Part 25, Chapter 283
Chapter Two Hundred Eighty-Three

2nd February 1943


It was the fourth anniversary of the Reichstag bombing. That had surprised Kat, it seemed like yesterday that she’d watched the glass dome atop that building be consumed by fire an instant before getting caught up in the blast. At the same time that also seemed like a very long time ago with everything that had happened since.

She’d been worried that it would be because of some nightmarish situation that would get her the Merit Cross in gold. Where she would have to wade through a river of blood, again. Instead she had gotten it for work on behalf of women prisoners of war. Kat suspected that the Empress had been the real driving force behind that, in an effort to get the Reichstag to take the problem seriously. Shame sometimes gets you what you need or at least a little bit of help. Kat had also been awarded the Red Cross Medal, 3rd Class.

Kat found that a bit ironic considering the exact nature of the “illness” that she’d most often had to arrange treatment for. The State wanted the Russian women to begin to contribute to the economy and they could hardly do that if in a few months other arrangements would have to be made, could they. While no one was forced to do anything, the whole thing had left a bad taste in Kat’s mouth. A couple more additions to the growing pile of less than deserved decorations that she had.

The bright spot was Nika Utkin, her hands were healing. When Kat had gone to visit her, she’d spoken to the Doctor who told her that while Nika was unlikely to take up the piano she would eventually be able to lead a normal life. The surprise was that Jehane had wanted to spend time with Nika. Kat had warned her it that could be dangerous for her, if she were recognized… Jehane had batted that aside. Jehane had said that if Kat had taught her anything it was that there was nothing to be gained from cowering in fear and like Nika she had been injured because of something beyond her control. Kat wasn’t sure if she should be proud or scared by that sentiment.

Now in commemoration of those who lost their lives in the bombing and the current war the Empress had allowed for a reception to held in the Palace. It also happened to be the only formal social event of this season. Kat had attempted to beg off only to find that Kira would have none of that. Kat had emerged as a clear heroine and represented in many people’s minds much of what was good about her country. Kat had been about to tell Kira that was a load of rubbish when the Empress had told her that she was attending, end of discussion.

Kat had been thinking about how she was going to force herself to attend, possibly wear her dress uniform, be seen, then leave quietly when there was a knock on her front door. When she opened it Aunt Marcella, Gerta and Helene were standing there.

“Don’t you dare, Kat” Helene said as she pushed past Kat into the apartment.

“Don’t dare what?” Kat asked.

“Whatever socially awkward sabotage you’re planning on carrying out tonight” Gerta said.

Kat saw Jehane’s head poke out of the door of the bedroom and realized that she had a traitor under her roof. She then saw the garment bag that Marcella was carrying and the take no prisoners look on her face.


A couple hours later Kat was feeling very self-conscious as Helene and Gerta led her into the Marble Hall. She was wearing the dark blue silk gown that her Aunt and so-called friends had insisted that she wear. She had seen how the gown was cut and swiftly realized that it was something she would never have picked out herself. Marcella had her usual argument that she’d had with Kat so many times before as she brushed out Kat’s hair.

“God forbid anyone ever find out that Katherine Mischner is actually a beautiful woman” Marcella had said.

Gerta who’d been working on doing Kat’s face and Helene who’d been blocking the door had both smiled when they heard Marcella say that. The orange silk sash that the star of the Order of the Black Eagle was worn on worked perfectly to obscure the two pale jagged scars on her shoulder.

Then Kat had been forced to wait while Helene and Gerta got ready themselves. Marcella had insisted on getting a photograph, otherwise no one was going to believe this. Real funny.

As they entered the Marble Hall Kat realized that as many times as she had passed through this room on her way to the Women’s wing she’d never seen it fully lit up like this.

“Got your reclusive friend out I see, Lagertha” Field Marshal von Wolvogle said to them as he walked up and greeted his daughter. He was wearing what he must have considered a formal uniform reflecting his rank, enough silver braid to rig a sailboat and every medal he’d received over a lifetime. Kat was glad he wasn’t standing in direct sunlight. Kat had heard that he was splitting his time between Berlin and Wunsdorf planning the upcoming spring offensive. It was said that his stock was on the rise since he’d delivered the most crushing military victory since Cannae. Kat felt that wasn’t a great comparison. In the end things hadn’t turned out so well for Hannibal or his allies.

“If I could have this dance, Freiin Katherine?” Wolvogle asked with a slight bow. Kat looked at Helene and Gerta who just stood there with slight smiles. Yeah, humor the old goat. They would probably be all giggles as soon as Kat stepped out onto the dance floor. Surprisingly, the old Field Marshal was a good dancer. “The day I can’t ride a horse or dance with a pretty girl will be the one where they finally bury me” he said.

Eventually he’d passed Kat on to Kurt. “You remember Hauptmann Knispel, Katherine?” He asked, “He’s not that bad when you’re not trying to twist his arm off.” He then said to Kurt “Careful, she’s one of the original Hellcats.” Kat knew that was the name that was settled on for the SKA Regiment.
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The 1947 Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Empress Kira of the German Empire and Freiherrin Katherine von Mischner of the German Empire for work on the behalf of Women Prisoners of War, by ensuring their dignity, safety and most of all, their lives.
Part 26, Chapter 284
Chapter Two Hundred Eighty-Four

3rd February 1943

Warsaw, Poland

As it had turned out the Winter Campaign had been the last one that 1st Fallschirmjäger Corps would have with General Wolfram von Richthofen in charge. He had been suffering from headaches all during the campaign, he’d eventually sought medical care. The Doctors had looked to see if the headaches had an underlaying cause when they had not stopped at the end of the campaign and with the Paras going back into reserve. When they had told him what they had found when they had X-rayed his head, an inoperable brain tumor, they had suggested that he would be advised to put his personal affairs in order. As such Wolfram was given leave to resign his commission with the honorary promotion to Generaloberst. Emil Holz had been promoted to General of Infantry as his replacement.

That was when Emil had been briefed on all airborne operations being conducted by the OKW. There was a lot more going on than he had realized. The SKA, also known as the Hellcats, had maintained a very active tempo of operations. By design they were unit of detachments largely from the Fallschirmjäger Corps no larger than a regiment. According to Oberst Thorwald for every slot that opened they had thousands of aspirants. Strange for an outfit that had a reputation for impossible, possibly suicide, missions. Earning the Hellcat patch had become the ultimate status symbol among much of the enlisted Infantry. Others like the Panzer Grenadiers or the old Imperial Guard Regiments might have disagreed. They were conducting operations deep behind enemy lines in small groups, seldom more than six. There were some exceptions to their tendency to deploy in small teams. A Company had been deployed to guard Generalfeldmarschall von Wolvogle, another had gone to Potsdam to supplement the 1st Foot Guards Regiment.

Emil had also been surprised when he’d been invited to the Kingdom of Saxony to receive the Knight’s Cross, Military Order of Saint Henry, with the promise of the Commander’s Cross in the near future. He’d written Maria and told her that he might be a von Holz soon, but as he had read back through the letter he’d realized that his words rang hollow to him. His career had taken him very far from where his heart was. In the last letter he’d received from Maria he’d received a far less welcome surprise, a photograph of Maria and Zella, his daughter looked nothing like how he’d seen her last more than a year earlier, she was growing up and he was missing it. He missed them both terribly.

Now Emil was worried about Maria, her work for the BT was suddenly in high demand again with the Pacific heating up. She had already made the long trip from Sydney to Perth following stories more than once. He realized that it was only a matter of time before that took her to Bangkok or Saigon.

Near Lublin, Poland

Hans stood in front of the Platoon, a quarter of it was composed of replacements, an almost exact representation of the 140th Regiment as a whole. Kurt had asked around about his old squadmates and found it depressing. Walter Pfaff was dead, he’d caught a bullet during the retreat from Kleinburg. Jon Burgstaller was missing and presumed dead, having disappeared during the Summer. Rudy Wirth had been in an APC that had gotten hit by an anti-tank round that had bounced around on the inside. Rudy had lived but would never return to combat, a wound badge in black was small compensation for the loss of most of his right arm. That left Hans, Jost Schultz, Soren Yount and Henrik Wirth of the original Squad at the front. Even then Soren had spent some time in the hospital recovering from shrapnel injuries. Now here they were, the bloody tail chase of this war had brought them almost right back to where they had started a thousand years earlier.

As Hans was listening to the new Lieutenant address the Platoon, the lieutenant kept referring all questions to Hauptfeld Mischner, meaning him, and showing little interest in what Hans had to say. When he’d been a recruit, ages ago Hans could remember the noncoms, veterans of the Great War, standing stone-faced while Officers spoke like this. He’d presumed that it was stoicism on their part. Now he was starting to realize it was because they had heard it all a thousand times before. He also figured that he’d be back to acting Platoon commander soon enough.

Near Hội An, Vietnam

Tilo could remember when his brother Jost had come back from Spain he had told him about the first time he’d really come under fire. Jost had said that his mind had just gone blank. All the training, all the knowledge that he had vanished. He’d just been standing there aware of the rifle bullets zipping around him. The passing advice from Jost had been, try not to piss yourself.

For Tilo it was a bit different, mortar shells had started falling on the road and he’d jumped for the ditch on the side of the road, reaching it just before the clatter of Japanese machine guns started. His relief was short lived because Reier and Phan landed on top of him seconds later. Phan managed somehow to turn himself around and had his rifle pointing in the direction of the incoming fire while Tilo and Reier were still cussing at each other in a tangle of limbs. Tilo got his rifle clear and crawled away from Reier leaving his canteen and pack behind in the process. He heard the sound of the shot fired from a G98 and heard something crash to the ground nearby. He raised himself to the lip of the ditch to look across the fallow field and saw, nothing.

That was when three figures separated from the grass. Before Tilo’s mind could even process what was happening, he panicked and emptied the magazine of his rifle into them.

Tilo fell back into the ditch and started trying to grab a fresh magazine from his vest. By then the noncoms had restored order and the Japanese had fallen back. Tilo saw that the three figures had been Japanese soldiers, bayonets fixed on their rifles. They had been only a few meters from Tilo when he’d opened fire.

“Goddamn, Kid” Reier said as he lit a new cigar, before turning to the rest of the Platoon “YOU CRUMBS SEE THIS!” he yelled “The Kid is a real born ass kicker, he got three of the bastards in his first action!”

Tilo had the rest of the Platoon slapping his back. It would later occur to him that was the first time he’d felt like he belonged there. The feeling faded when the Lieutenant wanted to see him.
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My thoughts on the last two updates:

1) I don't like this Kat forced to wear clothes she doesn't like or want to thing. I don't mind the social events, but Kat is both an Adult and National Hero. She has more than earned the right to wear whatever the f**k she wants.

2) That whole Vietnam scene was cool. Brought back memories of watching war movies with Dad as a kid.
My thoughts on the last two updates:

1) I don't like this Kat forced to wear clothes she doesn't like or want to thing. I don't mind the social events, but Kat is both an Adult and National Hero. She has more than earned the right to wear whatever the f**k she wants.

I disagree, but only because it's her Aunt and best friends, and not Kira. It's a bit of exposure therapy, but of the kind that gives her more confidence. And it's done out of love.

In her case, it is the kind of confidence that will help her not to be as vulnerable when civilian life returns. If you read this in light of earlier chapters, Kat is far more self-assured than she was. In addition, she's noticeably less self-destructive, even down to shuddering what horrors she'd have to face to get additional medals rather than not thinking about it at all.
Part 26, Chapter 285
Chapter Two Hundred Eighty-Five

3rd February 1943

Near Hội An, Vietnam

“I understand perfectly, Soldat Schultz” The Lieutenant said, “But you can’t tell anyone else what you just told me, this isn’t just about you.”

“But I panicked, Sir” Tilo said “For all I knew it was some farmer's water buffalo.”

“You are lucky it wasn’t” The Lieutenant said, “You’d be up on charges if you had shot a farmer's water buffalo.”

“Even in the middle of a battle, Sir?” Tilo asked.

“Especially in the middle of a battle” The Lieutenant said “The last thing this God forsaken Division needs is for you apes to do the work of the Japanese for them. Now get out of my sight, Soldat”

As soon as Tilo left the Lieutenant’s tent he noticed that Phan had fallen into step beside him.

“So, you were trying to stop your officer from putting you up for decoration?” Phan asked.

Tilo had no idea how much Phan would have overheard or understood. He was starting to suspect that the Vietnamese soldier was far more than he seemed and was picking up German at an alarming rate.

“It would have been wrong to win it through dumb luck” Tilo said.

“But you just did” Phan said.

Tilo shot him a dirty look. “The Lieutenant said I had to for the whole Platoon” He said, “It’s not just about me.”

“You’re just figuring that out now?” Phan asked earnestly “How long have you been a soldier again?”

Tilo refused to talk to Phan for the rest of the walk back to the bivouac.

5th February 1943

Jena, Germany

“It’s not like that” Kat said to Doctor Holz who clearly found this amusing.

Almost all the photographs that the newspapers had of her was of her dressed in a military uniform or the old faded clothes that she had preferred for the last several years. They had the impression that of Kat and her two friends, Kat was the plain but driven, as opposed to beautiful but rebellious Helene or glamourous and insightful Gerta.

The other night had blown that completely out of the water. The newspapers had all seemed run with the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Ugly Duckling theme. They had included a picture of Kat wearing a pair of trousers and an old men’s shirt under her favorite old coat next to the one that all the papers seemed to have, the photograph of Kat, Gerta and Helene entering the Mable Hall of the Sanssouci Palace. Worse of all they had pictures of Kat and her choice of dance partners. They had one of her and Field Marshal von Wolvogle that had been taken at the same instant he’d made that joke about riding horses and dancing with pretty girls. Kat had a smile on her face. Then they had a photograph of her dancing with von Wolvogle’s onetime aide, Hauptmann Knispel. To Kat’s absolute mortification there had been speculation that there might be a romantic connection there.

“You have to admit he would be a good match” Peter said, “You’re both highly decorated officers and you both have reputations for selfless conduct.”

“That is where it ends” Kat said, and not just because she was at least eight or nine centimeters taller than him “While it was fun dancing with him, we had absolutely nothing to talk about afterwards.”

“There” Peter said, “I got you to admit that you did have fun.”

Kat glared at him.

“Admit it, Kat” Peter said, “You said that you allowed your Aunt Marcella to do your hair, your friend Gerta to do your makeup while your friend Helene minded the door to keep you from leaving.”

“Yeah” Kat said pensively, “What about that?”

“You could teach unarmed combat and knife fighting at Judenbach” Peter said, “Had you wanted to leave there is absolutely nothing that anyone in that room could have done to stop you.”

Kat stared at Peter, the only sound was the ticking of the clock.

“You were the center of attention, you had people astonished at what you really look like when you put in a bit of effort and I think there is a part of you that loved every last second of it” Peter said “Even the speculation that you might have a love interest. That makes you human, Kat.”

Kat sat there for a long moment, digesting what Peter had just said. The good thing about Kat was at least she was interested in listening occasionally. “Oh” She said.

“There’s something else I want to talk to you about” Peter said changing the subject “You’ve been talking to Hauptgefreiter Wirth in the waiting room before your secession.”

“You mean Rudy?” Kat asked, “He was in the same unit as my brother and he seemed to need a friend.”

“Thank you for doing that” Peter said, “We can always use the help.”

Kat and Rudolph Wirth were part of the same long-term research study but there was no reason for either of them to know that. Perhaps she was finally starting to learn that she could help out in a manner that didn’t involve suffering and sacrifice.

In transit, rural Germany

After months of teaching advanced air combat Lenz had been promoted to Hauptmann. That was a formality after he had reached fifty kills during the defense of Berlin, the magic number to automatically be awarded the Blue Max. Then he’d learned of his assignment, Jasta 60. The infamous dumping ground of the Luftwaffe that had patrolled the skies of Southern Germany against the day that the Swiss ever launched a full-scale invasion of Bavaria. He was looking at nothing less than having his once promising career come crashing down in flaming wreckage.

For some reason, he’d been ordered to Kiel as opposed to Bavaria. He had also been told that it was need to know and he didn’t need to know. The Oberst had told him that he would be briefed when he got to Kiel.
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No worries, Lenz is about to return along with Jacob Schmidt and Maria Acker. I just needed to have Kat come to a logical stopping point for a while.

I'm curious about something, so far you have had Goebbles, Hitler and Heydrich.

THen you have also had Rommel, plus I think you had Goering mentioned earlier in Argentina as ambassador, I think, so I was wonderiong, are their any others around from the OTL WW2 days, like Canaris, Raeder, DOnitz, Manstein, Guderein, .... captain Langsdorff.

Just curious if they are anywhere at all in this ATL, or if they are doing anything similar.
I wonder if a certain Barnes Wallace has been talking to the German allies in this war? Anybody for 'Upkeep' of maybe 'Tallboy' and as for 'Grandslam" that would leave the Soviets with a real headache!!!