I was expecting more partisan backlash from not working with the local groups though. Things look like they are going like a true military campaign so far, but intervening in a civil war should be much messier.
I was expecting more partisan backlash from not working with the local groups though. Things look like they are going like a true military campaign so far, but intervening in a civil war should be much messier.

Wait for it. The Germans have been equal opportunity when it comes to knocking off both Republican and Nationalist forces who have in the short run of the Civil War in TTL built up quite a lot of bad blood with the locals. In the North the Germans have been essentially been paying the locals off with what has become a economic boom as they passed through. As they've made their way towards Madrid they've not done as much of that and they are getting closer to both the Republican strongholds and the port cities that they've been in the process of leveling for months.
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Emily gets an opportunity and charges in. He earned a promotion and possibly another medal. Now he and Maria have met again and their bonding just gets closer.
Part 14, Chapter 137
Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven

12th May, 1937

Aranda Bridge

Emil stood there for a long moment. He had been waiting for the other shoe to drop, having Maria show up in a car full of journalists certainly counted as exactly that. Why couldn’t the Spanish have launched a massive counter attack to retake this bridge instead? That would be easier to deal with. He noticed that one of the journalists was pointing what looked like a small motion picture camera of all things at him, much to his displeasure.

“I’m sorry but the road is closed” Emil said “You need to go back to Madrid for your own…”

“We know the road is closed” Maria said “This is the story we came for.”

“What?” Emil asked, this was getting worse by the second.

“We heard that your Paras had jumped and we wanted to get the story” Maria said “You’re the story.”

That was precisely what Emil had been afraid she was going to say. “For your own safety, you need to go back to Madrid” He said “This is going to be a battlefield at any second.”

“How sweet” Maria said “You are concerned about our safety. Now let me introduce you to everyone.”

It was obvious that Maria was oblivious about what the situation was or more likely, she just didn’t care.

“Maria…” Emil said.

“This is Herr Hemingway and Herr Capa” Maria said, she seemed less than thrilled by the presence of Hemmingway.


Ernest Hemingway was watching Maria talking to Emil Holz, the Oberst turned General, both of them were speaking in rapid German. “Can you understand what they are saying?” He asked Capa.

“He’s trying to talk her into going back to back to Madrid” Capa said “And she’s having none of it.”

“Good luck to him” Hemingway said “That broad is a force of nature when it comes to getting a story.”

As they watched the talk between Maria and Emil became more heated, not quite to the point of shouting. “I’ll be” Hemingway said “All this time I thought she was a cold fish.”

“She’s hardly that” Capa said with a laugh “If I had to judge I’d say those two are a couple even if they don’t know it yet.”


Emil finally managed a compromise with Maria. He’d give them an interview and a chance to talk to any of the Paras that happened to be around if she went back to Madrid the instant she got the story she wanted. The in all likelihood the High Command would collectively have kittens when they found out he had allowed this so he hoped that Maria appreciated this access.

He had not bothered to set up a command post at the foot of the bridge preferring to dig in with his men. The result was that he ended up giving that interview in the guard shack after yelling for someone to be quick about cleaning the blood off the floor. He couldn’t help but noticing that Hemingway was taking notes the whole time this was happening.

As part of his longstanding habit Emil dressed like the enlisted soldier that he once was, not much to reveal that he was an Officer beyond the rank epaulets attached to the shoulder straps of his uniform. That was underneath the splinter knochensack smock he was wearing. He sat down across the table from Maria and Hemingway with his helmet and the G31 rifle he had acquired in front of him, the wall behind him had been sprayed with bullets and sunlight was shining through the holes. At that second Capa unexpectedly took a photograph that would become the face of German operations in the Spanish Civil War as it was passed around the world.

“For starters, what language would you prefer this interview to be in?” Maria asked.

“In deference to Herr Hemingway we should probably conduct it in English” Emil said. Years earlier at the end of the Great War Emil had attempted to speak to an American Officer, Captain Bradley and could barely make himself understood. He had been embarrassed by that incid4ent and had made a point of taking classes in English and French when he began at the University in Jena.

“Very well” Maria said all business “Thank you for granting us this interview.”

“You are welcome” Emil said.

“I understand you were a Colonel until recently and are the acting commander of the Luftwaffe’s First Airborne Division?” Hemingway asked.

“A field promotion this morning” Emil answered “And I am only commanding this Division until Generallieutenant Student is found.” That was hardly a secret and by the time Hemingway published the story any information he had would be useless.

“You think General Student is still alive?” Hemingway asked.

“Until I learn otherwise he is to remain listed as missing” Emil said.

“That’s all well and good” Maria said “I know I can’t ask questions about your ongoing operations but it’s your intention to hold where you are?”

“I cannot confirm that” Emil said “But this Division is trained to hold a position until relieved.”

“What can you tell me about Jochen Loewe?” Hemingway asked.

Maria instantly saw Emil’s expression harden. “He is a fictional character that I have never been comfortable with” He said.

“Why is that?” Hemingway asked.

“Because he is an idealized version of the German Officer that people say was based on my actions and conduct in France and Poland” Emil said “It is something that I am obviously not.”

It went on like that for another half hour, Emil talking freely about himself but speaking only in generalities when it came to military matters. It was when they were talking to the few enlisted men on bridge when they were walking out to the car that they had gotten a different story. One that floored them. Emil had been the last man out of a burning airplane, nearly drowned in the Jarama River and then led the attack that had taken this bridge. Emil had not mentioned any of this in the interview.

“He’s bound to get the Blue Max this time” A Soldat said.

“What do you mean this time?” Maria asked.

“He got skunked for Poland because of who his friends are” The Soldat said “Politics, you know.”

Maria didn’t know or hadn't known until now.
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The bodily waste is about to hit the rotary air impeller when THIS article gets published!
Great stuff again--a real feel to it.
If you like some constructive criticism in stead of just praise (which is what you rightly get the most of) you might remind the reader that Emil speaks English a little bit ahead of when he needs it. It comes across as a (too?) convenient fix.
A nice and fitting update and Emil and Maria continue their dance. Between the photograph and the articles Emil will become famous even when he wishes to remain anonymous. I wonder if in time he might get a Von to his name. ;)
If you like some constructive criticism in stead of just praise (which is what you rightly get the most of) you might remind the reader that Emil speaks English a little bit ahead of when he needs it. It comes across as a (too?) convenient fix.

I always welcome constructive criticism, some of the times that I've gotten details wrong it's been the readers who've alerted me to it. Most useful.
Part 14, Chapter 138
Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Eight

13th May, 1937

Aranda Bridge

The first attacks were clearly probing efforts. If Emil had any doubts about just how much the commander opposite of him valued the lives of his men, he had none after that. The Spanish infantry was chewed to pieces with no regard for loss or strategy.

Everything Emil had ordered to be set up the day before had involved funneling any attacking force into the road where the machine guns had been set up. Barbed wire and landmines saw to that. Still there was a part of him that didn’t approve of those landmines, an explosive charge launched them a meter into the air where they exploded sending hundreds of ball bearings in every direction. One of those could wipe out an entire squad. Just plain nasty.

That was how the second day had gone, it was clear the goal was to reopen the road and that involved capturing the bridge intact. Something that Emil saw to his advantage, he could care less about the damned thing.


Maria was typing furiously, mostly out of frustration with Hemingway, the pig. She had started to transcribe the interview the night before until she got so tired she couldn’t see straight. This morning she’d woken to discover that Hemingway had worked through the night and written up the sort of story that Emil Holz had stated repeatedly said he hated. The sort of story that blurred the line between him and Jochen Loewe, this one with all of Hemingway’s flourishes. Having known Hemingway for only a few weeks Maria already knew that asking for any revision would be a waste of time.

Instead she was venting on the keys of the typewriter, hitting them with bruising force. Her intention was to tell just the facts of the story as from her notes, nothing more. The problem was if she did that she would probably contradict one of the most prominent journalists in the world.

The war was also getting closer and closer, this afternoon there was the sound of artillery fire in the north. No one seemed to know what was going to happen if, or more likely when, the city was overrun. This was causing a great deal of consternation with the city leaders who were debating whether or not to declare Madrid an open city. What had become maddeningly apparent was that there had been no direction from Valencia. Maria knew many of her professional acquaintances back in Berlin were sympathetic to the Republican Government’s cause. It was cynical on her part but she was starting to think that they should all be sent to Spain to get a good look at what that Government was really like.

She paused from her typing for a minute, took off her glasses and was rubbing her eyes. This whole mess and just what sort of story could she honestly write about it?

Rural Spain, north of Madrid

Piontek watched at Spanish armor moved up the road, Russian built BT-5 tanks. They had not spotted his Panzer yet because it was on the back of a low hill. That meant that he was about to give them a good thrashing.

“800 meters and closing” Kurt said, matter of fact. Piontek wasn’t about to argue with that. He knew that if he took the time to use the rangefinder to find out if that was true he would just confirm what Kurt had said.

“Fine” Piontek said “Fire at 500 meters, armor piercing Olli.”

He continued to watch the tanks as they moved down the road. He could hear Olli loading the 5cm gun, the clunk of the breach closing and the sound of the turret motor moving as Kurt led the BTs. The gun fired and recoiled back into the turret. Piontek watched as one of the enemy tanks ground to a halt and began smoldering. Seconds later artillery shells started landing around them.

“Get us out of here!” Piontek yelled into the intercom and felt the Panzer lurch backward as Lars slammed it into reverse. Piontek’s mouth was filled with a coppery taste, he realized that this was because he had bitten his tongue.


Leary Quinlan watched as the first wave of the German tanks retreated. They had been racing down the road towards Madrid in the same manner as the Nationalists had months earlier. They had succeeded in throwing them back, this time they were better equipped and he couldn’t imagine that the Huns were any less full of hubris. The International Brigades were going to hold and buy time for reinforcements to arrive. There was a loud shriek and the tank in front of him, one of the Russian made cavalry tanks suddenly disintegrated in a fireball, the turret landing several hundred feet away. What could do something like that? Another of the tanks blew up as he was trying to comprehend what he was watching.

Afterwards Leary would never admit to it but as the ground was shaking, the ripping cloth sounds of the machine guns and the German tanks made a renewed push he had been one of the ones who’d taken flight and lived to the see the sunset. The sound and sight of what an 8.8cm Flak 36 gun could do to a target, even with HE shells, had totally unnerved him. The rest of the Internationals had fought almost to the last and had been decimated as a result. The next morning the lead elements of the 2nd Corps entered Madrid.

Alcobendas, Spain

Peter had been pressed into going back into being a field surgeon. In spite of the frequently gruesome nature of that job he found it a welcome change from his job as an administrator and mediating disputes with village and regional governments throughout northern Spain. He was to keep those people happy so that they would be willing to help keep a lid on partisan activity. The problem as Peter had found was that it was impossible to make everyone happy. Particularly in a place like Spain where local disputes when back to Roman times. In a field hospital, you made the decisions, did the best you could and no one questioned any of that. Of course, Peter got a front row seat as to exactly how heavy a price war extracted even in victory and the joys of triage.

In the closing hours of the 13th of May Peter was taking one last run through the soldiers who had been deemed untreatable. Most of them had been given a dose of morphine to at least keep them quiet while the Chaplains did their work. Already the registration teams were conducting their work, the Heer having had a lot of practice in this sort of thing. While there were stories of miracles at this point in the game no one was under illusions as to the reality, that sort of thing was rare. Still, for his own sanity Peter did one last sweep in search of one of these miracles.

Tonight, he didn’t find one. Instead he found an officer who had taken a bullet wound that had taken half his head off. It was the sort of thing he hated to see, using his penlight he confirmed the initial diagnosis, the man’s eyes were unresponsive. He’d seen this too often before. The Officer was essentially dead, everything that made him who he was, was gone, just the deepest part of the brain, the part that kept one breathing remained. Peter had seen people like this linger for days.

With a sigh, Peter figured that there was no point in not getting a jump on the inevitable, he pulled the identity disk out from under the man’s collar to get the name for his records. The name was one that everyone throughout the German Empire would instantly recognize. Peter pulled the pay book out from the breast pocket of the Officer’s tunic and saw that this was probably not a mistake.

He waved one of the Chaplains over. “I need you to keep a close eye on this one.”

The Chaplain was nonplused by Peter’s request. “What makes this one special as opposed to the others?” The Chaplain asked irritably.

“Just do it while I tell General von Bock that we have a situation here” Peter said handing the Chaplain the disk and pay book. The Chaplain went pale when he saw the name and Peter got no further arguments.
Part 14, Chapter 139
Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Nine

14th May, 1937


In the early morning hours Maria woke up to Grossmann knocking on her door. “I’m sorry to wake you” He said “But you would never forgive me if I let you sleep.”

This was totally out of character for Grossmann who hoarded his stories and contacts as if they were made of the most precious metals.

“Are you okay” She asked.

“I’m fine” He said “But there are somethings more important than professional rivalries.”

“If you can give me a chance to get dressed” She said through the cracked door.

“Very well” Grossmann said “The car is going to leave in five minutes.”

That surprised her, no lewd jokes after what she had just said. That settled it, there was something very wrong.


Twenty minutes later they were driving north, out of the city. They were driving through crowds of soldiers who were standing around. Here and there were bonfires burning in the night in a scene that seemed like it was medieval. They had heard in Madrid that the Heer had won a victory yesterday but this didn’t feel celebratory. This felt sullen and angry. They pulled up to a hacienda and Maria could see that it had been set up as a field hospital. In spite of the large number of high ranking Officers around the business of evacuating the wounded was proceeding uninterrupted.

“I need you take note of everything you see in there” Grossmann said “I can keep them distracted long enough for you to do that.”

“What is going on here?” Maria asked.

“My source told me a single ordinary death” Grossmann replied “One of the surgeons is an Oberstabsarzt named Peter Holz, he might like hearing that his older brother was well when you last saw him.” It was clear that Grossmann was telling her to take advantage of that to get the story, something that he likely would be unable to do.

Grossmann used his press pass to bull past the overwhelmed Soldaten who were attempting to stand sentry while this circus went on all around them. Grossmann walked up to a man who was wearing the uniform of a Generaloberst and immediately got into an argument over what he could or could not cover and the public’s right to know. For all his faults that was a sort of secular religion for Grossmann and he would argue it until Hell froze over. Maria found herself completely ignored. Looking around she saw a woman in her forties come out of a door of one of the buildings, from the uniform the woman was wearing she was from the Medical Corps. She was smoking a cigarette and leaning on the stone wall, she whole posture radiated fatigue.

“I’m looking for Doctor Holz” Maria said to the woman. She looked at Maria as if she were a pile of rotten meat.

“You’re not another one of the jackals from the press, are you?” The woman asked, clearly disgusted.

“I’ve news of his brother” Maria said “I’ve no idea why else someone might be here.”

The woman let out a sigh “I’ll take you to Doctor Holz but anything funny and you’re gone” She said “Do you understand.”

The woman led Maria through the building, it had been commandeered by the Medical Corps and an effort was being made to clean up what must have been a charnel house just a few hours earlier. They emerged into a walled courtyard, this was the place that Maria had only heard whispers about in the past. There was a reason it was called triage. Doctors divided the wounded into three groups. Those who could be saved but could wait, those who could be saved if treated immediately and those that got sent to places like this. The ones who couldn’t be saved. She was surrounded by the dead and dying.

“Good luck” The woman said before disappearing into the building.

“Doctor Holz?” She asked the nearly silent courtyard.

“Over here” A voice said.

She hurriedly walked over to where the voice was coming from. Maria recognized the family resemblance between the two men instantly. Emil was taller and had a longer face than his brother but both shared the same aspect of having the weight of the world on their shoulders.

“I figured that you would want to know that I saw Emil just yesterday” Maria blurted out, her voice sounding wrong to her ears.

“He was alright, at least physically, I take it?” Peter asked. Something about the way that Doctor Holz said that suggested that he knew something about his brother that Maria didn’t.

“Yes” Maria said “He got a field promotion and was preparing to defend a bridge south of Madrid.”

“At least that means that I’m unlikely to see him in here for now” Peter said.

“Don’t you have someone who can be out here for this?” Maria asked.

“Not this time” Peter said “It’s considered too important that in this case that all the paperwork is properly in order and the exact time of death is recorded.”

Maria saw that Peter was monitoring one particular patent, this man’s head was a mess of bandages that were soaked in blood and other fluids. “There’s no hope for this one?” She asked.

“No” Peter said with finality of a slamming door.

“Does he have a name?” Maria asked.

“Wilhelm von Preussen” Peter said flatly.

Maria’s breath caught in her throat. No wonder everyone was making a big deal about this.
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Oh isn't that going to be interesting. This seems similar in some ways to what happened with Napoleon IV. Which of the Wilhelms is it? Crown Prince (not OTL Crown Prince but his son)?
Part 14, Chapter 140
Chapter One Hundred Forty

14th May, 1937

Berlin, Germany

Kat was walking to another meaningless day in school, it was what you were supposed to do when you were her age. She had a feeling that it was only a matter of time before they suggested that she do something else. Part of the joy of living a life where no one expected a damned thing from her.

It felt as if her world was shrinking, growing smaller by the hour. Eventually this neighborhood would be her entire world. How long until it was a single street or a room? Gerta had told her that she was being silly but Helene had grown distant after the man she called Johan had spoken to them in the park. Reality was catching up to her friendships, her two friends came from a totally different world than Kat and she had no choice but to except that fact. Still she felt the crushing sense of loneliness that had permeated her life for the last few closing back in around her.

“A moment of your time, Fraulein” A voice asked, snapping Kat out of her self-pity. She saw that it was the man who Helene had identified as Johan.

“One minute is all you’ll get” Kat said “So it had better be good.”

“Is this what you want from your life?” Schultz asked.

Great, Kat thought to herself, another well-meaning fool trying to save her.

“I’m not interested in religion or whatever scam you are selling” Kat spat at Schultz.

Schultz laughed at that “I’m not selling you anything and religion is possibly the furthest thing from what I do” He said “Did Helene tell you just who I am?”

Helene had never told Kat who this Johan was, she would have warned Kat if this man was a pimp. Right?

“Helene didn’t tell me anything beyond your name being Johan” Kat said.

“I’m an old friend of her father, I was a mechanic with Jasta 11 in the Great War where he was my commanding officer” Schultz said “These days I’m what the Royal Navy might call a Warrant Officer though I no longer hold an official rank in the Luftwaffe.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Kat asked.

“Nothing for now” Schultz said “But what does the term werewolf mean to you?”

“A monster from the movies” Kat said “Usually the B feature that’s not worth sticking around for.”

“My son Jost would disagree with you” Schultz said “He lives for those sorts of movies.”

“Your moment is up, Johan” Kat said.

“Very well” Schultz said “I just want you to understand that you have more opportunities than you might realize.”

He handed Kat a business card that identified him as Johan S. Schultz from an Import/Export company based out of Zossen, Imperial Shipping. Kat had never heard of it.

“Discuss this with Helene if you want and if or when you are ready please call me.” Schultz said.

At that moment, a church bell started ringing nearby, the slow funeral toll. This was followed by another farther away. Kat realized that this was coming from church towers across the city.

“Did something happen?” She asked Schultz.

“I don’t know” He answered.

Madrid, Spain

Word had spread around the 2nd Corps like wildfire the night before. The Crown Prince had been shot and was critically wounded, early this morning word had come that he had died during the night. For Horst, it seemed strange that the death of one man should have a profound effect upon an entire Army Corps. There had been plenty of other casualties in this campaign but this was different. If there was one person that the Heer was supposed to keep safe during this campaign this was it.

The tradition of placing Princes in command of Corps had gone out with the changes to the law that had led to the formation of the OKW. Still this man of ultimate privilege had volunteered to come to Spain even if he was never going to command a unit of any size. It was unknown if it had just been bad luck or some Spanish sniper had chanced upon an amazing target. One thing was for certain, the Prince who might one day have been crowned Wilhelm the IV was going home in a box.

The newspaper that Horst was reading reflected none of the events of the couple of days. Instead it was focusing on the drive south from Burgos. That felt like it had been a million years earlier. It was the first time since France in the Great War when Horst had been unable to get a newspaper less than a month old that he had been disappointed in the news he was getting.

“The Oberst wants you, Sir” Jost said.

Great, misery all around for everybody. Horst thought to himself. Not many good things ever come from getting called into the Oberst.


“It was a random shot” Thorwald concluded, he had spent the last several hours walking off the likely angles that the shot had come from and conducting interviews.

“You are certain about this?” General von Bock asked.

“I’ve found no evidence of a blind, Sir” Thorwald said “None of the men in the area reported sniper activity in the minutes prior and most of all if there had been a sniper he would have bragged by now.”

“He could be like you” von Bock said “You never brag.”

“I’m different, Sir” Thorwald said “I prefer to let the fact that every Nationalist Officer of any stature is hiding in the deepest hole they can find do my bragging for me.”

General von Bock looked at Erwin Thorwald. Like many officers before him was thankful that this man was on detached service from the Luftwaffe and not in some opposing army.

For the Heer it was a few hours pause to process the events of the last day, then the war raged on apace.
Well things are about to go shit crazy back in Berlin and the politics of the situation will generate several reports. The new Crown Prince will probably be kept out of any combat zones I believe and depending on his age, married off and encouraged to start having kids pronto.

Glad that Kat will get a chance to be involved with future events along with Johan. I do not think Gerta or Helene will be allowed to go with her, but we shall see.

Maria has met her future brother in law and has a chance to file a story that may raise her credentials.

I look forward to what will come from the fall out from what has happened in these last few chapters.