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Siegfried: A Peace Novel

Siegfried: A Peace Novel

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Siegfried: A Peace Novel

Lunghezza:
210 pagine
2 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 11, 2013
ISBN:
9781491712467
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

It is the spring of 1929 and, while the international jet set is celebrating the last hurrah of the jazz age, the international military set is gearing up for a war to make the world safe for dictatorships.

In Berlin Count Siegfried von Ohr is accustomed to dividing his time between partying and espionage. Now the Minister wants him to go to the Soviet Union. Stalin has given permission for Germany (stripped of all its armed forces by the VersaillesTreaty) to operate a clandestine airbase in Russia, where the future officers of both the Luftwaffe and the Red Air Force will be secretly trained and equipped. Siegfried recruits his younger brother Tristan (a pilot) to join him in the Workers Paradise. Everything the brothers do there will be dangerousand illegal.

In Moscow Siegfried soon discovers that being a guest of Stalin brings him to the attention of the dreaded secret police, the OGPU. Circumstances require Siegfried to do a favor for the head of the secret police. But then a crazed OGPU agent tries to recruit Siegfried into a conspiracy to destroy Stalin!

Luckily at this precise moment the Minister orders Siegfried to go to Italy and enjoy the pretty scenery and spy on Mussolini

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 11, 2013
ISBN:
9781491712467
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Jim Jorgen is a Midwesterner who, after an exciting career on Wall Street, turned to the writing of historical fiction, beginning with The Spice Boys in 2000. He is currently working on a trilogy following three generations of a Berlin military family, of which Siegfried is the second volume.

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Siegfried - Jim Jorgen

Novel

Copyright © 2013 Jim Jorgen.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

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Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

ISBN: 978-1-4917-1244-3 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4917-1245-0 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4917-1246-7 (e)

iUniverse rev. date: 11/04/2013

Contents

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CREDITS

—History, Stephen said, is a nightmare

from which I am trying to awake.

James Joyce, Ulysses

1

He watched as the two men struggled for the gun. Suddenly the pistol went off. Leonora screamed as her father fell to the floor, clutching his chest. Alvaro stood there bewildered. The old man raised his head and cried to Leonora, I curse you! and fell back, dead.

A moment later the music soared to an ominous climax, and the curtain slowly fell.

During the applause Siegfried rose and adjusted his white tie. He was planning to leave the bachelors’ box at the opera and go down to the bar for a drink during the intermission between acts one and two of La Forza del Destino.

Then he felt a hand on his right shoulder. He turned and was amazed. There stood his old friend Martin Zobel, whom he hadn’t seen for three years. Hello, Kamerad, said Martin with a big smile. They embraced. Long time no see.

I thought you were in sunny Italy, said Siegfried, drinking schnapps with Signor Mussolini.

Until last week I was First Secretary at our embassy in Rome, eating spaghetti with the natives and keeping my ears open at cocktail parties.

Siegfried gave Martin a knowing smile. Martin was, of course, in the spy business in Italy. Come on down to the bar, and I’ll stand you to a nip of cognac.

Fine, said Martin, and you can tell all about your adventures in Merrie England.

Ten minutes later Siegfried found them a corner table in the bar and ordered a bottle of cognac. It’s not often that I see you at the opera, Mr. Z.

The Minister told me that I would find you here watching your sweetie Tamara Orlova sing Leonora.

Siegfried poured two glasses of cognac and handed one to his friend. Cheers, he said, and they drank in silence for a while. You’ve been talking with the Minister?

Martin surveyed the room to see if anyone was within earshot. Then he said, The Ministry has a very interesting new assignment for you. Siegfried was also in the spy business.

In Italy, I hope, said Siegfried. I love Italy. Been vacationing there since I was ten. Lovely weather.

Martin took a sip of cognac. No, not in Italy, but we’ll come to that in a minute. Tell me about London.

I was the cultural attaché there, with special attention to art and artists and auctions at Christie’s. In my spare time I drank tea and kept an eye on the Royal Navy and the RAF. And you?

Oh, I drank Tuscan wine and took notes on the Italian military buildup.

Siegfried laughed. A military buildup during all those peace conferences? How charming.

Martin held up his glass. If you want peace, prepare for war—that’s what the clever Romans used to say.

Siegfried took a sip of cognac. In London the ladies were so pleased that the great powers have signed a piece of paper outlawing war forever and ever—turning all those swords into plowshares.

And then secretly turning all those plowshares into machine guns, said Martin with a sardonic smile.

Boys must have their toys, said Siegfried, shrugging his shoulders. And now we come to my brand new assignment. Something more exotic than Italy?

The Minister is going to put you on a plane and send you into battle.

Will I need a parachute?

Perhaps, said Martin with a smile.

Go on.

Martin lowered voice. The Minister would like you to go to the Soviet Union.

Siegfried set down his glass. So that’s why they asked me to do an intensive course in Russian for a month. Are they sending me to beautiful Leningrad aka St. Petersburg?

No, to Moscow.

Moscow, said Siegfried, a little disgusted. When?

Next week.

For a moment Siegfried was tempted to say something obscene and negative. Moscow was the home of the Bolsheviks—the thugs who had murdered his ladyfriend Tamara’s father. But instead he meekly said, What shall I tell Tamara?

Are you married to Tamara Orlova?

No. Tamara says that she is not the marrying kind. We are just good friends.

"According to the papers, she is going to Paris to sing La Traviata. Tell her that you will be away for a year on a special assignment."

How special?

"The Chancellor himself had to initial your orders, which are marked Most Secret."

And?

Your supervisor in Moscow will be your old friend Oskar von Niedermayer.

Oskar! I’m told he has turned academic and gone to university and written a book.

He is still as crazy as he was in the days of the Arab revolt and the Jihad and all that good shit.

And?

The Minister would like your brother Tristan to join you.

In Moscow?

In a place near Moscow we call Location X. We need a top pilot as an advanced flight instructor.

And suppose Tristan doesn’t want to go to Location X?

Martin took another sip of cognac. The Minister wants you to use your considerable powers of persuasion and bring Tristan on board.

Suppose Tristan says No?

Martin thought about that for a moment. Siegfried, at this critical moment in our history, I don’t think any gentleman would say No to his country. This was followed by an awkward pause.

At last Siegfried, defeated, forced himself to say, So you have us both by the balls.

It seems that way.

After a pause Siegfried said, And the next step?

Martin brought out a card and handed it to his friend. Drive Tristan to this address at ten o’clock on Friday and report to Doctor Oskar.

*     *     *

At the end of the opera Siegfried knocked on Tamara’s dressing room door.

Come.

He took a deep breath and opened the door. How many lies should he tell her? You were fabulous, he said and closed the door behind him.

She had taken off her costume and was removing her makeup. Did you like it?

He came to stand beside her and watched her in the mirror. The orchestra played beautifully.

They love the new conductor: he’s young and bright.

And handsome.

She smiled. If you like the little-boy type. She looked up at him. Your face is so serious. You know something. Tell me.

For a moment Siegfried was uncertain what to say. Then he drew up a chair and sat down beside her. The Minister has asked me to undertake a very important assignment, something a little dangerous.

What? A month in rowdy Warsaw?

No. A year in Russia—Moscow.

Tamara turned and stared at him in disbelief. Moscow! That, of course, was the last place she ever wanted him to be.

Siegfried swallowed hard and continued. It’s just for a year, Tamara. Then, when I come back, we shall go for a long vacation in Italy.

Tamara’s face brightened. Venice, Florence, Naples, Capri?

The lot.

She kissed him and said a little sadly, I shall miss you every minute.

Siegfried put his arm around her and said, Tonight perhaps you can help me with the correct pronunciation of the Russian words for hello and goodbye.

Tamara gave him a sly smile. Your bed or mine?

2

Young Karlos loved pistachio ice cream.

And he waited until dessert to ask the question of Uncle Siegfried that he was obviously dying to pose. When you were in England, Uncle, did you ever visit Cambridge?

Once or twice, said Siegfried. Why?

Karlos put down his spoon. Cambridge is the place where all the professors gather to hear the latest about German science. Karlos was the ten-year-old son of Tristan and Paula, and he was an honor student at Siegfried’s old school, the Empress Augusta Gymnasium.

To tell the truth, Karlos, I remember Cambridge mostly for its love of horses and dark beer, said Siegfried with a laugh. That was not the whole truth, of course: he ran an agent there—a student—who reported to him on all the discoveries being made in the Cavendish Laboratory.

Karlos was not amused. Those professors there like to copy all the smart science ideas they borrow from Berlin. The Brits are thieves!

Tristan smiled across the table at Siegfried. Karlos has this conspiracy theory: British scientists steal the research from our geniuses like Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg and pass it off as their own.

The Brits are jealous because we Germans have all the brains. Mother, tell Uncle about me and Heisenberg.

Paula said to Siegfried, Last week I took Karlos to a lecture on modern physics by Professor Heisenberg. After the lecture Karlos insisted on going forward to talk to the professor. He had a copy of a boys’ biography of Heisenberg, and he asked the professor to autograph it. I was so embarrassed. But Professor Heisenberg signed the book and said, ‘Someday, young man, when you are in Leipzig, come and see me and I’ll show you what an atom looks like.’  Paula added proudly, Karlos is so bold. He just walks up to famous people and says hello.

Siegfried took a sip of wine. Is Mr. Braun still the history master at the Gymnasium, Karlos?

Yes, Uncle. Yesterday he told us all about the stupid peace conference at Versailles. His friend Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau refused to sign the ridiculous treaty. The count said that it was against the law of nations for Germany to be demilitarized. What does ‘demilitarized’ mean?

Germany is forbidden to have an army, a navy, or an air force.

Karlos made a face. So, what if we are attacked by France and Poland?

Then we shall have to defend ourselves with spit-balls.

Uncle, said Karlos in a stern voice, that is not going to happen.

Oh? And why not?

Because I read in the paper that some Munich boys have bombs and rifles hidden away in some warehouse just waiting to be used.

And we Prussian boys are going to let those Munich boys get us into another war? I don’t think so, Karlos. Munich had a long series of crazy kings. It doesn’t need a short series of crazy goons.

There was an awkward pause. Since the last war Munich had suffered through a violent Soviet Republic and then a right-wing revolt—two disasters which the well-behaved Berliners were still trying to forget.

Karlos took a big spoonful of ice cream. "Mother, tell Uncle Siegfried about your revolutionary Aida. It’s a quantum leap ahead of everything else. Tell him."

Paula laughed. Quantum leap is a phrase Karlos picked up at school. Quantum leap autos, quantum leap radios, quantum leap airplanes.

And quantum leap ice cream, said Karlos pointing to the dessert.

Everybody laughed.

"And the Aida?" said Siegfried.

Well, said Paula, I had this idea of mounting that old war-horse opera in modern dress—with Aida combing her hair while listening to the radio and Radames watching a war movie on a big screen at his club.

I love it, said Siegfried. When can I see this marvel?

Next year, said Paula. Before then I have a ton of work ahead of me. Paula was the costume designer for opera houses in both Berlin and Hamburg.

Meanwhile I must content myself with all those routine flights for Lufthansa to such exotic places as Stuttgart and Dusseldorf, said Tristan. He was Lufthansa’s senior pilot.

Cheer up, said Siegfried. I’ve got tickets for the circus on Saturday. They all loved the circus and gave the announcement a round of applause. But right now I have something to discuss with the pilot of the year. He nodded to Tristan, and the two brothers excused themselves to take care of some after-dinner business while Karlos took care of his homework upstairs in his room.

A few minutes later in the library, Tristan poured his brother a glass of imported sherry. They drank in silence for a while and then Siegfried said as casually as possible, I ran into Martin Zobel at the opera last night.

Is he back from Italy?

Yes. He will be working in the planning department at the Ministry. He paused. The Minister has in mind a very sensitive new assignment for me.

By sensitive you mean dangerous?

Exactly. Siegfried took a sip of sherry. "The Minister would like me to be stationed in Moscow

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