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Dark Tides: Johann's War, #4

Dark Tides: Johann's War, #4

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Dark Tides: Johann's War, #4

248 pages
3 heures
Jan 9, 2017


“One day he’ll get what he deserves.”

Johann Brandt continues to hide from his brother as the Nazi occupation of Warsaw continues. As the ghetto wall is erected and the Jews are segregated, Johann makes the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to save them: he joins them in the ghetto.

Elsewhere, amongst the muck and the poverty, Oliver Rosen is drawn to a flame in the darkness. Zaneta Krawczak is a young prostitute Oliver takes into the resistance. Romance soon blossoms between them and Oliver becomes smitten. But is Zaneta who she seems and could she be what finally causes the resistance to collapse into the dark tides swirling around it?

Jan 9, 2017

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Dark Tides - James Farner

Dark Tides

Johann’s War Book 4

Copyright © James Farner 2016

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Erich Brandt June 1940

Oliver Rosen July 1940 – October 1940

Erich Brandt November 1940 – January 1941

Oliver Rosen January 1941 – February 1941

Johann Brandt February 1941 – April 1941

Erich Brandt

June 1940


June 28th 1940

The mist clung to Le Bourget airfield as the sun began to rise. The countryside around Paris shook with a gentle breeze that proceeded another warm day. Erich checked his pocket watch and decided he did have time for another cigarette. In a flash his silver cigarette case left his pocket.

I still can’t believe you managed to get us on this trip. The Fuhrer is going to visit Paris and you managed to get us a place, said Christian Hetz.

Erich raised his eyebrows. I’m in no mood for this. I’m here to work and I have better things to do than associate with the damn French.

He blew out a clump of smoke and patted the top of his field-grey military jacket. Even the SS units assigned to accompany Hitler had to dress like members of the ordinary Wehrmacht. Paris had fallen and the army had swarmed all over it. Anything less than field-grey could make them a target for the resistance forces already marshalling against them.

Still, it’s good to get out of Poland. I’m getting quite sick of that hellhole already.

Erich had to agree with that. Paris had culture and Warsaw only had bomb craters in the roads. The Slavic peoples were vermin compared to the French, and that was saying something for Erich. The Nazi Party had never quite forgiven the French for their humiliating armistice at Versailles.

Here they come. Erich turned away from the whining of the plane’s engine high in the sky. The Fuhrer might not speak to you, Christian. Don’t take it as a slight. He wants to see the whole city in about three hours. We don’t want to make him a target.

Erich also had another motive in mind as he made his way towards the three large Mercedes sedans. Their drivers had already hopped inside to keep the engines running. The various SS guards arranged themselves in formation and awaited the plane.

Hitler’s plane touched down minutes later a few hundred feet away from them. The propeller slowed to a crawl as the ground staff pulled the doors open and the Fuhrer was the first to emerge. Even after flying from his headquarters in Northern France, Hitler looked like he had emerged on stage at a mass rally. His uniform, an identical field-grey coat, was immaculate.

Erich stood in front of his men, with Christian a step back on his right shoulder. This was the man he had idolised since he was a youth. And here he was making yet another one of his ambitions come true. The defeat of France. The avenging of the Treaty of Versailles. When the British fell all of Europe would be under their control.

Heil Hitler. Erich and his men raised their arms in unison.

Hitler smiled. There was a gleam in his eye that Erich rarely saw. Erich Brandt, good to see you again. I have heard good things regarding your command in Poland, and the man you recommended for the post of governor-general.

Governor-general Frank has settled in better than any of us could have expected, mein Fuhrer.

Erich had recommended Hans Frank to lead the Polish territories of the Third Reich as a favour to Reinhard Heydrich. He had to admit the long-time Nazi lawyer had done a better job than he could have ever anticipated. The segregation and persecution of the Jews across Poland had happened without any real hitches.

I was wondering, mein Fuhrer, if I might have a discussion before you leave Paris today? It’s something that I only feel comfortable speaking about with you, after knowing each other for so long.

Hitler still glared at him with that same gleam in his eye. He nodded, but there was no force to it. The Fuhrer’s thoughts were elsewhere. He had never visited Paris before.

Hitler didn’t bother to inspect the SS men Erich had picked out for this assignment. He climbed into the front seat of the lead sedan, next to the chauffeur. There were two men with Hitler Erich recognised; Albert Speer, the young architect, and Arno Breker, a sculptor and favourite of the Nazi Party.

Any specific instructions? Christian sauntered up to Erich again.

You take over. I’ll stay with the Fuhrer.

Christian looked stunned. Erich...

You heard what I said, Erich snapped. You’ve watched me long enough and your rank allows you to command every single one of these men. Now do it. I’ll be with the Fuhrer and I can’t command the men from there, can I?

Christian cleared his throat and began barking out orders to the men. A nervous Christian occasionally looked back at Erich like this was one big joke and Erich wasn’t really giving him command. Erich only had eyes for the lead sedan. He climbed into the back alongside the two artists. Nobody questioned his presence. Neither of them knew enough about the SS to notice anything unusual.

Erich. Hitler tilted his head. I remember you not being an artistic man, but we’ll see how you like Paris.

Only Erich could see Hitler’s right eye looking at him. It had a knowing look, but one that said he wouldn’t order him to go back to the SS contingent. Erich was in the inner circle. He was one of them.

Throughout the journey into the Parisian suburbs and the centre, Erich kept quiet as the three men discussed the meaning of art. Hitler would point to something out of the window and make an observation about it. Erich didn’t understand a word he said about the buildings that Hitler had fallen in love with. They just looked big and majestic, like those found in any of the other great European cities.

Their first stop was the Paris Opera House.

Charles Garnier. The oily-haired Breker looked at Erich. A neobaroque building completed in the last century. This is the southern façade, complete with the busts of the many great composers and built with the skill and craftsmanship of mosaicists, painters, and sculptors. It’s one of the finest buildings in the world and a symbol of the city.

Erich couldn’t disguise the blank look on his face. Part of him wanted to strangle Breker for trying to make him look like a fool. He must know that he had no interest in art. The Fuhrer had said as much.

A magnificent building, wouldn’t you agree, Erich? said Hitler.

Erich made a show of admiring the building as they stepped out of the car. They stood in front of the main façade as Hitler took his time in inspecting the building he had demanded to see most of all. Erich declined to join them inside and only Speer, Breker, and Hitler entered the building.

Why did I get into that car?

The rest of the three-hour tour proceeded without incident. Hitler’s mannerisms were strange to Erich. He seemed to take no pleasure or joy in the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, or any of the other traditional sights of the city. But he jumped into hysterics when they drove down Rivoli Street and saw Napoleon’s exercise in domestic architecture. The enormous arcade of one of the most famous streets in the world almost made Hitler spit with delight.

Before Erich knew it they were approaching Le Bourget airfield again. Erich had to take his chance. He might not have an opportunity to speak with Hitler in private again for months, or perhaps years. This could alter his entire future.

Mein Fuhrer. Erich stepped towards Hitler and the two artists.

Erich. I’m sorry but I must be going. I have to get back to Berlin, said Hitler.

Mein Fuhrer, please. Erich heard the desperation in his own voice. Just one moment. This is important.

Hitler nodded and dismissed Speer and Breker with a flick of his finger. Come, Erich. Walk with me to my plane. But make it quick. I have many meetings scheduled for the rest of today. I can’t afford to keep them waiting.

Erich gulped. The spit in the back of his throat wouldn’t go down the dry tubes. He fidgeted with his fingers. Mein Fuhrer. It’s about Clemens Veil.

I don’t know who that is.

Hitler began to walk. Erich strode to keep up with the Fuhrer. It was a sign that he had mere seconds to make his request. The plane’s propellers had already started to spin as the engine fired into life.

He’s a member of the SS, a friend of Reinhard’s. But I think that he’s going down a bad path. One that could see him fall into the trap of international Jewry.

Hitler’s nostrils flared. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to discuss this with Reinhard Heydrich. The few friends he does have are considered to be Gods in his eyes. Very well, what do you want me to do with him?

Erich spoke quickly, perhaps too quickly. Post him to an active Wehrmacht division, mein Fuhrer. It’s the best medicine. Give him a taste of action and what it means to fight for the Reich and for national socialism. Make him see what this nation is supposed to be about, not just through words but actions.

Hitler glanced away from the plane for the first time during their walk. Spoken like a man who believes in what he’s saying. I’m surprised that you’ve never spoken to a hall before. If that’s what you think is best then I can order him moved, quietly. Reinhard will never know.

Mein Fuhrer, thank you.

The sixth army sounds like a brilliant posting, said Hitler. The men who helped break the defences of Paris. I have big plans for them in the coming struggle. We’ll see what Herr Veil is made of.

Erich saluted Hitler and shook his hand. Thank you, mein Fuhrer.

Hitler looked past him to Breker and Speer following at a respectful distance. The Fuhrer parted from him with a brief smile. He was the perfect father. Never too generous and never too cruel, but always correct.

Erich marched away from the plane as the doors closed and the wheels left the ground, ferrying the Fuhrer back to the heart of the Reich.

Yes, Herr Veil, we’ll see what you’re made of, Erich thought with a smile.

Oliver Rosen

July 1940 – October 1940


A gloomy Tuesday of July 1940 continued onwards. There seemed to be no end to the grey clouds creating a concrete sky over the city. Other than the Wehrmacht soldiers positioned at various checkpoints, the city seemed to function as it always had. Ordinary Poles seemed to have done well for themselves.

Oliver Rosen caught sight of the white armband on the bicep of his coat out of the corner of his eye. In the middle of the armband the blue Star of David stuck out like an open wound. The sign that he was considered nothing. He had no rights.

He crossed the street when he saw two German soldiers in the distance. Oliver had learned not to get in the way of the soldiers. If they were drunk or in a bad mood they would choose the nearest Jew to bully. Oliver took a roundabout route through the urine-soaked alleys weaving their way around the bigger buildings like crooked veins.

Robert Wesolowski’s green eyes pierced the greys and browns of the side streets that seemed to mark Warsaw these days. He had become stringier during the days of the occupation, but for a Jew he still had more than a few ounces of fat. Robert had done better than most due to his close relationship with the occupying Nazis.

You took your time, said Robert with a hint of disgust.

Checkpoints. I can’t move quickly like I used to with this on me. Oliver tugged the armband back into place. I noticed you’re not wearing one. Did the Nazis let you get away without one because you’re doing so much good work for the community?

Shut up, Robert hissed through his teeth. I will not wear one of those. I might have Jewish blood in my body, but I will not be branded like an animal.

Oliver shrugged. It wasn’t his problem.  The Nazis could imprison any Jew caught not wearing the armband when out in public. More often than not they saved themselves the trouble by executing them instead.

Anyway, we need to visit the Muranów neighbourhood for a meeting. I requested that you come with me for your own protection.

Oliver narrowed his eyes. Why?

"Just come with me. I do not have time for you to argue with me. Czerniaków isn’t the type of man who will wait forever.

Robert turned on his heel and started to walk away from Oliver. He had no choice but to follow on behind, more out of curiosity than anything else. Adam Czerniaków was the leader of the Jewish Council of Elders in Warsaw. They dealt directly with the Nazis and introduced official orders in the Jewish community.

Oliver stopped at Chlodna Street. The busy intersection had a lost its long stream of cars. They had been replaced only by tanks and long lines of defeated Poles trying to earn a living. On one side of the street a line of bricks were being hammered into place.

When did this happen? Oliver called to Robert.

Come here. Robert pointed at the ground in front of him like he was calling his dog.

Oliver ignored him and made his way towards a worker slapping cement on top of the first layer of bricks. The man’s cheeks had layers of dirt smeared across them. He glanced at Oliver and looked away from him again.

What are you building the wall here for? said Oliver.

The man hunched over and tried to pretend he wasn’t there.

The streets are going to be cut off if you build a wall here. Who told you to do this?

Go away. You’ll send me to prison, you fool, said the man under his breath.

You. A fat-faced German soldier pointed a damning finger at Oliver from a short distance away. Jew. Get away from there.

Robert seized him by the arm and dragged him away. Come. Now.

Stop. The both of you The German removed his rifle from his shoulder and moved towards them. What is the meaning of this?

Robert looked terrified. It took him a few seconds to clear his throat. My name is Robert Wesolowski. I work with the SS. Please excuse my friend. This is his first time in this part of the city and he let his curiosity get the better of him.

The German spat on the top of Oliver’s boots. You worthless Jew. You want to see what we’re doing here. Then you will join them. Come. You will help build the wall.

Robert inserted himself between Oliver and the German. He dove inside his pocket and slipped a few Polish zlotys from inside his coat. They soon found their way into the gloved fist of the German. The soldier took one last glare at Oliver and returned to his position overseeing the Jews working on the wall.

You owe me money, said Robert, his face a mask of fury. Idiot. You could have been killed. I told you to follow me.

And I told you I only work for you. I’m not your puppet.

Shut up. I’m tired of your insubordination. I tried to keep you safe and you do nothing more than find new ways to undermine that. The colour ran into Robert’s cheeks as they walked. One more, Oliver, and I’ll let them take you.

Oliver didn’t know what to say to that. I only wanted to know.

You always just want to know. Sometimes you have to keep your mouth shut and just accept what you can see. Stop thinking about what may or may not be there. This is not the country you knew before.

Oliver ran his tongue around his mouth. You’re right. I shouldn’t have done that in front of a soldier. Sorry.

Robert went quiet. They trudged along in silence. Oliver tried to avert his gaze from the children begging and their mothers wrapped in frayed pieces of cloth. He couldn’t help everyone. Staying alive and making it through this bad time would do more good than a quick execution in the street.

The Muranów neighbourhood had grown dirtier than ever. It was on the southeast part of Warsaw’s old town, the most aged part of the city. The Jews had once owned the majority of the businesses here. Most had closed during the war and the first few months of the occupation.

Oliver lifted his head to see one of the few shops remaining, a second-hand clothing store. The Nazis had painted a large white Star of David in the window. Paint streaks dribbled from the bottom of the star. He couldn’t help but think it looked like blood.

Here we are. Robert stopped outside of what had once been a Jewish community meeting house. It still was, by name, but most ordinary Jews knew it as the place where the main collaborators worked. Czerniaków agreed to meet me for a few minutes. We have to keep this brief if we want to make friends.

The inside of the community centre was no more than a web of offices. There were only a couple of

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