36, and already agaisnt Denmark. You are far too swift.
36, and already agaisnt Denmark. You are far too swift.
Slaughts - It would sure be nice. Of course, the Heer is still much smaller than it was in OTL '41.
Metroid17 - Thanks! Oh, frustration with the Italians is only beginning .
Enewald - Perhaps, but if we go by word-count, I'm probably too slow .
Time for Hausser to get some Danish pastries, methinks...
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Photo quiz of the day:
This highly-placed Briton makes a major announcement in early November. Who can figure out who he is?
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He's not Hankey. But I did find a picture of Hankey where he does look startlingly similar to this man.
I would've said Clement Attlee, but the forehead structures don't match up. Hmmm
Duff Cooper, Secretary of State For War?
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Correct, Slaughts! Duff Cooper it is!
Next update some time in the next few days.
The Italian offensive into Egypt has collapsed just as Germany seeks to broaden the war. Hopefully the Axis powers are not overextending themselves, especially since it seems as if troops might need to be sent to back up the Italians in Africa.
Thanks Hardraade! And good points. Next update going up forthwith.
Chapter III: The Lion’s Den
November 7, 1936
“Germany calling. Germany calling. Germany calling. Here are the Grossdeutscher Rundfunk stations Reichssender Hamburg and Bremen on the 31 meter band. You are about to hear our news in English.”
From the other side of a pane of soundproof glass in Berlin’s Reichsrundfunk studio, Victor Reinert nudged Joseph Goebbels’ private secretary. He’s good.
Recording studio at Grossdeutscher Rundfunk, Berlin.
“The plutocracy of Stanley Baldwin is clearly tottering now. He has been increasingly criticized for his disastrous prosecution of the war by members of his own cabinet and in the Government. ‘Why is it,’ many in Britain are privately asking, ‘that we are being subjected to rationing and blackouts and daily bombing of our country? Why is it that we are burying so many thousands of young men for a war that Baldwin is conducting half-heartedly -- not, as he says, for any national interest, but in support of a gang of radical French leftists and even communists? Why is it that the wealth of our empire is being wasted on guns and bombs and planes while more than a million are still without work? Why are our war widows forced onto the dole while the financiers and industrialists who are the friends of this government become richer than ever before? Why does son of the miner or the mill-worker go off to die in fire in the skies above France, while the son of the plutocrat who profits from his death is sent safely away to school in America?’
“‘Why,’ they ask, ‘does the Prime Minister evacuate tens of thousands of troops from Tunisia and then tell us that it is a victory?’ In the midst of these failures, Baldwin’s Secretary of State for War, Sir Duff Cooper, is calling for volunteers. He has issued a call for 250,000 new volunteers to serve in the Territorial Army by January. These quarter-million men will, he says, be used to free up regular troops for service overseas in defending Egypt. And now, people again ask: ‘Why?’ ‘When the best news is the war is that the retreats have slowed down, when gross mismanagement has led to so many lives wasted already, why should we again be demanded to sacrifice our husbands and fathers? Why should wives and mothers trust the lives of a quarter-million of their husbands and sons to a government so preoccupied with the idea that war is a business that it forgets to attend to the business of the war?’
“And now, we bring you word of the pilots and airmen shot down for this war.”
Reinert looked through the glass and saw the broadcaster hold a type-written list in front of himself and began to read. A moment later, the speaker in the control room crackled again with his ponderous, refined baritone.
“Flight Lieutenant Cecil Cameron, of No. 46 Squadron, was shot down over the Channel, and parachuted safely out of his burning aeroplane. He was rescued and treated for minor injuries.
“Flight Lieutenant Harry Broadhurst, of No. 80 Squadron, was shot down over the Channel, but parachuted into the water unharmed. He was rescued by a German Navy cutter.
“Flight Sergeant Ronald Dawes, of No. 10 Squadron, was shot down as his Heyford went about its mission to bomb France. He was quickly captured and treated for a badly broken leg and other injuries. The three other members of the crew of this aircraft, identified as Flight Sergeant Graeme Wood, Pilot Officer Charles Stuart Miles, and Flight Lieutenant William Baker, the aircraft’s commander, were all killed in the crash.
“Finally we report that a Flight Sergeant John Erickson, reported on the RAF missing list since October, has been confirmed to have been captured, and is receiving treatment in hospital for major injuries sustained in aerial combat.
“And now, we announce to you targets for tonight. There will be major bombings tonight in Portsmouth and Canterbury. Civilians are advised for their own safety to depart these cities at once for friends or relatives in the country. The rural districts of East Ashford, West Ashford and Tenterden can expect to be particularly hard-hit tonight, owing to the gathering of military forces there. All civilians in these districts are advised to make their way north for the night, so as not to be injured by stray bombs.
“These are the Grossdeutscher Rundfunk stations Hamburg and Bremen. This is the end of our news in English. Our next transmission of news in English will take place tomorrow at the same time, 4:15 PM, British Standard Time, and will be broadcast from stations Hamburg and Bremen on the 31 meter band. Thank you very much indeed for your attention.”
Behind the glass, the broadcaster leaned back from his silver microphone, and a recording of the Deutschlandlied began to play. Goebbels’ secretary turned off the speaker.
As the studio assistants sprang to their tasks, Reinert imagined untold thousands of British households gathered around their radios, silently taking in what they had just heard.
Although the British government made efforts to discourage the civilian population from listening to the Radio Hamburg broadcasts, Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry used every possible lure to bring in listeners every evening. By releasing word on the fate of downed airmen by radio before even to the Red Cross, he capitalized on the feverish worry of servicemen’s families to ensure a wide audience. Other segments on the broadcast included instructions for treating injuries from bomb fragments, sensationalized war news and notes on minutiae of life in Britain intended to convey an air of German omniscience. Although mostly fished from day-old newspapers, these details were apparently rather successful in spreading alarm -- fanning rumors of German spies throughout the country.
By far the most effective tactic, though, instituted in September as RAF control of the skies began to rapidly slip away, was to simply announce the locations of the next bombing targets. This controversial measure -- approved by Hitler himself after a stormy meeting with Goebbels, Bayerlein and Göring at the Berghof -- was intended to sow widespread panic. Targets were announced at the end of every night’s News in English, forcing residents of the Southeast to tune in en masse for their own safety. Although targets were strictly military or industrial, the inherent inaccuracy of night bombing left few inclined to stay in a city slated for attack. The show ran just late enough that Britons would have to leave their homes immediately upon the conclusion of the broadcast in order to get out of the city before the bombers came.
“This will choke the streets,” Goebbels had told Hitler at the Berghof, “creating scenes of panic and chaos as people stampede in an attempt to get out. Fire brigades will be unable to reach fires, and maximum impact will be achieved. If, on the other hand, constables come out with clubs and pistols and force everyone back inside the moment the bombing is announced, people will be driven mad with terror and resentment toward the government that has gotten them into this.”
Göring’s natural objection came from the additional risk to which his bombers would be exposed, stripped of the element of surprise, but he at last came around to the idea. Bayerlein had suggested that such tactics would only taunt the RAF into expending the last of its fighter strength in putting up a brave front to reassure the populace, whereupon it could be vanquished decisively. Indeed, General Göring had assured Hitler that the RAF could be totally neutralized over southern England by the start of the winter storm season, and he now found himself latching onto the News in English as a ploy to draw the fighters up for his mortal blow.
General Göring speaking with airmen of Luftflotte II near Calais.
From his forward command post at Cap Gris-Nez on the Pas-de-Calais, known as the “Holy Mountain”, Generalleutnant Kesselring was now directing what were to be the decisive stages of the Battle for the Air. Thanks to relentless bombing and strafing of the southern airfields, ADGB, Britain’s air defense command, had been stunned and paralyzed.
Routine bombing missions now often crossed the coastline unchallenged, having more or less free rein over Kent and parts of Essex, only meeting significant resistance if a particularly important target was threatened. Nonetheless, joint Abwehr and Luftwaffe estimates judged that ADGB was holding back a reserve strength of perhaps 75 working fighters and 150 bombers. Additionally, the report said, there were between 300 and 400 additional planes of all types in other commands throughout Britain. The holding back of these reserves suggested to HKK that the British were likely starting to envisage an impending invasion.
But Britain’s was not the only only air force stretched thin. The Luftwaffe, still reeling from its losses in the titanic air battles over northern France in the first months of the war, could no longer project its power across Western Europe as had been hoped, and had found itself able to spare the pilots but not the machines to form the Legion Dietrich von Bern. Nonetheless, the cream of its fighting strength had been gathered into Kesselring’s Luftflotte II, which could still boast a strength of 389 fighters and 257 bombers. The News in English never failed to remind its listeners of the growing German mastery of the air.
Reinert looked up. Goebbels’ secretary was looking at him strangely. “He seems to have excellent presence, Dr. Hetzler, even if he sounds a bit strained.”
“Yes. Ah -- well, the English seem to think so and that’s what counts. Good day, Herr Reinert.” Hetzler tipped on his black bowler hat and shook the Abwehr agent’s hand before turning for the studio door.
Taking a deep breath, Reinert started after him. “Dr. Hetzler, I am to speak with you further.”
“As I said,” Goebbels’ henchman returned, “I have no authority to make such a decision. The most I could do -- show you the goings-on of the studio -- I have already done.”
“You may recall that although you may not speak for your superior here, I speak for mine. If we cannot work things out here today, Admiral Canaris will have to speak to the Reichsminister personally.”
“I am under specific instructions from Dr. Goebbels to maintain his authority over all propaganda broadcasts. The authority behind his instructions flows directly from the Führer.”
“Then call Dr. Funk. I’m sure he’ll be willing to accept responsibility to the Reichsminister.” As State Secretary of the Propaganda Ministry and Press Secretary, Funk could usually be relied upon to have Goebbels’ ear in professional matters.
Hetzler leered at Reinert from behind thick glasses. “Follow me.”
Reinert had been arrested as a burglar on that terrible morning in July. He had been lucky, though -- the Dutch police had no reason to suspect he was anything other than a common criminal, and by strictly keeping his silence he had been able to avoid further scrutiny. He had languished in a Utrecht jail for almost two months, not knowing whether the German invasion would really come. When at last freed by advancing panzer forces, he had been given a month’s leave to recuperate from the ordeal and prepare himself for a return to service. He was still shaken.
“Sit.” They had reached Hetzler’s office, and the propaganda man began dialing Funk’s office. Within more than a minute he had reached him: “Herr Reinert of the Abwehr is here with me, Dr. Funk.”
Reinert caught his eye: “Tell him that he Abwehr requires special oversight of the broadcast scripts in support of a --”
“Better,” Hetzler said, “if you spoke to him yourself.” He handed Reinert the telephone, and he began to explain.
What Reinert needed, he assured Funk, was not an operational message of any kind. The Propagandaministerium knew that if it allowed the Abwehr to insert cryptic messages to spies into the News in English broadcasts, the British government may be induced to outlaw listening to the broadcasts, which was up to now merely discouraged, or even to jam the stations -- completely neutralizing them as tools of propaganda. So instead, Abwehr (Section II) ran a separate station out of Antwerp that ran nothing but a single album of Benny Goodman music, repeated endlessly throughout the hours of the day and night. At unpredictable intervals -- every few minutes to days apart -- the record would be taken off the air and replaced by morse code signals, spoken numbers or a woman’s voice reading passages of German poetry. More rarely, and usually after some significant incident in the war, the same woman would speak to listeners in English. “To our friends,” she always began. Cryptic messages would follow. “To our friends,” she said on the twenty-fifth of September, immediately before the invasion of the Netherlands, “the mouse will go into the cupboard tomorrow. The mouse will go into the cupboard tomorrow. Tell Peter that you need a torch. Tell Peter that you need a torch. Good luck.” Of course, none of these messages meant a thing.
The ersatz code was really just blank cipher text -- generated by feeding the same letter repeatedly into an Enigma machine. The more creative parts of the charade were cleverly scripted by a junior staffer named Rosenthal, and read by a former high-class prostitute who had worked in London before the war. Frustrated by the Abwehr’s failure to develop a network inside Britain, and eager to harass British intelligence services, Canaris had devised the Benny Goodman Station, as it came to became called, as a way to simultaneously play upon SIS fears of German agents in Britain and induce them to waste resources monitoring the station.
In truth, aside from Kummer, the psychologist stuck in a desk job at SIS, German Intelligence didn’t have a single spy on the ground in England. The poverty of information that naturally resulted was at least partially offset by increasing aerial reconnaissance capabilities and a steady flow of decrypted signals. Section II had for a long time been able to almost effortlessly crack a few obsolete diplomatic codes, but had now also been able to read the most important code in use by the Royal Navy for more than a year. With this, Canaris was able to provide HKK with reports on the positions of all the major British capital ships, as well patrol patterns of warships enforcing the blockade in the Atlantic, accurate usually to within half a day -- and sometimes less than an hour for priority traffic.
But an invasion would require more human agents physically in Britain -- a need so pressing that it had brought the Spymaster to the brink of catastrophe. The news was still unknown even to Hitler. U-12 had deposited five agents ashore at Clacton-on-Sea at high tide on November fourth. The men, the first agents to be inserted into Britain as part of Operation Elizabeth, were to signal their status upon reaching safety. No word came. For thirty-six hours, there was no sign of the agents or the submarine that had signaled having successfully discharged them. And then, word from Wilhelmshaven that the submarine had returned. Kapitänleutnant Werner von Schmidt was flown to Berlin to report to Canaris personally. He had seen it all. Just as the spies had reached shore, they had been surprised by a patrol launch and taken prisoner. The U-12 had been depth charged and narrowly avoided destruction. By now, the captured agents could have divulged anything.
What the Abwehr needed, Reinert told Funk, was merely to insert innocuous minutiae into those broadcast segments designed to give civilians the impression of Berlin’s near-omniscience.
Forty hours after capture, the leader of Operation Elizabeth -- known to Reinert as John Thorpe -- had signaled by radio that all was well, and further reports would soon follow. Canaris knew at once that he was being manipulated by British Intelligence, undoubtedly with the lives of his men as leverage, into providing deliberate misinformation to the Abwehr. In order to keep the stream of misinformation flowing -- and, it was hoped, thereby gain a sort of negative image of the real truth -- Canaris had to maintain the fiction that the Abwehr still trusted Thorpe and his men. To do so, they would ask him for harmless details of the agents’ surroundings. What hymn was sung at St. Paul’s Cathedral mass? What’s in the window today at Harrods? How many fish are in the pond near Speakers’ Corner? The admiral was confident that Thorpe’s British handlers would comply, believing that the questions were being asked to increase the accuracy of the uncanny messages broadcast on News in English.
Funk sighed. “Have the information sent to me personally. If Dr. Goebbels objects, I will speak to him myself.”
“You have my sincerest thanks, Dr. Funk. And please convey to your broadcaster, Mr. Chesterton, that any deviation from his script is punishable by death.”
Last edited by TheHyphenated1; 14-07-2009 at 03:12.
Pretty good updates. Was actually surprised that Goering would even consent to the idea after the meeting. Although I recognize the tactical significance of it, Goering isn't always the most...sensible man.
Speaking of which, are your forces still flying Ju-52 bombers/Arado biplanes or have one of those finally upgraded? Not even to A or B versions of the 109 for the later?
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I'd hate to get the job to monitor the Benny Goodman Station.
phargle gave me a pet snail. @_'' Isn't it cute?
I'm sure Goring was just the most inspirational of speakers in the German Military at these times!
Even if the Luftwaffe is smaller (in these terms than historical) and hasn't upgraded yet, I would assume the RAF is just as small and hasn't upgraded much as well. Throw in the fact the war started in 1936, the RAF hasn't had 3+ years to build itself up (as they normally do and have ca. 25-35 Air divisions) they won't be recieving much support from the British Commonwealth either. And we may just see a completely different Battle of Britain this time around! (especially if 'Smiling Albert' is in charge over Goring)
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I wonder how well that propaganda works.
Slaughts - Thanks. And if there's anything you'd like to see more or less of, feel free to let me know. As for the Luftwaffe, Ju-52s and biplane fighters are still the norm. 109s are expected to see service in spring of '37.
Kanil - True indeed! I might go crazy...
volksmarschall - Correct. Some aircraft have come in from the Commonwealth and have made positive contributions. For example, an Iraqi squadron succeeded in sinking the U-16 (Kptlt. Heinz Beduhn) in the Irish Sea. Yet losses have been heavy, and it has taken a combination of fighters from outside Britain, new construction and careful husbanding to keep ADGB's fighter numbers up even as high as they are. Of course, the qualitative difference between ADGB in June and November is significant as well -- as more and more experienced pilots die each day and new men must be trained to replace them in ever greater haste. Of course the greatest change (though it is impossible to mention in the AAR) is that the RAF is not supported by Chain Home Low or even Chain Home. Without radar, advanced interception control, and even radios in many British planes, the RAF is without all the critical advantages (except élan, but they don't even have Churchill) that allowed it to defeat a numerically and materially superior Luftwaffe in OTL 1940.
Enewald - We shall see...
The two broken links in the index are now fixed .
Bonus photo: US President Franklin D. Roosevelt relaxes on November 4, after being declared the winner of the 1936 Presidential Election the day before. He narrowly defeated Kansas governor Alf Landon to win a second term.