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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

"As Heart And Blood” Episode 7 by Christopher Marcus

- a story from the Third World War ... that erupted in 1946

by Christopher Marcus

Previously: Javier, Miguel and Dominic, volunteers for NATO’s expeditionary force in Spain, have been rescued from Communist partisans by the Western powers’ elite partisan hunters ... the Waffen-SS.

Episode 7

Late September 1946
Northern Spain

Former Waffen-SS Standartenführer, Graf Franz von Jäger, looked at his adjudant with cold, clear eyes that did not betray a single hint of emotion:

“Should we tell them, Diego?”

von Jäger nodded towards the tent opening – out of which they could see Javier, Miguel and Dominic, who were huddled around a small fire in a clearing in the woods. It was a grim, cloudy morning in the mountains and everything had been soaked during a heavy rainfall at night.

They had had to move fast yesterday, retreating back from the valley and up into the forest, in order not to be caught in the open by several waves of Sturmoviks, presumably out of Toulouse. They had changed camp site several times already and Jäger had commanded that they be ready to move again at a moment’s notice. So this camp was very primitive, even by partisan hunters’ standards. Inside the commander’s tent, however, everything was dry and in perfect order. As always.

“They will need to know soon,” Diego replied after having thought about it. He was a small, quiet Spaniard and he seldom spoke without having chosen his words carefully. “We are very near the front – where their regiment is supposed to be.”

von Jäger nodded sombrely: “Yes … supposed to be.”

Since they had succeeded in eliminating the core of Pablo Mendoza’s Nuevo Frente Popular partisans, including Mendoza himself, Jäger had not thought much about what to do with the three Latin American volunteers they had rescued. They had to go back to their regiment, of course. But this morning’s disturbing news from Laruns had changed things. However, if they could not go back, would they have to stay? And if they stayed would they become a help or … a problem?

The hunt had exceeded expectations so far. Months of cultivating new, invaluable informers had borne fruit. NATO’s 1st Army HQ in Bilbao had all the opportunity for plausible denial that the weaklings needed – that is, when it came to gloss over that ‘unfortunate’ leak of information which tipped off Mendoza’s partisans about the Overseas Volunteers column; which allowed the partisans to place those landmines in a very predictable right spot at a very predictable time.

All Jäger had had to do was to follow the column at a distance, keep a look-out, and then have some of his most experienced ‘shadows’ follow the raiding group back to the hideout which he had been getting ever closer to these past 3 months – but without actually finding it. From then on it was just a matter of springing the trap.

As expected there had been several larger NFP units camped in a jagged mountain area, not far from the El Portalet border crossing. They had chosen the area because they felt safe. After verifying their locations Jäger had divided his own men into 3 squads, making sure each had superiority in both numbers and weapons. Then he had struck.

A delightful bonus was that in one of the partisan groups Mendoza himself had been present. A not so delightful bonus had been to find NATO prisoners alive in that group. Yes, Corporal Genscher had reported that the partisans pulled some bodies from the wreckage of the truck which had fallen into the ravine, but Jäger had dismissed this as the usual partisan tactic of saving a few enemy bodies for convincing sabotage attacks in the coming days.

In fact, yesterday there had been a particularly nasty one near a large NATO check point outside Pamplona. The only live human being in the ‘provisions truck’ which had been the last to be checked - had been one of the NFP “Heroés”, as the suicide attackers were allowed to title themselves. The other three uniformed men, two on the truck bed amongst the rations boxes stuffed with explosives and one in the front, were apparently captured bodies of NATO soldiers that had been propped up. Or at least that was the conclusion post-investigation. There wasn’t much left ...

“Do you think our three guests will ask … questions about the ambush?” Jäger asked Diego softly. But it was a superficial softness that did little to hide the deadly resolve that was always directly underneath.

“They are only common soldiers, Colonel … ” Diego began slowly, then held his tongue for a few seconds to gauge Jäger’s reaction.

Diego Estevez had fought under Jäger’s command in the last days of Berlin with the Spanische-Freiwilligen Kompanie der SS 101 which had been attached to 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland;but unlike von Jäger he was content to keep his ‘translated’ NATO-rank of lieutenant - and wear the full uniform to show it. It annoyed Jäger somewhat but he chose not to make an issue of it. Times had changed.

“Considering the fate of their regiment this morning,” Diego finally continued - after having decided how best to ‘handle’ Jäger this time - “I think they will soon have other things on their mind than thinking about why that ambush happened – which I don’t think they would think too much about anyway! As I said, they are just soldiers. And sometimes there … is an ambush.”

“Yes,” Jäger said, but more to himself than to Diego, “but then there is still the small matter of what we should do with them now. We could send them back to Bilbao, of course – or up to General Allen. But I wonder if we have exhausted all the possibilities … ”

“What other possibilities are there, Colonel?”

“Jimenez and Nijmegen will not recover from that skirmish the other day, will they?”

“The doctor says no.”

“Then we are two men short. And it doesn’t look like our little war is over anytime soon, does it?”

“No,” Diego concurred, feeling slightly tired from standing (Jäger had not once asked him to sit down, although Diego had been in the tent for half an hour now). “The Bolsheviks have had extraordinary luck these first five months. Or they have been too well-prepared - or both. And if it’s going to be the last war the Western Allies will ever fight - they had better get their act together – and use all means necessary to win it. As we did.”

“And even that was not enough,” Jäger remarked, and for the first time a hint of a smile betrayed itself on his lips “ - when Berlin was in flames and the Führer was dead.”

Diego was about to say something more, but Jäger raised himself from his chair and walked past him, without a word, ducked through the tent opening and went out into the clearing.

Diego followed, as he was supposed to do. But he couldn’t help looking forward to it. After all, he knew Jäger so well now that he had almost guessed what the commander had decided about the poor bastards out there …


“Buenos dias, amigos,” Jäger greeted the three men in heavily accented Spanish (he had never bothered to learn the language). Diego quickly came to his side and began translating as Jäger went on in German:

“I’m afraid I have some bad news for you … This morning I received a message that the 5thOverseas Volunteers Regiment was sent over to Laruns just in time to fend off an enemy attempt to break through. They fought heroically and stopped the Bolsheviks. They also lost about 75 per cent of their men. The remainders have been transferred to shore up other under-strength NATO divisions - elsewhere on the Sherman Line.”

He paused and watched the three soldiers' reaction. They stared back at him with an expression of incomprehension, almost bordering on fear; as if he had just told them they themselves were about to be shot by Bolsheviks. In fact, they had – circumstances permitting - been treated quite well these past many days which they had been with Jäger’s men.

“This … is true?” Dominic asked with some difficulty. He still wore heavy bandage around the head and arm and field surgeon Mihailovic had been very cautious when his prospects for returning to duty. It was annoying, Jäger had thought, that they had to go through so much trouble for a nigger but as Diego kept reminding him: Times had changed.

And so, for now, Jäger forced himself to nod in response to Dominic’s question, recognizing his presence:

“It is true,” he confirmed.

Javier and Miguel looked briefly at each other. Miguel snorted and looked down again, and crossed his arms tightly, as if he had even been expecting this - and as if his regiment’s failure to survive the onslaught of what was probably a vastly superior force of Soviets was somehow a personal insult.

Javier just felt empty inside. He had already had his share of troubles accepting that they had, in fact, been rescued by these … men.

“What do we do then?” he finally said, quietly, as if it was more a question to himself than directed particularly at von Jäger.

The former SS-officer, however, understood Javier quite well - even before the translation. He smiled fleetingly for the second time today:

“You don’t have to worry about that, young man. I can always use new interpreters. So from this moment on consider yourself part of NATO’s Anti-Partisan Unit I.”

The three Latinos stared at Jäger in dumbfound silence.

“You should be quite happy,” Jäger offered, “You will be fighting with an elite cadre of soldiers – all handpicked by our American allies.”

“But …” Javier began, while scrambling to his feet “ - you are not in authority to -”

Jäger stepped very close to Javier and the glare of his cold, white eyes made the young man shiver involuntarily: “Wrong. I am the only authority in these mountains, amigo. This is my land and I draft any men that I need to carry out my mission.”

“Could you at least contact Major Alvarez? If he – I mean, he was in charge of …”

“Major Alvarez is dead!” Jäger snapped. “So is almost every other man that was in your regiment. Don’t you get it? – they were being used as cannon-fodder, just as Franco’s poor sods are, to hold that pitiful excuse for a fortification line. The Allies” - he deliberatedly used this term “- are keeping their best troops in reserve for the time when they are prepared to go on the offensive again. You are, in fact, the three luckiest men in that regiment. But don’t push that luck … amigo.”

Franz von Jäger turned and walked away. Diego nodded courteously at the three, as if he showed the merest hint of sympathy. Then the lieutenant went after Jäger.

“Maybe I would rather have been at Laruns,” Miguel said, and stared into the small flickering, flames of their fire. It had begun raining again and the fire was soon extinguished.

Next episode:

While the Anti-Partisan Force is operating across the old border a new Soviet attack breaks through at Laruns and Jäger’s unit is caught behind enemy lines. But Jäger refuses to withdraw and instead sets about killing ‘Bolshevik sympathisers’ in the nearby villages. Javier and Miguel plan their defection, but the ailing Dominic cannot move fast enough to accompany them. And given the devastating force of the Soviet assault, perhaps it is already too late for second decisions anyway…

You can read Chris’ own short stories at

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