Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Thirty-Three
9th February 1968
Perhaps it was inevitable because there were several exhibits that featured members of his family, but Manny found himself appointed to be one of Generaloberst Helmut Lent’s many aides at the Imperial War Museum on Fischer Island after six months of classroom instruction. That meant that he was wearing his dress uniform while leading tour groups through the museum every afternoon. All the aides were encouraged to continue their formal education while they were posted here, and Manny had found that he was no exception.
When Manny had first met Lent, the museum’s present Commandant, the Luftwaffe General had looked at the US Army Expert Marksman’s badge that he had earned during the cooperative mission the prior year and had said that Manny was likely to already have a few interesting stories to tell. Then he had asked how Manny’s mother was doing, if she was still living with a dozen cats and how her diet plan really must have been something. That had confused him and later when he asked his mother about it, she had just laughed. It seemed that during the Soviet War when she was directing night intercept missions, then Oberlieutenant, later Hauptmann, Lent had been one of the pilots she was constantly in contact with. A joke between them was that the pilots just loved her voice and had no idea what she really looked like, she had told them that she was massively overweight and had a dozen cats. Of course, every single one of the pilots knew full well what Helene von Richthofen actually looked like but had gone along with it because it was part of the fun. According to Lent, his entire Air Wing had gone into deep mourning when word reached them that Manny’s mother had gotten engaged to his father.
It was strange to learn about how his parents had had entire lives before he had been born, but they must have. All the stories that he had heard about his father in the Soviet War and his mother talking about living and working in the castle, the vast Flak tower that had been imploded after the war. His parents had only known each other tangentially at that point, Manny’s mother being a close friend of Aunt Kat’s.
“Of course, this is one of our more impressive displays” Manny said as the group walked through the museum. They were a group of school children who were looking in wide-eyed wonder at everything as they went from hall to hall being led by Manny with their teacher keeping an eye on them from behind. The display was a Tiger II that guarded the entrance of the Hall of the Panzer Corps. The long barreled 8.8-centimeter gun with the multi-chambered muzzle brake high over the heads of those who entered. Only the variants of the Lynx and Leopard Panzers were comparable. However, those were at the far end of the hall and their presentation lacked the same gravitas as the King Tiger. Manny knew full well that the Tiger series of Panzers were eventually cancelled because they lacked the sort of mobility that was critical for use in warfare, it was impressive though. The only Panzer in the Imperial War Museum that exceeded it was Lucifer, the Raupe Panzer of First World War vintage in the Entrance Hall that had a staggering weight of history about it.
They were doubtlessly screwed unless a miracle happened.
Poor weather had prevented what Olli knew was inevitable retaliation for stopping the columns that had been approaching Krakow. Unfortunately, that had given time for a wider revolt to kick off and he found himself in the vanguard. The problem was that few of his men had modern weapons, mostly old bolt-action Mauser G98 rifles that were used for hunting. They had a few machine guns and light mortars from the Krakow City Armory that had been seized on the first day, but almost everything heaver had been moved north months earlier. That was because the Polish authorities in the city had not been stupid, they had seen Bachmann swanning about and knew full well how untenable their position was. Olli added it to the ever-growing list of problems that Bachmann was still causing him. At this point, the Poles wouldn’t need to kill Bachmann, Olli would be perfectly happy to do it for them.
On the other side of the ledger, Olli had found that he had excellent operational intelligence. The Poles couldn’t make a move without him knowing about it. If most of those under his command knew the source of that information, they might have found it questionable but right now Olli was taking all the help he could get. If they were willing to throw their lot with him, then he wasn’t about to turn them away and it seemed that they had people everywhere.
“Sir, you got to see this” One of the men who came into the warehouse that he had been using as a headquarters said. Following the man out, Olli wondered what new Hell awaited him as they walked down the street to the railyard that was nearest to the city center. Some of his men were standing around a boxcar with the doors opened and were looking at a crate. Olli saw that whatever had been stenciled on the top of the crate had been burned off and that the men were pulling submachine guns from the crate. He recognized them as the SA 25 machine pistols which the Bohemian Army had been sending to the foundry having come up with something better.
“Mind telling me what is going on here?” Olli asked.
“This train arrived Sir” One of the men said, “There was this fellow who told us it was a gift to you from an old friend, then he took off.”
Olli looked at the box car which was full of similar crates.
“This is helpful” Olli said, “Just a drop in the bucket though.”
“An entire train?” The man asked.
“You are saying that this entire train is more of the same?” Olli asked in reply.
“This just happens to be the first car we opened Sir” One of the other men said.
Olli looked down the line of rail cars. He had needed a miracle and it looked like he had just gotten one.