date. They were taken from the book Hitler and His Generals – Military Conferences 1942-1945 edited by Helmut Heiber and David M. Glantz. This book contains the complete known stenographic record of Hitler’s military situation conferences. Hitler had decided to have stenographers record all his military conferences – where the detailed orders of operation were issued – so that he could later prove his belief that the failure of the German forces was because the Generals did not follow his orders correctly … because it was his belief that he was infallible, and therefore his orders were not to blame. This volume is very enlightening as to the way the conferences with the Führer were handled, and I have used this book several times when describing the meetings Burkhalter would have with Hitler. Unfortunately, near the end of the war, an order was given to destroy all of these records, and many of the records included in this book are pieced together from partial charred remains, and are therefore incomplete.




Again in this story, it is mentioned that Marya, Michael and Jack are SMERSH agents. This organization grew out of the NKVD, the Soviet Security apparatus. It had several functions, one of which was to hunt down traitors and other “enemies of the people” outside of Soviet territory. SMERSH agents were also used to investigate the NKVD itself, which helped build the aura of the ruthlessness of the SMERSH agents, which is exhibited in this story by both Marya and Josef Freitag. In this story, I have committed a slight faux pas by having Marya and Vladimir reporting to Beria when in Moscow. In reality, Viktor Abakumov was the head of the SMERSH organization, and apparently reported directly to Stalin, rather than Beria, who was the chief of the entire Soviet security and police apparatus, which included the NKVD.









Text and original characters copyright 2006 by Jeff Evans

This copyright covers only  original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.