A Special Prisoner's Life
0800 January 1st 1946
Braunau am Inn, Greater Germany
This little town located in the former Austrian country saw almost no change since the breakout of the war. Very few conscripts left the town to join the Wehrmacht as the little Austrian town couldn't provide much to the war effort, whose drain on the German population wasn't ever felt by the few inhabitants of Braunau am Inn. The war, for them, was almost entirely something heard on the radio or read from the newspapers.
Suddenly, in the Summer of 1944, a small expedition of German architects, diggers and bricklayers, skillfully disguised as Wehrmacht regulars, led by a fictitious officer, convinced the population that they were setting up a military camp in the town. But, inside a thick wire fence perimeter, they were actually building an underground bunker, which would host an illustrous citizen born in Braunau am Inn, but no-one would ever know.
The bunker itself wasn't that large actually. At the entrance, a rather large door, a long corridor of around twenty meters led to the entrance of three rooms for each side; at the end of such corridor was the prisoner's room, which further hosted two little rooms, a bathroom and a bedroom. The six rooms along the corridor were a communications room, two restrooms, a kitchen, a supply storage room and a bathroom. Fifteen among guards and soldiers kept a close eye to the special prisoner for more than one year, as their only contact with the broader reality was their radio equipment in the communications room, apart from the occasional, and highly concealed food convoy visiting the bunker to replenish the storage room.
The prisoner's room was separated from the corridor by two thick doors.
This day, however, some people would pay a visit to the bunker and to its special prisoner interned within.
As the guards escorted the small group to the end of the bunker's corridor, the two doors were opened and the guests stepped forwards. Once inside, they found a shady figure sitting in a chair at the front of a wooden desk; with one trembling hand he held a magnifying glass as he wandered with his eyes through the various European countries of a rather big map he had on his desk. Neither the screeching noise provoked by the two thick doors, nor the clicks of several pairs of boots had distracted him from his immersion. Then the two doors were closed.
"Herr Hitler, we're glad to meet you again after so many months of absence." Martin Bormann finally said, after several seconds of silence.
Hitler was not disturbed at all and did not show any reaction.
"We've come here to discuss about a few things" Speer finally added after another impasse "we have a lot of things to explain."
Hitler finally reacted, as he slowly put the glass on the desk, with his right hand trembling.
"To me it's everything perfectly clear, gentlemen. You have overthrown me, end of story." Hitler said, with a rather feeble and slightly ironic tone "What is it now, your fun hasn't lasted for long?"
"While this journey to 'your' bunker is totally unrelevant to Germany's business, we've actually come here to, let's put it that way, extract some satisfaction by updating your knowledge of the World to today's news" Speer said.
"Which basically means you want to tell me that, since I'm no longer in office of this damned Country, everything goes fine, huh? How cute of you. Just like when, in those rotten Democracies, they say it's always the previous government's fault. Haven't you made Germany a Democracy I hope, at least?" Hitler's tone grew a little more sarcastic as he looked at his former members of his cabinet each by each.
"Of course not Herr Hitler. The population still thinks that you are leading Germany. Do you know what day is it today?" Speer replied.
Hitler made a small gesture with his head, indicating the wall at his left, filled with hundreds of little scratches in groups of four.
"Today is January 1st 1946. This bunker is located in a town rather familiar to you, herr Hitler. It is Braunau am Inn."
Suddenly Hitler was awakened. "My birthplace? You have brought me to my birthplace?"
"Herr Hitler, let us explain a few things. It was not in our intention to oust you from your power because of political bickering or thirst of power. We have not forgotten that you saved Germany from the Great Depression and restored it to its former glory; it is with you that we finally emerged superior to the treacherous requests of the Allies and their Versailles treaty."
"Have you come here for some bootlicking now?" Hitler replied annoyed.
"We haven't. We're just saying that, while we must be grateful to your work, you also risked to ruin everything. It was our only option to take command and alter the course before it was too late, and fortunately it wasn't. Your fatal mistake was taking control over the Wehrmacht."
"That Soviet scum has been able to repel our forces when they were in the brink of defeat, and I shouldn't have taken command over such an incompetent conduct of war?"
"Enough hollow talk. Herr Hitler, you might be more inclined to believe to some statistics and numbers" this time Guderian took the initiative "shortly after your demise, we transferred all of Luftwaffe to France and battled for air supremacy with the Allies. In the East, we ordered a general retreat to pre-Barbarossa borders and our defenses almost held with a line two times shorter. Imagine what could've happened if we tried to maintain a line stretching from Latvia to Romania.
After a few weeks of reorganization, the Allies haven't been able to take Paris. With partial control of the skies, we launched a counter-offensive that quickly crushed the Allies' defenses and split them in several pockets. Over twenty divisions were captured and among them is Eisenhower. Operation Overlord turned to be a major setback for the Allies.
In the East, however, the Red Army was breaking through in southern Poland. But by then many of our divisions were finally rested and reinforced, and a skillful, yet risky, operation masterminded by Rommel and Model, allowed for the encirclement of one hundred and twenty Soviet divisions. In September of that year, over one million soldiers were forced to capitulate, without food nor ammunition, to our forces.
It is not everything. In late Autumn we launched an offensive in Italy, capturing the whole peninsula and destroying thirty Allied divisions in the process."
"Then in January 1945 we annexed Sweden." Ringel added.
"Then we saved Finland" Guderian continued.
"Then we began an offensive culminating with the conquest of Leningrad and the Baltic Countries" Ringel resumed.
"And in the process, we destroyed more than ninety Soviet divisions. Now we are poised to strike at the heart of the Soviet Union." Guderian finally concluded the climatic escalation of German successes.
After a brief silence, Hitler replied "To me you are, and remain, a bunch of disloyal generals. What makes you think that I'd believe everything you throw at me? Of course if you keep me away from the real world I could even believe that you've been able to land in Washington!"
"Perhaps the fact that you're still here?"
"Perhaps the fact that no foreign troop has entered Austrian soil and threatened this very bunker?"
"Perhaps the fact that we're here talking to you instead of taking care of national matters?"
"Accept the reality as it is, herr Hitler. Your only mistake has been interfering with strategic matters where you didn't belong" Guderian added, as everyone else nodded "Unfortunately for you and Germany, it proved to be fatal."
"Do I have to be subjected to this torture for any longer?" Hitler objected.
Speer replied "We're not trying to psychologically alter your perception of reality, herr Hitler; and even if we could do that we don't want to do that. We're keeping you here to make you reflect about your past, your decisions, what has gone wrong and what not. From now on, your room will be equipped with a radio, which will transmit twenty-four hours a day every bit of news about the Third Reich. Believing what it is going to say is up to you."
"Funny that it comes from an absent-minded architect like you, Albert. Is it you who devised this damn building, eh?"
"You're still a prisoner, herr Hitler. You have our bits of respect and whatnot, but you are here for above-the-law reaons that we deem necessary, and you are going to follow our directives. All you have to do is stay here and listen to the radio. A specialized group of psychologists will see you every two days, herr Hitler, from now on. We'll come back in exactly a year from now to see what our équipe has achieved with you. Any further question?"
As they were talking to him like he were an internee of a mental ward, Hitler exploded in rage "Traitors! Fools! You keep me here because you think I've been driven mad? I--"
The sight of a Luger pointed to his forehead calmed him to more human behaviour.
"Please remember, herr Hitler, that we still and always have the right to decide your fate and that of your own life. Don't play with our patience. Afterall, you're not the only one here."
"Many did not share our vision about military matters. It is understandable, as even in 1944 not many were fully aware of the true situation; many were instead captured by your rhetoric. Goebbels and Himmler are the most notable prisoners we are currently detaining."
"Have you also ever thought about it" Bormann added "I'm actually running this damn cabinet, but all the credit goes to you. Hitler here, Hitler there, and we do the dirty job in your absence. You are regarded as a hero in Germany since we pushed the Allies out of France when everything seemed lost. And you would think we're doing this for thirst of power...!"
"See, without me Germany would collapse..."
"But militarily speaking, it probably wouldn't, and it didn't. So we're keeping the best of both worlds. Appease the population, and give free hands to our most competent generals."
"Revenge will come... you, the scum of Germany..."
Speer replied "Enough of this. We'll see you in a year, herr Hitler. For now, enjoy the vacation - it's not a bad place afterall, if not for the lack of sunlight - and enjoy this special équipe that will talk with you everyday. Oh, and don't forget to listen to the radio."
"I will destroy whatever you bring to deceive my mind!..."
"It will be made in a way you cannot harm it or modify it in any way. You know, there's a communications room in this bunker. All you'll see is a loudspeaker. Why do you complain, you won't be feeling so alone anymore. Goodbye herr Hitler, our visit is done for now."
Hitler did not take any chance to reply, as he had been more or less deprived of any will to react after more than one year of isolation. Two guards opened the doors and escorted Bormann and the others to the outer world, outside of the bunker. Two heavily armored Volkswagen awaited them, heading for Berlin.