Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

What are the consequences of no Holocaust ITTL on Jewish culture and demographics? The German Empire ITTL includes the areas that held most of the Jewish population in Europe, so they probably have at least some influence on it. I could imagine less immigration towards USA and some inner migration inside the GE, mostly from Poland proper to Germany and to Galicia after it got it’s independence.
It is one of those things that difficult to comprehend, the Holocaust wiped an entire generation from existence. Among Jewish families that lived in Eastern Europe during that time period almost no children under the age of 10 in 1940 survived. When you consider who else the Nazis tried to kill off, you start to realize that with no Holocaust or Soviet Occupation, the events that led to the Free Galicia movement were almost inevitable due to demographics. The very people who led that movement in TTL would all have been dead in OTL.
Part 139, Chapter 2389
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Eighty-Nine

18th July 1975

Mitte, Berlin

For years, Zella had followed the Moondogs as a well-known friend of the band having been a fan since she had seen them in the V8 Club as a teenager when they first played in Berlin. She might have remembered a line in one of the songs written by John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” after having listened to that song countless times. The sequence of events starting on a Friday evening was certainly all of that. In the months that followed, her entire life had been turned upside down and she thought of that line often. Things had been going so well though…

Finishing the live segment of the broadcast after playing the short documentary, Zella knew that she had been on a roll. She had done a number of presentations over the previous months and there was even talk of awards for her brand of journalism. The terms innovative and groundbreaking were getting thrown around. That was exactly the sort of thing that her Superiors at ARD liked to get from her.

Returning to the alcove that had been her “office” since she had come to ARD. Originally it had been because they had not known what to do with her, but over time, the alcove, and hallway around it had become the space used by her and the growing team that helped produce the video documentaries and short pieces. Sometimes it was hard to believe that she had started this alone and had not wanted the help when ARD had assigned Yuri to run the cameras.

Like always there was a pile of memos detailing the calls that had come in while she was away from her desk. While the phone operators employed by the Broadcaster was good at sorting out the cranks, there were still dozens more. She had tried to create a means of sorting out which of those remaining she would respond to and which she could ignore, but as she had found everyone who called seemed to have urgent business that needed a prompt return. Like always, there were requests for her time, invitations for her to do something in a location or on a particular topic, and finally she found one in the pile of a nature she could not ignore.

With an exasperated sigh, Zella picked up the phone and dialed number that she knew by heart knowing that her mother would be waiting for this call despite the late hour. The phone rang a few times before it was answered.

“I just watched you on the television” Maria said happily, “Your story tonight about the Cello Maker was good, but the story you did a couple months ago about the heroin addicts in Hamburg was far more impactful.”

Zella felt a stab of guilt over that. It was a reminder of how long it had been since she had last spoken to her mother. Once her mother had retired, her parents had moved to Jena to be closer to her extended family on her father’s side. Not seeing them every day had made keeping in touch a challenge. She knew that she might have explained to her mother the difference between a short like the story about the Cello Maker versus an hour-long documentary like the one about Drug Policy and addicts in Hamburg.

“I’ve been very busy lately” Zella replied, “I would have called except for that.”

“I understand” Maria said, “I just wanted to tell you that your grandmother’s birthday is next week, and everyone is going to be there. Including you if you can peel yourself away from your work.”

“I will be there” Zella replied, hoping that her superiors would understand her taking a few days off to go to a family function.

“Bring Yuri and your camera if you need to justify it that way” Maria said, “In fact you probably want to bring Yuri anyway, you know how your grandmother is. She’s old fashioned and afraid that you are becoming an old maid.”

“And you think that her meeting Yuri will change her mind?” Zella asked. Her mother had not made a big deal about how Zella’s relationship with Yuri had never been serious. He had been asking where they were going though, and her inviting him to a family function like this would send all sorts of messages that Zella wasn’t sure she wanted to send.

“She knows that you are over thirty” Maria replied, “Beggars can’t be choosers and all that.”

“For fucks sake” Zella muttered, and she could have sworn that she heard her mother snickering at her reaction. “And this business with the camera, what ever happened to not being a part of the story?”

“You’ve never been much good at that” Maria replied, “Besides that, your grandmother is turning ninety-eight and after what she has seen over her lifetime I would be shocked if there wasn’t a story there.”

“I can’t just pursue a story like that anymore” Zella said, “ARD has been insisting that I formalize the process so that others can follow my lead. Sort of like the editorial process, except we are using video tape.”

“That’s wonderful Marcella” Maria said, “It means that you are moving up in the world.”

“I don’t know about that” Zella replied, “The process might have changed but the method has not.”

“I was the Features Editor as well as a Reporter for a long time at the Berliner Tageblatt” Maria said, “See if you can get your Employer to give you a title that reflects what you are doing.”

“That sounds easier said than done” Zella replied.

“Take credit for your work” Maria said, “I spent most of my career making things happen. That is how I got were I was. That’s also how I met your father.”

“Yeah” Zella said, “See you next week.”
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It might seem strange that a single rather innocuous phone conversation sets events in motion that causes someone's life to spiral out of control. These things happen though.
It might seem strange that a single rather innocuous phone conversation sets events in motion that causes someone's life to spiral out of control. These things happen though.

I think most of us have been following this epic for long enough that we might have ignored the portent of this chapter because it wasn't quite innocuous enough... 🤣

And of course now we know something is coming, we can spend ages debating what that something is...

Is this where we find out that Maria's father is, (and by extension Maria and Zella), the illegitimate issue of Kaiser Wilhelm making Zella and Kiki distant cousins?
Part 139, Chapter 2390
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety

21st July 1975

In transit, Hohenzollern Province

At first Dieter had been excited by the prospect of traveling out of their own neighborhood. The tickets had said that they were going to Stuttgart first and then taking another train to Hechingen. Those were places they had never been. Sepp had seen the times printed on the tickets and had seen that they had at least an eight-hour ride followed by a layover and another hour at least on a different, far slower train. Basically, it was wasting an entire day which he thought might had been spent doing other, far more productive things. Not that he was going to be doing a whole lot over the next month.

Predictably, Dieter got bored after the first fifteen minutes. He then spent a lot of time staring out the window and fidgeting in his seat when he wasn’t asking Sepp inane questions. The Conductor had made it very clear what would happen if they caused any trouble and apparently they were not the only ones traveling to the castle this year. Lunch had been a somewhat disappointing affair with them eating the sandwiches and boiled eggs their mother had packed from them while those around them ate far better fare from elsewhere on the train. Dieter had asked if they could buy drinks, but Sepp had told him no because what little money he had needed to last them the whole holiday. Dieter just smiled and accepted that the way he tended to.

They got to Stuttgart and had never even left the platform. One train to the other and were pulling out the instant their luggage could be transferred. This time Dieter fell asleep, and Sepp was watching the landscape roll past. Once out of the city, he saw the familiar mixture forest and farm fields was continuing, but now there was more forest and hills looked like they were getting higher as they entered another small town. Then the train pulled into a station. It was one of several that they had passed through, and they had all looked the same.

“You two are part of the lot that are getting off here” The Conductor said to Sepp as he was walking through the train. Sepp quickly shook Dieter awake.

“We’re there” Sepp said, though looking out the window he couldn’t see a whole lot. Just a stone building, part of the station, and people walking past on the platform.

“Where?” Dieter asked.

“Hechingen, I guess Didi” Sepp replied as they collected their things.

Dieter had a book bag and suitcase while Sepp had wanted to keep it simple with just a duffle bag. That made disembarking a simple matter. They joined the group of boys and girls who mostly were mostly Dieter’s age, but Sepp noticed that there were several who were the same age as him. One of the girls his age turned around and said something to the children following her. Sepp instantly recognized her as Ziska Böttcher, Sophie’s best friend and she was joined an instant later by Gabriele Scharnhorst, Sophie’s half-sister who just happened to look a whole lot like her. While he knew that the castle was supposedly a big place, the odds of him spending the entire Summer Holiday dodging awkward encounters had just massively increased. A couple weeks earlier, Marie von Mischner-Blackwood had told him that this would actually be a lot of fun. It was already not shaping out that way.

Walking to the end of the platform, there were buses parked there which were probably used by the area schools most of the time from the look of them. Stepping aboard there was the smell of hot metal and old vinyl, the driver made a comment about how he expected Sepp to help keep things under control. Though just how was he supposed to do that?

As Sepp and Dieter found a seat the others piled in the bus quickly became a cacophony with yelling and laughing. Sepp felt out of place, as the oldest on bus he drew a lot of curious looks.

“Who are you?” A boy seated in front of Sepp asked staring at him.

“I’m the one in charge of this group” Sepp replied, and the boy turned back around saying nothing. That was entirely a load of manure, Sepp didn’t have the first clue as to if he were really in charge. These were kids though and they equated bigger and older with authority. So, him saying that was perfectly in keeping with how they saw the world. He just hoped that none of them had the wherewithal to challenge that because they would swiftly discover that Sepp was full of hot air.

It was about that time when everyone started looking out the windows as the castle came into view atop a mountain. The brown stone walls looked like gold in the late afternoon sunlight. The towers and spires looked like something from a fantasy.

“That where we’re going” Dieter said to Sepp, belaboring the obvious. The others started talking excitedly as the bus turned off the main road and though a set of double chain-link gates and with actual soldiers manning them.

“Don’t mind the men from the First Foot!” The Driver yelled back at them, “They are just here to see to the safety of your hostess and any guests she might have! Her brother is here today so they are going all out!”

Sepp watched as dogs sniffed around the bus and a pair of soldiers passed though checking names against a list they had. Then they were waved through. The bus passed through forest, climbing higher up the mountain on a switch-back road until they emerged from the trees and approached the castle walls.

As the bus stopped, Sepp followed Dieter out and saw a small group of adults chatting. To his complete surprise, one of them was the Emperor himself. A man he only ever seen on television or in newspapers.
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How long before Dieter interacts with Freddy thereby causing Sepp to make a proverbial brick out of certain substance requiring a change of, at a minimum, underware?
I still think that somehow Sepp and Dieter are under some sort of observation by powerful and influential people who will alter the circumstances of their lives.
It is not by accident or by coincidence that the two brothers are spending a few weeks at a place controlled by someone who is on the very far edge of their lives.
I still think that somehow Sepp and Dieter are under some sort of observation by powerful and influential people who will alter the circumstances of their lives.
It is not by accident or by coincidence that the two brothers are spending a few weeks at a place controlled by someone who is on the very far edge of their lives.
If this Germany has some meritocratic elements, it’s camps like this that bring the ‘bright but disadvantaged’ kids to the attention of the Royal Family. They can’t help everyone, but the long shadow of the Russian Revolution has set up these institutions, which are capable of changing the course of people’s lives for the better.
Part 139, Chapter 2391
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-One

24th July 1975


They ended up taking Zella’s car, a BMW 700. It had seldom seen much use outside of work when ARD had not provided transportation. The rest of time Zella used her motorcycle. It was fast and parking was never a problem, unlike the car which was rather sluggish and there had been times when she had found herself circling city blocks looking for a place to park within screaming distance to where she needed to be. She figured that wouldn’t be a problem in Jena, though looking at the clock on the dashboard, Zella knew that she had other problems.

Stepping out of the car, Zella looked down the street her Uncle Peter lived on. She had been here countless times on her own, visiting either her uncle or grandmother. This time felt different though. Her mother had arrived at some point earlier and would have told God only knew what to everyone already there about Zella and her life. She also had Yuri with her and the truth about that whole thing could get awkward in a hurry.

“There’s no reason to be nervous” Yuri said, “You’ve known most of these people your whole life.”

“Today is my grandmother’s ninety-eighth birthday” Zella replied, “The lens she looks at the world through is reflected in that, so be forewarned. And my mother has already been in there for a time.”

“I see” Yuri said as he picked up the two heavy duffle bags containing the camera equipment they had brought. “Does she have a name? So, I don’t get off on the wrong foot.”

“Marcella Marie Holz” Zella said flatly. He had never really understood Zella’s relationship with her mother. How they had been butting heads for years, even when they had lived in the same household.

“That’s your name” Yuri said, amusedly.

“That wasn’t an accident” Zella replied, annoyed that Yuri had only now picked up on something so obvious. “I was named after her.”

“Oh” Yuri replied as they walked down the sidewalk towards Uncle Peter’s house.

“And please be careful about certain subjects when you talk to my extended family” Zella said, “They are big on educational achievement, and I get static for having a Degree in the Arts.”

“What exactly are you saying?” Yuri asked.

“Nothing” Zella replied, realizing too late that she had said something incredibly stupid and was already kicking herself for having done it. “Just be careful.”

Yuri looked like he was about to say something in reply when they rounded the corner to the front door of Uncle Peter’s house. Zella knocked, hopefully ending the conversation before she said anything else.

Theresa, Zella’s cousin opened the door and greeted her in Australian accented English. “If it isn’t Emil’s little girl” She said with a smile. According to Zella’s mother, Theresa had helped care for her when she had been a baby. It was a reminder that among her cousins, Zella was the youngest.

“Theresa, this is Yuri” Zella said, “Yuri this is my cousin Theresa.”

“If he ain’t a tall one” Theresa said drawing a confused look back from Yuri. Too late Zella remembered that while Yuri spoke a few different languages, English was not one of them.

“She’s giving you a compliment” Zella said, at least she hoped that was a compliment. “Just smile and nod.”

Yuri did as he was asked, but Zella could tell that he didn’t like that. Before anything else could go wrong, Zella led Yuri into the house which was full of people. Zella found herself being greeted by all of them, either as members of her family or those who were friends of her family from around Jena.

“You made it” Walter, Zella’s little brother asked when she found him. She thought that she had seen his wife and two children around, but at the moment it felt like a kaleidoscope walking through the house with everything in motion.

“Where is Oma?” Zella asked.

“She said she wasn’t feeling well” Walter replied, “And that it was too crowded. She stepped out with Peter a little while ago, I think they are in the back somewhere.”

Knowing that she would need to get the preliminaries out of the way, Zella flagged Yuri to follow her as she walked towards the back of the house. She saw Aunt Olivia in the kitchen and knew that she would need to swing through there on the way back. She thought that she saw Uncle Peter in there as well.

Zella tried to remember the layout of the house as she walked past the staircase that went upstairs, her Uncle Peter’s home office, a bathroom, and a few doors which were closed. She had no idea what was behind them. Finally, she emerged out onto the sunporch at the back of the house. Her grandmother was sitting in a chair that looked out at the garden and Zella could hear her breathing softly as well as the buzzing of bees in the flowerbeds whose scent filled the air.

“Oma” Zella said trying to get her attention, “There is someone here who I want you to meet.”

That got no reaction.

“Oma?” Zella asked again and she reached towards her only to have Uncle Peter emerge from the house.

“She said she was tired and needed a few minutes to rest” Peter said, “I went to get her something to drink.”

“If you say so” Zella replied as she watched Peter step around her with a glass of water in his hand.

“Zella is here to see you mother” Peter said pleasantly, when she didn’t react Zella saw Peter react in a way which did not match the tone of his voice as he turned to her. “If you could please get my Doctor’s bag from the office quickly that would be helpful.”
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Maria von Holz has already written an obituary for her mother in law, it just needs the last details of Marcella's life to be filled in.