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

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

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

Hess meeting focused on race

January 1932. I met with Rudolph Hess this afternoon at my apartment. We had a wide-ranging discussion. Today, Hess wanted to steer most of the conversation toward diffusing the ‘misunderstood’ racial policies of the Nazis. He said to pay little attention to what Hitler says on the subject, but I countered with the many hateful Jewish references in Mein Kampf, which I just finished reading. Hess tended to shrug off the statements, suggesting that Hitler was trying to satisfy a certain small segment of the Nazi party and other ultra-nationalists who need to hear such things in order to win votes. Hess tried to assure me that the vocal racists were not the majority in his party. Certainly, Germans could see that.

I reminded Hess that I myself am one-quarter Jewish on my mother’s side.

“You see! I am a Nazi and I am happily consorting with you, my good Albrecht! Plus you know I love your father, my favorite professor.”

But as we wrapped up our discussions, I was not sure who was trying to influence whom in our relationship. Hess is a big fan of the British (he abhors the Russians and French, as do I) and is convinced we will never go to war with England again. He knows I have many friends in Britain. Perhaps he is is trying to shape my view of the Nazis, knowing I will pass along neutral tidbits to my British contacts.

I myself, on the other hand, want to know more about the inner workings of the National Socialists with the hope I can help keep them from seizing power from Hindenburg.

I did get one bit of useful information from Hess. He indicated that Hitler is preparing one of the most modern presidential elections ever. Hitler plans to fly across all of Germany, using air transport as a means to visit several distant cities in one day. A brilliant idea I must confess, unfortunately, considering old man Hindenburg will not likely move an inch from his estate in Prussia during the election. He’ll try to run everything from his palace and rely heavily on his stature of  “Hero of Tannenberg.”

We ended our meeting in our usual way by comparing horoscopes and downing some schnapps. Hess made a point of letting me see his new Mercedes, a gift from Hitler.

November 7, 2009   No Comments

A visit in the night – friend or foe?

January 1932. I was getting ready for bed this evening when I received a call from a fellow named Clyde Menzies. He spoke German well, but betrayed a slight British accent and seemed  more than a bit anxious on the phone. He wanted to meet me immediately at a local cafe. I told him I was indisposed, but he was insistent and mentioned that he was an acquaintance of my English friend the Duke of Hamilton. This immediately got  my attention and I agreed to meet him at a small cafe on Unter Linden.

It turns out that Menzies is a British agent. Or so he says. Why he would tell me this is a bit of a  mystery, but he indicated that, like me, Englishmen in high places are concerned about the rise of Hitler and that I have been identified  as a bone fide source of intelligence. No doubt they are aware of at least some of my contacts.

Menzies wants to set up several  drop off spots in the Tiergarten whereby I can pass along information that I deem important enough to share with Lord Hamilton and his political friends. Menzies did not go into much detail, he seemed distracted, but instead left me a sheaf of papers to read regarding simple techniques for leaving documents in safe places in the gardens. I am to burn these papers within 24 hours.  I must  memorize three drop off points and the matching methods of indicating to Menzies I have something valuable to share.

Before departing company, I was suddenly seized with the terror that Menzies was actually a Nazi, perhaps an emissary of Himmler or Goring, trying to infiltrate my contacts. I therefore asked him several pointed questions regarding our supposed common acquaintance, the Duke. These questions were as mundane as the squadron of aeroplanes Hamilton commanded (602 Glasgow),  his favorite dish when in London (lamb with red currant jelly), and whether Hamilton had ever been to Vienna and when (yes, 1928). I was satisfied with his answers.

At least for now.

I am truly now in the middle, caught between my Western friends and Nazi fanatics who seem hell bent on taking over my country. I must be extra careful if I work with the British. I am concerned for my family’s safety, as well as my friends and confidants.

I got home after midnight and could hardly sleep. I am typing this at daybreak, wondering if I have been contacted by friend or foe.

October 21, 2009   No Comments