From Darkness

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Chapter 19: Plans

Cold rain began to pour steadily in an attempt to dampen the night’s festivities, but the cheerful celebration was far from over.

“Thank you for allowing us to use your home office for this meeting, General Köhler, and thanks to all of you for being here,” General Von Schäffer said once the large oak doors had been closed. The entire second floor of the house was deserted, with the party on the first floor being the perfect distraction.

“You have all already been informed of this crucial matter, and you are here because we all have a lot of history and values in common,” General Halder said to the other men in the room. Some of them were experienced Armed Forces generals, others were SS generals, plus a Gestapo police chief officer and the Berlin police chief officer.

“We fought together during the Great War, some of us in the Navy and some of us in the Army. I feel the utmost trust towards you, my comrades, regardless of ranks or current occupations. Yet it is most convenient that we hold the current positions we hold. We also hold in our hands the power to save our country from the abyss that... well... you have all been briefed on the impending issue,” General Beck spoke to all the men.

“Yes, we are all aware of the current situation and of the reason for this secret meeting, yet the question remains the same. What is going to be our plan of action?” Peter asked.

“We have to do something, soon. The power is in our hands. The problem is, if we fail, a lot more than our lives is at stake. My suggestion is we arrest Hitler and bring him before a military court. If we do fail, however, I will take the responsibility. I don’t fear death and I certainly do not fear him,” General Beck stated.

“I’m all for a Germany that’s free of the Jewish pest and that is prosperous and respected, yet I don’t want to see my two sons go to war. I don’t want any of our sons to face what we had to face less than twenty years ago. We must stop Adolf, before he provokes France and Britain further,” General Hubeck said.

“But do you really think taking Sudetenland will provoke them enough to start another war? They moved not a finger for Austria, I don’t think they care much for a little piece of The Czech Republic,” Officer Weiler of the Gestapo stated.

“I agree with you, Weiler, but I’m afraid our Führer will not stop there. He will want Poland next, he will want anything that touches the German border. I have even heard talk of expanding our Reich to France. France! Imagine, France becoming a province of Germany, that will be the day!” Von Schäffer exclaimed.

“Technically they took some of our land not too long ago...” Weiler replied, causing the room to burst into low whispers of disagreement.

“Gentlemen, settle down. We’re not here to discuss those cowards or the history we have with them. The past is the past. I am looking at the future now. I want a bright future for my children, that is all I care about anymore,” Halder said.

“As do I, which is why I resigned from office. Adolf Hitler is not a man that can be reasoned with, you’ve all seen him. Once he sets his mind on a matter, there is no changing his decisions. He will not stop, so we must stop him, before it’s too late. Before Germany is looking at her bloody hands in the rubble once more,” Beck said, leaving the room silent.

“I can arrange the arrest of all the SS leaders in Berlin on the chosen date, whenever it may be. It must be well-coordinated and thoroughly planned, but I know men I can trust to carry this out with no problem,” Officer Rothstein of the city police said.

“And I can have Hitler arrested simultaneously, before he hears of the others’ arrests, just name a date and time,” Officer Weiler said.

“We have sufficient evidence to bring him before a special military court. I know a judge who agrees with us on all this. I am convinced this court would find our Führer guilty of trying to start another European war,” Peter said.

“This plan sounds great. However, there is one big flaw in all this. We need France and Britian’s cooperation for this plan to work. Without their support, we are just lunatics trying to bring down our president. Without their support, people will think there is no conflict to be stopped, no war to be had...” Halder said.

“I will send agents to both countries immediately. They will tell Chamberlain and Daladier of our plan. If they don’t agree to help us, to support us, there is nothing more we can do,” Beck told the men before bidding them farewell and leaving the party.

“We’ll keep in contact, with all of you. Keep an eye out for our messages at the most inconvenient but discreet of times, this matter is too important and we must take all precautions possible. Have a good evening, gentlemen,” Halder nodded and also left, as did everyone but Peter and Karl.

“Remember what you said to me before I came here to work in the SS?” Peter asked him.
“I don’t recall many things in life, but I do recall that, yes. There won’t be another war, Peter,” he pulled out cigarettes and a lighter.
“That’s right. I am afraid that you have never been so wrong, my friend,” Peter sank into his leather chair.
“I am afraid of that too. I’m not a man of God, but I will go to bed tonight praying that Daladier and old Chamberlain trust us, that they may see reason,” Karl’s hands trembled as he lit one up.

~

“Uli! When did you get here? I can’t believe you’re here!” Ivy wanted to pinch herself.
“A short while ago. I met with Liesel and she told me you were out here,” Uli smiled.
“How do you know Liesel?” she asked.
“We’ve been writing to each other to plan this out, she saw my address on one of your letters. Your parents also know I’m here, but it was mainly Liesel who planned the surprise,” he replied.

Ivy couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy, although she knew there was nothing behind it other than Uli’s surprise visit. It was a strange and inexplicable thing, to feel jealous at the thought of Liesel and Uli writing to each other. Ivy wasn’t seeing Uli the same way she used to see him.

That was because he was different from the boy he used to be, the boy in her memories. He was no longer a boy, the Uli standing next to her was a man. He had the same recognizable face, but he wasn’t cute anymore, he was handsome. His jaw was squared and his features were rough, but his eyes had the same bright sparkle, like arctic water on a sunny day. He wasn’t pale and scrawny anymore. Even in the dim light, she could see how tanned he was, and how built his frame was.
He looked older than eighteen, as if he had grown fast and matured the hard way. She knew he had.

“How are your parents? And how are the girls? Did they come too? How long are you staying?” Ivy couldn’t contain her questions, nor her excitement.

“My parents... my dad left us. I suspected for a long time he had another woman, and it was true. I know he left to go live with her. He spent weeks at a time away from home, with the excuse of his work for the Nazi party being time-consuming and far away. As soon as my mom’s illness worsened, he took off and we never saw him again. My mom isn’t well, the doctors say she has lung cancer, and there’s nothing they can do,” he looked away, his face emotionless.

“Lung cancer. Oh Uli, I’m so sorry... I’m sorry to hear that. I had no idea, you only told me she was sick in your letters but you always seemed so hopeful and positive... I didn’t think she was so gravely ill,” she said. “If there’s anything I can do to help...” Ivy felt devastated.

“There is not, but thank you,” Uli smiled. “And to answer your questions, the twins are well. Our neighbour, Bertha, is watching them and my mom for the night. I must get back in the morning, I’m all they have left now and my mom needs me. Most days she can’t even walk a few steps without getting winded or coughing up blood,” he said and looked up as he felt drops of rain.

“Come on, let’s go inside,” he took her hand and smiled. Ivy felt so sad that the party around them now seemed like an absurd irony.

“On... on a lighter topic, congratulations on the aviation academy! And also buying your own motorcycle, that’s very impressive, Uli!” Ivy said as they went indoors.

“Thank you, I’m proud of myself. May I have this dance?” he asked as a waltz began to play. Without hesitation, she took his hand and they began to slowly dance.

“I have realized, it wasn’t my father’s pride I needed. I spent my entire childhood seeking his approval, desiring to hear him say he is proud of me. What a waste of time that was! I’m proud of myself for my accomplishments and for achieving all the goals that I set out for myself, and there is no better feeling... Well, maybe kissing you is a better feeling, but I forgot what that feels like,” he grinned.

“Not here, Uli,” Ivy said nervously.
“I know, I’m just saying...” he continued to guide her. He was a surprisingly good dancer. What other surprises did he have in store for her?

“Please don’t leave so soon, Uli. Stay one more day, I would love to show you Berlin,” Ivy said.

“I wish I could, but I can’t. I’m sorry. Berlin looks beautiful, from what I have seen so far. You know, I actually got accepted into the Berlin aviation academy as well, but I can’t travel here everyday, even with the autobahn and my bike. People say the academy here is better, more advanced, and that the planes the cadets get to fly are brand new fighter models. We’re learning to fly in old planes from The Great War era, it’s not the same,” Uli said.

“Do you have your own plane? What’s it like to fly?” she asked him.
“Not yet. Once I graduate I will have my own plane. Flying is... liberating. You feel so free, so exhilarated... it’s hard to describe it, really, you have to experience it to understand,” he said.
“I can’t imagine, it sounds exciting. You must have so much fun there!”
“Sometimes, but it’s not easy at all. It’s difficult, there are a lot of steps and procedures and rules,” he told her.

“Then how come they let you fly so soon? You just started, right?” Ivy wondered.
“My professor disagrees with us flying now as well, but he has orders he has to obey, I suppose. I don’t know why, but I do think they are rushing us into learning how to fly fighters and bombers. Bomber training takes longer, but even the new recruits will start to fly soon too. I don’t know what the rush is for, or the increasingly large amounts of new recruits...
It must be what the rumours say, that the Führer wants to strengthen our military. He wants to be prepared for an attack from our jealous neighbours and he wants us to be able to defend ourselves,” Uli said. Ivy nodded in agreement as they continued to waltz.

Author’s Note:
The meeting at the beginning of the chapter did actually take place in Berlin with generals and police chiefs in attendance as described. All characters are fictional except for Generals Ludwig Beck and Franz Halder, the brave men who wanted to stop Hitler and might have prevented the Second World War. The plan described was also their real plan.

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