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Fate of the Eagle: Johann's War, #3

Fate of the Eagle: Johann's War, #3

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Fate of the Eagle: Johann's War, #3

4/5 (1 évaluation)
251 pages
4 heures
Nov 15, 2016


“Poland would never be the same again.”

The year is 1939 and Europe is on the brink of war. The Third Reich gobbles up nations as Britain and France look on with horror. Within the regime, the German people can smell blood as Hitler fulfils every promise he made to them. In the mind of Erich Brandt, one of the leading lights of the SS, Germany is going to be great again.

But all is not well for Erich when the first air raid of the war turns into a life and death situation. What appears to be a technical fault with his plane unveils a web of deceit and sabotage. Now Erich must come to terms with the fact that his own men are trying to kill him.

Over the border in Poland Johann Brandt and Oliver Rosen join the resistance against the Third Reich. They devise an ambitious plan with the half-mad Englishman Charlie Keeton to rob the Central Bank of Poland to fund their resistance activities. But when war breaks out in the days afterwards all their plans crumble into dust.

What will Johann and his friends do to survive when the German eagle swoops down upon them?

Nov 15, 2016

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Fate of the Eagle - James Farner

Fate of the Eagle

Johann’s War Book 3

Copyright © James Farner 2016

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Charlie Keeton January 1939

Erich Brandt March 1939

Johann Brandt March – August 1939

Erich Brandt September 1939

Johann Brandt September – November 1939

Erich Brandt October – November 1939

Johann Brandt November 1939

Charlie Keeton

January 1939


2nd January 1939

Evening had already drawn in over the border areas between Germany and Poland. Charlie felt no terror or panic like the people he ferried across the border did. This was nothing compared to the horror of being an underage boy soldier in the trenches of France and Belgium. Ypres and the Somme had been true terror.

Charlie took a deep breath and continued to slap boot polish over his face. The thick smell made him hold his breath for a moment. The two men with him did the same. The small one he knew as Aleksy Szczerba. The large one he knew as Ginter Waldera. After they covered themselves in boot polish they could have been anyone.

Charlie replaced the lid and put the polish back in his kit. I think that’s it. Do you all know what you’re doing?

The two men nodded. Charlie spoke near perfect Polish after living in the country for a couple of years. He had never imagined that he would leave his family behind to live here, but circumstances had put an end to those plans.

Shall I go? Aleksy rose from his haunches.

Charlie nodded and Aleksy dove through the bushes encapsulating them. Aleksy the saboteur preferred to work alone and needed little supervision. Ginter played with his tobacco tin, spinning it over and over in his hand.

Don’t light that. Charlie indicated the tin.

Just one. Ginter spun the tin faster and faster. We’re far enough away from being caught. And it’s not even dark yet. Look.

Charlie gazed at the sky. It still had streaks of blazing pink from the sun setting in the far distance. He sighed and gestured at Ginter to do what he wanted. Ginter’s tobacco habit had never compromised them before.

Ginter flipped the top off the scratched tin and began spooning clumps of tobacco onto his thigh. With the expertise of a professional cigar maker, he evened out the tobacco with one hand on a piece of paper and rolled it into what could have passed as a machine-made cigarette.

Charlie struck the flame of his lighter. If you have to do it right now.

Ginter leaned over and sucked on his cigarette like it was his last. The orange ring around the end quickly burned a third of the way down.

Do you ever think we’re wasting our time? said Ginter.

Charlie glared at Ginter. What did you say?

The Germans. They’re going to attack us and there’s nothing much we can do about it. What chance do we have against such an enormous force like that?

Don’t say that. We’ll fight and we’ll win. They thought they’d win in 1914 and they were beaten back. We can do it again. But this time we’ll be more prepared. We won’t be sitting in trenches.

Ginter looked like he was gazing at him with scepticism but his black camouflage made it unclear. He was too young to have fought in the war. Ginter had lived as a Pole in a Polish state that had been under Russia at that time.

I don’t expect you to understand, said Charlie. Just don’t start trying to avoid these operations because you’re scared that it won’t matter. It’s better than sitting there and waiting for us all to die. You’ve seen what they did to the Jews in Germany. What are they going to do to a country where they are outnumbered?

Ginter finished his cigarette and stamped it out in the grass. I’ll never stop trying. Whether it amounts to anything in the end I’m still sceptical about.

Charlie checked his watch. Sunset would come soon. They had to get in position for the military convoy that would soon arrive. From here it would swing north towards a military outpost close to the Polish border. When the Germans attacked, main roads like this would serve as the runway to Poland.

How do we know this intelligence is right? said Ginter.

Another man jogged up on Charlie’s side as they made their way through the brush. He already had boot polish smeared across his face. The wide lips of Arnold Hyjek broke into a sadistic smile.

Late again, I see, said Charlie.

Oh I might have known. Ginter looked away in disgust. You would have brought him. I can’t believe you trust this man. He’s a German...and a traitor. What makes you think he wouldn’t do the same to us?

Arnold shook his head. He had never cared what Ginter thought of him. The accusations did more to amuse him these days.

Johann and Oliver are German, said Charlie.

Ginter grunted. Oliver’s part Polish and Johann...well it’s different, isn’t it? His father wasn’t in the SS. And I wish you’d answer my question. How do we know this intelligence is right?

Charlie ignored him and turned back to Arnold. You did get my message and you know what to do, don’t you?

Of course I do. The machine gun is already waiting for you in place. It’s only Great War, but it will do the job if you know how to use it.

Charlie nodded and slapped Ginter on the back. Come on.

Charlie and Ginter moved through the trees quicker until they came to a paved road. The road had only been paved the previous year by the Germans. He didn’t need to ask why Hitler had suddenly felt that a paved road towards Poland was so important.

Charlie crossed the road and headed into the copse of trees at the other side. On a slight hill overlooking the road he found the machine gun resting on a tripod. He recognised it as the German MG08 machine gun. Bitter memories swam back to him, like he’d bit into a lemon and swallowed the pips. Charlie and his brothers had charged into the muzzle of one of these so many times. Most of them hadn’t made it back.

He wasn’t wrong. Ginter paused. It’ll do the job, but it’s still a piece of rubbish.

Charlie laughed and settled down into the firing position. Ginter took up the position on his right, ready to feed the machine gun with its belt of bullets. He looked to his left and saw Arnold crouched in the trees with his rifle shouldered.

The minutes ticked by. Charlie was sure they would come. They had to come. His intelligence had always been right before. His hands tightened on the machine gun and he slammed his face into the sight as the sound of engines in the distance broke the quiet of the night.

Charlie braced himself as the first car in the small military convoy arrived. The first one passed Arnold. Nobody moved to shoot. The second car erupted in a burst of flame as Aleksy triggered his explosive and the device incinerated the vehicle and everyone in it. The third Wehrmacht car slammed into the burning wreck and flipped over.

Charlie swung the machine gun around and Ginter began to feed the bullets through it. The rat-tat of the weapon rippled through Charlie like the bullets were hitting him and not the confused German soldiers. The Wehrmacht soldiers went down under their Polish bullets, but all he could see was how the British soldiers had fallen in the mud by the thousands to this very weapon.

Charlie released his grip when it was all over and flopped over onto his back. He breathed heavily as his three compatriots mopped up any hidden Germans who had managed to survive the onslaught. There were tears in his eyes as he remembered the Great War. Charlie had hoped never to see this weapon again, or any weapon for that matter.

He slowly recovered and got to his feet to find Arnold, Aleksy, and Ginter converged close to the still burning military transport. The thick stench of leaking petrol and charred bodies filled the night.

Charlie retrieved his pistol from his pocket and moved towards them. They welcomed him with smiles plastered on their faces. They had had so few major victories like this in the past year. Such intelligence was hard to come by.

I suppose the intelligence was right? said Ginter.

Charlie smiled. It was.

Charlie raised his pistol arm and blew Arnold’s head off before the man could digest what was happening. Arnold fell backwards in a pool of blood.

You’re right, Ginter. The man was a traitor.

Erich Brandt

March 1939


Erich took a deep breath as the wheels of his Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane touched the ground. The constant buzz and whirr of the propeller gradually slowed its turning. He didn’t immediately open up his cockpit. Erich sat and took it all in. The exhilaration of every flight and the relief of landing safely all over again. When Erich pushed his way out of the cockpit a crew of ground staff began attending to the plane.

Erich jumped down and ignored them as they began poring over it. A little way away Reinhard Heydrich, leader of the Gestapo, extended his hand. Erich shook it and removed his leather pilot’s cap. A sheet of sweat plastered Erich’s blonde hair to his forehead.

A good flight, was it not? said Heydrich.

The best of them so far. Couldn’t get a clearer day. Erich looked towards the entrance of the hangar, where the green landscape of Prussia met with a pristine blue sky on the horizon. Won’t you be taking a 109 up today?

Heydrich gestured a gloved hand. Not today. I don’t need the practice any longer. I can fly. All I need is combat experience. But getting combat experience isn’t easy when the nations of the world are at peace.

You could have gone to Spain if you’d wanted.

Heydrich scoffed. Himmler would never allow such a thing.

Erich had known plenty of German Luftwaffe pilots who had gone to Spain to aid General Francisco Franco and his fascists take down the Republican government. The Spanish Civil War had ended five months before with a fascist victory. The role of the Luftwaffe had made the German air force one of the most experienced in Europe.

Then how are you ever going to get that combat experience if Himmler isn’t going to let you fight?

Heydrich’s lips tightened into a thin line. My time will come, and so will yours, if you want it to. The SS will have to fight. The Gestapo will not. I am an administrator, someone who will have to manage the Reich. But you, you have a chance.

Erich nodded. He wasn’t sure how much he wanted to go to war. Flying through clear skies without anyone shooting at him made for a pleasurable afternoon. Flying through storms with bursts of anti-aircraft fire made him nervous. Hitler’s great war had yet to begin and Erich had already been shot twice.

They walked out of the hangar and into the back rooms. Pilots in their caps and uniforms waited for their names to be called. Training regimes had intensified since the turn of the year. Most of them thought they were training for Spain. Erich knew better. Erich and Heydrich were the only people in the airfield who knew of Hitler’s true plans. Soon the war would begin.

I want you to come with me, said Heydrich.

Erich followed in Heydrich’s footsteps like he was a new recruit to Heydrich’s personal retinue. No outsider would have thought him one of the leading members of the SS at times. Nevertheless, Erich valued Heydrich’s friendship. He bowed his head just to make sure he didn’t make a powerful enemy.

Heydrich led him upstairs until they came to one of the offices on the airbase. The long row of windows in the office looked out onto the air strip itself. Lined up were shining new German aircraft, repaired and redecorated after their battles in Spain. Erich could see his own aircraft being taxied back into its rest position by the ground crew.

Erich, this is Hans Frank. A strictly informal meeting, I will add.

Erich quickly smoothed his hair back. A pleasure to meet you, Herr Frank.

Neither of them bothered with the Hitler salute. In an official environment such a blatant disregard of etiquette would see them both demoted. Frank didn’t seem to care as he nodded and puffed his chest out.

You fly well for a beginner, said Frank. I was too old to start such things, but it was a pleasure to watch you take control of your aircraft so expertly.

Thank you. Erich smiled.

Behind his smile Erich sensed there was something more to this. The compliment seemed hollow and shallow, a way to create conversation before Frank could initiate the main thrust of his argument.

Erich, said Heydrich. "Hans will not be staying long. He came here especially to see you. I thought his best that he make his proposal in person, and I want to make it clear that I also support this proposal.

Erich passed his pilot’s cap from one hand to the next. He didn’t need to hear the offer if Heydrich supported it. That was as good as an acceptance, and he sensed that Frank already knew it.

Erich, if I can be so informal, it is obvious to practically everybody that the invasion of Poland is imminent. I understand that there will be need of administrators to control the new lands incorporated into the Reich, in the same manner as Austria and the Sudetenland. To aid the Fuhrer I would like to put myself forward to administer Poland.

Erich glanced at Heydrich. The stiff look always on Heydrich’s face didn’t flicker for a second.

I’m glad you’re thinking so far ahead, said Erich. But if you don’t mind me being so blunt, what’s this got to do with me? I’m in the SS and we don’t have anything to do with administration, unless we’re especially called in. Politics isn’t our strong point.

Frank began to fidget. I understand. I understand. I would not dream of inserting you into something that did not concern you. But you have influence. So does Reinhard. I am hoping to gather supporters to strengthen my claim. I know the Fuhrer is more likely to consider me if I have help.

Then I’ll support you. Tell me when you want me to speak for you.

Frank smiled and shook his hand before departing. Heydrich closed the door behind him. Erich had little interest in the career of a Reich Minister without Portfolio. It made no difference to him who would manage Poland. The SS were independent of all ministers. Only the Fuhrer could command them.

That was it, then? said Erich.

Heydrich’s steely gaze pressed in on him. He is a personal friend of mine and I think he would be the ideal person to deal with Poland’s current Jewish issue. Hans joined the Nazi party only four years after you. I think he would be a splendid person to have on our side.

Erich raised his eyebrows. It makes no difference to me.

I know. That is why I asked you.

Erich passed his pilot’s cap into his other hand again. Right, is that all?

You can go. Heydrich settled into a chair behind a desk like he owned the place. I must make some phone calls to ensure that the right people are aware that Hans Frank is by far the best choice there is.

Heydrich had already started dialling his first number before Erich had closed the door. Erich returned the way he came to the recreation area where the pilots spent their free time. The smoke-filled room on the ground floor saw pilots lounging in chairs and sharing lewd jokes. There were no Hitler salutes here.

Erich scanned the room and waved at his friend Christian Hetz sitting in the far corner with another man, who quickly scampered away.

I saw you come in before but I didn’t think you wanted anyone to talk to you then. Not with Heydrich following you around. Christian straightened his pristine black suit. His greasy hair still left him looking out of place in it.

I’m guessing you still don’t warm to him?

Does he warm to anyone? Look, Erich, that man doesn’t like me. He won’t even acknowledge me unless he has to. Any friend of his would have been acknowledged if he’d walked past me. He looked at me when you came through and he didn’t even wave his hand or nod his head.

Erich didn’t say anything. How could he when he knew what Christian said was true?

So when are you coming back to Berlin? You’ve been away for two weeks and Hannah keeps calling me to ask if I know when you’re coming back.

Erich held his head in his hands. God, why did I marry that woman?

Christian chuckled. She’s not a bother, but I just thought I’d tell you that she really wants you to come back. She talks about Heinrich all the time.

You mean you stay on the phone with her? Erich smoothed his hands through his hair. You don’t have to do that. Just tell her to shut her mouth and to mind her own business. She has no right calling you and wasting your time.

I don’t mind, really.

Erich tossed his head. Hannah did

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