For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.
Whilst I have always had a fascination with what happened during the second world war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.
And, so, it continues…
By the time they reached the outskirts of Munich, what the Standartenfuhrer considered their biggest hurdle, it was quite dark and almost impossible to see where they were going.
The whole city seemed to have disappeared so effectively was the blackout.
But there was one benefit, there was little or no traffic on the roads, which lessened the chance of running into another car or truck.
And it was time to refill the tank with two more petrol cans, leaving two remaining. Filling up now, the Standartenfuhrer said, would get them to Innsbruck.
He sounded confident, but Mayer got the distinct impression it was mostly that he was putting on a brave face. There had been one instance, the checkpoint before Munich where he nearly lost his nerve. For the first time, there had been SS guards at the checkpoint, and which had been entirely unexpected.
An SS officer of the same rank had been summoned and he had requested their written orders. They had paperwork, but Mayer wasn’t sure if it related to their current situation, further confirming his belief this had been a very carefully planned operation to get him out of Germany, and that there was a more pressing reason why. It definitely had something to do with the V2’s, but had their intelligence services found out about something else, something he didn’t know about?
Given the level of risk to the two men with him, and that at every turn there was a possibility of capture or death, given the level of planning and the run so far, one he would have never thought of trying on his own, he didn’t have a very high level of confidence that they would get away with it.
Those in the SS were not fools, trusted no one, believed nothing they were told, and disregarded anything written on paper. Check, double-check, then check again. Take nothing as read. The document he’d been given on what made a first-class SS officer in the eyes of the Reich, was fundamentally not him, nor most of the German population.
The officer at this checkpoint reminded him of the one who had shot the shooting in the hotel, and for at least ten tense minutes, during which time the other two had conferred quietly in English, one suggestion they cut and run.
That would have invited a hail of machine-gun fire that none of them would survive.
Both looked visibly relieved when he returned, having obviously called the name of the officer who had signed the order. The only explanation he had for this was that the level of discontent among officers Military of SS must be greater than he thought.
They managed to cross over into Austria without any problems, the route they had taken, a series of back roads and tracks which had been given to them. Once again, Mayer was surprised that so many people could be working against their own country, but, of what he’d seen, conditions were harsh no matter which part of Germany they were in.
The war was not going the way the German people were being told, and it was hard to see any resolution of the conflict any time soon.
Perhaps everyone in the high command was hoping the new V2 rockets were going to change the country’s fortunes in the war. If they were, they were going to be bitterly disappointed. What they needed was the jet-propelled fighters and bombers, something that remarkably had not been implemented years earlier, and would have given them air superiority.
He’d worked on those early jet engines and they were remarkable, and faster than anything the British or the Americans had. It was hard to comprehend why high command had not pushed forward the new jet-propelled planes that Belin had finally decided to implement.
And just when the trio had agreed that everything would work out about 100 kilometers from Innsbruck, on the road to the Italian border crossing, they took the wrong route. It was a mistake brought on by tiredness, and a momentary lapse in concentration.
A checkpoint where there shouldn’t be one.
© Charles Heath 2020