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  1. #681
    @TheHyphenated1 - Just spent the better part of a day reading this wonderful piece of writing in its entireity and I have to admit that I have enjoyed every single post of it so much so that I had de-lurk and leave a comment. The plot is tight, the twists are thrilling, the characters come to life, quite simply it's a fantastic read. Next update?

    Haarken

  2. #682
    trekaddict - High power egos like von Rundstedt might not take such a thing terribly well .

    Atlantic Friend - Thank you and thank you! Expect to see it soon .

    Kurt_Steiner - That might hurt a little bit less.

    dublish - If you took up your own AAR, you would have so much less time to devote to your insightful comments in mine .

    Haarken - Thank you very much and welcome! I very much appreciate your taking the time to comment. I hope to see more of you around here in the future! Next update going up now...
    Weltkriegschaft
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  3. #683

    Chapter II: Part XXIX

    Chapter II: The Gambit of the West

    Part XXIX


    June 3, 1936

    The doormen of the Hôtel de Crillon were no longer cheerful stewards but uniformed soldiers. They parted, allowing Victor Reinert into the opulent lobby. The grand hotel was headquartering an army for the second time in its storied history -- first General Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force in 1918 and now Field Marshal von Blomberg’s VI Armeekorps.

    Gazing about himself as his eyes adjusted, Reinert noticed a copy of Time magazine opened and nailed to an ancient mahogany door off the grand dining room. He winced. War or not, he disliked the idea of some ignorant lieutenant abusing the venerable hotel’s historic interior.

    There were many officers passing through the lobby, but all were in motion; no one seemed to be waiting for him. Reinert approached the magazine, squinting up at the English text.

    Europe awoke Monday morning to rumors of a French surrender, of total collapse. Radios from Lisbon to Warsaw reported throughout the day that a capitulation would soon be announced by the government of President Albert Lebrun. In Berlin traffic stopped in midstreet. Women kissed and cried. Strangers embraced. The mood persisted into the evening, long after it became clear that the war was continuing. In the Champagne country of France, where the yellow dust raised by men and machines lay thick on the trampled vines, Germans and Frenchmen still slaughtered one another. Adolf Hitler had ordered no armistice, Lebrun no unconditional surrender.

    Nonetheless, the day’s events forced sober consideration of the event which, though having not yet occurred, now seems inevitable. In what will surely become a parable of national overconfidence and naïve strategy, France entirely trusted her security to the vast and expensive Maginot Line, and now lies broken at the hands of a Germany which skillfully outflanked that line. In their present situation, however, Frenchmen have neither the luxury to brood on this souring disgrace nor to hold responsible those in France’s leadership who allowed such a thing to occur. For the second time in sixty-five years, Paris has fallen to Germanic occupiers. Weeks of counterattacks have failed, and a German army is now driving deep into the Loire valley. Rail travel has come nearly to a halt and supplies can no longer reach the half-dozen trapped and paralyzed French armies: an eerie echo of the disasters of 1870. The fall of “Fortress Orleans” may be just days away as Field Marshal Blomberg’s ravenous armies descend on the encircled city. With its capital in enemy hands and its still-formidable armies divided and dispirited, the rest of France is almost certain to fall.

    After the Fall.
    The Second Great War has been remarkable for its repeated reversals of fortune, as stunning victories were followed by crushing defeats. Though embroiled suddenly in a war not of its own choosing, Germany waged a brilliant eight week campaign that has ultimately brought a much superior France to its knees. Despite President Lebrun’s insistence otherwise, France is now teetering on the brink of a fatal collapse. Whether in six weeks or six months, the doom spelled for the French Third Republic on the battlefields of Picardy shall ultimately come to pass. When it does, the world will have to face the prospect of a dramatic and permanent restructuring of the old order.

    France, resigned to the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, Ardenne, Calais, probably a part of Picardy and most of her colonial empire, hopes only that her people shall be allowed to live as Frenchmen in the rest of their well-loved country. If Germany, after finishing off the remaining French field armies, is lenient, Europe’s balance of power shall see a return to the 1870
    status quo. That is, a crippled, defanged France lying naked at the mercy of a Germanic super-state. But suppose Hitler were to seek a harsher peace? If France were forced to forfeit her Navy, and possibly control of her Atlantic ports, the combined sea power of the Dictatorships would suddenly exceed that of Britain. Surrender of the French Army of the Near East would leave the British impotent there too, unable to defend the vital Suez Canal. The end of fighting in France would release German air armadas to join the Italian air fleet in smashing British sea power in the Mediterranean. In such a case, Nazi Germany could surely dictate stinging terms to that island nation, which would perhaps be stripped of India and its African empire.

    Even at best, Britain must now fight for her life in the Mediterranean, and singlehanded defend her island and dominions against a triumphant Pact of Steel. Throughout the world the certainties of many past generations are longer certain, the values of many generations valueless. In the Near East former masters are impotent, new masters sweeping nearer. India might soon be cut off from all contact with the mother country she has worried for so long. Much of Africa is about to change hands; much of the rest will soon be fought over. As far as the sun courses, chaos or dread uncertainty reign. Adolf Hitler has slipped the cornerstone from the foundation, and now the mighty tower of the post-Versailles order stands ready to crumble.


    “Herr Reinert?” A tall captain had approached him.

    “Yes. Hauptmann Lanziger?”

    The captain nodded and extended a hand. “I am pleased.”

    “I already have my baggage at the Ritz, so I am ready to look at the intelligence you whenever you are ready.”

    “Of course. Follow me please.”

    Reinert set off behind Lanziger across the lobby. The warm marble echoed with the racing footsteps of dozens of junior officers acting as couriers between the various staffs that had taken over the Crillon’s many ballrooms, salons and galleries. Lanziger trotted up a grand staircase and down a hallway on the second floor. The captain stopped to knock on the third door to the right. A faint voice came from within. “Enter.”

    Reinert followed him into what had formerly been a small guest room. Only the dimmest of sunlight filtered through the window’s heavy curtains, and a single standing lamp provided the only practical illumination. The bed had been removed and several small wooden tables occupied most of the floor space. Two Army lieutenants greeted Reinert from behind tall stacks of documents.

    “Which of these are the Strasbourg files, captain?”

    Lanziger pawed through some of the papers. “Here. These files are all the originals that were captured from the Strasbourg headquarters. The ones clipped below them are the copies that we were able to find in the High Command archives in Paris that corresponded with them.”

    Accepting the documents, Reinert leaned against one of the tables. He scanned the first pages quickly -- he had already seen their extracts in Berlin. The captured documents had allowed the Abwehr to begin to assemble a startling picture of the origins of the war.

    At the end of February, members of the French High Command had met with Minister of War Louis Maurin in Paris in what was seemingly a non-routine briefing. Captured minutes revealed that the generals -- Gamelin not among them -- had presented evidence which they felt pointed toward an impending German incursion into French-owned areas of the Saarland. According to the minutes, much of this intelligence came from a source the generals knew as Domenicos, who had provided detailed information which the Duxième Bureau had been able to substantially corroborate. Maurin had been won over, quickly scheduling a conference with Prime Minister Albert Sarraut. It appeared that the meeting never took place, but the Abwehr found postal receipts indicating that Maurin had at least sent Sarraut documents outlining the High Command’s concerns.

    The savvy Sarraut, a Radical Socialist, had taken office for the second time the day before the start of the Belgian Crisis. He had been one of the first in France to call for immediate military intervention, but had been shouted down as a warmonger by political opponents. Looking to vindicate himself, Canaris judged, Sarraut had readily accepted the possibility of further German aggression. He had met several times in early March with President Lebrun to formulate a plan and policy with regard to the threat. It seemed that Lebrun had been exceedingly skeptical, for he had stalled for weeks, requesting more and more intelligence from the British Secret Intelligence Service, as Kummer had reported to his handlers at the end of March.

    During this time, the generals became increasingly anxious about the possibility of a German attack. Domenicos had promised, the documents revealed, to provide conclusive proof within the month -- proof strong enough to justify a preemptive move by France. Through the following weeks, the High Command had prepared diligently for what it felt was an inevitable military action against Germany. That such action might lead to something on the scale of a world war seemed not to enter into the thinking of such men as Huntziger and Le Gentilhomme.

    At last, the members of the High Command -- now in close contact with Condé, who they presumed would command French forces in the Saarland -- wrote directly to President Lebrun requesting an immediate military buildup to counter the threat from Germany.

    Lebrun’s decrypted reply, dated the fifteenth of March, stated that the standing army was authorized to increase its readiness. A costly general mobilization, however, was not to be effected unless conclusive intelligence was uncovered. It was at this time that the 50,000 Wounded Soldier Badges had been ordered.

    The generals would have to make do with the forces on hand -- but these were still considerably superior to the Wehrmacht Heer. It was clear that in the ensuing weeks, they had only grown in their certainty that military action would be necessary, and continued strengthening forces along the Maginot Line. Captured internal memorandums variously gave the projected start date of operations as the tenth or fifteenth of April.

    Then, on the twenty-first of March, Condé had written the High Command for permission to launch an attack of opportunity during the disruption of the Heldengedenktag ceremonies -- during which the bulk of the Wehrmacht’s leadership would be away in Berlin. It would only be, the telegram said, a slight advancement of the established timetable. Further, he argued, if Germany could be caught truly helpless in the first days of the attack, there would be few casualties and little chance of recovery.

    Though Gamelin had personally refused this request -- and, it seemed, decided not to tell President Lebrun about it -- Condé nonetheless ordered the men under his command to a maximum state of readiness, certain that a German offensive was in the offing.

    His men had been on full alert on April sixth, with orders to resist any armed incursion into French territory. Thus, when German veterinary officers had inadvertently crossed the border in pursuit of runaway horses, they had been accidentally engaged by French soldiers manning the Rohrbach section of the Maginot Line.

    The Germans had fled, hotly pursued by elements of the Ouvrage Rohrbach garrison, who soon clashed with increasingly large German units near Sankt Arnual.

    The fighting worsened all through the night, with Condé’s headquarters escalating its commitment until by dawn two full French divisions were engaged. Both sides believed that the other had initiated the hostilities, and neither side was inclined to hold back its forces waiting for some higher authority to officially declare war.

    Aware by morning that the situation had become wholly intractable, Gamelin authorized Condé to engage his reserves. President Lebrun, now believing France victim of a deliberate German invasion, formally ordered his country to war. Prime Minister Baldwin did the same later in the day, dragging the Commonwealth countries into the fray.

    Thus a second World War. Reinert grinned sardonically and lit a cigarette. He could see Lanziger trying vainly to read his thoughts.

    “I’m not really uninterested, Hauptmann Lanziger -- I’ve just seen much of this already. There are really only one or two papers that I am here for.”

    If Canaris was right, as he nearly always was, Condé’s Strasbourg headquarters may have directly received a final message from Domenicos in the final days before the war. The Admiral had told Reinert about an operation he had initiated in late March, which could shed light on the spy’s identity if such a message could be found. It was brilliant, if politically risky. But the Spymaster knew what he was doing, of that there was no doubt.

    Reinert began thumbing the pages more quickly.

    “Herr Reinert?” Lanziger was looking at him tentatively.

    “Yes?”

    “There is an Italian intelligence major in the Crillon -- D’Ambrosio I believe -- he has asked us to keep him informed… Are we to share the Strasbourg files with him, or are the Italians not to see them?”

    “Tell him,” Reinert said, “that he has already seen everything of value. No one outside the Abwehr should review these yet -- especially the Italians.”

    Indeed, Canaris was quite dubious about Germany’s new allies.

    Italian fortunes in Africa had been mixed at best. Mussolini’s armies had taken Djibouti on the Horn and Sollum and Rabia in the deserts of North Africa with moderate losses, sweeping aside vastly smaller forces with ease. When faced with significant resistance, however, the Italians had suffered costly defeats -- as in Sudan at the hands of generals Loyd and Lindsell and the 63,000 men of the 1st Indian Army.

    At sea, the Mediterranean had seen weeks of running naval engagements. Britain had been caught very much off-guard by the so-called Pact of Steel, with its Mediterranean Fleet having been reduced in February to three cruisers, twenty destroyers and four submarine flotillas in order to beef up the Home Fleet. This “de-boned” fleet -- as First Sea Lord Sir Ernle Chatfield bitterly termed his former command to the Commons -- had nonetheless achieved spectacular results against a numerically superior Regia Marina.


    First Sea Lord and Admiral of the Fleet Sir Ernle Chatfield.


    The Allies had sunk 33 Italian vessels, including six warships, at a cost of three French destroyers and one British -- the HMS Active. Two more Italian cruisers, the Trento and the Gorizia had been put out of action off Crete by a flight of Short S.8 Rangoon flying boats.


    The HMS Active, photographed on the day of its sinking by an Italian submarine.


    In the air, pilots of the Royal Air Force operating from bases in Malta and Egypt joined those of the Fleet Air Arm in scouring the skies of the outmoded Regia Aeronautica, which was flying significantly fewer sorties by the end of May.

    According to Admiral Canaris, Ambassador von Hassell had been personally dispatched by the Führer to Abyssinia to talk sense into the Duce -- who, for his part, seemed to believe the campaign to be proceeding brilliantly.

    Prime Minister Baldwin had promised speedy aid to the beleaguered French in North Africa. The British Expeditionary Force that had been so slow to materialize was now assembling -- slated for Africa, along with two full-strength divisions from the Home Islands. Unless the Reich could tip the balance in favor of Mussolini, the Western Allies would soon hold sway over the entire Mediterranean.

    Reinert swore under his breath. There was no sign of a message from some sort of spy called Domenicos. He looked back over each one of the papers, mentally checking each one off as familiar. Three pages before the end, his breath caught in his throat.

    It wasn’t a message from a spy, but a long telegram from High Command containing a the text of an earlier message sent by Condé.



    Most Secret

    2310. 3 April, 1936

    General Gamelin,

    Intelligence received today amended order of battle from source Domenicos. It should read that the German divisional generals in the Saarbrucken area are Brämer, Franke, Fromm, von Rabenau, Ruoff, von Böhm-Ermolli, Busch, von Kempski.

    Condé




    Admiral Canaris, aware that that orders of battle were being leaked, had submitted a different list -- none of them fully accurate -- to each German agency and ministry as part of his standard memorandums. The list that made its way to French hands would correspond to the source of the leak -- and Domenicos.

    Even before he slipped the master sheet out of his breast pocket, Reinert knew what this meant. The Sicherheitsdienst had been given a list including Fromm, who was in Berlin -- and Busch, who was at HQHGAN in Brussels. Innocent mistakes, the SD would surely say, but Reinert laughed aloud to see that Canaris had been wiser -- eighty year old von Böhm-Ermolli was home abed in Czechoslovakia.

    Canaris had killed two birds with one stone. At the same time, he would be able to embarrass the SD and check its influence -- and quickly find and eliminate Domenicos. How devious.

    Reinert slipped the paper out from the others and folded it. Nodding thanks to captain Lanziger, he tore out of the dim little room in search of a telephone.
    Last edited by TheHyphenated1; 25-11-2010 at 07:27.
    Weltkriegschaft
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  4. #684
    Historical Note = The article in Time magazine which Victor Reinert reads is based on a similar article that appeared in Time in our own timeline, printed after the actual surrender of France. Here, however, France has not yet surrendered -- so in Weltkriegschaft’s timeline, the Time writers present much of the article as a prediction.

    Only one more intallment left in Chapter II!
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  5. #685
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Ah, the "Canary Trap"! In the first Jack Ryan Novel, Patriot Games, they use a similar arrangement. And alas it works! Any chance of getting a map that shows us where the front currently runs?
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  6. #686
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    The SD? A spy within the SD?

    Heydrich, my boy, what is Himmler doing?
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  7. #687
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner
    The SD? A spy within the SD?

    Heydrich, my boy, what is Himmler doing?
    Actually its the other way around, because Heydrich was head of the SD if I am not mistaken.
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  8. #688
    Ah, but what if this SD spy is actually a triple agent, feeding disinformation to France? Even more risky, but not out of character. Not at all.

    Excellent update.
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  9. #689
    phargle has reminded us that there is only one week remaining for voting in the AARland Choice Awards!



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  10. #690
    trekaddict (1) - Certainly does work! Map will be included in Part XXX.

    Kurt_Steiner - I'm not exactly sure what you meant .

    trekaddict (2) - Heydrich is indeed commander of the SD.

    Ironhewer - Thank you! A triple agent? Time shall tell .
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  11. #691
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    Yes the Canary Trap, even though I seen it first from Settling Accounts: Return Engagements. I'm pretty sure Heydrich is pretty ticked for having spies in his department.

    Now I wonder who Domenicos is? Not sure if it's any historical figure we would know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHyphenated1
    Kurt_Steiner - I'm not exactly sure what you meant .
    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict
    Actually its the other way around, because Heydrich was head of the SD if I am not mistaken.
    I know, but, IIRC, Himmler was the one having foreign contacts through the war, not Heydrich.
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  13. #693
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner
    I know, but, IIRC, Himmler was the one having foreign contacts through the war, not Heydrich.
    Still, if the mole is within the SD then it is Heydrichs arse.
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  14. #694
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    Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice spycraft !

    Canaris seems supremely confident he has all the facts but has he really ? The French Deuxième Bureau had inherited the Poles' discoveries about how to crack Enigma. Could this be intelligence obtained via signal interception, and that is presented in such a way that it seems to involve a German official ? Is the fact this document was captured intact a ploy, or just the consequence of harrowed French soldiers and politicians evacuating a threatened city ?

  15. #695
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atlantic Friend
    Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice spycraft !

    Canaris seems supremely confident he has all the facts but has he really ? The French Deuxième Bureau had inherited the Poles' discoveries about how to crack Enigma. Could this be intelligence obtained via signal interception, and that is presented in such a way that it seems to involve a German official ? Is the fact this document was captured intact a ploy, or just the consequence of harrowed French soldiers and politicians evacuating a threatened city ?
    AFAIK the poles didn't crack the Enigma until 1938, and in nay case so far Poland is still around and why should they give their biggest advantage away now that the French seem to be loosing the war?
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  16. #696
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    Canaris' apparent attitude is not really surprising - the supreme confidence of someone who believes he has an ace up his sleeve.

    The Italians sound like they are in a certain amount of trouble, or will be quite soon.
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  17. #697
    Quote Originally Posted by TheHyphenated1

    The HMS Active, photographed on the day of its sinking by an Italian submarine.
    That's one bitchin' submarine!

  18. #698
    Slaughts - The Canary Trap, while practiced in some form since at least the 18th century, was not well-documented or well-known in 1936, leaving most would-be spies unaware of their peril .

    Kurt_Steiner - True, but (at least as far as that which is generally agreed upon) that only extended as far as his final overture to Count Bernadotte in the very closing days of the war.

    trekaddict (1) - One cheek if nothing too bad was leaked, both if Domenicos turns out to have caused a lot of harm.

    Atlantic Friend - "The French Deuxième Bureau had inherited the Poles' discoveries about how to crack Enigma. Could this be intelligence obtained via signal interception, and that is presented in such a way that it seems to involve a German official ? Is the fact this document was captured intact a ploy, or just the consequence of harrowed French soldiers and politicians evacuating a threatened city?" -- A most interesting series of guesses! Given all the facts in Part XXIX and several other relavent installments, which interpretation can be best supported?

    trekaddict (2) - Good point! At this point, though, not all German ciphers are even up to Enigma yet. Trouble is, the Germans do not fully know as yet how much the French can read.

    stnylan - Yes. The Italians will certainly need help if they are to pull things out of the fire.

    dublish - That it was. Torpedo struck just aft of midships, and the Active took on water rather quickly and began settling to stern just before dark. Dead in the water and smoldering from a series of electrical fires, she was abandoned by order of captain Johnson. 127 of her 135 crewmen were picked up by the Active's sister ships HMS Anthony and HMS Arrow.
    Weltkriegschaft
    The Alternate History of the Third Reich

    HoI1/2/3 Favorite Narrative AAR: Q1 2008 & Q3 2008 & Q2 2009, Best Character Writer of the Week: 18/5/08 & 10/11/08
    Weekly AAR Showcase: 12/10/08, WritAAR of the Week: 05/08/08,
    Canonized on 08-06-08

  19. #699
    First Lieutenant ShadowWarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dublish
    That's one bitchin' submarine!
    That sub is rather big to take a photo from that angle, not so?
    OK, I read it incorrectly (on pupose (to save face)).
    "In our eyes, the German boy of the future must be slim and slender, as fast as a greyhound, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel." („... der deutsche Junge der Zukunft muß schlank und rank sein, flink wie Windhunde, zäh wie Leder und hart wie Kruppstahl.”) - Adolf Hitler

    For those that like humor:
    Servant: I heard Napoleon packed red clothes when he was leaving for the Russian front so his soldiers wouldn´t see if he got injured and panic.

    Hitler: Good idea, then pack my brown pants.

  20. #700
    "Look behind you Mr Caesar !" Atlantic Friend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict
    AFAIK the poles didn't crack the Enigma until 1938, and in nay case so far Poland is still around and why should they give their biggest advantage away now that the French seem to be loosing the war?
    They might think that if France falls, their own downfall awaits. Or they might be part of the intoxication operation, and use Paris' fall to their advantage to compromise a German official ? There are so many wheels spinning in an intelligence operation that it could actually be anything - including a genuine motherlode of intel for the Abwehr.

    The Canary (or Canaris) Trap is a neat little trick, but I can't help it, whenever an intelligence officer finds out what he was expecting to find, it sends little warning signals in my head. Paranoid, isn't it ? Me and James Jesus Angleton, we could have had nice little chats. Or non-chats.

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