Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Five
9th July 1974
Walking into the CIA’s Berlin Station from the rest of the United States Embassy was a surreal experience. While every inch of the space was nearly constantly swept for bugs, they were taking no chances. While the Germans had realized that they needed world-class Intelligence Agencies after the First World War, the US had been much slower to catch on. North had been shocked to learn that the United States had disbanded the Cipher Bureau, also known as the Black Chamber, an agency that had been built as a direct result of experience gained during the same conflict. “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail” was what the then Secretary of State had said to rationalize the decision. It wasn’t until almost two decades later that the US Government had awoken to the problem in 1947 with the creation of the CIA, NSA, and the rest of the “Alphabet Soup” Agencies. By then the rot had set in though and whole agencies had been badly compromised. No one knew just how much damage had been done during that time, but strange events in the Thirties and Forties were getting a second look. Weapons systems that had mysteriously failed, people who had vanished from the face of the Earth, scarce resources redirected into fruitless blind alleys, and dozens of other such occurrences all painted a disturbing picture. Someone had been busy working against American interests that entire time. Like everyone else, North didn’t need too many guesses as to who it must have been. Just proving it without starting a war would be impossible, so everyone was being told to just drop the matter and continue their work towards catching up.
That presented a number of problems, mostly because North was not inclined to just forgive and forget. The Station Chief was having none of that though and had been leaning hard on everyone in the field to get results including North who was here in his capacity as a Liaison Officer within the Embassy. Everyone knew that wasn’t his job though. That was where the letter that had been posted to North came in. The Station Chief’s people had gotten to it first and it seemed to be the answer to their prayers. Some disgruntled, and possibly broke, functionary had sent them information with the promise of more, provided they paid up. However, North knew the maxims that Soldiers had lived by since the dawn of time. Right after Never Volunteer, the Recruiter lied, the Food always sucks, and Hurry up and Wait, was one hard truth, If Something felt too good to be True then it probably was. This new source certainly felt too good to be true.
“Sir, with all due respect until we can verify that this is real, this should be treated with caution” North said, “The last thing we need is for another black eye.”
“Tell that to Langley” The Station Chief replied, “Or the House Intelligence Committee. If they find out that we sat on actionable intelligence, then we will be lucky if they only burn us at the stake on the National Mall.”
“I agree Sir” North said, “But if this turns out to be another one of their tricks, I can’t imagine anyone in Washington being any happier with us.”
“Have you looked at the letter? It isn’t just news about the election, it contains insights and analysis by someone who is an insider” The Station Chief asked, “It is in regard to the elections coming up at the start of September. It dovetails neatly with what our other source had to say.”
That gave this a whole different spin. For the last few years, the CIA had run an asset inside the Court of the Kaiser himself. Only the Station Chief and the Handler knew the identity of the asset, even so, North understood that the Germans would not be forgiving if ever caught him. Especially if it were the woman who had been dubbed the Tigress who answered directly to the Kaiser or one of her people. There were rumors about that sort of thing, all ugly. It also related to the timing of the elections. Word was that the Social Democratic Party was worried about their hold on power. So, they were experimenting with holding an election right after most people in this country would have just returned from the long summer vacation and would feel good or at least indifferent about the political party in power. Washington DC’s interest was that if the SPD were no longer in power, a Government lead by the National Liberals would probably be more agreeable to the US Government.
“That might be so, Sir” North said, “But I don’t like the feeling of this.”
“You are basing your objections on that?” The Station Chief asked, “Can’t you see that all the months you have been putting yourself out there are finally paying off?”
For months, North had been getting sent to observe the German 2nd Army based outside of Berlin in Zossen-Wunsdorf. It also happened to be the same location as the secretive German High Command which the CIA had been trying to get a source inside for years. Only the British had ever successfully infiltrated that complex of buildings that housed the OKW and had managed to get away with a trove of material that had reshaped the history of the last few decades. Unfortunately, the Germans were aware of what they were guarding and had handed off North to Major Manfred von Mischner, a man whose boundless ego and condescending attitude had made that task pure Hell. Then there where the men directly under von Mischner’s command, who lived down to every base stereotype of the German Army and seemed to revel in it. North shuddered to think what someone like von Mischner did to keep control of an outfit like that.