Part 9 Chapter 85
Chapter Eighty-Five


2nd December, 1929

Wunsdorf-Zossen, Abwehr Cryptographic Department, Germany

It caused a stir to have a General walk into this Department. Most of the Brass didn’t understand the work they did here. Pride kept them away, Jacob could have told them a thing or three about that sort of thing.

He was listening to radio transmissions. Mostly civilian broadcasts, frequently there was almost as much to be learned from those as the coded military transmissions that were assumed to be his bread and butter. As it got dark the radio transmissions grew more powerful for reasons to do with the Ionosphere that had recently been discovered but Jacob found that he just didn’t care about that sort of thing as much these days.

In America, President Curtis was refusing to answer questions from the press about the worsening state of the American economy or the soured relations between the US and UK. Closer to home the German Government had squeezed a few concessions out of the French Delegation in ongoing negotiations for the trade pact. At the small cost of a few lives disrupted and a rouge French agent thrown down a dark hole, he thought bitterly. A couple of months earlier he would have listened intently for the bits and pieces of things that he could be sure that he had played a role in, now it all seemed to be so trite.

That’s when there was a knock on the door, a man wearing the black uniform of the Panzer Corps, the epaulets of a General on the shoulder straps. “Mind if I join you, Herr Schmidt?” He asked.

“Not at all General von Wolvogle” Jacob said. Wolvogle noticed that his voice was totally flat.

“Got anything to drink around here?” Wolvogle asked, totally at a loss as to how to handle this conversation. He’d been ducking it for the last month but he’d come under pressure by his entire staff. It marked one of the rare times when Manfred v. Wolvogle had ever succumbed to the opinions of others.

“Top drawer of the filing cabinet in the corner over there” Jacob said.

Wolvogle opened the drawer and discovered that there was a half full bottle of Jamison and a few glasses. There was also a couple of Lugers, a Bergmann Mark II with its stock folded up and what looked like a few hundred rounds of 9mm in there. It had occurred to him that he’d misjudged Schmidt when he heard about some of the things he’d done in the last couple of months. This confirmed that.

“Interest you?” Wolvogle asked.

“No” Jacob said “And you can take that with you when you go.”

“How’s that?”

“I stole that from César Sauvageot’s liquor cabinet the first time I had him arrested. Now it’s just a reminder of how unbelievably stupid I was to treat it like a fun game where I could show off how smart I was.”

“That is the son of a bitch that blew up your house ain’t it” Wolvogle said “You got nothing to be ashamed of, his inability to take a defeat is on him and you got him back. Didn’t you?”

“It changes nothing.”

“Proves what you know, kid” Wolvogle said taking a drink of Sauvageot’s whiskey “Someone goes after my family like that and by the time I was through with them, they’d be so full of lead you could sell them for scrap. You did it in a way that preserved your own career and honor. Not many men could make the same claim.”

Jacob just sighed and shook his head, Wolvogle could tell that it would be a long time before he stopped blaming himself for what happened.

That was when the phone started ringing.


Wunsdorf-Zossen, Germany

The sounds and smells were strange. She had no idea where she was and could hardly move, her muscles just felt like they were dead. She thought she could hear the ping of a steam radiator close by. Her throat felt like it had been scoured with sand. As she managed to pry her eyes open and saw that she was in a dark room under a white painted ceiling. That was when she noticed the light was flickering, with more effort than should have been required she managed to turn her head and saw that it was snowflakes hitting the window next to the bed she was laying on. It was still Autumn, wasn’t it? What had happened to her?

The door opened and the room was flooded with light. From the voices two women entered the room. Helga Schultz and Rhona? Wasn’t Rhona supposed to be in Berlin and she had only ever met Helga in passing. It sounded like they were having a discussion about religion.

“I’m telling you that it can’t possibly hurt” Helga said “I pray to Saint Jude for my children every day.” Helga was a devout Catholic, wasn’t she and Saint Jude was the patron Saint of lost causes, that didn’t sound good. It was predictable what Rhona, an agnostic since almost as soon as she could learn to talk, was going to say back.

“That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement with how much trouble your children cause” Rhona said.

“They are spirited and could use all the help they can get” Helga said back.

“I swear they just left her here in the dark” Rhona said, changing the subject.

“The hospital staff is busy and does she really care?” Helga said. She was in the hospital? That was when a memory surfaced of her running and then getting hurled through the air like a rag doll.

She heard the sharp intake of breath that Rhona did when she was about to really tear into someone. That was really something that she didn’t want to hear. Helga didn’t deserve that. Between her parched throat and tongue that didn’t seem to want to work for her she found that she couldn’t get a word out.

There was a click and the room was flooded with light as the overhead lights came on. She closed her eyes against that painful onslaught. She needed to get her bearings here. Where was Jacob? He’d been there and had told her to run. Had something happened to him?

Rhona and Helga continued their argument, it was clear to her that they were just talking past each other. Two headstrong women totally convinced of their own perspective. It couldn’t be any other way with them. It was all just pointless, all the arguments in the world paled in comparison to what she wanted, a drink of water. She’d happily kill for that about now.

With great effort, she pried her eyes open against the painful light. “Wa” was all she was able to croak out. Helga and Rhona looked at her in astonishment. How could that have possibly been a surprise?
 
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Esther awakens. It appears her mind works, though it remains to be seen if anything else does. Looks like Jacob learned A lesson, though it remains to be seen if it's the right one
 
Part 10, Chapter 86
Chapter Eighty-Six


14th April, 1930

Shoki, Poland

Peter Holz was walking down the road towards the village. His rucksack was full of medical supplies, he’d learned that going about on foot was the fastest way in rural Poland this time of year. It was either walking or the Raupenschleppers, the tracked lorries that the Pioneer Corps used. Not much else moved around Poland this time of year.

After University and Medical School Peter had encountered one of the truly great ironies of his life. If he wanted his skills to go where they would do the most good, then he would have to rejoin the Heer. The difference was that his Doctorate in Medicine, time in grade and EK2 gave him a leg up. It was a lot easier being a field surgeon that was assumed to have the authority of a Hauptmann as opposed to being a Soldat medic.

At the moment, Peter was with his two assistants and a half platoon of Polish Infantry who were along just in case. As unsettled as this part of Poland was, it was doubtful that any of the locals would bother anyone from the German Medical Corps. It was said that the Medical and Pioneer Corps were doing the work of a thousand Divisions in rural Poland. The Pioneers were upgrading the Polish road and rail network. It was a part of the program which the German Government was using to integrate Poland into the Empire. Once a year the Emperor rode a train into Warsaw, gave a speech that was widely broadcast throughout Poland about how he was proud to be King of such a wonderfully industrious people and basically blew smoke up everyone’s ass. Everyone put up with it because they knew that the radios would go back to regular programing shortly. Then the Emperor hopped back onto his train and headed straight for Lithuania. The rest of the year the Poles were left to their own devices. It was an arrangement that had suited every one for the last decade. The most visible portion of the German State was people paving roads and providing free medical care.

Upon entering the village Peter did what he always did and looked for the Hetman. How that worked in practice was that it was the man in the village who owned three hogs as opposed to one. Peter steeled himself. He was about to treat this man as if he were the Mayor of Berlin so he could do his job. All in a day’s work.


Wunsdorf-Zossen, Germany

Esther was back at work for the first time in six months. Her recovery had been maddeningly slow. Spending the first weeks in the hospital having a team of neurologists fussing over her trying to determine the extent of any cognitive or neurological damage she might have suffered had turned into an ordeal. That they were there at the behest of General von Wolvogle had made it particularly difficult because she couldn’t exactly tell them off without feeling guilty about it. The bulk of her problems when she’d woken up had been because of atrophy and losing several kilos of weight that she couldn’t exactly afford to lose. There were also a large number of “Get well soon” cards from a large number of disturbingly prominent individuals and a reunion with her daughters, both of whom were old enough to know that something had happened but were still young enough to be left in the dark. The sensitivity to light and nausea had passed with time.

Finally, she had been discharged from the hospital and discovered that she didn’t exactly have a home to go home to. The house was a half ruined, charred wreck and the apartment that Jacob had prepared was unacceptable. He’d meant well but having the apartment located within the security perimeter of the Military reservation felt like cowardice to her. She’d make due for now but as soon as the house was rebuilt she was moving back out there. Helga had told her what she had heard from Johan. Jacob had chased to man who had destroyed the house halfway across Europe, captured him and had him put somewhere that he’d never get out from. Johan wasn’t supposed to have told Helga any of that but Johan never was very good at keeping secrets, from Helga anyway. Her going back to her rebuilt house would be a triumph as far as she was concerned.

She walked into her office and discovered that it was unchanged from when she’d last left it in October. Apparently General von Wolvogle had run off every one that Personnel had tried to have in this position, even on temporary basis. Esther would have been touched except she couldn’t tell if that was for her or just the General acting like he usually did. There was a stack of messages, the usual sort of requests and demands that the General needed to address.

After being gone for months who knew what sort of horror show would greet her when she walked in to the conference room or the General’s office. Drunken midnight saber drill or target shooting were just some of the things that the General and his staff had indulged in whenever Esther wasn’t around in the past. After so long away, she considered it a miracle that the building was still standing and not a smoking ruin like her house.

First thing in the morning the General would be in his office, probably catching a nap to help stave off the after effects of whatever he’d been doing the night before. As Esther walked down the hallway she noticed that no one was paying attention to her. After several months being the center of attention and treated like she was made of glass that was a nice change. When she walked past the conference room what she saw made her jaw drop. The General and his entire staff, from Wolvogle himself down to the Aspirants and Enlisted were all wearing their dress uniforms. “Attention!” The Hauptfeldwebel, Esther struggled to remember his name, Horst, she thought, yelled.

She walked in, hand over her mouth, horrified as they all snapped to attention, reacting as if she were a Field Marshall there to do an inspection. “I hate all of you” She said laughing.

“You’re supposed to say At Ease, Ma’am” Horst said.

“Whatever, At Ease” Esther said, that’s when she noticed that Jacob was there, totally out of place in his dark blue Naval uniform. There was clapping, yeah, they’d had their little prank. It was good to be back.
 
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The Raupenschlepper, Ost was real. It just came a bit later in OTL but with the German Army active in Eastern Poland far earlier in TTL I figured that the vehicle or something like it would come into use because of impassible roads in the Spring and Fall.

Raupenschlepper_Ost.jpg
 
Especially with losing/pointless-truceing WWI, with the casualties they suffered, and in light of how terrible the first American troops were on the Western Front, I'd imagine the British would be beyond profoundly angry and distrusting of the Americans with a known/leaked WPR. It's one thing to plan such a contingency, but is terribly bad form for it to be leaked like that. I'll be really interested to see how the distrust builds between the Empire and the Rising Star.

You know what, I think you could see an Asian WWII between the Germans, Chinese and Americans vs the British, Dutch, and Japanese. Or you could even see a 3 way Cold War between the US, British Empire, and German Empire, possibly even with contradictory interests in the Pacific vs. the Atlantic theaters.
 
Especially with losing/pointless-truceing WWI, with the casualties they suffered, and in light of how terrible the first American troops were on the Western Front, I'd imagine the British would be beyond profoundly angry and distrusting of the Americans with a known/leaked WPR. It's one thing to plan such a contingency, but is terribly bad form for it to be leaked like that. I'll be really interested to see how the distrust builds between the Empire and the Rising Star.

You know what, I think you could see an Asian WWII between the Germans, Chinese and Americans vs the British, Dutch, and Japanese. Or you could even see a 3 way Cold War between the US, British Empire, and German Empire, possibly even with contradictory interests in the Pacific vs. the Atlantic theaters.

The Germans appear very keen to drive a wedge between the US and the UK but they appear to see the US as a genuine threat to interests in Asia. They seem more keen to undermine the United States rather than draw them into an alliance but I could be wrong.
 
Especially with losing/pointless-truceing WWI, with the casualties they suffered, and in light of how terrible the first American troops were on the Western Front, I'd imagine the British would be beyond profoundly angry and distrusting of the Americans with a known/leaked WPR. It's one thing to plan such a contingency, but is terribly bad form for it to be leaked like that. I'll be really interested to see how the distrust builds between the Empire and the Rising Star.

You know what, I think you could see an Asian WWII between the Germans, Chinese and Americans vs the British, Dutch, and Japanese. Or you could even see a 3 way Cold War between the US, British Empire, and German Empire, possibly even with contradictory interests in the Pacific vs. the Atlantic theaters.


The US was fairly isolationist at this time. If anything, I would think it would be worst in this TL. The US still lost all those men, and nobody got anything, except the butcher's bill. So, I'd think the US would be interested in their own, and nothing else.
 
The US was fairly isolationist at this time. If anything, I would think it would be worst in this TL. The US still lost all those men, and nobody got anything, except the butcher's bill. So, I'd think the US would be interested in their own, and nothing else.

Isolation and imperialism don't necessarily contradict one another, especially not on the American continent. You could easily see a lot of resentment and distrust towards the British. I'd also expect that the theory that the Zimmerman Telegram was a British ruse and that the Lusitania sinking was because Britain was smuggling weapons with OUR PEOPLE aboard and in harm's way.
 
Isolation and imperialism don't necessarily contradict one another, especially not on the American continent. You could easily see a lot of resentment and distrust towards the British. I'd also expect that the theory that the Zimmerman Telegram was a British ruse and that the Lusitania sinking was because Britain was smuggling weapons with OUR PEOPLE aboard and in harm's way.
Add in the Nye Committee....
 
And was it really the germans of all propnr that got hold of our warplan or was that just a British excuse to cover their espionage?
 
Part 10 Chapter 87
Chapter Eighty-Seven


7th May, 1930

Jüterbog, Germany

Horst was here as a representative of General von Wolvogle along with Oberstlieutenant Rommel. The Oberstlieutenant had commanded Stormtroopers in the Great War and was considered by some to be among the best infantry commanders to emerge from the conflict. After the war, he’d continued on with his Alpine troops eventually writing a book, Infantry Attacks, that had become a best seller bringing him the the attention of General Manfred von Wolvogle. Some people are destined for greatness, others have greatness find them because a General liked reading their book while sitting on the can. The inner circle around the General was a heady dangerous place. As a senior Noncom on the General’s Staff Horst could beg off most nights, using his busy schedule as an excuse. Rommel wasn’t so lucky but he’d had the dubious privilege of learning armored warfare while at the right hand of the General. The side bets that the enlisted men had going as to when he’d get dragged off to a rubber room had all defaulted. No one had bet that he’d still be around after a year and a half. Rumors were swirling that he was being groomed to command a Panzer Regiment next year.

They were watching the prototype of the Panzer II do the rounds. The diesel engine had proven a must after experiences in Poland as had the welded hull, no more rivets to become projectiles in their own right inside the hull. The high velocity 5cm main gun was an evolutionary improvement on the low velocity 57mm main gun that had been used in Panzers going back to the Raupe. Its counterpart was a dedicated infantry support vehicle based on the same hull that was in many ways a throwback to the Raupe. A casemate Panzer with a 75mm howitzer mounted in the hull, Stumgeschütz or StuG. The problem was that tax revenue had dried up and the Government was looking to make cutbacks wherever they could. The phase out of the aging fleet of Panzers wasn’t going to start this year as a result. The Luftwaffe was screaming bloody murder about being stuck with aging obsolescent airplanes that were increasingly seen as a potential source of firewood as opposed to weapons of war. The Navy had seen their entire program stopped cold until further notice, they were to complete what they’d started and be happy that they got even that.

“It looks good” Horst said “Too bad we aren’t getting many of those anytime soon.”

“You ever ride around in those?” Rommel asked.

“I rode on the back behind the turret.”

“A bit exposed isn’t it?”

“It comes with the territory” Horst said “The whole random luck of combat thing, when your number’s up, it’s up” Horst just shrugged at that.

“Seems safer to ride inside” Rommel observed.

“Yeah, but you’ll never cram a whole squad in there.”

“Perhaps” Rommel said “But what if you took the turret off or something?”

“If it were that simple” Horst said “Someone would have already done it I suppose.”

Rommel gave no answer to that. Horst stood there thinking about what had been suggested. Had anyone tried that? Horst mentally filed that away as something to look into.


Kiel, Germany

Jacob was walking up the gangplank of the SMS Graf Spee, the High Seas Fleet’s newest Battlecruiser and likely the only one of her Class that would ever be built, her two sisters having been cancelled. She had become a test bed to a series of new technologies. Her propulsion was from ten large diesel engines that propelled her to an impressive 28 knots. It was her main armament that was why Jacob was here. Two double turrets fore and aft mounting 42cm L50 cannons that were the prototypes for a naval gun that was to be used on a new class of Battleship that was still in the planning stages and was due for construction, if the funding ever materialized. The idea was to shoot a 1250-kilogram shell at around 850 to 900 meters per second. Jacob had some ideas about what could be done with those and had volunteered to help train the crew to use the fire control system that was a version of a system he’d designed. He had needed the break from international entanglements and a couple of months at sea was just what he needed and training gunnery crews in the Baltic was as close to an official combat assignment as he’d probably ever see.

When he’d told Esther that he was considering this she practically packed his bags for him. She said she was tired of having him mope around like he’d been for the last several months.


Rechlin-Lärz Airfield

Oberst Emil Holz was writing the report on yet another failed rifle. One made by Walther this time, he’d made arrangements to have the pieces shipped back to them earlier that day. In vigorous testing that duplicated the conditions seen in combat it had proven inadequate.

He’d reached the conclusion that the powers that be who did procurement sent him these nightmare rifles to either get someone killed or, more likely, because sending him unworkable rifles that he’d be forced to reject was cheaper than reequipping the Division. He was also starting to wonder if Soren Bang had compromising photographs of someone in procurement because it seemed like every rifle he rejected was based on that system. Once he was done with that it would be back to business as usual. Who knew that walking endless loops around the perimeter fence of the Airfield, something he could have delegated to someone else but didn’t because it’d become a convenient escape, would become the highlight of his day?
 
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Ah, lack of funding, the bane of militaries everywhere.

Interest in mechanized infantry (If funding can be appropriated), a diesel battlecruiser (With German-equivalent Ford rangekeeper), and Bang rifles.

At least the Bangs are being treated with the scorn deserved by such a misguided system.

If new tanks are appropriated, perhaps the old ones can modified into IFVs
 
btw how did rommel and guderian who where captains when WW1 ended make such jumps in rank?

Guderian was a general staff officer in WW1 and would have been subject to fast advance post war ITTL, being the right hand of the Corps commander leading the charge across Poland didn't hurt. Rommel was a highly decorated officer even prior to the POD. In OTL he was promoted to Major shortly after the war ended and his career stalled for almost the next two decades. The reason why they would be further along in their careers vs OTL is that there has been other conflicts and opportunities that otherwise didn't exist. I considered where they would be after 13 years in a timeline where the German Army wasn't severely limited by treaty.
 
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Part 10 Chapter 88
Chapter Eighty-Eight


1st June, 1930

Rechlin-Lärz Airfield, Germany

Emil could tell what they were dealing with as soon as he saw the footprints in the grass beyond the hole in the fence. Still this was good practice for the men of the squad he was leading tonight. The hole had already been repaired a few times but the intruders always managed to undo the twists of wire that were used to do those repairs. He would have had the whole section of fence replaced but he figured that a new hole would be cut inside a week. Landmines would solve the problem but that would upset the public, which would be bad.

“No one chamber any rounds, I want there to be no accidents” Emil whispered to the squad’s Feldwebel “They will be at the end of the threshold. I want them taken quickly and quietly on my signal.”

They spread out once through the hole in the fence. They paused only long enough to close up the hole in case the intruders headed back this way. The runway lights came on and a Junkers W32 came in to land. The radial engine chugging as it passed. A bottle lay in the grass, reflecting the bright lights. Emil made note that they’d need to send a cleanup detail through here tomorrow to prevent the danger from any broken glass.

They silently advanced like wraths through the night. As the lights shut off they were all but invisible in the darkness. That was when they sighted the intruders, or rather the coal on one of their cigarettes. Emil let the squad do their work, he was really just here to observe anyway.

There were three of them, sitting on the grass, drinking beer and watching the airplanes come in to land. The twelve Paras stopped about three meters from the intruders, undetected. This was the time for classic storm tactics. Emil pulled the old brass whistle that he’d carried around since Verdun from the pocket of his coat and blew a long blast. The surprise was complete, the three teenagers were grabbed as soon as they were on their feet.

They struggled briefly but stopped when they realized that there was no point. The boldest of them started yelling and protesting their treatment.

“You do understand that you are intruding here?” Emil asked him.

“Well, who do you think you are?” The classic deflection of answering a question with a question. “You base security assholes are just supposed to ask us to leave.”

“Who said we are regular base security?”

At that moment, the lights came back on as another airplane flew in. The young man who was protesting saw Emil’s Oberst epaulets on the shoulder straps and the unit tab on the collar of his uniform.

“Oh, shit” He said totally wide eyed, not what he had expected.


2nd June, 1930

Wunsdorf-Zossen

The project had turned out to be a lot more complicated than Horst had thought it was going to be, which was probably the reason why no one had done it. They had boosted a Panzer from the motor pool, one of hundreds of the vehicles and unlikely to be ever missed. Then had come the next problem, the mechanics had a pretty good idea of how it could be done just the doing is where it got complicated. They needed a crane to lift off the turret and basket. Something that none of them knew how to use. Then there was some work with a cutting torch and welding, another area where they lacked the expertise. They ended up bringing in some friends from a Pioneer Company. This had only brought on more curiosity as far as the experiment was concerned. Horst had hoped to keep the Brass out of this. But with about fifty men now involved and probably twice that number knowing about the project it was only a matter of time before somebody blabbed.

Once the turret, basket and ammo lockers were out they’d encountered the next problem. The suspension springs and drive shaft were exposed. This was solved by bolting down sheet-metal coverings on these things, this had also helped them put in the two bench seats that they’d planned on. They had also welded a steel plate into what had been the fighting compartment closing off the driver and hull gunner. They had finished this off by installing a 13mm machine gun mount. Once the work was complete they were left with one problem. What was going to happen when the Brass saw that they had mutilated the vehicle. Was it really better to ask for forgiveness than permission?


Kleinburg, Germany

Manfred von Richthofen felt like a portion of his youth had just passed from the world as he read the newspaper. Albatros, which had been unable to advance past plywood and fabric construction was being acquired by Focke-Wulf at a steep discount due to Albatros being in receivership. His thoughts were interrupted when there was a crash and the sound of shattering glass. Fredrick and Wilhelm were barking at whatever had just happened. Manfred heard an exasperated voice yell “Helene!”, a reminder of the present.

Of his two oldest children, Lothar was so much like his namesake uncle that it was almost enough to make one ponder the possibility that the Hindu belief that souls reincarnate. Helene on the other hand was the true child of Manfred von Richthofen, which had come to mean that she was an impulsive, stubborn unholy terror during most of her waking moments. Käte frequently reminding him of this whenever she did something particularly disruptive and/or destructive.

Manfred got up with a sigh. No matter what else happened, life continued, didn’t it. Property damage and all.
 
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