Escher spread the thick dossier open on the table and flipped through the initial few pages. Where to begin, he thought – at the beginning of it all or start right into the tribunal’s findings against him? While the most grievous charges of direct knowledge and participation of genocide had been waived, the prisoner was still convicted of waging an aggressive war and being culpable in crimes committed against humanity. For the SS types that he had talked with in the past, they preferred to start in the middle and considered everything prior to joining the party as irrelevant. To them, the time before they were efficient little genocidal bastards was a moot point, since they didn’t find themselves until they were given the resources and power to destroy and kill.
But this one – Heinz Wilhelm Guderian: Inspector-General of the Armored Troops, Chief of Staff of the Army High Command, Reichsmarschall of the Armed Forces, though he considered the latter to be honorary and preferred his Generaloberst title - wasn’t like that, Escher noted. There was no indication that he ever joined the party wholeheartedly and with complete conviction, rather he joined in order to avoid getting a black mark against his name. That was the kiss of death, either in terms of a career or literally, as Heydrich was not shy in purging those who failed to show due deference to the party.
Escher’s eyes glanced up from the picture of a young ensign-cadet in the Hanoverian Jäger Bataillon No. 10 and noticed that he was being scrutinized. Not like the others who avoided eye contact, this one was regarding him like a cat regards a mouse.
“Your father was the battalion commander when you first applied as a cadet, correct?” Escher asked, aware of the information but wanting to work his way up the ladder.
“Correct,” Guderian blandly replied. “It was natural in those days to join in such a way. My father’s wealth and position assured me a place, but I never treated my peers with disrespect and my father made sure that no preferential treatment was given to me. That would have been impolite.”
Escher nodded and returned to the reading. At the age of 20, Guderian went to the military academy at Metz and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. In 1911, he joined the 3rd Telegraphen-Bataillon, Prussian Army Signal Corps, and two years later he married Margarete Goerne, eventually having two sons who served with him up until Monrovia.
“Before we begin, Chronicler, let me make it very clear that I will brook no questions regarding racial doctrines or their applications or what happened in terms of those doctrines. Is that understood?”
“Of course," Escher formally replied, "but while you were cleared of directly aiding and abetting genocide, you were still culpable for allowing it to happen.”