Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

This last post brings up a lot of different things that somehow loosely connect to each other.
There is no way in any timeline that the United States is going to give up a deep-water harbor that guards the Atlantic Ocean approaches to the Panama Canal, and while the U.S. is open to paying more to Cuba for the Gitmo base, there is no way they are going to leave that base just so another country can get their paws on it.
This brings up a question about the Panama Canal, IOTL the U.S. was going to widen the canal and locks in the 40's but didn't because of WW II, so did that happen ITTL or is it still planned for later?
IOTL rising Panamanian nationalism is making demands that the United States turn over the canal to Panama and it is only three years until the IOTL Torrijos-Cater Treaties that tuned over the canal.
Germany would love to have any construction and operating contracts for the canal that is under the control of Panama because there is no way that Germany is going to get anywhere near to work on the canal while the U.S. controls it.
In Romania there is the possibility of a growing anti-monarchy republican movement which could be led by a potential cameo appearance by Nicolae Ceausescu if he was able to survive any Communist Party membership crackdown during The European War.
Jakob Nacken was a real person and too good to leave out, he really did stand at 7 feet, 3 inches.
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Part 134, Chapter 2299
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-Nine

1st June 1974

Mitte, Berlin

One of the tasks that Freddy enjoyed most as Emperor of Germany was when it came to the ceremonies where he got to bestow awards on those who had been deemed worthy of receiving them. Today, he was doing exactly that as he awarded an Order of the Red Eagle, Enlisted Grade Medal, to Oberfeldwebel Jakob Nacken of the Rhineland Landwehr upon his retirement and Nacken himself proved to be totally unexpected. For years he had served as a Reserve Noncom in a Field Artillery Unit officially and unofficially he seldom played that role because he frequently travelled to other field units for morale purposes. This was entirely because of the detail that his was the tallest recorded soldier to have ever served in the German Army, standing at 2.21 meters. Freddy was not a short man by any means, however Nacken towered over him.

“I think I might need a ladder here” Freddy said after they had exchanged greetings.

“Your father said the exact same thing when he awarded me a medal” Nacken said, “How is he by the way?”

It was one of the amazing aspects of Jakob Nacken, despite his towering stature he had somehow found a way to get decorated for bravery during the Soviet War. It was a reminder to Freddy all the times that his father had told him that during that conflict everyone had needed to play their part, no exceptions.

“Keeping himself busy with a series humanitarian causes” Freddy replied, “In partnership with a French Doctor named Bernard Kouchner, ever heard of him?”

“No, Sir” Necker replied. Which was hardly a surprise.

Protocol demanded that everyone address Freddy in a manner fitting his title in functions like this. Most of the Enlisted Soldiers he encountered tended to respond to him as if he were their Commanding Officer, which he was. Sort of. The whole Military had individually sworn an oath to that effect, just Freddy understood the implications if he ever exercised that authority beyond what were regarded as humanitarian reasons. Simply put, if he did something that made the Military, or by extension the House of Hohenzollern look bad there would be serious consequences.

“Congratulations Oberfeld” Freddy said as he pinned the medal on the front of Necker’s tunic and shook his hand. There were several photographs taken and the visual would probably make the front pages.

Rural Brandenburg, near Potsdam

Sophie had been told that this would happen and suddenly all of her complaints earlier in the season seemed incredibly trite. She had felt that the races she had been involved with in the Women’s Juniors had been a farce, right up until she had found herself neck and neck with four other riders who were fighting for first place in the last few kilometers before the finish line. Today she didn’t have the prior physical and material advantages she had enjoyed. That was reflected in her third-place finish in the final stage. The worst part was that she had seen that Kat had taken time from her busy day to watch her cross the finish line, Kat had said something to Douglas before getting into her car and leaving. It was hard to think of a more humiliating outcome.

Loading her bicycle into the old VW Microbus that belonged to Douglas, she was stewing in her anger and disappointment as she sat down in the passenger seat. As if to compound things, a melancholy song started playing on the radio the instant Doug turned the key on the ignition. Things had not been going well for her over the last few weeks and it was sometimes hard to remember that these things were temporary.

“Kat thought that you did well today” Doug said, “She is looking forward telling you more when we get home.”

“She must have watched a different race” Sophie replied.

“Nope, she saw the same one I did, and you were a part of” Doug said as he turned onto a busy road, staying to the side to let faster vehicles pass. “The one where you went head-to-head with older riders and were only a few seconds across the line behind the leader.”

“Then you saw how I didn’t win” Sophie said.

“Don’t be unreasonable with yourself” Doug said, “That is the thing about competition, you cannot win all the time and it would probably get rather boring if you did.”

Sophie sat in silence as they drove through Potsdam. Eventually, they crossed the bridge that took them into Berlin.

“You don’t have to be perfect” Doug said.

“I don’t think I have to be perfect” Sophie replied.

“True” Doug said, “However, you are terrified of what will happen if you are not. I would think that you should know better than that by now.”

Sophie thought of several retorts to that but found that she just couldn’t bring herself to say them. She couldn’t think of a time when Doug had lied to her over the years that she had lived in his house. When she had first moved in, she had been unsure what to make of him. Doug was an odd man who spoke with a funny accent and built a career taking pictures of all things. Since then, she had seen how he had encouraged her in a way that her actual family never had. Not reacting badly when he told her the truth was the least she owed him.
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Is this where Kat produces a performance graph that shows an expected line of improvement in Sophie's race times Vs what she is actually posting and demonstrates to Sophie that not only is she ahead of the curve, she is tracking for international standard at least 2 years earlier than expected?
Is this where Kat produces a performance graph that shows an expected line of improvement in Sophie's race times Vs what she is actually posting and demonstrates to Sophie that not only is she ahead of the curve, she is tracking for international standard at least 2 years earlier than expected?
It’s also a throwback to a younger Kat when she was training at the SKA camp and running near record times on the 400m (or was it the mile) over the flat track. Echoes through time…
Part 134, Chapter 2300
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred

7th June 1974

Tempelhof, Berlin

It was all so bewildering. Supposedly, Sophie had vastly improved her time over the closed course the week before but had still come in third place. How was that possible? Alida Baruch told her that her rivals were older and more athletically mature. Sophie’s job would be to develop in that regard, but not to push herself so hard that she risked injury. Kat had mentioned that Sophie wouldn’t be pressing herself too hard this season and that she was going to be taking a break for a few weeks starting in July anyway. That had been a total surprise for Sophie, what would she be doing that would take her away for a that much time? The answer, Canada, and what part of family vacation had she not understood? While they were taking Marie Alexandra there to see the University which she would probably be starting at in September, they were also going to be visiting Doug’s parents. Sophie and Angelica were coming.

Sophie was a bit miffed that they had made those plans without telling her, but at the same time she had never been further from home than a few trips to the seaside. The idea of getting on an airplane and landing in a country on an entirely different continent was nothing short of miraculous.

Sepp had mentioned that he was a bit disappointed that he couldn’t make it to Schwielowsee this year with the assumption that Sophie was. She didn’t think that he was going to be particularly thrilled that she was going to be headed to Canada instead either and predictably, he wasn’t. And there wasn’t a whole lot that either of them could do about it.

Turning her bicycle onto the street which Sepp lived on, the one with the silly name, Sophie kept a watchful eye out for the drunken lout who had harassed her before. She found it difficult to reconcile that man was Sepp and Didi’s father. She was riding the Bianchi today, it being better for getting around town than the no-name red bicycle that she used for racing. She had found that the quick shifting was less important than the rear rack and handlebar basket that were mounted on Bianchi in that regard. She knew that Sepp would be unhappy to have her show up at his front door, he was a bit embarrassed about the state of his family and the house they lived in. She needed to show him that she didn’t care about that. Oddly, looking at the house, Sophie realized that it was actually far nicer than the rundown tenement that her family had lived in.

Walking her bicycle down the concrete walkway that led through the overgrown garden, Sophie saw a pair of old lawn chairs next to bin with a dozen empty beer bottles. This wasn’t visible from the street. She could only imagine Sepp sitting there, humiliated by his father, and praying that Sophie had not seen him the entire time… It was hardly a surprise that he had tried to keep her from finding out that he had been there. It was proving to be hard to forgive him for it, not when she had so many embarrassing secrets of her own.

Knocking on the front door, Sophie saw that the light fixture was vibrating as someone walked towards the door, there was the sound of the bolt being drawn. As the door swung open, Sophie saw that it was a middle-aged woman who looked at her with tired eyes. Sophie understood that this wasn’t the sort of tired that came from staying up all night. This was the exhaustion that came from seeing too much and getting stomped on every single day. It was a look that she understood a bit too well.

“Is Sepp around?” Sophie asked and the woman gave her a blank look, “Err… Josef… Is he here?”

“I understood you the first time” The woman said sharply.

“Is he here” Sophie asked again feeling very awkward.

The woman gave Sophie a long stare before she spoke again. “He isn’t here” She said, “And I have no idea where he is before you even ask.”

“I’m sorry if we got on the wrong foot” Sophie replied, “I am…”

“I know who are” The woman said, “And I don’t dislike you, in fact I don’t even know you, I just know what you represent. Everything my son is trying to do with his life is being put at risk because you entered it.”

“How is that even possible?” Sophie asked defensively. That struck her as completely unfair.

“Josef was focused totally on his goals until this year” The woman replied, “Then he felt he had to get that job, you, everything else happening with Hagen, all of those things were complications that we don’t need. No one is going to hand him anything and he has had to work hard for what little he has.”

“I wouldn’t get in the way of that” Sophie said.

“You already have” The woman said, “One day, if you have children of your own you might understand. I named Josef after an artist. Did you know that? My hope has always been that he will want to be more than where he came from. I’ve basically lost one of by sons already, if Josef goes that route, it will become three in a heartbeat.”

“I didn’t know” Sophie said, “I’m sorry about…”

“Don’t apologize, just keep that in mind before you come around unannounced” The woman said before closing the door.
So, according to mother Sepp completely changed direction looking to improve himself in a different way so he would be acceptable to Sophie? And she does not like that?

Well, I guess that's not the only thing guys do to impress girls...
Part 134, Chapter 2301
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred One

10th June 1974

Tempelhof, Berlin

Emptying trash into the bin in the alley was possibly the most objectionable thing that he did all day. The smell of rancid grease filled the air and Sepp was reminded of why there were a number of rat traps inside Benno’s as he caught a glimpse of movement in the corner of his eye. It was however preferable to having his mother read him the riot act, which had happened again a few days earlier.

Sepp’s mother made it clear that she didn’t object to either Didi or him having social lives, she would just prefer that they wait until they had matters in hand before that happened. Finding out that Sophie had come around looking for him was something of a surprise, he had thought that she was avoiding the street that he lived on. His mother said that Sophie was a lovely girl and she understood why he liked her. It was only later that he realized that was a major part of the problem. His mother saw Sophie as the kind of girl who he might inadvertently wreck his life for. Somewhere along the line, Sepp had realized that his mother worried that he might make the same sorts of mistakes that his parents had. While he wasn’t inclined towards politics, Sepp had once seen a study that suggested for someone to rise out of the lowest social strata it required everything to go perfectly for decades. The reverse was most certainly not true. It was what his mother wanted for him and Dieter. It was also what she had wanted for Hagen, but for them one mistake was something that they would never recover from.

Walking back into Benno’s, Sepp saw the stack of books where he had left them. His having this job was contingent on him keeping his marks up and doing his studies. The trouble was most of the time he would spend working on his studies were spent at Benno’s selling American style food to University students. Was he looking at the rest of his life?


Afternoons in the Emergency Department were fairly low key, until the evening commute started. Then it would get flooded with all manner of the sorts of accidents which people got into while traveling from the City Center out to the suburbs. With it being a Friday afternoon, they were expecting an overflow crowd with how most people had already checked out for the weekend before they started the journey home.

As the Assistant Head of the Department, Kiki was responsible for making sure that the organization was in place and running smoothly before that happened. That didn’t mean that she was spending all of her time in the supervisory role, she still found time to do the things that she wanted to be doing. Occasionally that did cause trouble, however. When Kiki opened the curtain of the cubicle, she figured that making sure that invoices matched supply on hand would be preferable. Helga Susanne Behrends nee Goebbels, the older sister of arguably one of the repugnant people on the planet as far as she was concerned.

“What seems to be the problem?” Kiki asked even as she was reading about Helga’s complaint on her chart.

“Just a cold” Helga said in a rasp that already told Kiki that it was far more than just a cold. “But Werner said that you were the best, so here I am. Of course, you know Werner, Doctor Forrsmann?”

Kiki tried to hide her annoyance. She doubted that Werner Forrssmann, the Chief Executive Officer of the University of Berlin’s Hospital system, and Nobel laureate, had said any such thing. It was hardly a surprise that he knew Helga Behrends either and would pull strings to get Kiki to see her. The question was why?

Doctor Forrssmann was the very definition of a classic reactionary. He was rather outspoken regarding his beliefs about the roles that Hospital Staff played and just who was supposed to fill those roles. The very existence of one Doctor Kristina von Preussen working in the Emergency Department of one of his hospitals flew in the face of that. However, because Kiki was a Princess and held the equivalent rank to that of an Oberstlieutent in the Medical Service, he mostly just ignored her presence so long as she didn’t cause him any issues.

“This X-ray says otherwise” Kiki said holding it up so that she could see it against the overhead lights. “And you don’t need to namedrop Doctor Forrssmann here. You would get the same treatment regardless.”

“You don’t seem to like me much” Helga said.

“I don’t like what your brother had to say about me” Kiki replied.

“That?” Helga asked, “I thought that you were better than guilt by association.”

“What am I supposed to go by?” Kiki asked.

“I love Helmut, but I understand that he is an idiot at the best of times” Helga replied, “He barely made it through school and if he couldn’t make his living by swindling those still enamored with the memory of our father he would probably be living under a bridge by now. Publicly insulting you for failing to be some twisted ideal is the least of it.”

“Regardless” Kiki said, wishing that Helga would talk about anything else. “You have a nice case of double pneumonia and that gets you referred to upstairs for a few days.”

“I am much too busy for that. Can’t you just write me a prescription for something that will clear it up and let me go?” Helga asked though Kiki could tell that she was probably too sick to leave under her own power. As much as Kiki might want to give her a course of antibiotics and shove her out the door, that would be unethical.

“There have been a few times when I was on the other side of this conversation” Kiki said, “Use it as an excuse to get a few days away from your other responsibilities.”

Helga seemed to accept that.
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Part 134, Chapter 2302
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Two

11th June 1974

Plains, Georgia

This time it felt like it had been a million years since Jimmy Carter had been home. Half of that had probably been the flight from Virginia to Atlanta when the plane had flown through a storm system. It was not something for the faint of heart. It was however far better than the flights from San Diego or Honolulu that he had endured while the Gridley had been in the Pacific.

This was after an eventful cruise aboard the USS Gridley that had concluded in Norfolk where he had briefly met with a Mrs. Rose, the great-granddaughter of Captain Charles Gridley, of Manilla Bay fame and the namesake of the USS Gridley. She had been extremely interested in what the ship, whose construction she had sponsored, had been up to over the last few years. Carter had told her all about the recent exercise in the Caribbean Sea. She had been amused by the ambush that Rosalynn had engineered in Guantanamo Bay.

What Carter hadn’t mentioned was how the Gridley was going to the Philadelphia Naval Yard for refit and modernization in a few weeks. Not even Carter knew what exactly the Navy had in mind because it seemed that what happened in the Caribbean had caused heads to roll in the Pentagon. Their European and Japanese “friends” had humiliated the US Navy with technology that was twenty years old. Carter’s own report on the events in question had included how Commander von Preussen had implied that in the event of a real shooting war there would be a good chance that the Saratoga Carrier Group would have been blasted to atoms. That certainly didn’t help matters.

Far and away from all of that though was how the US Navy had not really seen serious action in decades. Depending on one’s perspective it had either been the First World War or the infamous “Neutrality Patrols” off the Philippines where it seemed the US Navy was always on the brink of starting a war with the Germans and Japanese. As Carter had discovered in his own experience, Manila was a very long way from Washington D.C. and in those days, it might as well have been on the Moon. What most people knew about that was from that book by Joseph Heller which apparently captured the absurdity and madness of the situation quite well. It was a miracle that the respective commanders of the Naval and Army units in those days had failed to start a war and avoided getting Court-Martialed for gross insubordination. The Caribbean Exercise had provided the White House and Congress with an excuse to clean house, and they were making the most of it. There was also the front pages of the newspapers and the nightly newscasts. China was a mess. The Russians and Greeks were causing trouble. Here in America, it felt like things were barely holding together. Between the German Empire, the United States, and the United Kingdom there were a few hundred, no one knew the exact number, nuclear weapons in the world despite the efforts to draft treaties limiting their testing, use, and deployment. The idiots at Naval Intelligence saw as a coup by Carter that he had gotten Louis Ferdinand von Preussen Junior to mention the possibility that his ship was carrying nuclear arms without understanding the real reasons why Louis had done that.

Carter had been told that these latest events were an excellent opportunity for him. The trouble was that to advance above being a Ship’s Captain to Flag Rank required being a Politician almost as much as being an Officer. It was a game that Carter was never particularly good at. At sea you only had to worry about the multitude of hazards that would merely kill you. The Pentagon was an entirely different story, a hall of mirrors that was well stocked with hornet nests.

Coming home for a few weeks and not having to deal with any of that for now had been an easy decision. Sitting on his front porch, listening to the sounds of an early summer afternoon all of that seemed like it was very far away. Which was very welcome indeed. Rosalynn made clear that she would have preferred to have stayed in Norfolk, but for Carter this had always been home. Watching his daughter playing with the family dogs made the extra travel worth-while.

“You seem very far away” Rosalynn said as she joined him.

“Too much going on” Carter replied.

“What else is new?”

“Your need to interfere, playing matchmaker” Carter said, “I don’t recall you doing that before.”

“If you had gotten a chance to talk to Margareta you would understand” Rosalynn replied, “The two of them are so bound up in duty and the garbage their own families have engaged in that they are unable to figure it out for themselves. I swear her father ought to be horsewhipped for what he has done to her.”

“That is a bit strong” Carter said, “That still doesn’t explain why you brought her to Cuba.”

“She told me about an evening they spent in Tel Aviv at this dangerous sounding bar, how they talked, and the hours slipped away” Rosalynn said, “Then how he and his crew went all out to make her feel welcome when she visited the Grindwal. Helping her seemed like the least I could do.”
It is very interesting to see how much different ITTL Romania is from IOTL.
Without any destruction from IOTL WW II and the Communist Party mismanagement. IOTL Ceausescu mortgaged the future of Romania in an effort to expand the petrochemical industry but a Romania that is more open to foreign investment and is able to curb official corruption could be the leading manufacturer of fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides in Europe with the revenue earned being used to fund things like education, research, infrastructure projects, including hydroelectric and nuclear energy production.
In the ongoing "Romanian Succession Crisis" there are basically three factions that have formed, on the right you have the "Traditionalists" who want the rules to remain the same and have the oldest male of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen inherit the throne if there is no direct male heir in line, and that is led by the Romanian Orthodox Church and the more conservative pro monarchy parties.
Then there are the "Modernists" who want females in the direct line of the monarch to be able to inherit the throne and that faction has the most support across the political spectrum and see a possible marriage between Princess Margareta, the oldest daughter of King Michael and Prince Louis Ferdinand as the best way to achieve any changes to the law.
The "Republican" faction is mostly supported on the left but there is some support from both the center and the right.
They are helping the Traditionalists in blocking any changes because they feel that having "A Foreign Prince" in line to be the next King is the best way to eliminate the monarchy, it would be very logical if a surviving Nicholae Ceausescu was the leader of the hard left in Romania or even not surprising the Nationalist Right in Romania.
They are helping the Traditionalists in blocking any changes because they feel that having "A Foreign Prince" in line to be the next King is the best way to eliminate the monarchy, it would be very logical if a surviving Nicholae Ceausescu was the leader of the hard left in Romania or even not surprising the Nationalist Right in Romania.
The best way to avoid having "A Foreign Prince" becoming the next King of Romania is to change the successions rules to allow Margareta to become Queen and that any husband of hers can only ever be 'Prince-Consort". It's how its worked in the UK since Victoria married Albert.