So, is this the end of the Habsburg Monarchy? Bohemia and Slovakia will have Wilhelm as Emperor but political independence? Great to see that a peaceful resolution to the protests seems possible!
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Come now, P-M is allowed to have a break. They have been very kind to give us extra updates and perhaps with the changes coming after the War, they need to take a breath.

Though I do understand your frustration. It is a wonderful timeline and I look forward to each update.
Come now, P-M is allowed to have a break. They have been very kind to give us extra updates and perhaps with the changes coming after the War, they need to take a breath.

Though I do understand your frustration. It is a wonderful timeline and I look forward to each update.

It is totally meant as a compliment. This is one of the best read ever on this forum, and I've gotten completely hooked by the regular morning dose.
It is totally meant as a compliment. This is one of the best read ever on this forum, and I've gotten completely hooked by the regular morning dose.

I took it as a positive compliment and a wish to get a new update. Not getting your daily dose can send you into withdrawel pains. :)
I think Wilhelm would have been King not Emperor of Poland if Germany had gone down that route (but I think their plan was to place a Hapsburg on the throne of an "independent" Poland). King was the historic title.
Sorry about the delay this week, but if you ever see a POV character snowed in for two days, power & plumbing issues and an head cold. You'll know what inspired it.
Sorry about the delay this week, but if you ever see a POV character snowed in for two days, power & plumbing issues and an head cold. You'll know what inspired it.

Sorry you had to suffer those indignities. Hope that the situation can get better.

Though I like the idea of using the experience to make a character suffer.
Sorry about the delay this week, but if you ever see a POV character snowed in for two days, power & plumbing issues and an head cold. You'll know what inspired it.

"Gentlebeing," he said with a slight bow, "I feel that I can say on behalf of all the alternate history aficionados here assembled that we quite appreciate your story - an interesting tale exceedingly well presented." He offers a blue velvet bag. "Here are some kudos coins and zorkmids as tokens of our appreciation. Speaking for myself, you never have to apologize for anything having to do with the creation of the timeline."
Part 7 Chapter 50
Chapter Fifty

1st July, 1921

Wunsdorf-Zossen, Germany

Generallieutenant Boelcke looked over the meeting of command staff of the Luftwaffe. What there was of it. They were having to build a whole new service branch from the ground up. So far, they had several enthusiastic volunteers at this level and no idea what to do with them. Every attempt to lay down a realistic table of organization had triggered turf wars. What was the difference between an attack plane and bomber? And where did recon planes that could fill both roles fit in? That had caused a shouting match between Walter Wever and Albert Kesselring.

Then there were the more mundane things. They had the equivalent of several Army Divisions to manage. More than three quarters of the Luftwaffe personnel never flew as a part of their assignments. Recruiters never included things like finding 20 thousand pairs of boots or canned food by the metric ton in their literature.

At the moment, Boelcke had the relatively easy task of figuring out what to do about a command post that no one seemed to want. The Luftwaffe employed infantry, thousands in fact. Mostly as perimeter security at airfields. Recently a proposal had been made that they should have a Jäger Division, as soon as they came up with the idea they had hit a wall. They needed a proof of concept, a company sized unit that would fill the mission and work out the tactics and logistics. The problem was that they needed a junior officer with enough stature to lead the unit but was crazy enough to take the job. There was the minor detail that word had gotten out that the Luftwaffe was still trying to figure out how it all fit together and that taking the posting likely amounted to a very colorful dead end at the bottom of a very long fall.

That was when Manfred von Richthofen had come through “I think I know the perfect man for the job” He said.

10th July, 1921

Kleinburg (Wroclaw), Germany

Emil had never been this far east before. He’d gotten the letter at his parent’s house a few days before and it’d had practically sent him running for the door. His brother Peter had left a few weeks ago, conscription was just a way of life in their neighborhood. Turn 18, off you go and hope that there’s not a war in the offing. Naturally, his mother had not liked the idea of losing yet another of her children to the Army.

His father was a bit more understanding “Emil fought like mad in the last war so there’s peace now” Pops had said. Bad choice of words. Emil’s mother had never really forgiven him for running off and joining the Army, especially in light of the war having ended before he would have gotten called up. For the first time in his memory Emil had the room entirely to himself. It was proving not to be an enjoyable experience. Graduation had proven to be anticlimactic, he’d gotten his degree, the first person in his family to get a University degree and the first thing that Pops asked was when he was getting a job. Emil had stalled, Zeiss Optics and the Press shop his father worked at were the two obvious choices. He suspected that he’d rather shoot himself in the head.

Mercifully, he’d gotten a letter from Manfred von Richthofen with a train ticket. The letter was short and to the effect of; Heard you were at loose ends, come out because I’ve got an offer for you. He’d found himself riding in a car with Johan Schultz driving. The big Feldwebel lived in Kleinburg but had been willing to give Emil a ride out to the von Richthofen Estate, as near as Emil could tell it was in the middle of a forest and was huge.

Upon entering the house Emil could tell that the décor was that of a rural hunting lodge. This was spoiled by the fact that the place was big enough to have its own postal code. A Flunky left him standing in the entry, waiting. He felt eyes upon him and noticed that two children were peeking out from around a doorjamb. One 4 or 5 and the other a few years younger, still a toddler.

“Lothar, Helene leave our guest alone” a tall dark-haired woman said to them the two children vanished.

“I’m looking for Oberst von Richthofen” Emil said, feeling very out of place.

“You don’t look like one of my husband’s usual friends” She said “I’ll have you know I’ll accept nothing but civilized behavior in this house. I’ve banned Hauptmann Goering forever and I’ll do the same to you. I’m I clear.”

Emil had the feeling that crossing her was a bad idea. This was the mysterious Frau von Richthofen, who unlike her famous husband wasn’t a public figure and had absolutely no interest in becoming one. “Yes, Ma’am” He said.

“Good” She said, then vanished.

At that moment, the Flunky came back and motioned that Emil should follow him. Emil walked through the house getting thoroughly lost by the time they finally reached what he assumed was Manfred von Richthofen’s office. Two black dachshunds came running up and started yipping at Emil. When he looked down at them, they ran under the desk.

“Not what you were expecting?” Manfred asked.

“You could say that, Sir” Emil answered.

“When my boarhound died my cousin, Wolfram, sent me Fredrick and Wilhelm” Manfred said “It’s his idea of a joke.”

Emil could hear the two small dogs growling at him from under the desk “I guess it would be rude to return them” Emil mumbled.

“I guess you’re wondering why I invited you here?” Manfred asked “It had something to do with this.” Manfred pulled out a file folder that was bulging at the seams.

“Isn’t that supposed to be confidential” Emil said.

“For most people, yes. For me, no” Manfred said “You’ll be pleased to know that you’ve managed to completely burn your bridges with the Heer.”

“You didn’t invite me halfway across Germany so you could tell me things I already know” Emil said “You said you have an offer.”

“Yes” Manfred said “I’m prepared to offer you a thankless job that no one want’s because I am not from the Heer.”
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One-Glad that you were able to update.

Second-though delayed in time, I called it that Emil would get a job with the Red Baron. I look forward to just how much it will entail and what he can accomplish.

Third-I am glad that Richthofen survived in your timeline as I always had a bit of a soft spot for him. I hope he can go far with the Luftwaffe.
Part 7 Chapter 51
Chapter Fifty-One

30th September, 1921

Vienna, Austria

What a way to spend your twenty fourth birthday, Lang thought to himself looking out the hotel window down on the river and the many crossings. In a city, far from home mostly because it was the last place in Europe that anyone expected him to turn up. The last redoubt of the Hapsburgs, the notion of revolution seemed very remote here. Finding themselves as a Duchy, a rump state on the backside of a growing German Empire was what no one at any level of the Austrian State wanted. As for what Lang was doing here, Rhona had insisted that if they were going to have a honeymoon then the last thing they needed was to have politics interfere. That had been one of two things that she’d insisted on. The other one was a simple civil ceremony for their wedding with only immediate family. Rhona had been horrified by her more traditional sister’s wedding a few years earlier. To a Rabbi’s son no less.

Lang’s father and Greta had made the journey to Berlin. It turned out that Rhona’s sister Esther and her family were located right outside the City in the sprawling Wunsdorf-Zossen military base. Rhona’s parents hadn’t exactly approved of her marriage to an infamous revolutionary. So, they’d declined the invitation.

The brother-in-law, Jacob, had been unexpected, a Naval Officer, some sort of genius and a very odd man. His current obsession, in his spare time, was with tracking the Spanish Influenza from a couple of years prior. Lang already knew too much about that subject. Lying in bed too weak to move and your whole body is aching. While fluid in your lungs made alarming sounds, equally alarming noises were coming from your bowels and you knew you would be unhappy if either of those made it to the surface. When Lang had asked what Jacob what he was doing as his actual work he’d gotten a very guarded response. One of those sorts of deals. Lang knew better than push that too far.

Lang also had other reasons to stay out of trouble. Emil had vanished a couple months earlier. His father had warned him that if he got busted then expecting Emil to spring him could result in a very long wait but wouldn’t say why. Plus, there was the upcoming elections were inevitable after the results of the prior Spring’s election. The National Liberals had clung to power by a very slim margin. That was going to fall apart sooner rather than later. Lang intended to run for the Reichstag from Jena when that happened.

“What are you thinking about?” Rhona asked.

“About one of my closest friends” Lang said “And where he’s scampered off to.”

“Emil would have been there if he’d known” Rhona said “Odds are he’ll turn up in a few weeks with a story to tell.”

“That’s the thing about Emil” Lang said “If he says that he was out doing something crazy then that’s usually not the half of it.”

Over Rural Germany

This is insane, Emil thought to himself for the thousandth time as he looked out the side door of the transport version of the Gotha bomber and saw the country spread out like a map from a thousand meters up. Manfred von Richthofen had offered him the assignment of leading a Company in the newly formed Luftwaffe. It just came with a few strings attached.

What amounted to redoing basic training with emphasis on commanding a rifle platoon, something Emil could have done in his sleep, and this minor detail, jump training. He’d heard that the original parachutes had required that the person doing the jump had to hold themselves in just the right way or else they wouldn’t deploy properly. It was mostly because of that rejected design and the horror stories it inspired that there had been few takers aside from Emil for this job. Not that the newer design, dubbed the “nut cracker” by flight crews was that much of an improvement. It was just certain that using it slightly wrong wouldn’t leave you buried several feet into the sod.

“You’re not going to one of the ones I have to give the boot!” The Crewman yelled over the engine noise. Yeah, he was all heart. At least this wasn’t like the proposed combat jumps. In those, the plane would be flying just high enough to have the parachute break their fall. Those would come later. That being dictated by the prospect of ground fire.

“We’re over the target, good luck!” The Crewman yelled.

Might as well get this over with, Emil thought as he jumped out the door. There was a sharp tug as few reached the end of the tether the other end still clipped to the static line inside the cabin of the airplane. That pulled the ripcord leaving him bouncing in the turbulent wake of the big transport watching parachutes of the eleven others who’d followed him out the door. To think he only had to do five more jumps to get the certification. Manfred von Richthofen had made perfectly it perfectly clear that if Emil volunteered to do this he’d either learn to swim or drown. So far, he hoped this is what swimming looked like.

Wunsdorf-Zossen, Germany

Jacob sat there looking at the numbers on the cathode ray screen, as his encoding machines had grown larger and more complex keeping track of the numbers had become a problem. That was when Jacob had remembered two articles he’d read years earlier. One involved a consumer product from America that used magnets and wire as a recording medium. The other a forgotten and unsuccessful experiments conducted just prior to the war in England. Out of necessity he’d learned the engineering and finished their work.

When he’d sent his report in on the Enigma machines he’d irked quite a few high-ranking individuals who had been sold on it, not that Jacob had ever cared about that sort of thing. His conclusion was that the devises where useful but field units should be aware that the system could be compromised. As a result, he still produced pad cyphers for the Abwehr Cryptology Department. Enigma machines were produced as a stopgap while he worked on something better.

Mechanical rotors had given way to electronic switches and vacuum tubes, his machines were to the point where they could do hundreds of calculations per minute. But still from his perspective they were a bit of a failure seeing as to how they were too large and heavy to be of practical use in the field. The High Seas Fleet had disagreed. It turned out that a machine that could rapid calculations speeding up the process of getting the firing solution for the main battery of a battleship was more than welcome and on a battleship who cares if it weighed almost a metric ton. What had been Jacob working alone in the basement of Abwehr became a full-fledged department after that.
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