Final Decision: A Rat Patrol Story. Continuing on with the story of how Capt. Hans Dietrich joins with the conspiracy to kill Hitler. Rated T for possible language. Note I am using actual events and people in this series of stories.
Paris, May 5, 1944;
Rommel and Dietrich reported to OKL Headquarters in Paris to see Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt, overall German commander in the west. Rommel and Dietrich were kept waiting as the Field Marshal was in the middle of his morning conference. Von Rundstedt's aide Lt. Keppler announced them. The old Field Marshal walked out to greet them. "Your looking well, Rommel." Von Rundstedt said.
Rommel replied "Thank you Sir." Indicating Dietrich "May I present Captain Dietrich, my chief of staff.
Dietrich snapped to attention. "An honor to meet you, Heer Field Marshal." Dietrich said.
Von Rundstedt replied "Thank you Captain." Turning his attention back to Rommel. "So what do you think of our West Wall?"
"I'm afraid my report is not yet complete, sir." Rommel replied "I would like to have a word with you about it."
"Of course." Von Rundstedt turned to his aide "Keppler would you be so kind to divert our guests while Field Marshal Rommel and I have a few minutes of conversation."
"Yes sir." The young officer said as the officers left the conference room, Dietrich turned to join them when Von Rundstedt said. "No Captain, you remain please."
As the conference room cleared out and the doors were closed. The three officers gathered round the maps o the huge table. Von Rundstedt walked to the front took out a cigarette lit it, drew big puff from it. Let it out slowly, and then gestured to the map. "Ridiculous." He said "Wasn't it?"
Dietrich spoke first. "I fail to see why it's called a wall" he said with disgust. "There has been nothing at all done to beaches."
Indicating the map. Rommel spoke "The ports are well protected, but the Allies are not sailing in on the Normandie! The beaches are almost bare. Why we saw place in the last two weeks that an army of children could come ashore!"
"One of the problems is labor." Von Rundstedt admitted. "We have plans for defenses that the devil himself could not breach. Solid steel and concrete from Spain to Norway. But our French friends are not much help. Even when we drive them to work, they move like snails."
"Either we destroy them on the beach or we're in trouble, sir" Dietrich said.
Von Rundstedt looked at his two guests "Is that the way you would meet it?"
"Stop them on the beaches with mines and traps and trick." Rommel said "Then hit em, while they're trying to keep from drowning."
"I disagree with you" Von Rundstedt said "I think that any mass panzer assault that comes in range of the Allies naval guns would be a massacre." Then with a rueful smile, "But as it happens, neither you nor I will be making that decision."
Dietrich and Rommel looked to each other. "You mean Berlin, Sir?" Dietrich asked.
Von Rundstedt gave a tired laugh. "I mean the Bohemian Corporal himself with assume total and complete command of this operation." Gesturing to Rommel "You and I will be responsible for operations only on a regimental level." Rommel was aghast.
And in case you are afflicted with an understandable skepticism, this is official." Showing Rommel the written orders.
Rommel read the orders. "But this is an unacceptable situation."
Von Rundstedt "Then you should by all means explain it to him." Dietrich asked "You made no protest yourself, Sir?"
Looking kindly to Dietrich, Von Rundstedt "When you've interfered with someone's rather happy determination to shoot himself in the head. There does come a point in time where you are inclined to stand back and view events with certain indifference."
"You have no objection to my pointing this out to him do you?" Rommel asked
"Of course not dear boy." Von Rundstedt said "I bestow my blessings on your courage and optimism." A knock on the door. Dietrich turned to open it.
Lt. Keppel entered "Marshal Jodl for you, sir." Von Rundstedt replied "I'm coming. He turned back to Rommel and Dietrich. "Well we'll meet again I'm sure Rommel."
"No doubt Field Marshal." Rommel said.
Rommel and Dietrich let the headquarters and drove back to their own command. "I can't believe this." Rommel said "Commanding the invasion front from Berlin!"
Dietrich shook his head sadly "Communications will be non-existent, sir. When the allied air forces start to sweep. It will be hopeless."
Rommel only nodded. Then he spoke again. "When do you go to the War Ministry in Berlin, Hans?"
"In one week, Sir." Dietrich replied "I meet with General Fromm to discuss transfer of the Reserve Army to our front if the invasion occurs."
Rommel pulls the car over to the side of the road. "Do you want me to take it for a while Sir?" Dietrich asks.
"No." Rommel replies. He reaches over to the glove box and removes an envelope. "When you go to Berlin. I would like you to give this letter to Col. Stauffenburg. As you know he is chief of staff for the reserve army. It is my answer to a question that he and certain other officers asked me some time ago." Dietrich looked at the envelope then looked at Rommel. "I understand , sir."
"Good." Rommel said. The final decision had been made for both officers.
To be continued:
FYI: Yes I'm taking a long time to tell this story. When I started the Rescue story line. I realized that I took Captain Dietrich from loyal officer to plotter against Hitler without telling the story behind it. So I am trying to tie all the loose ends of the tale up.