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Saturday, January 2nd 2016, 9:19pm

Offenbach am Main, Offices of the Deutscher Wetterdienst, Thursday, 19 December 1946

Gerhard Kaufhold, one of the senior forecasters, poured over the latest data from the Kriegsmarine’s inspection ships operating in the North Atlantic and from the Marineflieger’s patrols over the Baltic and the North Sea; and the pattern he saw emerging disturbed him. December had been cold enough thus far, but the data suggested it would get worse before it improved. A major naval exercise was in the offing, and it had fallen to him to make a long-range forecast. He saw two options – accelerate the departure date of the task force’s departure, or cancel the exercise until the spring.

Berlin, The Chancellor’s Office, Friday, 20 December 1946

The Chancellor sat in his private office with his Minister of Economics; the remainder of the cabinet had already departed the capital for the holiday season. This afforded Adenauer the opportunity to speak privately with von Hapsburg on the latter’s proposals to change German policies toward Eastern Europe.

“Herr Chancellor,” said von Hapsburg, “we cannot continue on our current course.”

“I agree with you Excellency, but changing it will not be so simple,” Adenauer replied. “Hermes fears that allowing our neighbours to increase their agricultural exports to us will automatically work to the disadvantage of the agricultural interests of Pomerania and East Prussia, while Lübke is concerned that allowing the freer import of manufactured goods will threaten the jobs of German workers; and in the abstract, both are correct.”

“True, Herr Chancellor,” von Hapsburg agreed. “But can they not see that by fostering imports from Eastern Europe that those nations will be better able to import manufactured goods and services from Germany and not go into debt to our banks?”

Adenauer shook his head. “They hear your words, but cannot comprehend the advantages, or they fear the loss of a few pfennigs – not realizing that the potential gains outweigh such. And I cannot deal with them as easily as I did with Blucher.”

Here von Hapsburg raised an eyebrow. “Have you read the press reports of Lübke’s latest speech in Helmstedt? The man’s memory fades so quickly that he cannot remember where he is sometimes.”

Adenauer did have to acknowledge that failing. “I am concerned about his health… I shall have to speak to him in the New Year.”

Der Tagesspiegel, Saturday, 21 December 1946

It was revealed yesterday that the Ardeltwerke firm of Eberswalde has submitted to the Defence Ministry a prototype for a light tank it had developed as a private venture. No particulars have been released to date; a Ministry spokesman was quick to point out that no official requirements have been submitted to the defence industry and that the venture was solely at the firm’s financial risk. Testing of the prototype is expected to begin in January at the Meppen proving grounds.


Wednesday, January 6th 2016, 2:04am

Wilhelmshaven, Sunday, 22 December 1946

There was a strong easterly wind blowing, which made ship handling difficult, but slowly the task force got underway. The ships of the First Destroyer Flotilla were in the van, followed by the light cruisers Magdeburg, Lübeck, Rostock, and Stralsund. Then came the new aircraft carriers Karl der Große and Friedrich Barbarossa, together with the smaller Pappenheim. Following up in the rear were two replenishment ships, Neckar and Ruhr, shepherded by a trio of destroyers, Glogau, Landshut, and Neurode. The weather made for trouble when the aircraft carriers turned into the wind to take aboard their aircraft – there were some losses due to bad landings – but the process continued despite the interruptions. It was nearly dark when the last aircraft was safely stricken below decks and the task force could settle on its course across the North Sea – almost due north, the hard route between Scotland and Norway.

Frankfurter Zeitung, Monday, 23 December 1946

Four of Berlin’s most prestigious universities – the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, the Prussian Academy of Arts, the Frederick William University, and the Technische Hochschule Berlin have joined together to found Akademie Verlag, a specialist academic publishing house to facilitate the publication of works by and for the four founding institutions.

London, The German Embassy, Tuesday, 24 December 1946

Walter Schellenburg finished the last items that had lain in his in-box and tidied up his desk for the Christmas holiday. To his disappointment he had not managed to obtain an invitation to any of the great houses, and rather than putter about the embassy he decided to take leave and return to Germany for at least a few days. While he knew he was much too junior to be considered as a successor to his late patron, it would not be amiss to see who might be in the running to take the helm of the Abwehr. He was due to depart from Croydon Airport on Lufthansa’s mid-day flight.


Thursday, January 7th 2016, 12:39am

Christmas, Wednesday, 25 December 1946

The sound of the choirs echoed across the placid waters of Cam Rahn Bay as the ships of the East Asia Squadron rode at anchor far from home. The French, German, and Russian sailors stationed there jointly made the best of that distance, sharing conviviality and the finest creations of their messes with each other. Peace and harmony were the order of the day, and while a call to action was always possible, each man hoped that day might never come.

In Bangkok, somewhat further west, the minister plenipotentiary, Karl, Freiherr von Macchio, celebrated the season by hosting a dinner party for the more prominent members of the German business community and the senior officers of the Technical Mission, led by Generalmajor Heinrich Trettner. In the last six years they had accomplished much, opening Thailand to German investment, promoting trade, and significantly modernising the Thai military establishment.

Scattered across the wilds of the Caucasus members of the Deutsche Entwicklingsdienst in Armenia and Azerbaijan kept a low profile in the season, out of deference to the sensibilities of their hosts, but many were surprised by the hospitality shown them to make their Christmas festive. They were in the lands of the magi, and traditions run deep.

The survey ship Meteor lay at anchor at Djibouti, calling for fuel, water, and provisions before continuing toward the Suez Canal. Some lucky members of her scientific crew had already departed for home by air, bearing copies of the data gathered during their months at sea; but for those who remained aboard the cooks had prepared a proper Christmas feast, albeit one heavily dependent upon local mutton rather than Sauerbraten.

Doctor René Belloq, in his hotel in İskenderun, pored over maps and aerial photographs, preparing for the next season of archaeological field work. His mind was filled with the emerging story of the Hittites, not with Christmas. Yet he was not the only German in the city; technicians from the recently constructed oil refinery as well as those working to construct the new steelworks celebrated in the many restaurants of the city – and some attended mass in the Cathedral of the Annunciation.

Walter Schellenburg enjoyed a quiet morning in his hotel, resting from his flight from London; it had been delayed by poor weather. He would call at Abwehr Headquarters on the morrow – for only a skeleton watch would be present on Christmas Day.

The sailors of the aircraft carriers Karl der Große and Friedrich Barbarossa, with those aboard their consorts, had little time for relaxation as they neared the Shetland Islands. Watchstanders tried their best to keep the spray from soaking them to the bone, and the pitching decks of the aircraft carriers were empty of aircraft. Many a sailor, and some officers too, wondered what madman had ordered the task force to sea in this season, and with such weather.

In contrast, the sailors of the destroyer Waldstein and the oiler Lipperland celebrated Christmas by crossing the Equator, with nearly the entire crew of both vessels becoming trusty shellbacks in ceremonies of hilarity. They would soon call at Recife in Brazil for orders; where they would go afterwards no one might say.

Having rounded Cape Horn the aircraft carrier Wallenstein and her consorts were also nearing their next port of call, Talcahuano in Chile. They had picked up an escort of two Chilean destroyers a day ago, and unlike their counterparts elsewhere, they enjoyed beautiful summer weather. On the mess decks sailors made plans for the liberty they all anticipated, for the friendliness of the Chilean people was proverbial throughout the Kriegsmarine, and the celebrations of the Christmas season would only add to their visit.


Thursday, January 7th 2016, 12:56am

The sound of the choirs echoed across the placid waters of Cam Rahn Bay as the ships of the East Asia Squadron rode at anchor far from home. The French, German, and Russian sailors stationed there jointly made the best of that distance...

Fun fact - Russia actually celebrates Christmas on January 7th, not December 25th. That means that today IRL is Russia's Christmas Eve. :)


Thursday, January 7th 2016, 1:07am

The sound of the choirs echoed across the placid waters of Cam Rahn Bay as the ships of the East Asia Squadron rode at anchor far from home. The French, German, and Russian sailors stationed there jointly made the best of that distance...

Fun fact - Russia actually celebrates Christmas on January 7th, not December 25th. That means that today IRL is Russia's Christmas Eve. :)

True, but somehow I do not think that Russian sailors so far from home would be so boorish as to miss out on a good party. :D


Thursday, January 7th 2016, 1:12am

No, definitely not... although they're still going to throw their own party on the relevant day. :)


Thursday, January 7th 2016, 1:24am

No, definitely not... although they're still going to throw their own party on the relevant day. :)

Which I shall note and consider recognizing. :P


Friday, January 8th 2016, 3:47pm

Talcahuano, Chile, Thursday, 26 December 1946

It was late in the afternoon when the Wallenstein and her attendant corvettes hove to off the Chilean port, signalling for pilots. They would get no further than the outer roads today, and only the most important formalities would be conducted – the port and city were still celebrating the Christmas holiday.

Kronen Zeitung, Friday, 27 December 1946

Police in the city of Darmstadt raided a vocational school sponsored by the Zionist Betar Movement and affiliated with the terrorist group Irgun Zevai Leumi. In addition to providing vocational training for potential emigrants to Mandatory Palestine the school allegedly provided paramilitary training and instruction in the use of firearms and explosives. A spokesman for the Darmstadt municipal police confirmed that twenty-three unregistered handguns and a quantity of ammunition had been confiscated. The school has been closed and its leaders taken into custody of charges of promoting terrorism. This comes against the continuing background of violence in Mandatory Palestine against the British mandatory authorities.

Café Kranzler, Charlottenburg, Saturday, 28 December 1946

The coffee house, one of Berlin’s most renowned, was thronged with holiday-makers despite the winter’s cold; it was unexpected then that one of the establishment’s rooms would be occupied only by two men – Andreas Hermes, the Minister of Agriculture, and Otto von Hapsburg, the Minister of Economics – engaged in deep conversation.

“Excellency,” said Hermes, in a somewhat tired voice, “we must maintain our present protections for the agricultural sector, no matter the detrimental impact this has on the Lithuanian economy. With our rising population we need to be able to feed them and to keep jobs on the land – allowing unlimited imports from abroad would threaten both those objectives.”

Von Hapsburg nodded, “Yes, I understand, but Lithuania is not a colonial dependency; we have used the customs union to turn it into one – our firms suck out its economic lifeblood and put very little investment into it.”

“You mean what surplus is not skimmed off by Lithuania’s own bureaucrats and politicians?” Hermes shot back. The reconstruction of Lithuania’s economy and political life had stagnated for nearly ten years since the bloody civil war.

“That is true,” von Hapsburg admitted ruefully. “The capital of the Industrial and Finance Corporation of Lithuania seems to have disappeared. But its national granaries are overflowing to the extent that their unsold inventory is rotting… you know that.”

“Yes,” Hermes added. “Because the last loan they raised was squandered on increasing the number of political supporters of Grinius it employed rather than constructing decent storage facilities. Our banks are still carrying that load on their books but will soon have to add it to their Neapolitan sums.”

Von Hapsburg had to admit that the cause of too much of Lithuania’s stagnation had to be laid at the door of its own leaders.


Saturday, January 9th 2016, 7:00pm

Aircraft Carrier Wallenstein, Harbour of Talcahuano, Chile, Sunday, 29 December 1946

While many of her crew enjoyed Chilean hospitality ashore others were busily engaged in returning the ship to her primary military role. The aircraft, vehicles, and other military equipment that had been carried for the sales tour were ashore, and being appreciated by representatives of the Chilean Army and Air Force, and the salesmen who had occupied cabin space in officers’ country had disembarked for the last time. On the hangar deck crews were assembling the spare aircraft that were normally stowed away to replace combat losses; these would return to the Wallenstein a semblance of an operational air group. It was apparent that the military equipment not delivered to the Chileans would be shipped back to the Reich by other means, which led to speculation by the more idle of the crew as to their next destination.

Berlin, Offices of the Ministry of Economics, Monday, 30 December 1946

Rimas Kurtinaitis was not a happy man; as Lithuanian minister to Germany he always had the feeling of being the spendthrift going hat-in-hand to a rich uncle for a loan; to his distaste too often that was exactly what he was called upon to do. He knew that much of the foreign assistance provided to his country in the wake of its civil war had been squandered on useless prestige building or diverted to the pockets of favoured politicians. However, as a commentator on diplomatic practice had written centuries ago, “An ambassador is one who is sent abroad to lie for the good of his country.”

Today he called upon Otto von Hapsburg, the German Minister of Economics, to raise the perennial question of Lithuania’s customs union with Germany.

“Excellency,” he began, “on your last visit to my country you indicated that you would work towards a fairer interpretation of our agreement to permit a greater level of protection against the dumping of industrial products by German firms. To date, nothing has come of it.” Kurtinaitis felt that a direct approach would hurt no worse that diplomatic niceties; he did not really expect any movement on the issue.

Von Hapsburg sighed. “Not at this time; my staff is still investigating proposals that could be implemented, but the stumbling blocks remain – your government’s restrictions on foreign direct investment and the unfortunate tendency of borrowed capital to vanish into an abyss of bureaucracy. Put simply, Lithuanian firms cannot compete in an open market with their German counterparts at any level.” They had gone over all this ground before.

Kurtinaitis knew the truth behind von Hapsburg’s assertions, but he was nothing if not a professional diplomat and protested, “Excellency, we are a sovereign nation and will not change our laws to suit German whims; and I deeply resent your suggestions of malfeasance on the part of any member or employee of my Government.”

Von Hapsburg was not a diplomat, and the Wilhelmstraße would not have approved his rejoinder. “Lithuania is a sovereign state because the international community expended lives and treasure to keep it that way, and that same international community is very disappointed by the authoritarian manner in which President Grinius has kept a stranglehold on the office over the last decade. If you expect any change in German economic policy towards Lithuania, that change must begin in Lithuania.”

He let his words sink in, and Kurtinaitis made no immediate reply, so von Hapsburg continued. “For example, you wish Germany to buy more wheat and rye from your national granaries, but the declared cost price cannot compete with the same product on the free market. At the same time, your national granaries refuse to sell wheat, rye, and other grains to Lithuania’s distilling and brewing industry except at prices five times what you ask us to pay. Turn your surplus into alcoholic beverages and you can sell them on the open market anywhere, ease your surplus, and earn foreign currency to pay off the debts your Government has already contracted.”

Kurtinaitis forced himself to show no reaction. The long-running battle between Grinius’ supporters and the distilling interests was well known in Lithuanian political circles – it was but one of many. Privately, and silently, he agreed that von Hapsburg’s suggestion would benefit all sides in the economic debate between the two nations – except for the agrarian interests who could lose their artificial super-profit.

Berlin, Abwehr Headquarters, Tuesday, 31 December 1946

Generalmajor Hans Oster knew that it was unlikely he would succeed Canaris as the permanent head of the Abwehr; he was too much identified with the Old Man’s priorities, and times were changing. The latest precis from the Armbrust working group made that clear.

Some days ago Nikolaus had visited Petrograd to caucus with his Russian counterpart, a colonel of the GRU named Zentsov. Not surprisingly, the Russians knew a lot more of Nordmark’s activities in atomic research than their original request to their allies for information had at first suggested. They were quite aware of the identity of the principal players in the military and political side of the Nordish programme; all Nikolaus could do was identify some of the physicists involved. The data Armbrust had gathered on the stockpiling of materials by the Nords was useful and confirmatory but not decisive; it merely outlined possibilities.

The surprise revealed by Zentsov was a move by President Fyodorov to take up the matter directly with the Nordish prime minister; this apparently in the wake of agreements between Nordmark and Bharat on the development of atomic power for generating electricity. In response the Nords had provided a written undertaking that their development programme was aimed solely at the peaceful use of the atom; Nikolaus had even returned with a facsimiles of both letters. According to Zentsov, the Russians were much allayed by this, though it was to be expected that developments in Nordmark would be watched.

“Trust but verify is an old Russian proverb” Oster muttered to himself.

Such was the damnable genie presented by atomic energy. As Armbrust’s own estimation had shown, the basic research towards power generation could all too easily be channelled towards weapon development, though that would require a massive diversion of effort. Oster was aware of Germany’s own basic research efforts, and knew of such developments in Russia, France, and – so it was rumoured – in the United States and Japan. He felt it he felt that it would prove necessary to follow Russia’s lead and maintain a permanent and pervasive watch over developments elsewhere.