Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Twenty-Three
24th November 1967
They had just finished listening to the Prussian Training Institute’s Headmaster explain the basic overview of the school’s history and current syllabus. Manfred could see from Ilse’s face that she would need a lot more convincing.
“Things might look the same but many of our alumni find that the school is run somewhat differently than when they attended” The Headmaster, a portly man stuffed into an Oberstlieutenant’s uniform said to Manfred and Ilse, “It is a real shame that your husband couldn’t be here today, it would be a thrill for the students to meet him.”
“Albrecht is currently aboard the Lilienthal and will not be back for another two weeks” Ilse said as they left the Headmaster’s office. “We are getting him for the holidays this year though, which is good.”
They walked past a wall that Manfred knew was covered by the framed photographs of famous alumni of this school. There were plenty of photographs of men in military uniforms, but unlike when Lothar and Albrecht had attended this school decades earlier those were now outnumbered by men in three-piece suits and white lab coats. Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, and Captains of Industry, Manfred realized. The expectations for what the students would do later in life had changed.
A photograph of Albrecht was front and center while Manfred’s had been pushed to the side. He was wearing a bright orange spacesuit and holding a helmet. A brass plate tacked to the frame read Kapitan-zur-See Doktor Graf Albrecht Siegfried von Richthofen, 1932-1939. The last part being the years he had attended. Manfred realized that it would probably include titles Kurfürst and Admiral in the future as Albrecht continued to climb the ladder and they got around to updating it.
“We are particularly proud to have a man like your son as a graduate of our school” The Headmaster said to Manfred, “He went on to University and has done important things. We encourage all our pupils to follow his example.”
“I see” Manfred said as they walked away from the photographs.
“These days academics are our main emphasis and the standards are quite rigorous” The Headmaster said, “I am sure that your husband has told you stories about how this school was run when he attended, but we have had to change with the times.”
It was obvious to Manfred that the Headmaster was pandering Ilse to a degree, though the well-practiced way in which he was giving this tour suggested that there was a great deal of truth behind what he was saying.
“My son Nikolaus wants to come here because his friend Sabastian is next year” Ilse said, she was keeping her voice neutral. Manfred knew that she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Nikolaus attending this school. “Bas was referred here after he got into trouble, as in nearly getting arrested.”
“You must mean Dietrich Schultz’s boy” The Headmaster replied with a chuckle. If Manfred had to guess he would say that the Headmaster must have read up on Ilse, who her friends and relations were. “We understand that not every boy is well suited to a traditional classroom. A bit of structure and discipline might be needed, or they might excel on the athletic field given a chance. School records indicate that you were quite the athlete in your youth Herr Kurfürst.”
“Among other things” Manfred replied.
“Yes, and your climbing to the top of the church steeple has become legendary” The Headmaster said, “Not that we have ever encouraged our students to engage in such exploits.”
“Did the records say how much trouble he got in for doing that” Ilse asked.
“As a matter of fact, they do” The Headmaster replied.
“Tell me more” Ilse said, finally interested in something she was hearing today.
It seemed that the school as an institution remembered a bit more than Manfred would have preferred.
The Systems Operator/Bombardier had two jobs aboard the Pfeil. Running the fire control system, the actual aiming of the rockets and bombs and the electronic countermeasures, which hopefully prevented the airplane from getting blown to bits in the meantime. Oberlieutenant Wilhelm “Wim” Franke frequently compared it to juggling chainsaws while on roller skates. It seemed to him that every time the technicians from Arado came around, the systems grew just a bit more complicated and he needed to figure them out all over again.
Presently, Wim was sitting in the cockpit of Black Knight III reading the guidebook. Ben was seated in the pilot’s seat as they waited for the alert that hostile bombers were inbound, and they would need to defend the City of Berlin. Wim could easily point out the absurdity of that. While they might pick off a bomber or two if they even managed to get off the ground, the city was going to get glassed by missiles that couldn’t be intercepted. The truth was that having them sit out here all afternoon was the Commander of SKG 18’s way letting them know who was boss and for the Government to show the taxpayers that their money wasn’t going to waste. Glancing up, he saw the passengers in the Terminal Building looking at them across the runway. Seeing the big Fighter-Bombers parked on the tarmac was a real thrill for them. Word was that SKG 18 was going to be moved to Berlin-Brandenburg International when it opened and the land Tegel was on would be a new suburb like had happened to Tempelhof a decade earlier. At least it wasn't raining.