Thanks for the inclusion on the Big picture perspective. So Germany is maintaining readiness for round 2.
I guess it would be beneficial with a British perspective as well as part of the narrative. We are losing some of the emotional aspects here, and the crawling sensation of losing control if the strategic game. Not suggesting you rewrite it now, but worth considering for a final version.
Great work
Maria had returned to Berlin once the negotiations ending the war in Spain had dragged on. Neither the surviving Republicans or Nationalists were willing to sit across from the Provisional Government. With the upcoming elections in Spain neither of those formally warring factions were going to have a pot to piss in. That had resulted in the newspaper deciding that they were no longer interested in keeping two reporters in the field there. Grossmann had offered to return to Berlin but she had told him to stay in Madrid and get the story. She had boarded the Lufthansa flight back to Berlin a few hours later. Quite a change from how she had entered Spain months earlier in a hired lorry in the dead of winter.

Maria was trying to get a handle on the massive stack of correspondence that had piled up on her desk during her absence when one of the secretaries walked up to it. “There’s a gentleman here for you” She said.

“I’ve this mess to deal with” Maria said “Tell him to come back some other time.”

“I think you are going to want see this one” The Secretary said “As in you might regret it if you don’t.”

“You see this” Maria said curtly gesturing to the pile that made it so that she couldn’t even see the surface “Take a message and I’ll get back to him, understood.”

“Yes, Ma’am” The Secretary said.

The Secretary walked back out to the lobby “Sorry, Sir” She said to Emil Holz “She said she’d too busy at the moment.”

“I understand” Emil said as he turned to leave. An hour later he boarded the train to Rechlin.

Quite the tease you are. :p

How old is he actually? You said he lied about his age to join the military/WW1, so I would assume he was 16ish just before war broke 1898???
Emil was born on the 28th of Feb, 1900, so that would make him 37.

so he enlisted before his 16th birthday.

IIRC he was quite green at Verdun in 1916

Age 16 is the allowed age for enlistment? Interesting.

From Chapter 1
Emil knew better to mention that today happened to be his birthday, a slip of the tongue on his part would open a can of worms he did not want to deal with. Months earlier he’d lied about his age to join the Army. He’d been afraid the war would be over before he got there. Barely an hour went by when he didn’t curse his own stupidity. He’d figured out the nature of his mistake while still in training. This had been hammered home during the prelude to the battle when he had endured weeks spent in a crowded dugout that he’d shared with the rest of his company waiting for the weather to improve.

As of today, Emil’s enlistment was legal, so getting sent to the stockade for false enlistment was no longer an option......
If Emil ever finds out who let the cat out of the bag to the writer, Olli and Kurt may find their lives become... interesting.
I wonder how long it takes to scrub a parade ground clean with a small toothbrush?
"If Emil ever finds out who let the cat out of the bag to the writer, Olli and Kurt may find their lives become... interesting.
I wonder how long it takes to scrub a parade ground clean with a small toothbrush?"...

Not much change of a panzer crew transfering to the Para's. Mayby when they are developing a german version of an Locust or Tetrach airborne tank. Guess which crew will be volunteerd.
“She said that there are three lit fuses. Two were lit in Spain and one is in the form of a man underground” Kat said “On the day that the dome is consumed by fire a blood tide will come, followed by a blue-black tide that will sweep everything away.”

Ah, so things are about to interesting. A Reichstag fire?
As far as I know, conscription age in the German Empire was 17, while legal age was 21 (or you could be declared legal age with 18). However, if you volunteered, no one would look too closely at your age if you didn't look like a 12-year-old, not just in Germany, but in every country at war. The last survivors of WW1 had all been underage volunteers, including, iirc, a British navy sailor who volunteered at 14.
Part 15, Chapter 151
Chapter One Hundred Fifty-One

1st August, 1937

Cullera, Spain

There was nothing quite as sad as to get killed in a war that was basically already over. Particularly when it was someone that Hans had never known very well. Feldwebel Raskoph had gotten himself blown up hours before by a roadside bomb. The task of preparing his remains for transport had become the last indignantly that he had imposed upon them. The last few weeks had been as pleasant as anything that could be expected by a soldier. Camping near the beach, swimming in the ocean and telling bullshit stories around the driftwood fire at night. Then Raskoph had been one of a few soldiers who’d had been unlucky enough to be in the blast of a bomb buried in the road as he was on his way to get breakfast that morning. No one knew how long that bomb had been there. It might have been buried there the night before or it could have been there for weeks waiting to go off and caught a few unwary fools in the blast. What they did know was that the Brass had expressly ordered then not to retaliate against the locals, that it would be dealt with through other channels. Afterwards they found themselves eating lunch under some trees and discussing what had happened.

“This makes you the acting Squad leader Hans” Jost said with a smirk “Think we ought to fit you for a coffin now or wait till later.”

“Real funny Jost” Hans said “But I’m not going to make Feldwebel for at least another three years, so the curse doesn’t affect me.”

“Who says what a curse does or doesn’t affect” Rudy said “Is there a committee back in Berlin or some weird shit.”

“It’s just how things go down” Jost said “In the last year we’ve now had two Feldwebels who’ve died violently when they weren’t supposed to. If that’s not a curse than what is?”

“That’s hardly a pattern” Henrik said. Henrik, more than any of them had reasons why he disliked trying to predict things. He’d gotten furious after having to listen to weeks of debate over who was the winner of the fight during the church tower incident. People just could not let that one go, especially with both sides convinced that the payout should go to them. “And how do you explain Horst, he was our Feldwebel before he got promoted?”

“The curse killed Horst but he is such a hard ass that he told Death to piss off when the Reaper showed up for him” Jost said before taking a bite of the mystery meat that made up their lunch.

“How can you eat at a time like this?” Burgstaller asked “A couple of hours ago, you were asking for a shovel to clean up what was left of the Feldwebel.”

Burgstaller had been tight with Raskoph, even while he had never really gelled with the rest of squad. They had come through Wunsdorf together under Horst and later the march through the Pyrenees. Burgstaller and Pfaff had joined them after Pamplona. They frequently found themselves on the outside looking in because of that.

“My Old Man was in the Luftwaffe before it was the Luftwaffe” Jost said “In those days the life of aircrews was measured in hours. Now, if he put everything on hold every time someone in his outfit turned up dead, that would have been all he ever did. So, as he says about situations like this, we owe the dead to keep on going because otherwise they died for nothing.”

“Here, here” Hans said, with a smile “And hope that they’re at the Gates of Heaven feeding Saint Peter a line of crap about what great guys we are, except for Henrik. It’s obvious he’s going to burn in Hell.” That last part was met with laughter.

“Screw you guys!” Henrik yelled.

“I’m not a part of that scene” Jost said sardonically “Besides that, you’re ugly.”

London, England

Eric Blair was looking at the front page of the newspapers in the stand. German Ambassador to Prime Minister “Clean up your own mess” was what one headline read, King neck deep in Spanish fiasco another read. He had considered going to Spain but had been busy with the final touches of Bligh’s biography. Now it was looking like fate had dealt him a winning hand, what had happened in Spain would fuel the tabloids for months. The life story of the London gang boss had become a modest best seller and now he was at loose ends. He was looking at the paperbacks for sale in the newsstand trying to get some ideas on what to do next.

There were a series of trashy romances, not the sort of thing he would consider writing in years. There were Westerns, Cowboys and Indians. Eric could probably do one of those but felt he didn’t know enough on the subject and he couldn’t see himself traveling to the distant American West. There was also a collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

“What do you know about these?” He asked the man running the newsstand referring to those last books.

“Not a lot” The Man said “Young’uns can’t seem to get enough of them though.”

“Really” Eric said. He opened a random book and read a page. An elf with an unpronounceable name was talking to a dwarf. He picked up another book that featured a lurid rocket ship on the cover, it was not much better. He could do far better than this and if such a novel was actually about something real… So much the better.
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The fallout from the revelations continue and how many more politicians and businessmen will be caught up.

It may be that Hans will get the promotion even if he may not want it. It may be yet another thing to get Jost jealous and resentful.
Part 15, Chapter 152
Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Two

18th September, 1937

Putlos, Germany

Shortly after the filming of the movie had wrapped Kurt and Olli had gotten reassigned to a work crew. Kurt suspected that this had more to do with them being at the bottom of the food chain than anything else. They were currently in the process of helping evaluate the same T-26 that they had driven in the movie. That had included shooting it with 37mm guns and cutting it apart afterwards. Representatives from the various manufactures were on hand to record the data.

There was a buzz in the air over an improved version of the Panzer III that was supposed to arrive at any time. The Heer had decided to adopt the Panzer that was originally intended for export as a stop gap measure. There was rumored to be a couple of new Panzers, one was a new medium and the other a heavy breakthrough model. Those designs had been delayed again because the Powers That Be wanted the lessons of Spain factored in, so they were still just paper projects. A new Schützenpanzer had arrived from Skoda, this one with a two-man turret, a 20mm automatic cannon with an 8mm coaxial. If they could ever get back into the vehicles they would get a chance to check these out. In the meantime, they were admiring the questionable workmanship of the Soviet Union and the enduring mystery of how they had worked at all.

Berlin, Germany

Maria had been hiding in her apartment since she had watched the advanced screening of the film based on the Battle of Arganda Bridge. She knew full well what dramatic license was but she had found the thinly disguised depiction of her to be perfectly appalling. They must have had trouble finding an actress who looked like her, the tall, blond, willowy sort of woman that the studios preferred was everything that Maria wasn’t. They had also done their best to depict what they thought was a career woman in a manner that said more about the studio heads and screen writer than they had intended.

She was starting to understand why Emil Holz hated how he was depicted, no one ever got it right. He was portrayed as some sort of perfect example of what a soldier should be. A chivalrous knight in a fallen age. She was depicted as driven, somewhat ruthless and as having little regard as to her appearance. The worst part of it had been when the lights had come back on after the screening Goebbels, the slime ball reporter from the equally slimy right-wing rag across town, had been standing right there with a smirk on his face. He was clearly waiting for her to leave so he could make a series of snide remarks about women in men’s roles and her in particular.

She had come straight home, locked her door and unplugged her phone. Next Friday, just six days from now that movie was going to have its general premiere and odds were everyone she knew was going to see it. Many of them were in the same field as her so they were perfectly capable of reading between the lines. Her as the love interest of General Holz, why would anyone believe that tripe?


Esther sat there typing from the notes that had been compiled from the meeting that had occurred regarding the Spanish Operation that had been called a day after General von Bock had returned ahead of the 2nd Corps. Esther had on good faith that nearly identical meets were happening in the other Army Corps that had gone to Spain.

The program of employing local populations had payed dividends as had maintaining good relations with civic leaders, providing basic services and infrastructure development. While this had not gone without hiccups it had limited the partisan activity. This program had been based on an equally successful program that had been carried out in Poland and it was recommended that a special civic affairs department be formed by the OKW to carry out similar operations in the future.

It was acknowledged that the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division had prevented reinforcements from reaching the defense of Madrid at great cost to themselves. The proposal to expand the Luftwaffe Airborne Division into a Corps was endorsed.

The Panzer Divisions of the 2nd and 5th Corps had performed beyond expectations. The more traditionally structured 3rd Corps had gotten bogged down in Barcelona. It was recommended that in the future, Divisions be trained in urban warfare if such battles could not be avoided.

For individual Soldiers, dozens of changes to their kit was recommended. While the helmet that was standard issue for the Heer had done an adequate job preventing head injuries most of the injuries and deaths were inflicted by shrapnel. A means needed to be found to protect soldiers from those injuries.

Esther paused, she saw the numbers of dead and injured in just the 2nd Corps alone. How many of the young men she had seen from day to day in Wunsdorf in the past had never left Spain alive? Hundreds apparently.

It had been discovered that the winter uniforms were entirely inadequate in the Pyrenees Mountains. There were frequent requests for a means to combat enemy armor at the platoon level. And the list kept going on and on.

Franco-German Frontier in transit

Hans was the only one awake as the train rolled through the dead of night. He got tired of looking out the window at the moon lit country side as it rolled past and got up to stretch his legs. This involved pushing past Soren and Jost who he was sharing the bench seat with. They cussed at him without ever quite waking up.

Walking to the end of the car he opened the door and saw the outline of someone already out there in the darkness. There was no wind or racket because the train was moving along at a walking pace. Horst turned around and looked at him.

“Sorry, Sir” Hans said “I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“You’re no bother” Horst said “It looks like we’re almost home.”

“Are you sure about that?” Hans asked.

“As sure as I can be” Horst said “I just wish this war, police action or whatever they’re calling it had ended differently.”

“What?” Hans asked.

“When the Great War ended, we knew it” Horst said “It didn’t just sort of fade out like Poland or now Spain. It would have been good for you lot to feel that sense that we had when the guns fell silent and we knew we had won.”

“You thought you won?”

“We won by surviving to the end” Horst said “While I hope I never see another meat grinder like the East Road it was a simple matter. We pushed towards Paris and they pushed towards Reims. Living to fight another day was a victory in itself.”

“We won in Spain” Hans said “Didn’t we?”

“I won” Horst said “If you’re being honest with yourself, you’re still trying to make sense of it.”

Hans looked at Horst quizzically.

“I won, Hans, because your Squad, the men I personally trained survived to the end” Horst said “That is what I consider winning.”

They sat there in silence for a while as the train slowly rolled up to the border. It occurred to Hans that he had never understood Horst in spite of being under his command in one form or another for the last year.
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