dublish

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Looks like I'll have to make my witty comments about less controversial topics in the future. At least we have our AAR back! :)

Judging from the trouble the Wehrmacht seems to be having in Belgium, I'd be surprised if the Belgian Resistance (is that what we're talking about?) even gets a chance to form before the French liberate everything.

As for the generals, I'm not sure. At the risk of meta-reasoning, I don't think any widespread purges will occur. At the most, a few officers will be forced into early retirement, but I don't see anything major happening while Germany still has a good chance of winning the war.

We'll certainly see a surge of pro-Nazi sympathy in Germany as the populace resists the French invaders- Hitler's been saying for years that the Allies want to keep Germany down, and an unprovoked (unless you count a war in Belgium that ended weeks ago) attack from the French proves him right.

I'm more interested in the effect that this setback will have on Hitler's desire to micromanage his forces. After repeated warnings from the military and intelligence communities, he can't really put the blame for this blunder on dissenting generals as he did in 1942-45. If he ends up leaving military matters to the military, we could easily end up with a Germany even more dangerous than in real life.
 

TheHyphenated1

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Chapter II: Part XVI

Chapter II: The Gambit of the West

Part XVI


April 11, 1936

The offices of the Völkischer Beobachter were a frenzy of activity on the overcast morning of the fifth day of the war. The entire propaganda machine of Nazi Germany was at that moment exerting every effort to rescue what was privately feared to be a disastrous situation.

At his narrow desk, under-editor Ernst Trommler breathed deeply to steady his nerves. He had been proofreading dozens of working proofs since daybreak, and only five minutes remained before the eleven-thirty deadline Over-editor Sassen had set.

He had only three proofs to go.

The first concerned the Wehrmacht’s impending counteroffensive in the West. Trommler circled two misspelled words. Otherwise, it was clean.

He scanned the page one last time.

Wehrmacht Launching Counterattack

There are presently many defeatists in Germany who spread the harmful rumors that French soldiers have penetrated deep into the Fatherland itself, and even now prepare to march upon Berlin. Plainly, these are lies. To correct these lies, Germany must counter them with the truth.

It is true that the Enemy has occupied limited areas of national territory, but these gains came at great cost and the front will soon be stabilized. French spearheads in western Bavaria were dealt a grievous blow yesterday, suffering a bloody defeat at Ulm.

That success will only be the first of many. Large German armies have thrown the French back across the border in some places. Even now, the Wehrmacht is gathering strength to launch a crushing counterattack along the entire front to throw the Invaders back into their own country. The War Ministry is naturally unable to reveal the specifics of its plans, but issued a statement of confidence that the German Soldier would soon be victorious.



The second was a lead composed by Fritz Hansen. Trommler checked the clock on the wall above his desk. Two minutes. Trusting in his fellow under-editor’s typographical aptitude, he skimmed it once before moving on to the final, largest piece.

Rape of Bavaria

Lutz Kaschauer of Traisdorf, Bavaria was amongst the thousands of Germans who were able to escape the brutal enemy advance. He was one of hundreds to bear witness to the atrocities of the Frankish army. His reports confirmed those spreading throughout Germany of the mass abductions of civilian women and children. His newly-wed daughter Maria was among them. Seventy women from his village alone were rounded up by French officers and shipped away by train. On their fate, he says, “Nothing is sure, but I hope and pray that my Maria will be returned to me.” In another incident, a number of French officers captured a schoolboy named Luther Franz and beat him severely in front of his mother and sisters. Representatives of the International Red Cross will arrive within days to assess the extent of war crimes in Bavaria. For more information on the Rape of Bavaria, see the next page.


Trommler read the third quickly. There were no obvious errors, but Trommler shouted across the room to a colleague to confirm the spelling of a particular Belgian town -- it was right after all. Several photographs were included, including one of a badly burned girl lying in a hospital bed. He clipped the three most dramatic photos to the proof and gave it one last look as he hustled to Sassen’s office.

British Bomb Cathedrals, Hospital

For the past three days, Britain has sent its Royal Air Force across the Channel to bomb Free Belgium. Reports indicate that as many as 10,000 civilians have been killed or seriously injured in these raids. Two of the magnificent cathedrals in Free Belgium have been destroyed. St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral in Brussels was bombed by the British, causing severe damage to the building's façade and a fire that gutted much of the interior. Tournai Cathedral was senselessly destroyed by a combination of British bombers and French artillery. Very little remains standing. Combined, the two great cathedrals stood for nearly two millennia, or very nearly as long as the Christian Era itself.

Antwerp was also devastated by the destruction of the newly-constructed “Centennial Clinic” which served as a modern, efficient hospital for millions. One of the bombs fell directly into a children’s wing of the hospital, killing dozens of young and promising persons.

May it be known that there were legitimate military targets in Free Belgium. They were defended by anti-aircraft weapons, however. This prompted the cowardly air-murderers to attack obviously civilian and cultural targets, which only resulted in the deaths of people with whom they had no quarrel. This is an outrage which cannot be tolerated by any sensible person. An aide to the Foreign Minister reports that protests are being desperately lodged with the League of Nations.



Trommler deposited the proofs and photographs on Sassen’s desk just as the desktop clock struck the half-hour. Sassen, who was on the telephone, turned toward Trommler and nodded his thanks. He did not look happy. He made eye contact with his under-editor and mouthed to him the cause of his distress. Ulm had fallen.
 
Last edited:

TheHyphenated1

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Chapter II: Part XVII

Chapter II: The Gambit of The West

Part XVII


April 14, 1936

The Führer’s forward headquarters outside Munich was a sea of noise and confusion by three in the afternoon. Adolf Hitler and his entourage had taken over the sprawling basement of a canned goods warehouse in Karlsfeld -- the only facility in the area that was underground, comfortably large and air-conditioned. The entrance to the warehouse was lined with hundreds of pallets of cans stacked higher than the tallest man: enough beans, pork and sardines to feed every soldier between Munich and the front.

The newly-cleared basement had been hastily fitted with additional lighting, telephone lines and office furniture to accommodate the Führer’s entire headquarters staff, which had now spent more than five hours trying to develop a coherent picture of the war’s development.

According to Army High Command, casualties remained fairly light -- most German units had not stayed in place long enough to sustain serious losses. Other units, OKH reported, had in fact bypassed the advancing French divisions and driven into France itself, according to the General Staff plan drawn up by Fritz Bayerlein in February.

From his place at the center of the great basement, the Führer had been directing repeated attempts to get into direct communication with Acting Generalmajor Bayerlein. Cristoph Scholl could only watch helplessly as the Führer became increasingly agitated with each minute that Bayerlein was not found.

“Where is Bayerlein?” Hitler had been asking the question to the room in general every few minutes. He stood at a large wooden table spread with maps and papers.

At the center of the table was a map of France, Germany and the Low Countries. Small wooden counters represented known German and French divisions. A large stack of blue counters was placed just to the east of Ulm, faced by only three gray counters. Several high stacks of gray counters were positioned along the Franco-Belgian border, but Scholl saw that two of the blue ones had advanced deep into eastern Belgium.

The Führer stared sourly at the map. “Standartenführer Junge?”

The SS officer glanced up from his typewriter. “Mein Führer?”

“Why have you not drawn the line of the front on this map?”

Junge stood and joined Hitler at the table. “Because, Mein Führer, we do not know exactly where the front is. Fortunately, I do not believe the French know very much more than we do.”

“What do you mean?”

“The combat is very confused, Mein Führer. We know that the enemy remains to the west of Augsburg. Kaiserslautern remains free, but Saarland is largely occupied by the enemy. We have taken a few cities near the Belgian border, and several divisions are reportedly fighting their way toward Reims.” Junge pointed to the blue counters in Belgium. “Arlon was taken by the French, and a force of unknown size is reportedly penetrating deeper into Belgium. The trouble, Mein Führer, is that the French have been cutting telephone and telegraph lines as they advance, and it has been difficult to communicate with enough units to learn exactly where that line should be drawn.”

Hitler took a steadying breath before smashing his fist against the table.

Junge gulped. “I shall make all effort to determine where the front lies, Mein Führer.”

From the Führer, there was no reply.

A stocky, middle-aged Luftwaffe officer approached the table. Oberst Alfred Keller had been directing Luftwaffe operations from one corner of the improvised headquarters.

Behind him, a pilot just in from a sortie was being led to the table by one of the Luftwaffe adjutants.

Still wearing his leather cap and flying jacket, the man was wiping his hands furiously on his trousers -- whether to remove sweat, grime or both Scholl could not tell. Scholl noticed that the knees of the trousers were torn and caked with dried blood.

Keller faced the Warlord and saluted. “Mein Führer, this is Oberleutnant Ihlefeld. He shot down three French bombers over the front and rammed a fourth before bailing out.”

The Führer turned from the map and appraised the young pilot. “Ihlefeld. I am pleased.” He inclined his head and shook the man’s hand vigorously.

Oberleutnant Ihlefeld recounted each kill for his Führer, who seemed momentarily drawn out of his despondency.

A moving shape to his right caught Scholl’s attention. A slender man wearing the brown NSDAP tunic and swastika armband had wandered into the headquarters. His distinctive gaunt, rodentine face was immediately familiar to Scholl. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was but the latest of a long line of high officials who had been drifting in and out of the Engmann St. Louis warehouse basement since morning.

goebbels1b.jpg

Joseph Goebbels arrived at the Führer's forward headquarters by mid-afternoon.


“I hear that there is a new hero to be found in here, Führer.” In person his voice seemed somehow more nasal, more grating than it had in the radio broadcasts Scholl had listened to.

Oberst Keller made his way eagerly toward the Propaganda Minister, but Goebbels brushed past him on his way to Hitler.

“I said that I heard that there is a new hero to be found here, Führer,” Goebbels drawled.

The Warlord had been fixated on the map again. “Do you have news of him yet?”

“Who?”

Turning at last from the map, Hitler seemed to recognize his old friend. “Thank you for coming.”

Goebbels nodded stiffly. One eye seemed to be set in a slight squint. “I hear there is a new flying ace here, whose exploits can inspire the German People to greater resistance.”

Oberst Keller drew up alongside the Propaganda Minister, Ihlefeld in tow. “Yes, Herr Reichsminister. This is Oberleutnant Ihlefeld -- he scored two kills in Belgium, followed by four bombers today.”

“What is your forename, Ihlefeld?”

“Herbert, Herr Reichsminister.”

“Good. Very good. You there!” Goebbels snapped his fingers at one of the Führer’s junior staffers. “One: Oberleutnant Herbert Ihlefeld is to receive the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and all prerequisites.”

The aide was furiously scribbling notes on a pad of a paper.

“Two: Oberleutnant Ihlefeld is to be featured in the Völkischer Beobachter. Three: Herbert Ihlefeld postcards are to be printed and sold for the war effort in the same series with the postcards of Major Bräuer and Major Bayerlein.”

An exasperated shout from the Führer cut Goebbels short. “Can no one get me Bayerlein? I must speak to Bayerlein!” Hitler wheeled on the Propaganda Minister. “I warned of this catastrophe. I tried to prepare Germany. I warned all of you again, and again, and again, and again, and --” His voice trailed off. “This is unheard-of! Foreign armies in Bavaria… I said -- I tried to -- ignored! Ignored by the defeatists!”

“Mein Führer --” Goebbels was incredulous.

“Ignored! Everyone assured me that France would not attack. Everyone tried to quell my fears. Everyone tried to placate me.” Hitler beat his chest. “I knew! I begged everyone to listen.”

The female secretaries had stopped typing, and the room was growing quiet. But the storm had passed.

Adolf Hitler saw that he had lost control and stilled his anger. “I knew,” he said again, more quietly. Those in the basement returned to their work.

As Goebbels led Ihlefeld, Keller and the aide out of the basement, Scholl found a seat and buried his face in his hands. Things were going badly. Everyone in a position to know anything seemed to agree on that much.

Many minutes passed before one of the Führer’s deep sighs drew his attention. Apparently Hitler was reading a report containing more bad news. “Generalmajor Stumpff regrets to inform me that the Luftwaffe has been ineffectual in preventing the Royal Air Force from inflicting serious losses on the Wehrmacht in a meticulously waged tactical bombing campaign against our divisions in Belgium that has crippled some Army units. He regrets to inform me!”

Scholl seemed to have better luck than most in his attempts to calm the Führer. “I am sure the general merely --”

“Two hundred vehicles!” He was now reading the second page which enumerated losses.

“I --”

“Two hundred! I thought they were busy bombing schools and libraries.”

“And so the world should think.” Goebbels had drifted back in.

“Are none of those atrocities real?”

“A bomb fell on the lawns of a hospital in Antwerp but did not injure anyone. A few factories were hit hard. Stray bombs hit a cathedral, and small numbers of Belgians have lost their lives or property. Rather disappointing.”

“What about the, the -- abductions? What of the abductions?”

“I am pleased to report that the International Red Cross believes that there is significant merit to that case. Your friend Herr Hoffman was of great assistance to me in fabricating the photographic evidence.”

The Führer slumped over the table. “That is not why I am worried. Stumpff believes that IX, XII and VI Armeekorps have been bombed so precisely they must have been given information as to our dispositions. Look!” Hitler pointed to the small map that Stumpff had provided. “Every single one of these divisions has been struck exactly four times. There is spying and perfidy behind this.” Goebbels looked skeptical, but Hitler ignored him.

Hitler paced towards where Scholl was sitting. “Cristoph. I have found something for you to do. Put me in touch with Admiral Canaris immediately.”
 
Last edited:

Kurt_Steiner

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For a moment I thought I was back in Der untergang...

The situation looks worrysome to me...
 

TheHyphenated1

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Kurt_Steiner (1) - Excellent guesses. Before long we'll check back in with Fr. Kappel and see how things have been affected.

SeleucidRex - Thanks. I'm sure Ironhewer would love to see such a thing, but Hitler is too canny to go down without a fight ;) .

dublish - More astute guessing, dublish. It definitely seems that if Hitler plays his cards well, what would normally be a political pitfall can be a boon to him. +1 Stability! Oh, wait, that's Europa Universalis...

Kurt_Steiner (2) - I'll take that as a compliment, sir :D . Now that I think about it, that scene does bear a certain resemblance to Hitler's "Fegelein! Fegelein! Fegelein!" tantrum from that movie. Bayerlein sounding like Fegelein adds to it, too...
 

stnylan

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Hitler does seem to be losing his grip a little.
 

unmerged(94576)

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Most excellent! it seems that theyll make a hollow propaganda hero out of Ihlefeld like Vasily Zaitsev.
 

dublish

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SeleucidRex said:
Most excellent! it seems that theyll make a hollow propaganda hero out of Ihlefeld like Vasily Zaitsev.
Knowing the Nazi attitude towards propaganda heroes, he'll never fly again for fear that he'll be shot down and proven mortal.
 

Ironhewer

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Course, if this early Gotterdamerung continues the way it has, he may not have need of continuing to fly just as all those wonderful Nazi lies . . . err controlled information may not mean much.

Viv la France!

A most excellent update.
 

diziziz

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Was Hitler ever like that, I mean he states that he knew that France would attack, but he himself denied it repeatedly before. Surely he remebers how he didn't listen to Canaris. It is only 1936, so his syphilis hasn't made him crazy yet, but yet he denies how he acted before.

Does Hitler acually believe that he forsaw this happening or is he just saying it?

Seems out of charactar even for Hitler, but it could be just me as you guys know much more about WW2 then me.
 

TheHyphenated1

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stnylan - Indeed. In the plus column we have Dr. Morell's death, and in the minus column we have Hitler's being proven wrong about the war as well as the worsening situation of the war. Result: -1 Mental Stablity Points. Still, he's at least got the composure to compose himself before completely going off the rails.

SeleucidRex - Thank you! Yes, Goebbels would like to do that very much.

dublish - Indeed. Goebbels' use of Ihlefeld will be determined by the course of the war.

Ironhewer - Thank you! All that's standing between here and early Gotterdammerung is the Wehrmacht Heer ;) .

diziziz - Welcome back :) ! As to Hitler's erratic behavior, unlike April '45 in our timeline, in April '36 in Weltkriegschaft he has certainly not descended nearly to a state of total madness. To provide my personal take on it, I don't think Hitler either lying or crazy -- his personality was simply predisposed to powerful self-delusion, which is different from insanity. Given Hitler's power for assembling the events of his life into a self-aggrandizing narrative in his own mind, he probably seized upon a shred of truth and selectively ignored the rest (think of Gollum's version of how he acquired the One Ring). Short Answer: Hitler's near-total inability to accept blame or responsibility has made him very desperate.
 

KLorberau

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Hmmm, Where is Bayerlin? Captured? Killed? Or laying plans for a great counterattack against the Frenchies? I hope the latter......

As for the Fuhrer, he needs to take a chill pill and go take a nap with his teddy bear........

KLorberau
 

dublish

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TheHyphenated1 said:
As to Hitler's erratic behavior, unlike April '45 in our timeline, in April '36 in Weltkriegschaft he has certainly not descended nearly to a state of total madness. To provide my personal take on it, I don't think Hitler either lying or crazy -- his personality was simply predisposed to powerful self-delusion, which is different from insanity. Given Hitler's power for assembling the events of his life into a self-aggrandizing narrative in his own mind, he probably seized upon a shred of truth and selectively ignored the rest (think of Gollum's version of how he acquired the One Ring). Short Answer: Hitler's near-total inability to accept blame or responsibility has made him very desperate.
I'm not sure Hitler had reached that stage by 1936. From the beginning of his political career, he was an excellent actor, and he knew it. I don't think he really bought into his own orations until Germany experienced the diplomatic and military successes of 1938-1940, though. 1936 Germany was still clearly inferior to the West in terms of military strength, and was nearly friendless. Italy had not experienced its post-Ethiopia rapproachment with Germany concerning Austria, and Austria (or its government, in any case) was certainly not sympathetic towards Hitler. The Nazis played around with a great deal of caution until 1939, so I admit I was surprised that Hitler's dementia was so prominent in the last update, especially when casualties remain light and elements of the Heer are actually advancing into France.

I'm curious as to what Hitler plans for Canaris and Abwehr are. Should I be reading anything into the fact that upon concluding that spies are at work, he immediately reaches for the man who did the most to warn him about the French invasion?
 

unmerged(94576)

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Dublish, I think narrowly surviving assassination probably gave Hitler the idea that it would all be easy. he would understandably be crushed to see all that starting to fall apart, right?
 

TheHyphenated1

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KLorberau - Haha. Bayerlein will soon make an appearance, and things shall become clear.

dublish, SeleucidRex - I do understand your surprise, dublish. The sorts of fleeting outbursts as seen in the warehouse basement are, however, well-enough attested even before his chancellorship (including a doozie upon learning of Kurt von Schleicher's appointment as Chancellor) that I felt it quite plausible here. SeleucidRex's observation is a valid one, and I would go one step further to say that in addition to feeling deeply betrayed by fate, Hitler is feeling very deeply betrayed by something else ;) .

As for Canaris, there are a number of things that can be read into that. Certainly, though, Hitler appreciates the skill and insight of his spymaster, and wants his take on the situation.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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dublish said:
Knowing the Nazi attitude towards propaganda heroes, he'll never fly again for fear that he'll be shot down and proven mortal.

Galland returned to fly, even when he was downcasted...
 

TheHyphenated1

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Kurt_Steiner - As I said, Ihlefeld's fate will depend upon the course of the war ;) .



I think things are settled with my internet enough that I can announce next update late tonight!
 

TheHyphenated1

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Chapter II: Part XVIII

Chapter II: The Gambit of the West

Part XVIII


April 16, 1936

“Sir Samuel, given the already substantial bloodshed in this war, and given the very real potential for escalation into a world war, Germany is prepared to discuss peace with the United Kingdom. Another envoy is meeting at this very moment with a French diplomat in Geneva, with the hope that a mutually honorable armistice can be reached as soon as is possible. My government’s foreign minister has prepared preliminary terms, which he has entrusted me to discuss with you and with Prince Wilhelm -- with the aim of arriving at a mediated understanding of the fundamental positions of our respective governments.”

Walter Friedmann looked away from the mirror and cleared his throat. Alone in a second floor coatroom in Bonde Palace, the seasoned diplomat looked out the room’s small window onto the Swedish capital. He had flown from Berlin to Stockholm earlier in the day for an unofficial meeting with a British diplomat in which he was to make tentative peace overtures. Prince Wilhelm of Sweden and Norway had put himself forward to facilitate and mediate the meeting, which was scheduled to begin in ten minutes.

bonde.jpg

Bonde Palace (left), Stockholm, Sweden.


For the first time in a career stretching back to 1912, Friedmann felt afraid. He had earned a formidable reputation amongst the world’s diplomatic corps as a skillful and determined negotiator -- none of that would avail him now. For he had not come to Stockholm to hoodwink a credulous Paul Amiot, stall a sleepy Anthony Eden or reassure a distracted Clement Attlee. This time he was not preparing strategies to confound his foreign counterparts, but rehearsing a transparent plea for a lenient peace.

Hitler had been keeping von Neurath in the dark about his diplomatic intentions since the start of the war. The Foreign Minister had only received word the day before that he was to arrange an urgent meeting to feel out British intentions with regard to a separate peace.

Apparently, the Abwehr believed that the British were planning to send an expeditionary force to France by the end of summer. Even Hitler knew that Germany was not yet strong enough to stand against the combined might of the two Great Powers. It was then imperative to draw Britain out of the war by any means possible. If France could be isolated, Germany might achieve peace merely by inflicting high enough casualties to bring Lebrun to the bargaining table.

Friedmann cleared his throat again. “Another envoy is meeting at this very moment with a French diplomat in Geneva.” There was no meeting with a French diplomat, of course. By giving Britain the impression that separate peace was but a natural first step toward general peace, though, Friedmann gauged better chances of favorable indications from the British.

Friedmann bit his lip. Already talking of peace after ten days of war. It was disgraceful. Worse than 1918. He had no doubt that barring a major reversal of fortune, Hitler’s government would soon collapse, shattering the progress of the past three years. Disgraceful.

Wholly taken aback by an order so uncharacteristic of Adolf Hitler, von Neurath had sent inquiry to the Führer’s forward headquarters as to why he was even considering talking to Britain while more than half a million soldiers were still in the field. His reply came fifteen minutes later from Acting Field Marshal von Küchler.

The War Ministry believed the armies in the north to be in an “untenable position” -- as its memorandum to von Neurath had phrased it -- leading to a probability of military collapse in Belgium before May. Best, then, to seek peace with Great Britain while there was yet incentive for Baldwin’s government to negotiate.

Before boarding his flight to Stockholm, Friedmann had discussed the situation at length with von Neurath. He believed that recent aircraft losses had gained significant attention in the London press, perhaps serving as a catalyst -- and justification, from Baldwin’s point of view -- for separate peace. He maintained, in fact, that while German soldiers still fought on French soil, the British would be willing to accept a status quo ante bellum peace. If Germany waited for military disaster, however, it would probably be forced to make concessions in Belgium -- and if French armies penetrated much deeper, Germany would no longer be in a position to hope for even that.

Now, Friedmann ordered the portfolio of documents he had been sent with. He had been provided with a detailed legal analysis of the treaties and agreements binding the United Kingdom to France militarily. According to von Neurath’s lawyers, such understandings were only applicable in the case of defensive war. France’s initiation of the war released Britain from those obligations.

“Furthermore, by signing a preliminary cease-fire, Great Britain would encourage France to do the same. Once the guns have been silenced, we will have time to bring the matter before the League for formal and impartial arbitration of any grievance the Allies claim against Germany.”

It sounded hollow to him. They will ask hard questions.

Turning to his right, Friedmann affected a British accent. “Belgium must be returned to the Léopoldsburg government-in-exile!”

He turned to his left and responded in his own voice. “Sir Samuel, that is a matter for the League of Nations to decide. I make no demands of you, and ask that you do likewise.”

From the right: “We are now honor-bound to support our ally, France.”

To the left -- “Not in the case of aggressive war. A temporary cessation of hostilities between our two nations will simply encourage France to resolve this diplomatically.”

As an Englishman again: “I say, why should we stop it now when we’ve the advantage?”

Friedmann paused, thinking of a suitable rebuttal. “Actually, the advantage is but --”

The sound of footsteps outside the coatroom caused Friedmann to wheel towards the door. Through the frosted glass, he could see the blurred shape of Prince Wilhelm’s amanuensis. The man rapped at the door. “His Royal Highness is prepared to see you, Herr Friedmann.”

“Enter.”

The winkled old servant-secretary opened the door to the coatroom and shuffled in. He looked at Friedmann for several seconds. “Are you well, Herr Friedmann?”

The German diplomat nodded.

“Come with me, then, if you please. You shall be meeting down the hall.” He led Friedmann out of the coatroom, and down a long corridor paved with marble until they arrived at an elegant mahogany doorframe. The door was partly ajar. “His Royal Highness awaits.”

“Herr Friedmann. Please come in.” From the greeting, they would be speaking English.

The room was a library. Friedmann noted shelves lined with antique books, which seemed to gravitate toward Scandinavian history. Prince Wilhelm, a rather severe-looking man in his early fifties, sat in a honey-colored bergère, drawing on a pipe. To his right sat Sir Samuel Hoare, who had been Anthony Eden’s predecessor as Foreign Secretary.

Hoare appeared to Friedmann the consummate Englishman -- thin-lipped and balding, with a well-set and amiable face. He had recognized the face immediately, for they had met once before in entirely different circumstances. The Briton rose and shook Friedmann’s hand, but they did not meet eyes.

embajador.jpg

Sir Samuel Hoare would represent British interests in the unofficial meeting in Stockholm.


Once Friedmann had been seated, the Swedish prince exchanged a look with Hoare and slowly drew the pipe from his mouth. “Gentlemen, I have made myself available in the hope that we can achieve what may be at least the first steps toward peace.”

Friedmann swallowed. “What exactly have you been told so far?”

Hoare leaned forward. “I am afraid I have only been given a vague understanding that there is a chance of peace in all this. What exactly does Germany have in mind?”

“Sir Samuel, given the already substantial bloodshed in this war, and given the very real potential for escalation into a world war, Germany is prepared --”

There was a forceful knock at the door. Prince Wilhelm pulled the pipe from his mouth and called in Swedish: “Enter.”

The door opened partly, and the amanuensis poked his head into the library. “Herr Friedmann, the German Embassy has just received a telegram addressed to you, labeled ‘Most Urgent’. The Ambassador requests that you read it and send confirmation at once.” He proffered a sealed telegram.

Excusing himself, Friedmann ducked into the hallway and opened the envelope. He unfolded the paper and gaped.

It was unbelievable. How?

He reread the telegram three times before returning to the library, trying to contain his ragged breathing.

“I am afraid that my government is no longer in a position to contemplate negotiations. Thank you most kindly for your time, Your Royal Highness, Sir Samuel.” Friedmann turned to leave.

“What are you talking about, man?” Hoare sputtered.

“General Hausser has taken Paris.”
 
Last edited:

Kurt_Steiner

Katalaanse Burger en Terroriste
Feb 12, 2005
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TheHyphenated1 said:
“General Hausser has taken Paris.”

That's a good reason to leave some peace conversations. :p
 

stnylan

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Aug 1, 2002
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Hah! That is quite rich I have to say.