Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Twenty-Four
2nd December 1967
Cape Town, South Africa
The cake had been a lovely addition for after dinner.
Denise Darvall certainly thought so as she listened to the radio while helping with doing the dishes. It had been her mother’s idea and though just getting it had turned into quite an adventure. They had gotten trapped in the bakery by a police action that had been happening just outside. It seemed that a man under the influence had driven into oncoming traffic and had created a real mess outside. When the police pulled him out of what was left of his car, he was astonishingly unhurt. He was also completely plastered. Denise was reminded of how God supposedly loved drunkards and fools, the driver had certainly was both of those things. The police had dragged him off to dry out.
Over dinner, Denise’s father had mentioned that there was talk of making drunk driving a crime unto itself. “What if you or your mother had been in the street when he had come careening down it?” He had asked and he did have a good point. Landing in the hospital and being unable to go back to work for months, or worse, were awful thoughts.
It was then that the radio station that Denise switched from music to a news bulletin. The lead story was about how a young Carpenter had fallen off a roof and had suffered a major head injury that had killed everything about him that made him, him. A team of surgeons wanted to attempt a heart transplant and felt that he would be an excellent donor. It was not without controversy because the Carpenter was colored and the man who would be the recipient was white. Regardless of that, it did sound an incredible feat of medicine if they could pull it off.
Sitting in his office, Louis Ferdinand was listening to Katherine as she explained the intricate project that she was currently involved with. He could already think of several questions that would need to be answered.
“An airport is not built for the present capacity” Katherine said, “It has to be built with the projected capacity several years from now in mind. The new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport will be a major Airline hub when it opens next year. Focke-Wulf-Dornier, Arado, and Junkers have all selected it to be the site of their assembly centers as well.”
“How far out are you projecting?” Louis asked, “Ten years from now, 1977?”
“More like 1997 or even 2007” Kat replied, “The land around the new airport was purchased with expansion in mind if number of passengers increase beyond current projections.”
“I see” Louis said, thinking about the implications of that. “What do those companies gain by having all three of them at that location?”
“Scale, less duplicate effort” Katherine replied, “The latest designs out of Boeing suggest that a plane carrying three hundred or more passengers could take to the skies within the next few years. We need to have an answer for that when it happens and all three of the companies that I mentioned have different ideas of how to go about that.”
“And about Tegel?” Louis asked.
That was the key question in all of this. Everyone who had any inkling of how the Tempelhof Project a decade earlier had played out was concerned that Katherine was once again planning on using this to massively enrich herself. Louis would have told them not to worry, it was already far too late to stop her this time. Even if she weren’t playing as direct a role this time, it was obvious that she had financial ties to all the companies that would be working on the project. However, if the city benefited from Katherine’s machinations Louis saw no reason to complain. Still though, he did not want there to be any surprises.
“Just were exactly do you fit in?” Louis asked.
“To began with, my brother is excited that his favorite Football team is getting a new pitch out of this” Katherine replied, “Hertha BSC has been playing at the old Olympic Stadium which only seats around twelve thousand people. That was good in 1936 but the team is a bigger deal now.”
“That is all well and good” Louis said, “But not exactly what I was asking.”
“I am not interested in having the sort of exposure I had during the Tempelhof project” Katherine replied, “The consortium that is giving proposals to the city is mostly composed of universities and business interests.”
“And who better than a Fürstin to coordinate the effort of varied interests that might otherwise be at odds” Louis said.
“If you knew that already, why ask the question?” Katherine asked.
“I was interested in seeing how you would answer it” Louis replied.
“All of this is a part of your legacy” Katherine said, “Think about how different Berlin is, and will be by the time you retire, from the way it was at the end of the Soviet War.”
Louis knew that quite well. At the end of the war there had been gaps in the skyline where Russian bombers had gotten through the city’s defenses and entire blocks had been leveled. Now with Berlin reaching the limits of its outward expanse, it was starting to be built upwards. That was a real challenge considering the sort of ground that it was built on.