Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A little more Vanavara.

I thought I'd post a little more of the fourth book "The Vanavara Protocol" for your delectation. It's up to just under 136,000 words at the moment... and likely to be a fairly substantial word-count upon completion.

As ever, the research is difficult... pre-war Stalinist Russia is a very secretive place, even today!

Anyway, here's another taster...

The two SS-Sturmscharführers stood idly on the western arrival platform of the Berlin Anhalter Bahnhof, smoking their pungent Korfu Rot cigarettes. It was a dirty night, the 24th May, 1937. The few passengers awaiting their late trains glanced nervously at the pair, in their ominous black uniforms with the SS brassard… the blood-red Hakenkreuzarmbinde on their left arms, Frightened eyes glanced at the feared, plain black SD-collar tab; the SD Ärmelraute… the diamond lozenge badge on the left sleeve… edged with silver piping indicating they had Gestapo affiliation; and worse… the even more feared SD-Hauptamt Cuff band below it. They could only be from Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 9, Sitz des SS-Hauptamtes… Reichsführer-SS Himmler's personal Iron-heads! Some poor bastard was in real trouble, having these two waiting for them. The bright glare from the overhead platform lamps reflecting back from the great arched, glass roof of the station glittered ominously on their Totenkopf Death's-head cap badges.

As the ominous, black-uniformed goons gazed around the sparsely occupied platform, those on whom their gaze descended, shivered, and quickly looked away. As sure as hell, these two evil-looking bastards were from "Amt für Sicherungsaufgaben"… The SS Security branch of the SD-Hauptamt Command Administration. They prowled up and down the platform, the hob-nails in the soles of their shiny black "Schaftstiefelen"… knee boots, which would become derisively, and universally known as jackboots; clicked ominously on the flagstones. Up and down... up and down. They were waiting for the night express from Frankfurt-am-Main. The big Steinheil station clock minute hand was creeping round to eleven o'clock. The night express was due in at 11.05pm, and the Deutsches Reichsbahn Gesellschaft always ran on time, these days.

As the two SDs strolled back down the platform with creaking jackboots and cold, reptilian eyes; there came the distant, mournful sound of a locomotive steam-whistle somewhere out in the darkness. They turned to stare out into the night. As they peered into the darkness of the rainy Berlin night, the lamp on the signal gantry, some thirty metres beyond the three huge, end wall arches spanning the incoming tracks on the permanent way side of the station, flicked to green.
The two SDs tossed down their cigarettes and ground them into the platform. Out of the night came the bright glare of the three head-code lights reflecting back off the silver ribbons of the rain-soaked tracks, as the big, black and red, 4-6-2 Borsig locomotive coasted into the platform, with the coach, and locomotive brakes squealing, and clouds of hissing steam billowing from the double cylinders as the engineer vented the cylinder steam chests.

                  A typical Borsig locomotive leaving Anhalter Bahnhof.                    
The Two SDs stepped back into the shadows as the express came to a standstill. The doors were flung open, and the passengers of the Frankfurt-am-Main night express stepped down from the rain-glistening, dark-green liveried coaches onto the Anhalter Bahnhof platform. They watched, as the passengers hurried past them trying to avoid eye contact... such was the uncomfortable feeling those ominous black uniforms gave to even the most innocent travellers. But then; these days... who is truly innocent? The slightest word out of place and you are just as likely to find yourself doing the Gestapo two-step in the "Dienstzentrale der Gestapo" offices at Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8... the notorious Gestapo "Hausgefängnis"… "house prison." Such is the paralysing fear that grips the hearts of even the most patriotic Germans at something as trivial as an unconscious stare from some passing uniformed Nazi on the streets.

 
Anhalter Bahnhof on Askanischer Platz, Berlin.

Out of the clouds of wreathing steam came a slender figure on tapping high heels. She would be about twenty-five; a tall, blonde, blue-eyed Aryan. She wore an expensive grey, two-piece suit and a jaunty little hat complimenting her pale blonde hair, swept back into a severe chignon that emphasised her high Saxon cheekbones. She carried an old, and battered, but expensive leather "Würzl" suitcase. As she walked down the platform, the two SDs stepped out into the light. The other hurrying travellers glanced sideways at her. Poor cow!... she's had it. But then... the great arched, glass roof of the Anhalter Bahnhof echoed as the two SDs snapped to attention, and crashed their heel-irons together in the regulation manner.
Heads swivelled around as the scurrying travellers gaped over their shoulders. She stood before the two SDs as their right arms shot out in the theatrical Hitlergruss. As she turned, the platform lights glittered on "Das Goldene Ehrenzeichen der NSDAP"… the Golden Honour Badge... a round badge consisting of black, white, and red cloisonné enamel enclosed within a golden oak-leaf wreath. The wreath encircled the words: "National-Sozialistische-D.A.P." around the circumference of the enamel, with a swastika in the centre... that was pinned to her left lapel.
 
Das Goldene Ehrenzeichen der NSDAP.

She returned the salute by merely raising her forearm and hand from the elbow... just as the Führer did at the Party Rallies. So, she must be important... otherwise, such a slovenly salute would be seen as insulting, if dared to be done by anyone else; and would have brought a swift, and harsh retribution.The two SDs didn't even flicker. The taller of the two snapped out,

'Heil Hitler! Fräulein Doktor von Seringen? Welcome to Berlin. We have a car waiting.'

One of the SDs took her suitcase, as the other escorted her down the platform towards the ticket barrier. The crush of passengers miraculously parted; and the bustle and clamour diminished. The old ticket collector held out his hand for her ticket, but was brushed aside. He looked at the ominous black uniforms and wondered what he should do. His task was to check tickets and no exceptions; but, this... if he dared to challenge them, he might well end up doing five years in KL Konzentrationslager Dachau for insulting the SS. He chose that prudence was definitely the better part of valour and waved them through.
In the bustling great, outer atrium of the station, there was suddenly, complete silence, save for the soft hiss of steam from the locomotives, and a faint hum of traffic out on Stresemannstrasse. As the party crossed the echoing marble floor to the sweeping staircases that led to the main entrance of the Anhalter Bahnhof, the only sounds to break this fearful stillness were the clacking tread of two pairs of glittering, hob-nailed jackboots playing counterpoint to the elegant tip tapping of her high heels.

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