Mundt’s stomach churned as he waited in the outer office. Why had they summoned him? Others receiving this summons disappeared. No one knew where, but rumors abounded. Because of that, Captain and his Sergeant, he resided here in Langwasser Prison, instead of his comfortable home. At least they spared him the trip to France to clear mines. So, luck remained in his favor. A man emerged from the inner office where he waited. With his hands on his hips, the scowling man’s muscular arms bulged beneath his dress shirt. As the man’s eyes studied him, Mundt stared straight ahead, avoiding eye contact until the man broke the silence. “Colonel Mundt?”
Mundt rose. “Sturmbannfuhrer.”
“Whatever. Come with me.”
He led Mundt down a narrow hallway, where he knocked on a door on the right. He opened the door and then gestured Mundt to enter the room ahead. As the door closed behind him, a man with dark hair, graying at the temples, studying a stack of papers in front of him, glanced up. After giving Mundt an appraising glance, he resumed his reading.
Mundt’s knees trembled as he glanced down at his picture stapled to the stack’s top page. The man behind the desk seemed familiar, but he could not remember from where.
After setting the sheet aside, the man scowled.
“According to the Party’s Racial Purity Laws, you barely escaped being considered a Jew. Does that explain your particular zeal in doing your duty?”
“It is true my mother’s grandfather married a Jew, but my father’s line was pure.”
“General Gehlen claims you were most effective at infiltrating Communist cells. Said if you hadn’t been for the schoolboy incident, he would not have sent you to the camps.”
Mundt’s ears burned. He averted his eyes to the wall above the man’s head. His knees trembled.
“He regretted sending you there, but with the Party’s doctrine regarding homosexuals, he did it to save your life.”
“The boy was a Jew. I merely did to him what others did to the women.”
The man shook his head. “Also, according to statements from inmates at the Mauthausen Camp, you maintained a harem of pretty boys.” The man spoke louder as he struck the desk as if driving a nail in Mundt’s coffin. “In fact, you personally tossed several into the crematorium alive. You claimed they misbehaved or did not comfort you properly.”
The man’s eyes narrowed. “I find you disgusting. For decency, I should toss these records and you to the Military Tribunal people. Let you dance at the end of a rope!”
Mundt tried to swallow even though his mouth was dry. He could think of nothing to say in his defense. “However, General Gehlen claims that would be a mistake. A waste of needed skills and abilities. Sadly, that might be the case. So, instead of tossing you to the wolves, I will offer you an opportunity to redeem yourself. Give you a chance to confront the Red Menace once more. If you perform well, then I will supply you with a new identity and lose your record. If you fuck up, however, be assured, I will not hesitate to turn you and these records over to the Tribunal. Or then again maybe the Russians. Are we clear?”
“What are you expecting me to do?” Mundt’s voice a trembling croak.
“I want you to revive your old contacts if they still exist. Help us ferret out these Commie cells. Perform well, you’ll end up a free man to fuck up all you want.”
“How long must I work for you?” Mundt struggled to hide his glee at escaping. Plus, the chance to once again hunt down Communists? He could hardly believe his luck.
“For as long as it takes to get these bastards driven back to Moscow where they belong or topple them at home. Either is fine with me.”
Mundt snapped to attention, clicked his heels. “I too have the same feelings about them. It would be a pleasure to once again put them on the run.”
“I would really appreciate it if you knocked off that Nazi crap. Start acting a little rehabilitated, so I don’t look like a complete fool.”
“Yes, sir!” And he struggled to not thrust his arm out in the Nazi a salute that he learned accompanied this phrase. “I am at your disposal.”
“You got that right. One more thing. Do not even consider running out on me. I infiltrated the ‘Ratlines.’ If you contact them, I will find out. If that happens, you will wish you could be as lucky as one of your former camp inmates. Are we clear?”
“Yes, Mein Herr! May I ask who you are?”
“See, I believe you are becoming more civilized by the minute.” The man smirked as he glanced down at the papers before him. “You may call me, Mr. Fisher.”
As if on cue, the door opened behind him. The man who led him into this room now stood beside him.
“Get the Colonel some proper clothes, then take him to his new quarters.”
The next morning Mundt rode in the back seat with his escort. A second man, his escort’s twin except for hair color, drove the black sedan to the Ministry of Justice.
As he walked inside with the two, his escort spoke out of the side of his mouth. “Our offices are on the third floor.”
As they climbed the stairs, American soldiers dressed in fatigues rushed both up and down the stairs, either carrying lumber or carpentry tools. Most hammering and sawing came from the second floor, but as they started up to the third floor, some came from there as well.
“The work for the Tribunal offices have priority, but they are also working on our floor,” the man explained as they climbed past the main construction and proceeded up.
The large open area framed now half-filled with 2X4 stud framing revealed the future floor plan. Two rooms had finished walls down what would eventually be a corridor.
“You and Mr. Fisher have offices now. The rest of us use the unframed area,” the man explained as they walked to the enclosed area. “By the way, my name’s Robert Foster. Just call me Bob.” The man offered his hand. “What do they call you?”
“I am sorry?” Mundt’s brow furrowed as he shook the offered hand, surprised at the man’s friendliness, “I am not sure what you mean.”
“Like, what do your friends call you?”
“I guess whatever you feel comfortable with. Are we colleagues, or are you my superior?”
“Well, that’s not clear. We’re a new unit, and the boss, Mr. Fisher, tells us what needs doing for now as he needs to.”
“So, this is not an Army unit?”
“Well, I am, but I’m not sure who Fisher reports to. It changes. It’s above my pay grade.”
“And, your rank is?”
“Sergeant, but don’t worry, we don’t salute.” Bob knocked on the door. “Mr. Fisher is a Colonel, but he does not expect us to salute him or anything.”
After opening the door, Bob beckoned Mundt inside, where Fisher sat behind a desk. “Do you want me to wait outside?”
Fisher glanced at Mundt, nodded. “I’ll bring him out when we’re done. Is his office ready?”
“Yeah, me and George moved everything in last night.” Before turning to go, Bob turned to Mundt. “You get in there and see anything you need just let me know, okay?”
“Thank you.” Mundt nodded as he removed his fedora. “You have been most kind.”
As the door closed behind him, Mundt turned to face the desk.
Fisher gestured to the vacant chair before his desk. “Sit down, this might take a while. I’m having coffee, care for some?”
On Fisher’s desk stood a photograph showing Fisher standing outside a building at Mundt’s first internment camp.
As he followed Mundt’s gaze, Fisher passed him the picture, “That was taken at my last assignment. I was the commander there right before they handed everybody over to the French. You were there, weren’t you?”
He glanced up at Fisher, now realizing the familiarity he experienced before. “Yes, for a short while before they moved me here to Nuremberg. I saw you there but never heard your name.”
“Doesn’t matter. In this business, we have many names.”
Fisher leaned back, smiled. “We provide information to those who decide. Plus, we muddy the waters for those deciding contrary to our interests. Have you ever heard of the Potsdam conference?”
“In Austria, we heard little about anything that occurred outside the borders.”
“Our President, Roosevelt, met with Churchill and Stalin to decide how to run Europe once we defeated you.”
“What about the French?”
Fisher shrugged. “They didn’t matter then. At Potsdam, they granted Russians control of most of Eastern Europe, including half of your country. Now they want the rest, and we aim to prevent that.”
“And what is my part in it?”
“You penetrated many of the Communist espionage networks in this zone. I expect you to revive your contacts and resume that work. We need to identify who is working with the Communists.”
“Do you plan then to assassinate them?”
“No, we just monitor them. The ones we spot will lead us to others and so on. We might even feed them false information from time to time and later turn a few into double agents. Right now, we are on a reconnaissance to identify the enemy.”
“I will need transportation and money.”
“As the man said, who brought you here. Tell him what you need, and he will arrange it.”
“When will this start?”
“Consider today as the starting point. I have other operations going that depend on your success. I hope to wait until you contact your networks, but I need it within a month.”
“I will let you know in a week how long it will take.”
“Good, Bob’s down the hall. He’ll give you keys to your office. Also, stop shaving your head. It’ll make you look less like a Nazi.”