Historical fiction: The tragic life of Albrecht von Haar in journal format
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Category — Travel

A scare before leaving Bracknell

The last morning with the Duke of Bracknell gave me a bit of a scare. The Duke informed me that one of his servants had accidentally seen me looking inside my small suitcase prior to breakfast and had noticed that it looked from a distance like a radio transmitter set. The Duke asked me if it was so. Well, at that point I had to own up to it, didn’t I? He seemed relieved when I told him the story of my working with, well, you know who – and that I was bringing the radio set back to Berlin for use by a British agent.  The Duke admitted that the particular servant who spied me had lost two boys in the Great War and had little feeling, other than distaste, for the likes of me in the household, honestly, and was concerned that I was a spy reporting back to Berlin ! I assured the Duke it was the other way around, old boy, and that I had trouble operating a toaster much less a radio transceiver.

I then gave the Duke Hess’s package.  I was relieved to be rid of it.  “Oh yes, our old friend Hess,” said the Duke with a frown, “A bit of an odd duck, isn’t he?” I shook my head in agreement, but said nothing more. The Duke indicated that he’d take the package to the proper authorities at Whitehall in a few days. It was undoubtedly another manifesto claiming that England and Germany should bond together against the Red Horde from the East, meaning Russia, of course. “The man is simply over the top when it comes to Stalin. It can wait for a few days”

The Stormy Abyss - Whitehall 1932

Whitehall 1932

“Paul” arrived shortly thereafter and I was soon on my way back to Berlin. As I left the estate, I tried to pick out the servant who had fingered me. It seemed they were all giving me the evil eye.

I was nervous about the radio transmitter, but was pleased to hear from Paul during the pleasant drive back to London that I would not have to bring the suitcase containing the radio transmitter through German customs. One never knew when customs would be tightened. I would be leaving the small suitcase on the ship when it docked in Hamburg. I was to leave it in my state room, in the closet. What a relief. I’m not cut out for these spy activities. I could get myself and my friends and family into very, very serious trouble. I’m an academic.  I love my country. But I feel strongly that I’m doing the right thing by helping the British understand what’s happening inside Germany. Or as best as I can understand it myself.

May 18, 2012   No Comments

A walk in Hyde Park

The Serpentine lake at Hyde Park   I had expected to be met at Waterloo station by one of the Earl of Berkshire’s men, but was instead met by one of Menzies’ intelligence types. He walked up to me as though we had known each other for ages. He said his name was Paul, though I suspect that simple fact was doubtful. He shook my hand, took a quick glance around at others on the platform and led me to the front of the station. Another man arrived shortly and brought my things, including my large, trustworthy portmanteau. Paul noticed my small, empty suitcase and gave me a nod of approval. My luggage, including the small suitcase was loaded into an awaiting AC Sedan. I was then told we were going for a short detour through Hyde Park. What is it with these kind of people and metropolitan parks? We headed off and crossed the Thames, with Paul driving. We approached Hyde Park from the Knightsbridge or south side. We pulled over into a no parking zone where a constable stood. The officer gave a knowing glance in Paul’s direction and said nothing. He stood his ground as we walked away. There was a man standing nearby, puffing on a cigarette. He tossed it aside and walked up to our sedan and slipped inside. I was startled, but Paul took me by the arm forcefully and said, “Never look surprised. That man will meet us with the car on the other side of the park. His job is to put the wireless equipment in the suitcase while we walk through the park.” I regained my composure as we strode down to the Serpintine. Paul told me that I was being given state of the art wireless equipment as had been discussed in Berlin, but that the equipment was not for me. He said his group never expected me to learn how to use such a telegraphic device and its associated codes. Instead I was to deliver the suitcase to a British agent back  in Berlin.

September 5, 2011   No Comments

Off to England

I thought I could escape Berlin for England without a visit from Hess, but I was wrong.   The morning of my trip had started nicely with a most welcomed visit by Ada. She stopped by to wish me well and to give me a few letters.  She has relatives in London and wanted me to pass the letters to them. She is convinced international letters are read by our government. My typical reply is that gentlemen do not read others’ letters, but I assured her that I would deliver the letters posthaste.  She then gave me a kiss and was off to visit her parents for the long weekend.

Lehrtner Banhof

I had just called a taxi for the train station when Hess rang in at my side door. He barely said hello before  shoving a large package into my hands.  He seemed flushed and agitated. “Please deliver this to the Earl, ” he said. “He’ll know what to do with it. And, by the way, hide it well in your things, I don’t want anyone seeing you carrying it.” I thought this was an odd statement and Hess must have noticed my quizzical look.  He told me the Weimar government should not know of it.

Well, I was turning into quite the courier! Hess fled the studio muttering something about running late for a meeting with Hitler. He hurried down to his chauffeured Mercedes and sped off. I must say I was taken aback, but glad that he had not stayed for an extended visit.   It was time for me to be off. I did not want to be late for my train, known as the “The Flying Hamburger,” which would deposit me in Hamburg in about two hours.

The taxi arrived and I was finally on my way to the central train station. Next stops Hamburg, Southampton, London and Bracknell.

July 24, 2011   No Comments

Dinner and a movie in Berlin

Tonight I had dinner with Ada and her parents, David and Ruth Blum, at the Hotel  Excelsior. As I have mentioned before, we prefer the Excelsior because no Nazis visit the Hotel. I had the pleasure of informing our small dinner party that I have been invited by the Duke of Berkshire to visit England and give a presentation on the Japan and China situation to some colonels at the Royal Military Academy. The Duke has been a good friend over the years and has invited me to his lovely estate in Bracknell several times. I of course would love to take Ada with me, but it is not proper.

Rudi Hess has somehow gotten wind of my planned travels and wants to meet me prior to my departure to discuss relations with England. The Earl of Berkshire is not a member of the government, but has several connections. I imagine Hess wants to pass on some documents explaining the current Nazi philosophy on foreign relations. My father tells me that the object of a Nazi foreign policy will be to have Britain treat Germany as a nation of equal status once again. Germany will in turn recognize Britain’s rule of the seas if the English will in turn recognize Germany in its traditional place as the land bastion against the Asiatic hordes from the East. Perhaps Hess will throw in a request for Germany to reacquire her lost possessions in Africa and the South Pacific. We’ll see what that meeting with Hess brings.

Meanwhile, Menzies contacted me yesterday and told me that while in England I will be receiving some sort of wireless device to communicate directly with my British friends. He told me to bring a small, empty suitcase to hold the equipment on the return trip. This sounds a bit over the top to me, and quite dangerous. It seems that the British assume I will be asked to take part in a government position of importance in the near future. I admit I would like to influence German policy, but only under the right conditions. My association with Hess could get me in the door at the right time. My primary concern is whether I would want my family and friends to stay in Germany if the Nazis take over the government, which seems likely at this point. Do I leave the country as many are talking about doing, or do I stay and try to change and influence events. This is the biggest decision of my life.

Well, so much for deep thinking and a heavy heart.  Ada and I excused ourselves after dinner and attended the the new film”The blue Light” by Leni Riefenstahl. She is the actress in the film and directed it as well. It was quite nice with lots of Alpine scenes, reminding me of the mountains near my parent’s home in Bavaria. The story is based on a traditional German folk tale. These kind of ethnic German stories seem to be very popular with the populace at this time.

There was a disruption early in the night when various thick necks in the audience made catcalls and hoots and whistles when Jewish characters appeared in the film, I recall that the character names provoking the jeers were Mayer, Balázs, and Sokal. Undoubtedly these are Jewish surnames. It is such an annoyance to be subjected to blatant racism in a public setting. Ada and I looked at each other, held each other a bit tighter and didn’t let it disturb the rest of our night together. After the film, I walked Ada to her parent’s apartment a little bit after 10 pm. I returned to my studio to start packing for my trip to Bracknell, Berkshire.

June 18, 2011   No Comments