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stevep

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Great to see an update:D and the war for Germany is obviously coming to an end. Hitler may still be blind to reality but I suspect even many Nazis are start looking for escape routes and there is probably increasing thought in the army that the war must be ended. [Can't remember if there has been anything like the OTL military assassination and anti-Nazi coup attempt but even if one has already failed the situation must be getting that desperate that some must be thinking of this.

Steve
 

Kurt_Steiner

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So, Rommel gets out alive of the war. Why I'm not surprised, Trekkie...
 

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Happy for your support, y'all.

Kurty, I'm mostly doing this because the image of Rommel getting to see a Leo2 just before his death is much too delish. That said, after the war he'll write a couple of books that are somewhat controversial in the year *insert whatever year it is when I reach the end of this AAR* and otherwise live in obscurity, never really giving any interviews.
 

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Happy for your support, y'all.

Kurty, I'm mostly doing this because the image of Rommel getting to see a Leo2 just before his death is much too delish. That said, after the war he'll write a couple of books that are somewhat controversial in the year *insert whatever year it is when I reach the end of this AAR* and otherwise live in obscurity, never really giving any interviews.
Glad to give the 'support' and happy to see the story continuing. As dannyboy2016 says an amazing achievement to be continuing it for so long,
 

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Rommel getting to see the German government reject the Leo2 for a Challenger would be even better, but I take your point. I suppose he will have plenty of time to write his controversial books while in prison, alt-Nuremberg is definitely going to take a close look at the commander of Hitler's bodyguard and what his panzer division did in France.

An excellent update and congratulations on keeping this epic going for a decade while keeping the quality so high. :)
 

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Rommel getting to see the German government reject the Leo2 for a Challenger would be even better, but I take your point. I suppose he will have plenty of time to write his controversial books while in prison, alt-Nuremberg is definitely going to take a close look at the commander of Hitler's bodyguard and what his panzer division did in France.

An excellent update and congratulations on keeping this epic going for a decade while keeping the quality so high. :)
Well, there is a compromise: The main gun will be rifled, like the Challenger 2. It won't be quite the same gun, (though props to Royal Ordnance for the glorious L7), but Rheinmetall will ensure that they can both fire the same ammunition. OVerall the TTL Bundeswehr will have a much more British slant in many things.

That said, Rommel will face some time serving behind bars, as will a great many figures that were not even tried in OTL. Maybe ten, fifteen years at most. By *insert whatever year it is when I reach the end of this AAR* he will be a very controversial figure indeed, depending on who you ask and where you are. Poland and France.... yeah. Southern Germany will acknowledge him and that he wasn't entirely evil, (and yes, the controversy over naming the Airport in Stuttgart after his son, the city's long-time Mayor, will still happen and be just as stupid) in and around Berlin people will see him more positively because of
his surrendering Army Group Centre allowing the Allies to take Berlin by the end of 1944 and with little fighting, thus preserving it's lovely pre-war architecture,
, the German Army will acknowledge his military career and go 'lalalala I can't hear you' about everything else before re-assessing him in the 1990s, the Brits will see him as a worthy and somewhat noble advesary, the Russians will see him as someone who lost them the war in the west, (a whole lot of issues there, a veritable can of worms) and his son will see him as his father first and everything else second. The German public at large will be somewhat like the lot of us from around here where he was born, but less so.


Overall, de-nazification will be a lot harsher TTL, mostly because the war going longer creates a bigger desire for revenge in the British establishment and because the Cold War literally dawning in anywhere but Europe, so there no need for some of the old Nazi elites to build up West Germany quickly to face the Soviets. Some will inevitably slip through the cracks, so we'll still see 90 year old getting prosecuted for crimes during the Nazi regime. I have a rough idea on how all of the higher leadership end, for instance, Martin Bormann will not simply disappear, and though it will probably not really feature in the story, the fates of several post-war West German figures with Nazi ties who a lot of you have probably never heard of will also not be the same.

Oh and of course the fate of a certain Austrian House painter will, while probably not the most judicial, be very carthartic. At least it is for me.
 

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I started this right after watching the Season 3 finale of Man in the High Castle. Let's just say I was angry. Reeeeeeeally angry. So yeah, Nazi-stomping time!

Chapter 392


The surrender of Army Group Centre tore what was left of the Wehrmacht into two general pieces and left the Reich without significant reserves. Even though the OKW had managed to re-establish something resembling a line by the time the Allies re-oriented themselves northwards, when the Allies launched what was, if one is to be honest, a probing attack in preparation for a general offensive towards Berlin, to the surprise of everyone involved, the German line evaporated quickly.

So quickly in fact, that the 8th Army advanced quickly enough for them being told to stop, lest they overextend themselves in the way the Germans had threatened to do in France in 1940, though the Wehrmacht was a lot less able to do anything about that than the Allies had been then. Positions thus reversed, with an Allied bulge in the German lines,and Allied troops having captured most of Thuringia, enough of Saxony to be within shouting distance of the modern border with Brandenburg and Silesia, while standing deep enough inside what is modern Saxony-Anhalt to prompt the more fearful to abandon Berlin. And that was only in the east. The more western-oriented forces had crossed the Rhine, swept away feeble Russo-German attempts to use the old Maginot Line to slow them down, and were racing towards Paris, while other units were entering the vital Ruhr area, where stiffening resistance slowed them down, which still kept many a factory from producing anything but smoke and rubble.

In summary, the Wehrmacht was collapsing.

On 10th May 1944, the Allied military leadership met with Prime Minister Churchill in Munich. What was discussed there was nothing less than the future direction of the war. Unexpectedly, for Field Marshal Alexander, Churchill did not push for an immediate lunge towards Berlin, instead suggesting that the Allies concentrate on taking the rest of the Ruhr area as well as liberating the Low Countries and France. Obviously, Churchill wanted the Channel coast cleared of the enemy, and there was some good sense in that notion. However, it was General Slim who suggested the strategy that would eventually be carried out. Arguing that there was an opportunity there that had to be seized, his plan, famously first sketched out on the train-ride south, was nothing less than the total destruction of Germany as a warmaking power. The western forces would indeed proceed into and through the Ruhr, afterwards making roughly towards Rotterdam and Paris, the central forces would make for Hamburg, Hanover and also Berlin, while the eastern forces would push north-east and re-take all of Poland west of the Vistula while keeping an eye on the Soviets.

Initially, Alexander and Churchill both dismissed the plan out of hand, albeit for different reasons. Alexander because he feared that this would needlessly stretch his forces, Churchill, because he feared that it would take resources away from the 'western' front and delay the clearance of the Channel coast.

The meetings on the first day ended without any decision being made.

And then something else happened.

Early on the 11th, the orderly sent to wake Marshal Dill in London found him dead. An Autopsy revealed that the Marshal had severely understated his illness and should probably not have left his bed in the last few weeks, never mind run the Second World War. A replacement was needed, and quickly.

Churchill was notified of this via telegram during breakfast with the assembled Allied Generals. Between cigars and the first meetings afterwards, Field Marshal Alexander was offered the highest position available in the British military. His relationship with the Prime Minister was not always perfect, and his current posting would require a successor who was as much a diplomat and politician as he was an accomplished soldier, making him hesitant to accept without knowing who would take over. However that he would take over was a given, as Dill had recommended him, never mind Brooke had to decline because of his own health, still recovering from the air crash wounds that would eventually kill him in 1948.) Even the Queen had reacted favourably to the notion when Dill had informed her of the need to find a successor.

The subsequent conversation was described and 'spirited' in the memoirs of both men, but in the end, Alexander was announced as CIGS to be that very morning, due to take over the post as soon as his successor had been decided upon. That his successor as commander of all Allied forces in Europe would be a British officer was inevitable given the correlation of forces present, but just who it would be was a more open question. Alexander suggested his own deputy, General Henry Maitland Wilson. Even though he had spent much of the war since the initial invasion of Austria, during which he had overseen the Allied southern flank, in staff positions that kept him out of the limelight, according to the Field Marshal, he had developed the sort of rapport with his fellow officers of all the Allied armies that any future GoC Europe would need. Churchill, always mindful of how the political situation was, or at least how he perceived it to be, knew, liked and respected Wilson. At the same time he had to consider how the various Allied Gouvernments would see it. He voiced this during a conversation with Alexander during which General Anders, recovering from a wound and senior Polish representative was present. Alexander and Anders both said that there would be few, if any, issues. Anders went even so far as to insinuate that while a show of consulting the various Governments would have to be made, if only to keep up appearances, there was a pronounced need to demonstrate Allied unity towards the enemy as much as the Allied populations as the war showed no signs of ending in the near future. However, British industry across the Empire was equipping, feeding and fuelling an overwhelming percentage of the Allied war effort, British troops were fighting on every front and no Allied nation had given more than the Empire, so of course they would have to maintain the mantle of leadership. Had this statement come from anyone but Anders it would have been political dynamite, but here it all but ensured who the next commander of all Allied Forces on the European continent would be.

The formal decision would not be taken for several more days until after Churchill began the lengthy return trip to London. The Prime Minister worried how the other Allied Governments would react, but in the end not even the French put up more than token resistance. Some worries about Wilson's age were dismissed by such figures as Anthony Eden and

The other big issue was how to proceed, the initial reason for the conference. Here too Polish opinion would turn out to be the deciding factor. General Anders argued the Polish position that afternoon. The sooner the Poland's western borders were secured, the quicker the Polish Government would be able to return to Warsaw and have only the one front to defend, so they supported taking Berlin sooner rather than later. The Belgians and Dutch were clearly unhappy, but realized where the wind was blowing from and decided to support the recommendation.

And so, Berlin it was. Of course planning, scheming and re-arranging units would take some time, but it was because of this that an Allied unit would be hoisting their flag over the Reichstag building before the year was out.

The relative calm that followed the death of Marshal Dill was a two-edged sword. Some on the German side saw parallels with how the death of the Tsar had once saved Prussia during the 18th century, though in general, this was dismissed, as those who still retained situational awareness knew that in the end the Chief of the Imperial General Staff was one desicion-maker among many. In how far that applied to the highest leaders of the Third Reich is unclear, but the captured diaries of several high Nazi figures suggest that some of them felt that the death had at least bought them some time.

In a way that was true, but what ever short delay to their by then inevitable defeat there was, it evaporated quickly. This was partially because there would be little need for any sort of handover period for the new CinC European Theatre, but even more so because the Allied command structure had evolved through the most brutal of Darwinian processes that was organized warfare, so it was no longer the cumbersome object the Germans had so successfully exploited earlier in the war, which was in turn an idea that had either passed the Axis by, or was dismissed out of hand. After the war, this and the Japanese war planning throughout the conflict were used as examples to define doublethink and confirmation bias in several scientific works. In the meantime, the Allies ruthlessly exploited this, without really meaning to or even being aware of it at the time, as the Germans had convinced themselves that not only was Stalin abandoning them an his own forces in the west, which was true, but also that the Allies would attack towards the Ruhr, as a direct lunge towards Berlin was inconceivable, which was most certainly not true.

With most forces in place by the third week of May, if barely so, the drive towards Berlin was launched on the 20th.

What happened afterwards was, and to an extent still is one of the great legends of the Second World War, because against expectations by either side, the Allied attack broke through the thin Axis line within hours, and when they exploited this breakthrough from five places at once, they found that the expected German fire brigade units and backhand blows were suspiciously absent. Alexander, in his last great offensive as CinC Europe, was as worried as local commanders on the scene, but when no significant resistance beyond some hastily assembled Volkssturm and Volksgrenadier units was reported for forty-eight hours, he did, to quote Wilson's autobiography, 'unleash the hounds' and ordered all units to drive on Berlin. Over the next week, the Allied front pushed north farther and faster than in the last three months, swathing away any resistance that met them.

~**---*~

For the citizens of the German capital, the war was coming ever closer, and it seemed as if the occasional sound of artillery fire in the distance was getting louder each hour. When not even the most devout Nazis could no longer explain it away as wind phenomena and approaching thunderstorms, the more easily scared of them began to contemplate where to go. The Reich's upper leadership dismissed the idea that the British traitors to the Aryan race might actually reach the heart of the Reich. Hitler, recovering, but increasingly mentally unstable, issued a Führerbefehl that any evacuation of the city was forbidden. The upper leadership accepted this, and then promptly began to make preparations to leave Berlin anyway. Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler was one notable exceptions to this. On 3rd June, when the forward Allied units were less than fifty miles from the outskirts of the city, Hitler announced his intention to remain in Berlin, in order to throw back the British race traitors and their lapdogs in a cataclysmic battle. Himmler and Göring, his two most trusted comrades that were present, were to head to Königsberg, set up a newGovernment there and carry on the fight. He would be sending orders for all German units and Government officials outside Berlin to join them there. If any of those present there realized the true situation is lost to history, but if so, one of the questions they had to ask themselves was that there was no Wehrmacht left to do any of this with. The units on the main line were engaged all along the front and where in the process of being destroyed in place, there were no reserves left, and the biggest sign that the Soviets were giving up Germany as a lost cause was that a number of high-ranking Soviet officers had been recalled to Moscow for consultations. To anyone of clear mind, it would have been obvious that Stalin was saving up his best officers for the titanic battles that were to come in 1945.

It is a clear sign that the lower echelons of leadership saw which way the wind was blowing, because when the news of what had happened in the Reichskanzlei leaked later that afternoon, just about every ministry and government office at national, Prussian and local level began to bleed employees, as those that had them suddenly felt the need to visit relatives in what remained of the Reich, and soon, in spite of the orders not to do so being enforced by the Home Brigade of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, the only full-strength and cohesive unit in the city at the time, aside from the Führerbegleitkommando. In short, much to understrength to keep anyone from leaving if they were determined enough.

As the Allies drew ever closer over the next few days, and at a rate that could be mistaken for a Grand Prix race, more units filtered in, but Field Marshal von Rundstedt, present in Berlin and having been voluntold to take over the defences, knew that with little more than half a Division of useable troops on hand, there was no defending Berlin. The Hitler Youth was being drafted, the Volkssturm was being stood up, but no, they would be little more than a minor annoyance to the Allies. He had proposed a defensive plan that would see those useless militia units deployed in a matter where they might do some good, in that they would be fighting the Alies from house to house in the inner districts of Berlin, using the materials and weapons that were stashed in the warehouses of the city, but Hitler laboured under the impression that the Allies could be defeated in a conventional field battle.

Because of this, the first defenders of Berlin that would be encountered would be teenagers and old men manning improvised roadblocks at the edges of the city.

By the 5th of June 1944, the first such encounters took place when a reconnaissance company from the Irish 1st Division encountered a roadblock defended by Hitler Youths armed with ex-Austrian M-95 Mannlicher rifles and an old Solothurn S 18-100 Anti-tank rifle, not even rating some one-shot Panzerfausts. The Battle for Berlin had begun. Such as it could be called a Battle, given that the German side of it almost instantly dissolved into chaos when automatic weapons fire could be heard all along the southern perimeter, as they Allies did not even bother encircling it, for fear of getting bogged down in a fight that would make Nuremberg look like a small schoolyard brawl. Trying to take Berlin on the bounce was fraught with risk, but as he was stuck with attacking Berlin right now, Alexander had decided that he might as well get on with it and not risk a fight that he was even less willing to have.

In all this, two more figures in the city, wearing dirty, slightly torn and bloodied SS camouflage fatigues did not register. Both were tall men, one of them with dark hair and an arrogant smile on his lips in spite of it, the other looking like he had stepped out of a recruitment poster. Both drove into the city with a bullet-riddled Kübelwagen, the MG-42 mounted to the back showing the same signs of hard use as the men themselves. When challenged, they produced priority passes that were signed by the Reichsführer SS himself before heading towards the Government district. Little did those sentries know that the Special Operations Executive had access to excellent forgers.

Both spoke flawless German, with the accent of Bavaria.

As their car sped through the empty streets of Berlin, no one could hear when the man riding shotgun switched to English for a short moment.

“The Reichskanzlei isn't that far off. Tell me this, Ian, why did we volunteer?”

“Because, my dear Felix, we are Queen's officers, and it is the gentlemanly thing to do.”










tbc

Wilson's appointment to the post is a relatively recent development in my notes. Recent for the standards of this mammoth thing, that is. That Alexander would become CIGS at some point in 1944, I knew pretty much since I wrote the fall of Vienna, but as to who would succeed him... that shifted back and forth several times over the years since. In the end I decided on Wilson exactly because he's out of the left field and maybe not the perfect choice, both because it might give me a few good opportunities, but also because he is someone who would, IMVHO, in the context of the time period and the situation the world is in, at least look like a good choice, given that IRL he had plenty of theatre-level staff experience and seems to have been seen as an able officer by his peers. To me he also looks a lot like the Field Marshal that wasn't and something of a missed opportunity, seeing as he was either given shit jobs such as W-Force or passed over for other men. I freely admit to bias there, since I'm not exactly Monty's biggest fan. So yeah. Ike he's not, but then, we don't need someone quite like that anyway, given the makeup of the Allied armies on the central front. The biggest diplomatic headache there is about to break out of southern France anyway, and then they'll be too busy racing rosbifs to Paris. Yes, I still haven't forgiven the French AI. At least the HOI4 French AI provides laughs with how useless it can be.

I also admit I fudged the dates a bit, but a) something special had to happen in the first week of June in 1944, b) Berlin really did fall that month, as Germany pretty much evaporated. Lacking HOI4s easy tag-switch and being too lazy to do alt-loading saves at the time I can only speculate why, but I think the ran out of manpower, as at that point they still had plenty of IC.
 
Last edited:

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There's some weird gaps in the text where I think a word or a sentence fragment was missed out.
See:
Churchill was notified of this via telegram during breakfast with the assembled Allied Generals. Between cigars and the first meetings afterwards, Field Marshal Alexander was offered the highest position available in the British military, on the GAP .
The formal decision would not be taken for several more days until after Churchill began the lengthy return trip to London. The Prime Minister worried how the other Allied Governments would react, but in the end not even the French put up more than token resistance. Some worries about Wilson's age were dismissed by such figures as Anthony Eden and GAP NEW PARAGAPH

The other big issue was how to proceed, the initial reason for the conference. Here too Polish opinion would turn out to be the deciding factor. General Anders argued the Polish position that afternoon. The sooner the Poland's western borders were secured, the quicker the Polish Government would be able to return to Warsaw and have only the one front to defend, so they supported taking Berlin sooner rather than later. The Belgians and Dutch were clearly unhappy, but realized where the wind was blowing from and decided to support the recommendation.
 

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Trekaddict

Good to see an update and it sounds like the elastic has finally broken in the case of Nazi Germany. As you say if there was still plenty of IC it was probably lack of manpower catching up with them, which had probably been building up for quite a while as they have probably been unable to repair increasing fragile units weakened by defeat after defeat. Must admit I had forgotten that with the main attack coming from the south through the Balkans and Italy that most of western Europe was still in enemy hands. What was the situation with Spain at this point please? Is Franco in charge and has it joined the Axis.

So it sounds like a case of mopping up for most of Europe and girding the loins for the final clashes with the Soviets - plus also finishing Japan in the east. I know you don't go all the way to Moscow so see how things develop. [Suspect its probably a case of war weariness coupled with the feeling that the main task has been done with the defeat of the Nazis and Japanese]

Thanks again for keeping such an excellent AAR going so long.

Steve
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Oh, good old Ian and good old Felix are back and goint to visit Adolf.
 

El Pip

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Oh, good old Ian and good old Felix are back and goint to visit Adolf.
That is going to be the interesting bit. The worst enemies the Allies will be facing are their own logistics, at least until the Soviets reach something they actually want to defend, so we all know how that's going to turn out.

But what happens to Ian and Felix in and around Berlin, that should (hopefully) be something special.
 

trekaddict

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Yeah, the next chapter is coming in, though be warned, its a long one.
That said, it's going to take the Allies a few weeks to sort out their logistics after Berlin is gone.
 

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I have to say, I missed writing these two guys. Whenever I did something for AAO, they were on my mind, but somehow it never shook out that way. Since they are about to do something I had in mind for them since... I think Davy C had moved into Downing Street a year or two earlier, and writing them again was something I did gladly. Anyrood, if you want to know how I imagine this version of Berlin, think Downfall, without all the bombing by the Western Allies and those oh so annoying, tasteless, stupid meme videos.

Mind you, as unrealistic as events of the second half of this chapter are, they were planned from the moment I put Ian and Felix together as a team.



Chapter 393


To both Ian and Felix Berlin seemed just empty, but they knew that what population wasn't conscripted to work on or man the defences of the Government district. Getting in there wouldn't be easy, but that was what they had trained for for the last seven months. Both could navigate much of the city in general and that quarter in particular without a map, both knew the plans of the New Chancellory upside down, and both hoped that their family never found out that they had actually volunteered for something that could very easily turn into a suicide mission. Felix had kept trying to convince Ian that Sandra would understand, but Ian cursed himself as well as the world in general for having him find out that Sandra was once again pregnant a mere two weeks before they deployed back to Germany. That had been three months ago, and the one thing Ian liked about rushing this mission a lot earlier than planned was that he would be back in the UK long before his child was born. If the Admiral about that, Felix knew that Ian would resign his commission on the spot, and hang the war.

But to get there...

Berlin was, on the face of it, a city that was well suited for the motorcar as long as you stuck to the main streets, and Ian said that he knew from his pre-war experience that the drive they were making would be taking maybe twenty minutes during peace time at this time of the day, when normally most car owners would be at work. It had taken them three hours to get past all the roadblocks, improvised barricades and scared children that held rifles that were sometimes almost as long as they were tall. These kids would be massacred once the Army arrived and expected mechanized death to be coming around the corner at any moment. What they couldn't know was that the Allied forces had no intention to advance anywhere beyond the outskirts for the next six hours, which did of course put a clock on their mission. Luckily they were about to reach the point from where they would be able to accomplish everything, ironically aided by the fact that the Army had advanced so fast that there was little in the way of organized units in Berlin.

Felix knew that Rundstedt had left the useless units that would do little more than annoy the British at the outskirts and concentrated his SS brigade, as well as maybe another brigade's worth made up from various scraps and the filing clerks at the OKW being handed rifles around what was called the Government district on the Allied side of the fence. On the maps they had trained with, this was defined as an area defined by the Brandenburg gate and the intersection between Behrens and Wilhelmstraße in the north and the New Chancellory in the south. It was around this section of town that most of the defenders were concentrated, and getting in there would be difficult at best.

It was incredibly ironic to Felix that taking the larger part of Berlin would be incredibly easy in spite of the largely flooded subway, and it was only at the core that whoever reached this first would be getting the fight that everyone had been dreading since Nuremberg. The city hadn't really been bombed, so it was very likely that Berlin would be getting off a lot easier than most other western European cities. It annoyed him, but war was war, and he had a job to do.

They drove up Hermann Göring Straße, but a few blocks south from the New Chancellory, they were forced to stop. Not because they ran out of fuel, but more because, of all things, one of the few Tiger tanks that hadn't been scrapped was parked as the centre-piece of a barricade that was made from abandoned cars and manned by actual soldiers wearing a number of different uniforms. At first glance, Felix could identify Luftwaffe Field Division, Paratroopers, members of the Naval Battalion and a smattering of normal Heer troopers. All of them looked as if they would rather be anywhere else, but that was taken care of by the group of Leinstandarte goons Felix spotted.

What those Germans couldn't know was that their defensive perimeter was in exactly the worst place for Ian and Felix to accomplish their mission. Instead of keeping ahead of the fighting, they would be in the middle of it now, but they only glanced at one another, and without words they had decided that they would continue.

“Stop! Who the fuck are you?”

The person that had yelled spoke in German, with an accent that made it obvious that he was from somewhere in eastern Saxony. Putting up their best cold, teutonic expressions, Ian and Felix stepped out of the car. They walked up to the barricade with the arrogant confidence of senior field-grade SS officers, which they both most assuredly were not.

“Who we are is none of your business, Gefreiter, and we have no time to wait while you pull your finger out of your arse.” Ian yelled back.

“Advance and be recognized!”

They approached the barricade and could see that next to the Tiger, people could walk through the barricade single-file. The commander of the iron behemoth popped his head out of the turret. Upon seeing that the two men were hardened SS veterans and also wore the rank insignia that made them the equivalent of a Lieutenant-Colonel and Major respectively, he paled and dropped back down. Seconds later an SS Lieutenant barely old enough to shave came running, throwing a parade-ground Nazi salute when he saw their rank insignia.

Without words, Ian and Felix showed their passes, but both were unsure how much these would be worth, given that Germany was about to cease to exist as a coherent state, but hopefully this chap had the sort of ideological blinds on that they needed for their mission not to fail catastrophically.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, “The Reich needs you at the front!”

“This is none of your concern, Unterterscharführer.” Ian said with a voice cold enough to make Felix almost shiver. “And in case no one has told you, at this moment the Reich extends about that far.”

Ian pointed to the muzzle of the 75mm gun on the tank. “The Reich extends exactly that far right now, and unless you want to responsible for it staying that way, I suggest that you get out of our way and stop asking questions. The enemy is at the edge of the city.”

The young SS officer almost fell over his own two feet, but before he decided to let them through, he looked back at Ian. “So why aren't you at the front then, Sir?”

“THAT'S NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUISINESS, UNTERSCHARFÜHRER! SO UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE BY THE FÜHRER, YOU BETTER STEP ASIDE!”

It was a sign of the times that the young fool actually hesitated, as he had probably shot his share of so-called deserters and defeatists, had probably heard every kind of story, but in the end, the fact that they were heading into the defended sector instead of out of it, carried passes that were signed by the highest figure in the SS and were generally in the lofty heights of superior rank, he decided that it wasn't worth it.

He stepped aside and yelled for some of the actual soldiers to pull one of the carts away to let Ian and Felix through.

They walked past the barricade and away from it's doomed defenders without a word or even looking at them again, but when they were out of easy sight, Felix allowed himself a short grin. The distance to where they wanted to go was easily covered. In the complete and utter chaos that was this part of Berlin, two more officers among those giving orders, carrying them out, lugging ammunition crates that they had found somewhere and generally trying to convince themselves that the promised Endsieg was more than an empty phrase.

~**---**~

“So, what do we do if we discover that he is still in Berlin?”

Felix, knowing that it wasn't merely a question, but a very real review of their orders, chanced looking around.

“Steal a wheelchair, you push me in, I stand up while yelling 'Mein Führer, I can walk!'?”

“Rather.” Ian replied with a dry grin. The joke was an old one between them. Felix meanwhile sobered up quickly.

“No, then we proceed by our own discretion.”

Nothing further was said, but they both knew that the other wondered what the SOE down in Stuttgart had been thinking when drawing up those orders. Trying to find if Hitler was still in Berlin was one thing, but opening the door like that... the Admiral had darkly hinted that the orders had been 'suggested' from on high, and that they had been asked because he knew that they wouldn't be doing anything too reckless.

Their destination was one of the many empty buildings that were located next to the Chancellery, having long since been emptied either voluntary or by coercion, but when they walked up to it, much to their mutual surprise, they found the main entrance to the monument to Nazi megalomania not specially guarded. They may have been because of the semi-steady stream of people walking in and out, but it still flipped a switch in both British Officers. With only an exchanged look, they decided to risk it, as after all, what they were doing couldn't get any more dangerous, and the very genuine-looking orders they had were signed by Hermann Fegelein, one of Hitler's favourites, Liaison Officer to his staff and safely tucked away in a cell while surrounded by Redcaps for the last three days after having tried and failed to reach Berlin before the city was surrounded. Never one not to take advantage of someone's laziness, the powers that be had decided that this advantage would be used. Getting some genuine sounding orders typed up had been a matter of minutes.

These orders authorized the two of them not only to move about Berlin as they wished, but technically also to enter the Führerbunker, which both considered to be the height of lunacy.

Still, no one challenged them as they moved ever deeper into the massive structure of the Chancellery, both men fighting not to reach for their guns at every turn.

Ian wanted to turn back, he really did, but even as he kept thinking that what they were doing was beyond ridiculously stupid, he could not help but see their continued movement as a sign that the oh so famed Reich was finally and fully dissolving into very tiny pieces. By the time his urge to turn back had finally grown to the point that he was about to turn to Felix and say as much, they were finally challenged by a sentry, and even though not a single muscle on his face showed it, Ian felt the cold run down his back, because those two not only still wore immaculately pressed uniforms, but they also stood in front of the doors that led out into the garden.

Where the entrance to the bunker happened to be located.

That moment, the only thing Ian wanted more than be turned back now was to be back with his wife, preferably somewhere warm, with a cup of tea in one hand and a cricket bat in the other.

But alas, the sentry only examined their orders and then quickly stepped through the door.

Ian briefly considered making a run for it, but the long, wide corridor would see them both mowed down before they had taken three steps. At the same time, the corridor was empty, and he knew that a side-corridor would lead to a suite of offices and then a side-exit that led out onto the backstreets...

The first sentry was back. “You bring news from Gruppenführer Fegelein, you say?“

“We do.”

“Then the Führer wants to speak to you. Go straight through, but...” he glanced at the P-38s they had hanging on their hips. Both men handed them over without a thought, being far from unarmed anyway, thanks to Winston's Department of Ungentlemanly Warfare, more commonly known as the SOE's Technical Section.

Before they could do anything more, the sentries opened the doors, and the two Allied Officers stepped through. With the doors closed behind them, the only other person in the walled in garden was a slightly stooped, aged figure they both knew from newsreels and pictures. That moustache was unmistakeable, and all of a sudden, something basic, raw and very, very human inside Ian wished that he had something more than the small derringer and the knife in his boots to shoot the other person with.

Something in Ian broke when he looked Hitler in the eyes.

He glanced at Felix, the other's face contorting in a 'Really?' sort of way for a second, before both of them threw a perfect salute.

“Mein Führer,” Ian said, “we bring a report from Gruppenführer Fegelein. He...”

A sound like ripping linen came in. Ian recognized it as a shell from heavy artillery, of British nationality. Followed by more.

Everything happened all at once. The two sentries busted through the door, presumably to take Hitler back down into the bunker.

Hitler was already moving in that direction, but Ian and Felix, working together for years, knew how to communicate without words. Ian stood closer to Hitler, Felix had his backup gun in easier reach. Using the noise of the artillery barrage, that, as Ian noted in a detached second, was coming hours ahead of schedule, they moved.

Felix turned to the sentries and ejected the pistol from the lower arm holster in one fluid, well-practised motion. The small .22 calibre pistol was in his hand before the two young men realized that anything was wrong, and he shot one of them in the throat. Due to the size and type of the holster, the weapon was single-shot, so he dropped it, turned and quickly kicked the other guard in the family jewels before grabbing his head and twisting it around very quickly and in a very unnatural direction.

“I'm getting too old for his shit.” he mumbled in English.

Ian meanwhile had grabbed the Dictator who clearly was even more ill than intelligence had suggested, his own emergency weapon now in hand. He rammed the weapon over the back of his head, and Hitler collapsed like a rag-doll with strings severed.

“Heads or tails?”

“We can't do this here. Get the door.”

They had to get to those offices, that was their only chance to live more than another minute or two.

So with both of them having 'Stupid, stupid, stupid!' hammering in their heads, they dragged one of the two mosted hated men in Europe through his own office building.

The corridor was still empty, and the door Ian was going for was only a few short steps away.

To both their amazement, they made it inside and only then did they realize that they were entirely unarmed except for a single MP40 that Felix had scooped up, knives and one single small-calibre pistol.

“In there, quickly!”

It was an office like a million others all over the world. What was different was that when Felix cracked open one of the desk drawers, he found something that he would cherish for the rest of his days.

“Look at this.”

Ian, who was searching the unconscious Hitler without finding anything really interesting, looked up to see his brother in law hold up something that he would have expected to find just about anywhere but here. A vintage, pre-civil war, Colt manufactured, still in original packaging M1911 pistol in 9x19mm Parabellum. Yes, this was something that Felix would love as a Christmas present.

The packaging was quickly discarded, as was the box inside even though Ian noted that Felix kept the spare magazine and cleaning tools. With quick movements and what later generations would call muscle memory, Felix loaded the rounds into the magazine and loaded one into the chamber. With a wolvish grin, he looked at their captive.

“Where to next?”

Once more, getting out proved surprisingly easy, especially so after they barred the door that led back to the corridor and the garden with a filing cabinet. Between them, they could drag their captive from the office and through the side exit without being observed. After that, it got harder. Thankfully, the scene outside had slipped from barely organized chaos into utter bedlam. It was clear to Ian that von Rundstedt wouldn't have much commanding to do, so after removing the had and tossing it back through the door, they somehow managed to drag Hitler once across the street and then into an abandoned building. Some of the ground-floor appartments opened up to the back, so they went into one of them. Only then did Ian allow himself to say out loud what he'd been thinking.

“That was apocalyptically stupid, what we did.”

“True. But then...”

He looked down.

“I repeat. Heads or tails.”

Unlike so many others, this was not one either of them would have nightmares over. Later, once they were safely back behind Allied lines, he would question the wisdom of doing it, of risking getting caught, but at that moment he did not care.

“Tails.”

He pulled out a two Reichsmark coin and tossed it into the air. He caught it, and the Nazi eagle showed. He grinned. “I win.”

Felix harrumped and handed over the pistol. Ian turned and saw that Hitler was waking up. Good. Did he know any English? In the end, Ian didn't care, nor did he care what the dictator was babbling at the muzzle of the pistol.

“In the name of humanity in general, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in particular and because I bloody well feel like it, I hereby end your all too long existence.”

Artillery was now joined by the chatter off small arms fire at the barricades. Ian knew no one would hear the shot. He pulled the trigger.

“Well, that hit the spot.”

Felix laughed and pulled out the small, Latvian-made, Minox camera. Pictures were needed as proof.

“That was rigged, mate.”

~**---**~

The remainder of the Battle of Berlin can be summed up by calling it nasty, brutish and short. The Irish Expeditionary Corps, as well as elements of the 51st Highland Division advanced from the south and south-east, a handful of Australians belonging to the to the British 6th Division by way of the 17th Battalion, one of the few Australian units remaining in Northern Europe, attacked from the west. Elements of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler opposed them and fought hard, but the Australians had access to the products of having near complete air superiority, and thus it happened that ninety-seven percent of the pre-wear park were ash before the day was out and what was left reminded many an older Berliner of the Western Front in the previous war. Because all this happened so quickly, it was the 17th Battalion that secured the Brandenburg Gate with little damage to the structure. The Reichstag, only a handful of steps away, was a different story. There a company of SS die-hards was holed up. The Reichstag had been repaired after the fire in the 30s, but the few times the assembly had actually met to rubberstamp something, it had been elsewhere. Due to this, the only importance of the building was symbolical as well as plainly being an enemy stronghold, and it was considered to simply bomb the building flat. In the end, the symbolism was what saved it, and that the defenders were heavily outnumbered. Close Quarters Battle was not yet something formalized in training, but after fighting across one of the more urbanized countries, the Allied troops in Europe were rather more experienced at it. Especially in this case, as this part of the Leibstandarte was now hampered by it's status as a Pretorian Guard. Fighting raged for six hours, but eventually, it was the Australian flag that was raised over the building even before it was fully secured, producing a very iconic photograph.
Elshere, the city suffered more damage, but since the defenders were anything from almost entirely untrained teenagers to veterans that had been in the war since 1939, the fighting depended on where, and against whom it took place. It was near the end of the day, after hours of combat, that a machine gun section from the 51st Highland discovered the mortal remains of the German Führer. The only clue to what had happened was the presence of an empty 9x19mm Parabellum casing. At the time, it was assumed that Hitler had tried to flee and then shot himself when realizing the futility. The truth would not be discovered by the general public until the mid-1990s, so that was the theory touted through the Allied and global press when the good news became known. Suffice it to say, the populations, both free and still occupied, were jubilant. 'One down, two to go!' as a Canadian newspaper put it.

The fight for Berlin was, in many ways, a symbolism for the war as a whole since the Allies had taken Vienna. In that they fought hard, and well, but were ground down by superior firepower. While modern Allied artillery doctrine was born in those days, for the Germans this meant that at last, even the most ideologically blinded started to see that the Allied Pact was going in for the kill. By the end of the 6th of June, the defenders were reduced to the Reichskanzlei itself. Major General O'Doherty, commanding the Irish units as well as the battle as a whole, was by his own account done with playing around and decided to give the remaining defenders exactly one opportunity to surrender. The offer was rebuffed. According to interrogations conducted with the few German survivors afterwards, at this point, von Rundstedt had already decided to shirk his responsibility and shot himself in Hitler's old office in the bunker, so the Allied response was to bring up a number of field and self-propelled assault guns and blast what was left of the building into a pile of rubble.

By the time the Allied infantry started clearing the rubble, less than twenty were still alive to be captured.

Inside the bunker, those that had not killed themselves, surrendered at that point, among them his secretary, her two colleagues. Von Runstedt, Josef Göbbels, as well as his family, were not among them.

Berlin was declared fully secured by the end of the next week.

That the higher Nazi leadership seemed to have chosen death over facing their responsibilities was an object of worry for the Allies, given that unless they wanted to fight a potentially never-ending insurgency as well as face a second Dolchstoß, they needed someone to formally surrender Nazi Germany and acknowledge that they had lost the war in the field. The former was a valid concern, though the latter was much less so, given that most Germans had seen the war come through their streets with all the death and carnage that such things entailed even then.

Somewhat ironically, the actions another high-ranking Nazi took to save his own skin prevented this from happening.

A week after the fall of Berlin and Hitler's death became public knowledge, a message arrived in London via the Embassy in Kopenhagen, offering negotiations for conditions under which Germany might surrender.

The British reply can be summed up as “unconditional or no deal”, but a Sir Thomas Sinclair, British Ambassador to Denmark and future Foreign Secretary, was instructed to approach the Germans, in order to hear what those conditions might be. Sir Thomas telegraphed the answer to London, but noted in his diary that 'the entire visit was most revolting, and not because of the Nazi memorabilia they still displayed. No, my revulsion was of a moral fashion at the way Mister Bormann had chosen to act.'

In short, in exchange for being let off free, Bormann, as the highest-ranking Nazi official that had not fled to East Prussia, was offering the unconditional surrender of all German forces and the country as a whole. Churchill, being elated at how things were going and preparing to fly to Germany to inspect Hitler's corpse, personally telegraphed Sir Thomas with the order that the only thing he was allowed to offer was that no one would be shot out of hand.

Bormann originally intended to reject this offer out of hand, but General der Fallschirmjäger Kurt Steiner, the highest-ranking officer present after Dönitz was stuck in La Rochelle and the rest of the OKW had perished in Berlin, suggested, using his pistol as an encouragement, that those terms were not so bad after all, in a meeting that most people think must have been dramatic, but that Steiner later described as banal and over in less than two minutes.

A meeting was quickly arranged, with Steiner having arrested Bormann and so, on the 20th of June 1944, the German Reich surrendered.

Steiner signed for Germany and duly issued orders to all German forces to surrender to the nearest Allied formation. Marshal of the Empire Alexander, who had been hastily promoted and given appropriate rank insignia just in time for the ceremony, signed for the Allied powers, with Field Marshal Wilson, General LeClerc and General Sikorsky acting as whitnesses.

When he handed over his sidearm, Steiner pointed out to the Allied leaders that while he had issued orders to all forces to cease hostilities and surrender, he was unsure how many would follow his orders, and that his formal authority over any Soviet units, even as acting head of the OKW, was very limited at best. True to this, a number of Axis units refused surrender. Most Waffen-SS formations were quickly dispatched, either by the Allies as they advanced to secure Germany and extend the front to the Polish coastline, or by the Wehrmacht. The few Soviet units still in the west mostly fought, but they were hampered by logistics even more than the Germans.

France and the Low Countries were a different story. Here the Germans mostly evaporated and the Soviets only had a token presence, which allowed the French to liberate Paris with no fighting and little damage by the 25th, but several individual German strongholds fought. La Rochelle, under the command of Großadmiral Dönitz, fought on until the 7th of July, the garrison of Brussels only surrendered after the city exploded into open revolt, and the largest Waffen-SS unit outside of Germany, SS-Kavallerie-Division Florian Geyer, holed up in the city of Brest and was destroyed in a fanatical fight over the course of three days that left the city in ruins. On the whole though, Western Europe was free, and on 11th July, 2nd Division, King's African Rifles, entered Amsterdam, one of the last major cities in the country to see Allied units. The Dutch cheered the black-african Soldiers, among them a Jewish Family and their friends who had hidden behind a cupboard since 1940.

tbc

Phew.... that was a long one. If it feels rushed... Germany evaporated so fast that it really was only a matter of driving towards their victory points and they folded. Mopping up the various pockets was done quickly too.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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among them a Jewish Family and their friends who had hidden behind a cupboard since 1940
Definitely dead hitler and loads of people saved from the camps? Winner winner chicken dinner.
 

stevep

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Trekaddict

Excellent ending to the war with Germany. Good that the boys got out, although I think the mission was somewhat dubious in purpose and not surprised Ian was kicking himself for accepting it.

Great image of the Australian flag over the Reichstag:) and a good touch with the Franks surviving :D

So now on to Tokyo. Know we're not going all the way to Moscow but Japan is still to be dealt with.

Many thanks for continuing with this story so long.

Steve
 

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Hurrah for Ian and Felix and a dangerous job well done. I did wonder if he was going to be dragged back for trial, but probably better this way. Trial would be a formality and the last you want is to give him more chance to rant.

Surprised at Dönitz fighting on in the name of a doomed cause and mildly surprised at Borman's action. Not selling out everyone to save his own skin, I'm sure he'd do that in a heartbeat, but that he even tried. He must have known it wouldn't work and that just running to South America was the better option, I'm not saying that would work, but at least there's a small chance - which is better than no chance at all.

On which note, I do wonder if any of the Nazi high command were brave/stupid enough to run to Moscow? Stalin knows this is a fight to the death so a legion of exiled German troops probably looks attractive for some free, trained, manpower. And if you are a long time Nazi then the only way you stay out of prison, or worse, is if Stalin wins, because the Allies will put you on trial for your many crimes. Sure Stalin might chuck you in the Gulag when you arrive, but he probably preferes you alive and fighting - see the OTL League of German Officers for Stalin keeping useful (collaborating) Nazis alive and free. And, as above, better a small chance than no chance.
 

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TheButterflyComposer Ayup.

stevep The mission was bloody damn stupid, and Ian, not really caring for his career at this stage, will have words to say if someone suggests something like this again. That said, the Aussie flag and the thing with the Franks were long-standing ideas. The Far East is a secondary theatre at the moment. The Brits know that the Japanese have no real way to threaten India or other Imperial territory, and the plan is to go at the Soviets before they get ideas like attacking through Afghanistan or something. Though shh, nobody tell the Japanese, they'd be furious. With Formosa secured, Bomber Command in the Far east will get a lot more attention though.

And you're welcome.

El Pip I did consider it, though rejected it for the same reasons you cited. Unfortunately, my idea for Churchill visiting Ze Führer in some dark hole, before he is shot, would have required either a time-travelling UKSF team with helicopter support or teleportation. :(

Dönitz fighting on... This was mostly a question of him accepting the legitimacy of Steiner's orders, given that there is a difference in rank. All he effectively did was delay announcing his surrender on the radio, since the French took a while to get there. Should have made that more clear.

Bormann on the other hand, is a different story. We don't really know what would have happened. Here I chose him being that morally corrupt and cowardly that he was willing to sell his entire country for a chance at getting past the Royal Navy and to somewhere warm.

Some really did leg it to East Prussia and Stalin's tender mercies. Himmler is one of them, and their activities will feature.
 

stevep

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TheButterflyComposer Ayup.

stevep The mission was bloody damn stupid, and Ian, not really caring for his career at this stage, will have words to say if someone suggests something like this again. That said, the Aussie flag and the thing with the Franks were long-standing ideas. The Far East is a secondary theatre at the moment. The Brits know that the Japanese have no real way to threaten India or other Imperial territory, and the plan is to go at the Soviets before they get ideas like attacking through Afghanistan or something. Though shh, nobody tell the Japanese, they'd be furious. With Formosa secured, Bomber Command in the Far east will get a lot more attention though.

And you're welcome.

El Pip I did consider it, though rejected it for the same reasons you cited. Unfortunately, my idea for Churchill visiting Ze Führer in some dark hole, before he is shot, would have required either a time-travelling UKSF team with helicopter support or teleportation. :(

Dönitz fighting on... This was mostly a question of him accepting the legitimacy of Steiner's orders, given that there is a difference in rank. All he effectively did was delay announcing his surrender on the radio, since the French took a while to get there. Should have made that more clear.

Bormann on the other hand, is a different story. We don't really know what would have happened. Here I chose him being that morally corrupt and cowardly that he was willing to sell his entire country for a chance at getting past the Royal Navy and to somewhere warm.

Some really did leg it to East Prussia and Stalin's tender mercies. Himmler is one of them, and their activities will feature.
Well if the Abrahmic religions are right he's going to somewhere warm.;)