|Chapter: One (1937: Winter in Germany.)
He comes over to the new Reich on a freighter from Ireland in November of 1937, slipping in through the rain and fog with his passport and visa, evading the main customs ports, seeking the lay of the new Deutschland. A childhood of poverty had produced a spare young man, six feet tall, travelling light, travelling alert. A cat’s journey, move, observe, and then move again...
The freighter Irish Elm hoves to in the grey water estuary off the islands, in the water road to Wilhelmshaven. Naval ship maneuvers have slowed access to the Wilhelmshaven freight berths. Anchored in the queue of shipping, sheltered from the North Sea wind, the off watch crews linger over their breakfast.
During the short passage from Cork, the captain and crew have grown to like their easy-going, undemanding passenger. Personally gracious and putting on no airs, a pleasant young man without ‘attitudes ‘is Patrick Hitler, Not riding on his famous uncles name… The crew is in high spirits, for anchorage time is the chance to tidy and spruce the ship, to clean and pack gear, to prepare of liberty in the welcoming bars of Frisia.
The lees and hooks of Island of Wangerooge, West of the seaway to Wilhelmshaven, raise dun and grey out of the swirl of mudflats and the carefully marked shipping channel”. WP walks past the stanchions on the port rail. The captain’s launch is checked by two seamen. The machinists mate has the engine covers removed.
"Checking for sea damage? ‘Calls WP.
“Checking for the Captains ‘ceremonial cruise,’ chuckles the mate. “ Wilhelmshaven’s become more and more congested. Before the troubles in June, we made the run monthly and we used to cruise right in to the docks.’ Now it’s every fortnight, and when the new navy goes on exercises the old freighters lay-up and wait. Not that anyone complains, Sorr, its easy money every time we swing at anchor in the roadsteads. First time in these parts?”
“First time to Wilhelmshaven. I was on the near island as a boy, back in ’27. Where‘s the captain planning to take his gig. Fishing cruise?”
“Oh, hardly, the port authority gets a manifest of cargo and passengers arriving, like you, Sorr. We are testing the boats this afternoon, and then running in the documents early tomorrow morning. That way, when we tie up, no delays in slinging the cargo holds. We load coal for the return run unless we so we pick up enough light freight and return to Cobh. Lately we've been lucky- only boiler coal. Trade is picking up, thank God."
“When does the boat go for this sea trial?"
“45 minutes.’ Laughter. ‘We are supposed to be formal, like you was on a Cunard liner”
WP looks over the sea way to the lee shore of Wagenroog. Squinting against the haze, he sees the puffer smoke form the island light rail goods shunter. He sees an aircraft rise, flashing against the sun, that intrigues him.
‘I can do this. ‘Turning, he climbs the deck stairs to the open bridge. Captain Eli Keegan ‘s first watch, the 8 bells, begins.
.” Good morning, young Hitler! Taking the measure of my ship while we wait in line?”
“and a fine vessel it is this morning. You are putting your gig to sea, I see..?”
"Aye, since we are backed up in the Shilling Roads. There is a farmer market in Harlesie. Fresh winter produce, eggs, maybe a side of beef- keeps the crew and passenger happy for a day or two delay...”
Can your crew place me ashore in Wagenroog? There is a customs dock,”
‘That eager to be rid of our company? Laughs Keegan “
“Not really. I last vested in 1927.I can see the island again, catch the ferry to the mainland”.
“Well I don’t see why not. Eager to see your famous uncles’ new holdings, are we”?
“Eager for the bars and walking on sand. No disrespect for the ship, captain with an entry visa, I can land anywhere...”
“Fair enough. and your leave taking will let the steward clean your cabin early . The boats lower at 9.00 am sharp - do you have luggage stowed?"
| Just two sea bags in the cabin”. I can be at the davits in Minutes”.
Fine then; Have yourself a good long stay. Its bustling, I hear. We’ve doubled our hauling, and we now load coal for the return. Don’t tell the crew, No more light sailing.
And it has been a pleasure .Mr. Hitler. My respects when you see your famous uncle,”
“Thank you, captain. Many safe journeys...”
The rumble of diesels draws his attention. On the port side of the Elm, two light cruisers clear channel fore and aft for the pocket battleship Deutschland. Germany re-arming, Germany stepping out from port and the shadows.
Peace on the starboard side, the first glimmer of warfare on the port side, muses Keegan. and dead ahead, the tedious clearing of port documents at first light. and I have messages to send. Sometimes I wonder if this new Reich is going into immediate civil war. If so, I hope I’ve got this old tub well clear of the conflict first. Or arranged enough safe passage.
William boy, in the new Germany every one reports to his protector. I’m afraid it’s time to turn you in.
He leaves the Bridge and moves to relieve the Wireless operator at the midpoint of the watch with a gentle, ‘take a rest, Sean. Traffic is quiet and it’s time for your captain to practise his rusty Morse code. Be back in 45 minutes, now. Galley’s got coffee and light snacks on”.
With the wireless room locked he slides his battered code book form his pocket and selects the ABwehr day code. His signal gives Naval Intelligence, and the Hohenzollern movement, at least twenty-four hours head start to move against their Gestapo rivals.
#And gains me a high value cargo in return. The reward, for a depression era sea captain and part boat owner, is well worth the effort. No coal loading, no steam back in ballast.’
Shore leave, even if only for ship stores is the delight of any sailor, and the three seamen are glad to escort their passenger, to get a respite from the scrape and paint that dominates life at anchor. The passage to the Wagenroog rail dock is twenty minutes. At ebb tide, the ferry link is quiet and the launch has the passage to itself and the fishing drifters working the drop off between the channel and the Waddenzee flats.
Seaweed drifts, grey sand, the wrack of stumps, driftwood, the cast offs of the tidal sea then suddenly- seals. The North Sea herring sand pout, whiting and young cod channel through the tidal creeks and the passages - a banquet course for r grey and harbour seals. Inner sand flats, which deter killer whales, create ideal haul outs.
“War is the great enemy of seals”. Bo'sun says these waters were cleaned in 1919”.
`Looks like way again, then `
A grey drifter anchors near a sunning group. Two riflemen stretch over the bows eight shots in quick staccato, and the panicked colony thrashes to the water’s edge, diving for drop water. Eight thin men in faded blue uniforms shift over the gunnels run through the ice cold water and grey mudsands. Quickly, shivering, they club the quivering, and then grapple the dead seals, dragging them back to the waiting boat.
Looks like seal bacon with the morning corn mush`` Says the pilot. `Poor bastards look like they need it.
``You can pull in and drop me at the East rail docks ‘says WP. I’ve seen enough.
“Long walk in’ says the helm.”
The launch bunts against the coal dock. WP Hitler, swinging ashore, steadies the boat while his sea bags are passed over. Good byes are shouted and the Elm’s launch reverses and heads for the south shore, the markets.
Unseen by Customs and unheralded by StatsPoliezi, William Patrick Hitler has entered his Uncle’s New Reich.
The local shunter reaches the Wye, and pauses briefly. WP Swings on the goods flat. Four local men watch him. Guten Tagen ‘s are muttered, but no’ hellos, no where you from? ‘. Interesting, maybe it’s the winter morning chill. No one questions the stranger, but they watch me through side stares.
The goods train clatters east, pas the airport, reverses into siding, drops off two hoppers of Asphalt beside the growing pile. The runways are being hardened, and Todt men are pouring concrete for a light defense gun. A Bruckner trainer drops in on the wet grass, nose high, instructor correcting through the speaking tube. The sun flashes on the Black- White- Red tail indicia, the new Luftwaffe, taking possession of the Island, and the islanders, for the Third Reich.
The goods shunter reaches the village centre and WP Hitler strides to the main Bundestrasse. Two short blocks over the market traffic is off season. Slow, yet people I`ve picked a good week of November. He reasons, feeling the exhilaration of unseen observation. Many of the smaller guest houses and hotels have closed for the winter. He notices the freshly painted signs. Proprietorship has shifted in the resort island. He is looking for an ice creamery, remembered from his twenties visit. The nice couple who provided extra scoops for the Irish mother and son. The warm cozy creamery and bakery. A coffee and dish..
WP turns the corner and sees the ice cream parlour. These premises will never been re-opened under new management. The windows are smashed and boarded. The interior is trashed- counters destroyed, furniture broken and overturns’. Signage has been changed. It reads `SA-Ermächtigungsgesetz,-SA! With the swastika flanking. Some brave soul has daubed `KPD –despise the destruction` `but the letters are painted over.
`Real bravery- our local SA leaves one place destroyed to remind the rest of the islanders that they have conquered ``Jewish ice cream…`says a sardonic voice, in English.
WP turns to meet Werner Raeder. Raeder, in seaman’s clothing, carries a walking staff
‘Do I look that obviously English?”
‘Germans are becoming trained to scurry by with sideways glances, - even the Frisians.’ The Islanders are becoming tamed and controllable, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of us. You lingered and looked, which means you are either English or Gestapo in Mufti. No one else risks curiosity. So what brings you to Frisia?”
"I arrived on an Irish freighter, inbound for Wilhelmshaven.”
Raeder grins.” A worthy half answers. Most seamen would be in the bars of the harbour quarterand you are looking for ice cream on an outer Islands Outside the tourist season. “You also look familiar.’
“I also look like I need lunch. I also need to find a room for the night. Any recommendations for either will be appreciated.”
Bahnhoff station has a restaurant where you can speak without being overheard. and the guest house next door has reasonable rooms. Will you join me for lunch?”
“I certainly will. My name, extending his hand, is – William Patrick. I ‘m also called WP.”
My Name is Werner Raeder, but Patrick is not your family name, is it?”
“Hitler. William Patrick Hitler. Yes, I am the furher’s nephew”.
‘Ahhh, I thought you looked familiar. So you are the new royalty, come to back up the Kaiser of Munich? I saw the newsreel of your visit last year, when your surprising uncle took the Chancellorship”
“Knock it off! I’ve been summoned by Herr Chancellor and I, was unemployed in England, and thought, ‘Hell, he is family, after all.” What do I have to lose?"
‘ you are wise enough to arrive through the back door, unannounced, and you aren’t deceived by Potemkin villages. You could be very useful.
But are you really wise, young William? Can you keep secrets, be bound to friends? In the New Germany where power factions new and old vie for supremacy, will you learn to skirt the cauldrons? Its catch and realise time. `
``Why don`t you meet me at 1.15 pm, the Bannhaus. Meanwhile, you can check your bags at the guesthouse, - tell Gertrude that Werner sent you for a room and you will be back to sign in with him after lunch. If you want, you can accompany me on my afternoon rounds.
Catch and release, thinks Werner. Don’t push him, and he gladly tags along’. He doesn’t seem bothered by the Jewish ban. This purity of the Germanic race is a tragic folk tale, at best. Most North Germans are (mainly) descendants of various ‘Wendic’ tribes. The North German Crusade was fought to Christianise and Germanise people like- me, for example. and Goethe. and Johannes Bach, and …myself.
Handshakes and meet later, and Raeder watches WP stride out of sight. He hurries back to the Bahnhoff, enters the private office he keeps, secures the door. Werner Raeder has unique codes for internal contact with his immediate superiors. He has a special issue codes to contact Hohenzollern group of plotters... He uses this secure code, the plotters code.
Outbound: Raeder to group: have intercepted target . Target may be amenable to our plot. Target may play essential role. Recommend do not assassinate Arrange air rendezvous two days.
Inbound: Proceed with caution. Authorised to sound out target further. Determine links to , and resentments. Determine current feeling towards his father, Alois, and 'the Fuehrer."
Authorised to kill if target not amenable.
So, William Patrick, I`m your new friend, your conduit. and if necessary, still your executioner… ponders Raeder.
The Island SD detachment radio operator pulls off his headset in frustration.
`He`s using a new code again. Who he talks to is a mystery, - it’s not ABwehr direct. He met someone new by the abandoned shop just off the Bundestrasse. `
`Raeder is up to something more than picking out his shore emplacements. ‘Says the Island `Gestapo day chief.
That is real deep,. I intercept communications, track Raeder, work to suppress this devious Frisian island overgrown village. and what the chief gives is sound bites.’
‘Yes Sir. Do we have staff shadowing Raeder?’
Not at present . He likes to dine at the rail café. Its Luftwaffe hangs out for the new field’s construction people.’
‘Other than where he feeds and sleeps you don’t have a clue, do you, you overgrown donkey....’
‘Get a picture of the new arrival`. Telex for identification. and instructions. ` Let me know as soon as he is identified.
‘Yes sir. Raeder spends each afternoon scouting for beach defense locations when he’s on the islands. Should we photograph him there?”
“What! Walk up and snap a picture? You just trying to get an afternoon at the beach, staff?” The chief laughs at his sense of humour”
“We have telephoto equipment, sir’ we can photograph at a distance...” It’s November you big buffoon. But yes, I will certainly volunteer to get away from here…”
The chief is deep in thought, a time consuming process. Then he brightens.
“Hans! Ok, try out your fancy spy equipment Maybe the ABwehr hires you and I get an inside man, eh? But be back by 17 hours Raeder makes his evening report”.
Thank you, Sir.’
You mean anyone else in the meathead patrol would screw up either assignment, don’t you, you SA reject? Good Lord, why the SS didn’t take you out on the night of the Long knives, you useless muscle head is beyond me.
“You can count on me, Sir. I can photos processed in between transmissions.”
“What? There’s no evening film service here!”
“We have a Darkroom, Sir. I can process as well as film”
“Clever Hans!” Guffaws the Chief. Someday you will surpass me, run a station of your own, eh”
“Yes Sir! “
You regurgitated Neanderthal…chief