|Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 3
Author: AGroovie1 PM
D Day has happened and an assassination attempt aimed at Hitler is about to turn the lives of several people upside down. Can Hogan and his men help rescue a friend in need before it's too late? Last two chapters posted ... now complete.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Chapters: 55 - Words: 61,650 - Reviews: 71 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-29-06 - Published: 09-01-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3135526
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hammelburg Area, Farm of Friedrich Wagner
August 28, 1944, 2345 hours
Hogan stopped at the edge of the clearing where the Wagner house stood and crouched in the bushes. He looked around for any signs of movement in the woods surrounding the clearing. He didn't have a good feeling about the meeting he was about to have with Hans Wagner. He had requested to meet Hans alone – without any of their men – in the hopes of persuading him to stop going off on his own. He held little confidence that he would be able to convince the man, but he had to try once more before he made the decision to forcibly remove Hans and his team to London.
He saw that the coast was clear and slowly and silently crept to the barn. He could see flickering light coming through the cracks around the door and he knew Hans was already there waiting for him. He opened the door and entered the barn, closing the door behind him as quickly as possible. It took only a second for his eyes to adjust to the lantern light, and he saw Hans leaning against the corner post of a horse stall with his arms folded across his chest. Seeing this defiant attitude drained any last hope of convincing the man to cooperate with him.
"You wanted to talk with me, Hogan?" Hans asked.
Hogan heard the hostility in the man's voice as he spoke. Hogan took a deep breath to control his own hostility before responding. "Yes," he said finally. "We need to talk about your cooperation with Erich and myself."
Hans sneered and shook his head. "No, Colonel Hogan," he replied. "What we need to talk about is your insecurity about not being in total control of everyone in the Underground."
"What I am insecure about is the fact that you do not know what you are doing," Hogan replied. "And you are going to end up getting someone hurt."
Hans laughed. "I doubt that," he said. "And contrary to what you think, I do know what I am doing and have been proving it."
"By destroying a train loaded with sauerkraut?" Hogan retorted.
Hans shrugged. "Whatever it was carrying, the train was destroyed," he replied. "As was a section of the track, preventing other trains from coming through."
"I happen to know that the track was repaired in two days," Hogan replied. "And I also know that the next scheduled military train came through on schedule, four days after your little show." Hogan watched Hans closely. He saw the man's mask of bravado waver slightly for a moment, but just as quickly, the defiance returned.
"So you say, Colonel Hogan," Hans replied. "For all I know you could be making that up."
"For all you know … which is not much," Hogan replied bitterly. "If you would have bothered to check with me before doing anything, I could have told you these things … as well as telling you that you would be destroying a load of food destined for the German civilians."
Hans smiled humorlessly. "It all comes back to you and your ego," he said. "You have to be the person running the show."
"My ego?" Hogan asked incredulously. "I am not the one who is subjecting the people of Hammelburg to the horrible stench of rotting cabbage just to try to prove myself!"
Hans pushed himself away from the post, dropping his arms to his side. Hogan saw him ball his hands into fists and relax them several times. "I do not have to prove myself to you or anyone else!" he exclaimed. "And I do not have to accept having you try to control me."
"Hans, if the only person that could get captured or killed was you – or even a member of your team - I would not even bother with you," Hogan replied, trying with all his might to control his anger. "But I have the safety of my men, and Erich's men and the civilians of Hammelburg to consider. You are a danger."
The placating smile was back on Hans' face. "Yes, I am a danger," he said. "A danger to you and your precious authority."
Hogan laughed. "You have already botched an attempt on the fuel depot," he said. "And you have tortured the townspeople of Hammelburg by blowing up a train of sauerkraut … face it, your planning skills are terrible. For all I know, you are planning another attempt on the fuel depot." Hogan saw a frown pass briefly on Hans' face and he knew he was right.
"What if I am?" Hans asked defiantly.
"That depot is almost fully operational," Hogan replied. "Any attack on it now, after your last attempt, will have to be planned perfectly. If not, people will get captured or killed."
Hans shrugged. "So what is it to you if my men are killed?" he asked. "You said so yourself – you do not care about my team."
"I do not care about them if you mess it up," Hogan replied. "I do care if you were to get captured. The Gestapo has many very persuasive ways of getting information from people … and you and your team know too much about me and my men. I do care about that."
Hans laughed. "I will not mess it up," he said. "And I can promise you, Colonel Hogan, I will not talk if I am captured. The Gestapo will never find out anything from me … nor will they find out anything about my involvement. I know what I am doing."
The two men glared silently at each other for a long moment. Hogan knew that there was nothing he could say to change the man's mind – he would continue to operate on his own, putting everyone around him in danger. Finally, Hogan shrugged. He reached over and grabbed one of the pitchforks leaning against the wall and turned back to Hans. The man tensed up as if waiting for Hogan to attack. Hogan smiled and jammed the pitchfork into the pile of horse dung that had been extracted from the stalls. The pitchfork penetrated a few inches before striking something hard. He saw Hans' jaw drop in amazement. "Since you know what you are doing, I do not have to tell you that this is the first place they would look to find something incriminating," he said.
"How did you know?" Hans asked in amazement.
Hogan stared back at the man. Without answering, he turned and left the barn.
- - - - -
All the way back to camp, Hogan kept replaying the meeting in his mind, hoping to see if he could have done something different to convince the man to see his point. He couldn't. Hans Wagner was bound and determined to do things his way, and there was nothing Hogan could say or do to change it. Except – Hogan thought – the one thing that he knew he had to do now. Hans and his team would have to be forced to travel to London and remain there for the rest of the war.
When he reached the clearing near camp, he stopped and waited for his chance to reach the tree stump that served as the entrance to their Emergency Tunnel. As he crouched there, he had a sudden image of the street corner scene in Berlin when they were rescuing another Hans from danger. In his mind, he saw Marya take a gun and shoot a member of her own network in the head. Her words echoed in his ears. I cannot have idiots working for me.
Hogan thought about that statement and suddenly understood her actions. In this business, anyone who was careless could endanger many more people with their actions. Hans Wagner was in that position now … and he was a definite danger to Hogan and his men. Could I actually kill a man just because he doesn't want to take direction from me? No, of course not – but this is different. Hans could cause the death of several dozen men if he was captured and talked – my own men included. He thought about that and knew that he could – and had – killed to protect his men. So I will give Hans a choice. He can either go to London and live … or resist my offer and … He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. This was a decision that he could not make here in the woods. His men had a stake in this – their lives could also be hanging in the balance. He would have to discuss it with them.
He looked quickly around, and seeing the searchlights pointed away from him, sprinted the few yards to the tree stump and scrambled into the tunnel.
- - - - -
When Hans returned to the house, Karl was in the kitchen waiting for him. "How did it go?" Karl asked.
Hans smiled. "Like I expected," he replied. "He expects us to make an attempt at the depot."
"You told him?" Karl asked.
Hans shook his head. "He guessed it," he replied. "But he has no idea when we plan to do it."
"He is not the only one," Karl said. "When do we plan to do it?"
"Tomorrow night," Hans said with a smile. "Hogan will not be able to say anything once we have destroyed the depot, and he will not expect us to move so soon."
"Are we ready?" Karl asked.
Hans nodded. "Ja, we are ready," he replied. "Tomorrow morning we will have to tell the men that we are ready to move." He clapped his hands together happily. "And by this time tomorrow, that depot will be gone."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
To be concluded …
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Hyperlinks have been removed from these author's notes for posting to To view the hyperlinks, please visit the library on my home page (WebStalag 13) for a version of the story that contains the links.
In the episode D-Day at Stalag 13, we see a General von Scheider as "Chief of the General Staff" of the army. This is a very indistinct term to use. For the purposes of this story, I have placed von Scheider as the "Chief of the General Headquarters of the Army", second to Hitler in the Army High Command (OKH), and being replaced by General Adolf Heusinger on June 9, 1944 – three days after the Normandy landings. In reality, General Kurt Zeitzler was the man in this position, and was replaced by Hitler with Heusinger on June 9. By blending the reality in to this fiction, I hoped to find a way to explain how Klink, who had messed things up by assuming command due to Hogan's ruse, escaped any recriminations from the Führer.
Another episode that was based somewhat on actual events was Operation Briefcase. In this episode, we see General Stauffen arrive at Stalag 13 to pick up a briefcase bomb to make an attempt on Hitler's life. In reality, Count von Stauffenburg did set off a briefcase bomb in the Führer's briefing room at the Wolfsschanze. Four people were killed in the blast, but somehow Hitler survived, receiving some minor injuries. This assassination attempt was supposed to be the start of a plan by a group of officers to take control of the government and put an end to the war. When the attempt failed, the coup collapsed and many of the conspirators were arrested and executed … along with thousands of others. I have attempted to stay true to both history and the episode, and also mesh it into the events of this story.
The recollections Burkhalter has of the meeting with the Führer at the Wolfsschanze on July 31, 1944 are actual statements made by Hitler from a meeting he held with General Jodl on this date. They were taken from the book Hitler and His Generals – Military Conferences 1942-1945 edited by Helmut Heiber and David M. Glantz. This book contains the complete known stenographic record of Hitler's military situation conferences. Hitler had decided to have stenographers record all his military conferences – where the detailed orders of operation were issued – so that he could later prove his belief that the failure of the German forces was because the Generals did not follow his orders correctly … because it was his belief that he was infallible, and therefore his orders were not to blame. This volume is very enlightening as to the way the conferences with the Führer were handled, and I have used this book several times when describing the meetings Burkhalter would have with Hitler. Unfortunately, near the end of the war, an order was given to destroy all of these records, and many of the records included in this book are pieced together from partial charred remains, and are therefore incomplete.
Again in this story, it is mentioned that Marya, Michael and Jack are SMERSH agents. This organization grew out of the NKVD, the Soviet Security apparatus. It had several functions, one of which was to hunt down traitors and other "enemies of the people" outside of Soviet territory. SMERSH agents were also used to investigate the NKVD itself, which helped build the aura of the ruthlessness of the SMERSH agents, which is exhibited in this story by both Marya and Josef Freitag. In this story, I have committed a slight faux pas by having Marya and Vladimir reporting to Beria when in Moscow. In reality, Viktor Abakumov was the head of the SMERSH organization, and apparently reported directly to Stalin, rather than Beria, who was the chief of the entire Soviet security and police apparatus, which included the NKVD.