TOAST TO TOMORROW
Climax of a deadly feud —Klaus Lehmann is Nazi-marked for a one-way ride to Danzig
Klaus Lehmann is the name taken by a man, presumably German, who lost his memory in the last war. He finds a job in Munich, is “adopted” by an elderly lady, Fraulein Rademeyer, who lakes pity on his plight and makes a home far him. In postwar depression years he becomes a follower of Hitler.
He rises to the Nazi party inner circle, but on the night of the Reichstag fire his memory comes flooding back.
He recalls that he is really Tommy Hambledon, a British agent in Germany during the 1914-1X war, and realizes that he has probably been given up for dead. When Hitler takes power and appoints him chief of German police, he lays cunning plans to outwit the Nazis. Through a former espionage associate named Reck, whom he locates, he sends wireless code messages to the British Foreign Office, warns them not to try to discover his new identity.
Hambledon pulls off many daring coups for British Intelligence, his latest the smuggling of Nazi plans for Austrian anschluss back to Britain,
packed around the motor of a phonograph carried by an unwitting English concert pianist, Dixon Ogilvie. When the son and husband of Christine Beckensburg, a friend ■ of Fraulein Rademeyer, are thrown into concentration camp, he says he will try and help them and determines to get Ludmilla Rademeyer and Christine out of Germany. He never knows at what minute he himself may have to flee, should his disguise be penetrated. He makes the horrifying discovery that his fingerprints are in his own police department files, dating from his espionage days in the last war. Goebbels may already have found them—and Goebbels has become his enemy since Lehmann began investigating a racket in which he is involved. Goebbels’ men permit fleeing Jews to take twenty per cent of their money out of the country, retaining the other eighty per cent. However, he finds an unexpected ally in the secret German Freedom League, of which his own butler, Franz, proves to be a member.
Through Franz, Lehmann contrives to have the fingerprint records destroyed by fire. The same night he gains further startling information concerning the Binds racket and learns that Goebbels is hot on his trail.
(Seventh Part of Eight)
A WEEK later Jakob Altmann and Gregor Buergers came up again at the police court to answer for their doings on the night of the
fire. As it was perfectly obvious that they could not have had anything to do with the fire, not even with the sandbagging of Reinhardt, since they were far too inebriated at the time, they were merely charged with stealing by finding the sum of twelve thousand marks, the property of some person or persons unknown—Altmann as principal and Buergers as accessory. They were sentenced to periods of two years and nine months respectively of forced labor on the roads of Westphalia.
“Nice long way off,” said Jakob, with a glance at Gertrud, who was sitting in court weeping ostentatiously. “Thank you, gentlemen.” Buergers said nothing.
It was another ten days before Hambledon re( ceived a reply from any of the various German banks to his question about the mark notes. Eventually one of them reported that the notes in
question, together with others of considerably larger denomination, making a total of eighteen thousand five hundred marks altogether, had been paid out on March 25 to Herr Rolf Weinecke of Aachen. Since’ they knew that the enquiry came from the Chief of Police they added all the information they could give, particularly the numbers and denominations of the larger notes. They added that some of the notes were again in circulation in Aachen, and that the whole sum was produced by the sale of bearer bonds deposited with them ten months earlier by the said Herr Weinecke.
“So,” said Tommy to himself. “What proportion do they allow these wretched Jews to get away with? Twenty per cent, I believe. Now twenty per cent of eighteen thousand five hundred is—er— three thousand seven hundred.” He wrote the figure down and looked at it.
“Strange. That’s just the total of the few notes of really large denomination. Now, if a Jew were bolting out of Germany with the paltry marks allowed him by the Government, he would change one of his big notes as soon as possible, I think. Going from Aachen, that would be Brussels, or possibly Ostende if he were going to England. I’ll try both. Twelve thousand plus three thousand seven hundred is fifteen thousand and seven hundred. Subtracted from eighteen thousand five hundred, it leaves—er—two thousand eight hundred. I think Herr Weinecke pocketed two thousand eight hundred marks for his trouble—and the risk, of course. Dealing with a Jew, naughty. Helping a Jew to evade the law, very naughty.”
Four days later he learned from his agents in Brussels that a hundred-mark note, bearing one of the numbers quoted, had been changed into Belgian money on March 29 last by a Jew named Reuben Schwartz, who was now living in rooms in the Street of the Candle at Brussels, having apparently settled there.
“Splendid,” said Tommy Hambledon, and sent two of his police to bring him the person of Rolf Weinecke from Aachen, instantly, in haste. Next morning Rolf Weinecke, ruffled and uneasy, was shown into Hambledon’s office. Hambledon did not ask him to sit down, but sent the troopers away and
came straight to the point in a voice as hard and cold as stone.
“You are Rolf Weinecke from Aachen?”
“Yes, sir. May I ask--”
“No. I will do all the asking that may be needed. On Friday, March 25 last, you went to your bank in Aachen and drew out the sum of eighteen thousand five hundred
“I believe I did, but--”
“I know you did. This sum was made up of thirty-seven hundredmark notes, fifty-six fifty-mark notes, and the rest in tens to the value of twelve thousand marks.”
The man merely looked at him. “This money was the proceeds of the sale of bearer bonds which you deposited with the bank about ten months ago.”
“That is so,” said Weinecke. “The bonds were--”
“You transferred the thirty-seven hundred-mark notes to a Jew named Reuben Schwartz, at present living in the Rue de la Bougie, Brussels.” “But, sir, that is---”
“You were about to admit that that is a crime against the State. Are you aware of the penalties attaching to it?”
“Yes, sir, but--”
“But there are so many people—it is so often done,” stammered the man.
“It will be done a lot less in future, believe me. While I am Chief of Police I will not tolerate such irregularities. Perhaps if an example is made in a few flagrant cases such as yours, it will be realized that I mean what I say. This practice will stop,” said Hambledon incisively, and banged the table.
Weinecke looked as though if he had much more of this his knees would give away.
“But, sir, I am a good German and a good Nazi. I pay all the taxes without grumbling, I subscribe to Party funds, I give generously to the Winter Help--”
“You cannot buy the right to sin,” said Hambledon magnificently, “with these subscriptions. No man is a good German who gives help to the enemies of his country as you have done. The Jew, the Jew, always the Jew behind these abuses.” (“Streicher ought to hear me now,” he thought.) “What is there about these Jews that you must defile yourself by serving them? One would think you were a Jew yourself.”
Weinecke’s face turned green with terror. He had never liked his Jewish grandmother when he was a little boy.
“Oh, I am not a Jew, gracious sir,” he protested. “I am Aryan all through.”
“Protest that to the court when you are brought before it. You must know that it will be quite easy to prove you are a Jew,” said Hambledon, meaning merely that the evidence could be fabricated if necessary, but Weinecke took the words as proof that his ancestry was known. He still denied it, however, hysterically.
“I am not,” he shrieked, instinctively turning up his palms in the age-old gesture of protest. “Revered sir, I am not, on the head of my father I swear--”
He stopped abruptly. What evil demon had put the betraying phrase into his mouth? Tommy Hambledon leaned back in his chair. Evidently his
chance arrow had sunk to the feather and he had got this man where he wanted him.
“You see,” said the Chief of Police loftily, “it is useless to try to deceive the Reich. I think you are in rather bad case, Herr Rolf Weinecke.”
THE MAN actually fell on his knees. “I am a good Nazi, all the same,” he wailed. “I never liked them—the Jews, I mean. It was only my grandmother, I couldn’t help my grandfather marrying her, could I? Kind, gracious sir, you are too just to punish a poor man for what isn’t his fault!” Tommy was, but he had no intention of showing it at the moment. “Let me off; don’t tell anybody. I will do anything you wish, anything—” “You are a disgusting and repulsive sight,” said Hambledon from the bottom of his heart. “However, I will give you one chance to serve the Reich, just one. If you satisfy me fully in that, it may incline me to mercy.”
“Tell me what you want,” said Weinecke instantly, rising to his feet and clasping his hands in a gesture of submission.
“Put your hands down by your sides for a start,” snapped Hambledon, who found the man more intolerable every moment. “Stand up straight and answer my questions. You will not, I think, lie to me. Now, about the twelve thousand marks you sent to Berlin--”
Weinecke supplied a great deal of very useful information. He was the head of the Aachen branch of the organization which fleeced the Jews at the expense of the Government, for that was what it amounted to. The Jews declared to the Government for forfeit, a mere fraction of their actual possessions. Weinecke, and others in similar positions on every German frontier, not only connived at this but actively assisted the Jews by banking the rest of the money as their own. When the moment came for the Jew to leave Germany, he was given one fifth of his property to take with him and the organization applied the rest to its own uses. Weinecke explained that they always—or nearly always—kept faith with the Jews, and gave them as high a proportion as twenty per cent, to induce other Jews to deal with them in the same way. It paid the Jew and it paid them.
“Yes,” thundered Hambledon, “and the only one that suffers is the Government of the Reich, and what do you care for that? Go on. These people in Berlin.”
Weinecke said plainly that Herr Goebbels was the brain behind the affair, but never appeared openly. The Berlin committee, so to express it, were the eight gentlemen whose names the gracious Herr had deigned to read to him—Gagel, Dettmer, Kjtzinger, Tietz, Rautenbach, Militz, Baumgartner andEigehmann. They received, of course, subscriptions from all parts of Germany, not only from Aachen, at their monthly meetings. This twelve thousand marks in which the Herr was interested
was not, naturally, the whole of the month’s supply from Aachen, as amounts were transmitted weekly. It so happened that in that week there was only one -windfall, but a large one.
“So when they got there the cupboard wasn’t really bare,” said Tommy to himself. “Only one plum missing. When’s the next meeting?” he added aloud. Weinecke said, as Hambledon expected, May the fourth. It was the second date on the card found with the money.
‘‘Where do they meet?”
“I don’t know, honored sir; I’ve never
heard. On my honor I’ve no idea.”
‘‘Your honor! \ou mean, on the head of your father.”
Weinecke, to whom speech had given a certain amount of confidence, shrivelled up again, and Hambledon improved the moment by extracting full details of the Aachen end of the business, names, addresses and all, with a view to effective action. “Now,” he said, “what about Ginsberg?” “Ginsberg?”
“Ginsberg was a member of the Frontier Guard at Aachen. He was shot at Aachen in August last year —nine months ago.”
“Oh, I remember now. Ginsberg, yes. He took it upon himself to disapprove of this business. He made trouble. He was one of those would-be superior people--”
“Silence!” roared Hambledon, really angry this
time. “He was my servant, and you dared--”
“Oh, save me, what have I done? I did not know, noble sir, I didn’t know—I didn’t do it, I didn’t even complain of him. Schultz did that, I had nothing to do with it; Schultz complained to the
local court and they shot him; I didn’t, I--”
Hambledon touched the bell push on his desk; two troopers came in promptly. Hambledon pointed one finger at Weinecke and said, “Take him away, he annoys me. Return for orders.”
Weinecke collapsed on the carpet and was dragged, howling and struggling, from the room. Hambledon poured himself out a drink and swallowed it, lit a cigar and took a turn or two up and down the room till the trooper returned and saluted.
“The man is guilty of murder,” said the Chief of Police. “He will be shot at eight tomorrow morning.”
The trooper saluted again and went back to his mate in the anteroom outside.
“Speakin’ generally,” he said, “the Chief is easy though strie’, an’ not given to tempers, not like some I could mention. But when he gets going proper, Herrgott, give me Goering!”
“The trouble with the Jews,” said Hambledon to himself, “is not that they are sometimes vile. You find villains everywhere. Their speciality is arousing the worst passions in those who have to deal with ’em. Blast Weinecke!”
He took another turn across the room.
“There is also Schultz,” he said. “One of these days, Ginsberg my servant, I will deal with Schultz.”
A day or two later he spoke to Franz. “I think you once told me that you and your friends between you served most of the Nazi leaders in private service.”
“That is so, sir.”
“If it so happened that among your patrons were any of these men, it would be interesting to know where and when they are going to meet on May the fourth. Their names are Gagel, Dettmer, Kitzinger,
Tietz, Rautenbach, Militz, Baumgartner and Eigenmann.”
“On May the fourth,” said Franz. “On May the fourth—that’s next Thursday. Today’s Saturday. Not too much time.”
“I will do my best to ascertain, sir.” “Thank you. It will, I fear, be my painful duty to arrest eight members of your German Freedom League at that meeting.”
“Sir?” said the startled Franz.
“Yes. Their names are Gagel, Dettmer—and so on. I repeated them to you just now.”
“I should be very surprised, sir, to learn that any of these gentlemen are Freedom League members.”
“Not half so surprised as they will be, Franz, if all goes well.”
Franz stared at his master for a moment, and then broke into a low but distinct chuckle. “To serve you, sir, if I may take the liberty of saying so, is not merely a duty, but a pleasure.”
“I reciprocate your sentiments,” said Tommy solemnly. “ ‘You’re exceed-
ingly polite,’ ” he hummed, as the man left the room, “ ‘and I think it only right to return the compliment.’ Some day, please heaven, I’ll sit in the stalls at the Savoy again and see a Gilbert and Sullivan opera right through from the overture to ‘God Save the King.* ”
THERE was a small lecture hall attached to the Rektor Art School in Berlin, a room about thirty feet by twenty, with a stage at one end adorned by a back cloth representing the Rhine at Ehrenbreitstein, and double entrance doors at the other. There was also, of course, a door at each side of the stage giving on to dressing rooms behind, two bare rooms with looking glasses on the walls and pegs for hats and coats. One of these rooms communicated with the Art School, the other had a door which opened into a side street. This door was kept locked, but Tommy Hambledon had seen to it that the lock was well-oiled, and what is more, he had a key to it, for it was in this hall that the Land and Field Club held their monthly meetings.
“Land and Field Club,” said Tommy, when this was reported to him. “Lynx and Fox Club. Association of Stoats and Weasels. Thank you, Franz.” There was a full meeting on the night of May the fourth. Eigenmann as chairman and Rautenbach as treasurer sat at a table in front of the stage to conduct proceedings, while the other six grouped themselves in gracefully negligent attitudes on the chairs facing them. The entrance doors at the end of the hall were guarded outside, but not the side door giving to the dressing room, since that, of course, was locked. Eigenmann had tried it himself. The table was covered with papers, interesting and informative in themselves, and there were also eight fat little packets of notes which the company found even more interesting than the papers. Business was proceeding in an atmosphere of peace, comfort and security. “A good month, on the whole,” said Rautenbach, settling his eyeglass more securely in his right eye. “I will begin as usual with tho ports. Stettin, seventeen thousand five hundred marks. Lubeck, two thousand six-fifty. Kiel, seven thousand two-seventy-five. Hamburg, twenty-four
thousand three hundred. Bremen, only seven--”
Rautenbach saw Dettmer, facing him, suddenly sit up and stare past him toward the stage with a look of horrori
“—hundred and twenty,” finished Rautenbach, turning his head to see what the other was looking at. Dettmer had seen the left-hand door open quietly; Rautenbach saw a file of police come rapidly through it, jump off the stage and hurl themselves on t!;o asctmbled company, including himself. Eigenmann, having his back to the stage, was taken completely by surprise and promptly handcuffed, but the others put up a good fight and there ensued a very notable uproar. In tho struggle the table was upset and papers and money slid to the floor in a heap. The gigantic Tietz, flinging from him the two policemen who had attached themselves to his arms, made a dive at this and started tearing up papers with a muddle-headed
idea of destroying evidence. One of the police immediately hit him on the head with the leg of a chair, and Tietz passed into unconsciousness still clasping a double handful of lists and memoranda, snatched up haphazard from the ground.
When the fracas died down and the prisoners had been quelled and handcuffed, victors and victims, alike panting, saw the Chief of Police return to the stage. His dignity was a little marred by his collar, which stuck out at a right angle behind his left ear, but he surveyed the scene with a benignity which the Land and Field Club disliked intensely.
“Well, well,” he said. “Dear me, you have done it now, haven’t you? Sergeant, have those papers on the floor carefully collected and taken to the police station; they are important evidence. Let a bucket of water be poured over the large gentleman, it may revive him. I think the gentlemen’s coats are in the cloakroom we came through; they may resume them and then be handcuffed again. The gentlemen will be searched at the station, locked up for the night and charged tomorrow afternoon. I will go through the evidence in the morning. I suppose the smaller fry outside the door have also been netted? Good. I commend the police for their efficiency. I am now going home. Good night, gentlemen.”
Herr Goebbels was not himself present at the police-court proceedings the following afternoon, but he went nearly insane with anger when his representative gave an account of what had taken place.
“The Herr Polizei Oberhaupt himself gave evidence. He gave a detailed account of the way the Jewish money business is worked, and it appears he pounced at Aachen last night too. Every member of the organization there was hauled out of bed and arrested. Schultz evaded the police and came up here on a motorcycle, riding all night, to report it. But that is not the worst.”
“All the papers at the Rektor Art School Hall were of course impounded, and the eight men are charged, not with defrauding the State of the Jews’ money as you’d expect, but with being members of the German Freedom League.”
“The German Freedom League. Not ordinary members, either, but a sort of local executive committee. Important documentary evidence was found, not only on the table but also in the gentlemen’s pockets, and worse still, in the houses of some of them when they were searched. Eigenmann’s, Rautenbach’s and Baumgartner’s, to be exact.”
“The magistrate sentenced them to ten years in a concentration camp, each. I don’t know what’s happened to our people at Aachen.”
“Damn the people at Aachen,” said Goebbels hoarsely. “Go away and let me think this out—if I can,” he added, as the man went. “Freedom League! That devil Lehmann has worked this somehow. It can’t be true. It’s impossible. No, it’s not impossible, but I don’t believe it. Eigenmann would never—but he’s easily led. Rautenbach is capable of it, but he wouldn’t dare. On the other hand, where do the Freedom League get their funds from? Must be from something like this and somebody runs it, why not Rautenbach? No, it’s ridiculous. Lehmann has done this somehow, and the Leader will be so pleased. Who are those two
men--?” He rang the bell and his informant
“Who were those two men we put into Lehmann’s police? Send for them at once, I want to speak to them.”
“They may be on duty--”
“I said, send for them !”
They came, and found Goebbels white and shaking with fury.
“What do you know about these arrests last night?”
“We were there, sir. We were among the police selected for the duty.”
“Oh, were you? Good. Now, those Freedom League papers were planted. Tell me how it was done.”
Continued on page 35
Continued from page 20—Starts on page 18
“They couldn’t have been, sir. There was some among the papers on the table and some in the gentlemen’s pockets.”
“They were put there beforehand.”
“If you say so, sir. But why didn’t thegentlemen see them on the table?”
“They were brought in afterward.”
“Impossible, sir. I found some of them myself, almost before the fight was over.”
“They were--” Goebbels fought
for self-control and stopped. “You may go,” he said, and the men were glad to do so.
“It seems true,” he said. “But I don’t believe it. This is Lehmann’s work; pompous, sententious devil, always talking about virtue and morality, blast him. Rautenbach could do it—— If it’s the last thing I do in this life I’ll get Lehmann--”
“Quite easy,” said Tommy to Reck. “I distributed papers in their coats while my gallant police charged in, then I followed them into the fray, fell over the table, which upset; papers cascaded from under my overcoat and the helpful Tietz clasped them to his bosom. Always remember this, Reck, my pippin. When men are fighting, they aren’t looking.”
GOEBBELS’ eight friends arrived at the concentration camp; a group of pampered, arrogant men who hid their uneasiness behind a screen of defiance. The camp commandant looked them over and decided he did not like them, after which they ceased at once to be pampered, their arrogance vanished, and even their defiance wore thin.
In one part of the camp there was a row of cells with a warder’s room at the end which was sometimes used for interviewing prisoners. It was a bare, ugly room with a wide window i in front looking onto the parade ground ; at the back of the room was a row of horizontal ventilating windows well above eye level, set wide open on this sunny May morning. Outside the back wall of this room, below the ventilators, a wide garden bed ran the whole length of the row of cells, and here one of the prisoners, with a line, a dibber, and a can of water, was setting out young cabbages.
He heard talking inside the room
but took no interest at first in what was said. Nothing that anybody said could ever make him less of a Jew, and as that was the only offense he had committed there was no atonement possible. So he worked on placidly, till his attention was attracted by a voice raised higher than before.
“Of course they were planted, Herr Goebbels! The police brought them in.”
Goebbels. Talking to his prisoner friends, no doubt.
“Not the police,” said Goebbels’ incisive voice. “That swine Lehmann.”
There followed a confused murmur, presumably of assent, and presently Goebbels went on:
“I have been looking up his past. He joined the Party at Munich in the early days; he was a curator in the Deutsches Museum then. Before that again, in 1918, he worked in the Naval Establishment at Hamburg. It is known that he came there from a hospital at Ostende, so presumably he had been wounded, but what branch he served in or where he came from, I can’t find out. The hospital staff scattered and the books were lost or destroyed when we retreated at the end of the war, and he never talks about himself.”
“Sounds like a thoroughly worthy citizen,” said somebody, with a sneer.
“It does seem as though there’s nothing in his past to bring up against him — unlike most of us,” said Goebbels, with a sardonic laugh. “Besides, if there were it wouldn’t do any good, the Leader trusts him.”
“So you’ve just got to sit down under it,” said a deep voice, “while we rot in here.”
“I can’t attempt to get you out while he’s in office,” said Goebbels, “but I’m certainly not going to sit down under it, Tietz. I’m going to do something very definite quite soon; in July, to be exact. If I don’t, he’ll frame me next, and then where will you be?”
“Showing you round the camp, I expect,” someone said, and laughed.
“There is a very important commission going to Danzig in July,” said the voice of Goebbels, “they are going to—er—arrange and expedite future events. They are arriving unostentatiously, so they can’t have
the usual conspicuous guards, but as they are very important I think I can persuade the Fuehrer to send the Chief of Police with them in person1. While he is there he will be assassinated by the ill-mannered Danzigers.” “How will you persuade them that he’s the right man to assassinate?”
“I shan’t attempt it, of course. I shall send two men to do it, and the Danzigers can take the blame. The anti-Nazi Danzigers, that is. I’ll send Schultz for one, he’s done one or two little jobs for me before, and I’ll find someone to go with him.”
“Thought Schultz was at Aachen,” said another voice. “Wasn’t he roped in with the rest?”
“No, he wasn’t at home that night when they called for him and the rumor got round. He hopped on a motor cycle and left for Berlin, he’s there now.”
“Why wait till Lehmann goes to Danzig?” asked the deep voice. “Why not do it now and let us get out of this filthy hole?”
“Do you want a heresy-hunt started in Berlin, with everyone looking round to see whom Lehmann has annoyed recently?”
The interview ended.
It was nearly a week later that the camp had another distinguished visitor, the Herr Polizei Oberhaupt. He drove his own car, an Opel saloon, and went a little out of his way to drop the Fraulein Ludmilla Rademeyer at the small house where her friend, the Frau Beckensburg, was living in terrified obscurity.
“I am very unhappy about Christine, dear. She has aged so you would hardly know her, in fact she seems to be breaking up. I am really afraid if you can’t do something soon she won’t live much longer.”
“Tell her to be brave and hold on,” said Tommy. “Shall I call for you on my way back?”
“No, don’t bother, I’ll take a taxi. Had I better take the rug with me?” “No, why? It’ll be all right in the car—I’ll throw it in the back.”
“Well, don’t lose it, Klaus. 1 shall see you this evening, then.”
THE GUARDS at the gate of the camp stood to attention as the Chief of Police drove his car past them and up the drive. He pulled up outside the Commandant’s office and went in without delay; he had various matters to attend to besides the welfare of the Beckensburgs, with whom he wanted a short interview. He also wanted a much clearer idea than he had previously had about the way the camp was run; it would be quite impossible to make even the simplest plan for getting the Beckensburgs out until he knew exactly what he had to cope with. Induce the Commandant to talk, that’s the idea. Quite a decent fellow, by all accounts, considering his job . . .
Hambledon was so deep in thought that he saw, without noticing, a prisoner who was wandering about the drive with a sack over his shoulder, armed with a stick which had a long steel spike at the end, his job to collect any stray bits of paper which might be blowing about. The prisoner recognized the Chief of Police and his face lit up, but he made no move to attract Hambledon’s 1
attention and merely went on with his work while the Chief of Police disappeared within doors. After that the man with the spike worked gradually nearer to the car.
Presently a raucous bell clanged. Unhappy men ceased work and gathered in long sheds with trestle tables down the middle, for it was the hour of what passes for supper in a concentration camp.
The scavenger ceased work with the rest, cleared a few fragments of paper from his steel spike into the sack, and walked toward the car, he had to go that way, there was nothing suspicious about that. When he was close to the Opel he cast an anxious glance at the guards by the gate, but Providence prompted an enthusiastic young Air Force officer, passing overhead, to loop the loop at that moment, and the men were watching him. The prisoner dodged round the car, opened a rear door, and shot in, taking his sack and his unpleasantlooking weapon with him. He threw himself on the floor, and by putting o'ne foot against the doorpost, managed to shut the door properly without slamming it. After that, he covered himself and accoutrements completely with Frau Rademeyer’s rug, made himself as small and flat as possible, and waited with a beating heart for the car’s owner to return.
Unendurable ages dragged past before he heard footsteps and voices, the Chief of Police being seen off by the Camp Commandant in person. They stood on the doorstep while the Commandant talked about his pet system of checking prisoners several times a day. “There is one call-over almost due now,” he said, “at the end of supper; would you like to see it?”
“If he does,” thought the prisoner, “if he does I shall be missed, they will hunt, I shall be found here. God of mercy,” he prayed, “make him say no. Make him say no--”
“— staggered times for guard chánging,” continued the Commandant, “so that there is no moment of the day or night when all the guards at once are distracted from their duty.”
“Admirable,” said the Chief of Police, “quite admirable. The organization and management of this camp should be a model for every such camp in Germany. But no, my dear fellow, I mustn’t stay any longer, taking up more of your valuable time. Everything I have seen has been of absorbing interest.”
“But where is your driver?” asked the Commandant, laying his hand on the handle of the rear door.
•“I drive myself,” said the Chief of Police, “whenever possible. It fidgets me to sit in state in the back of a car with someone else driving.”
“All really good drivers feel that. Will you not have the rug over your
knees? These May evenings turn chilly.”
“No, thank you, your excellent Niersteiner—besides, it would be in the way.” Hambledon started the engine. “Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Kommandant, and thank you.” He moved the gear lever.
“A pleasure,” said the Commandant, standing at the salute, and at that moment the bell rang again. “That is for the call-over, will you not—no. Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Polizei Oberhaupt.”
Hambledon let in the clutch, turned the car and went slowly down the drive. He had to stop at the gate to let some traffic go by, and one of the guards came up to the car to say something civil to the distinguished visitor. The prisoner broke into a perspiration so violent that he could feel it running off his face, till at last the car moved off, turned into the road, changed into second—third— top. Hambledon leaned back in his seat and said aloud, “Thank heaven that’s over. Foul place.” But the prisoner did not hear him, for he had fainted.
AT LAST the car slowed down in a quiet street and stopped before the entrance to a block of flats. The driver switched off the engine, opened the door, kneeled upon the seat where he had been sitting, and snatched the rug off the prisoner with the words: “Hands up! I’ve got you covered!” The prisoner obeyed at once, for he could see an ugly but familiar object in Hambledon’s hand.
“Now ! Who are you, and what the devil are you doing in my car?” “Squadron Leader Lazarus, sir, and I’ve escaped from the camp.” “Lazarus,” said Hambledon thoughtfully. “Lazarus. I’ve heard--”
“Sir, I must speak to you privately; I’ve something desperately important to tell you. Do let me speak to you and then let me go. I’ll take my chance, I don’t want to be a bother to you.”
“Squadron Leader Lazarus,” repeated Hambledon, in the voice of a man trying to remember something. “Yes, better come up to my flat.” He opened the rear door of the car for the man to get out and walked up the stairs a little behind him, still unostentatiously keeping him covered with the automatic. “Ring the bell, will you?” When Franz came to the door, Hambledon slipped the automatic into his pocket, though he still kept his hand upon it.
“Franz, show this gentleman into the study, and bring in some— what’ll you drink? Whisky and soda?” “Don’t believe I’ve tasted it since ’18; I’d love some,” said Lazarus with a smile.
Hambledon’s face cleared, the reference to ’18 supplied the clue for which he had been searching, “Of course,” he said, “of course I remember now. You were at Darmstadt the day the Allied Commission came to destroy your machines. Goering was there; you had a little trouble with him, if I remember correctly.”
“Were you also a pilot?” said Lazarus, staring at him. “I am so sorry—I ought to remember you, no doubt--”
“No, no, I was—I merely happened
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to be there. I was not in the Air Force and had not the honor of being presented to you.”
The Squadron Leader smiled bitterly. “I think that was the last day upon which it was an honor to be presented to me,” he said. “Now I am only a Jew.”
“Is that the only reason why you were sent to that camp? Have a drink.”
The man nodded. “You can see it in the records. Not too much, please, I’m not used to it now, and I have something to tell you.”
“Sit down and drink that first,” said Hambledon. “You look all in. Had a rotten time, of course.”
“Not too bad,” said Lazarus. “I was lucky. The Commandant was one of my Flight Lieutenants, and he did make things as easy for me as he could. Never got anything really foul to do, gardening most of the time, gave me cigarettes sometimes, and the guards looked the other way if they caught me smoking behind the tool shed. Talk about catching me, how did you know I was in the car?” “Saw the lumpy rug,” explained Tommy. “Knew you must have stowed away at Hhe camp.”
Lazarus nodded. “Now, what I had to tell you? You know, of course, that eight of Goebbels’ men are in the camp?”
Tommy smiled. “I should know, I sent them there.”
“Yes? Well—” He repeated the conversation as accurately as he could, and Hambledon listened intently.
“Schultz,” he said, when Lazarus had finished. “Schultz. It’s rather a coincidence that he should be looking for me, because I am looking for him. Apparently I’m safe till we all arrive in Danzig—first I’ve heard of that, too. Thank you. I must do something about you first.”
“If I could get out of the country,” said Lazarus eagerly, “into Switzerland, say, but it doesn’t matter where, I’d be all right. I think I’d go to America and get a pilot’s job.
Fancy flying again--”
“Of course,” said Hambledon slowly. “You can still fly, can’t you? One doesn’t get hopelessly out of practice, does one?”
“No, at least, not for a long time, especially if you’ve done a lot, and I was a regular commercial pilot till they pounced on me two years ago. I’ve kept fit, too. I told you I was lucky; they never knocked me about, in the camp I mean.”
“Do you think you could fly a plane to Switzerland?”
“Yes, sir,” said Lazarus promptly. “I was on the Swiss route the last nine months I was flying.”
“Good. You’ll have to hide up while I make arrangements. You may have to fly two old ladies across the frontier—this way up, handle gently, fragile, do not bump, eggs with care, you understand?”
“They shall not know they’ve touched the ground,” said Lazarus with shining eyes, “till the bus stops.’ “In the meantime,” said Hambledon, “it’s the loft under the roof for you, I’m afraid, butwe’ll makeyouas comfortable as we can. There’s a wireless set up there already, but we’ll add a few more amenities. Come along and meet a friend of
mine who’ll look after you; his name is Reck.”
“So Goebbels is looking into my past and finding it inconveniently blameless,” said Hambledon to Reck, when Lazarus had been fed, stowed away, and provided with a few comforts. “I wonder how long it will be before it occurs to him to look up my fingerprints?”
THE BEDSIDE telephone rang furiously. Tommy Hambledon awakened with a start and reached out for the receiver, throwing at the same moment a reproachful glance at the clock which said, with an air of apology, that the time was 5.45 a.m. “Chief of Police,” grunted Hambledon into the telephone, and sank back on the pillow. “Did I what? Collect four prisoners yesterday from the concentration camp? No, why, have you lost some? Well, inform the Commandant. Oh, you are the Commandant. Good morning. It is always a pleasure to me, Herr Commandant, to have any dealings with you, but my office opens for official business at nine every morning, and in the meantime surely the local
police station--Oh, you have.
Well, you could hardly expect them to find the men in five minutes. No, I am not in the least annoyed, but I do try to keep regular hours, and
5.45 a.m. is--Yes, but why ring
me up? I can only tell the police to look for them, and I assume they are doing that already. You surely don’t expect me to leap out of bed and chase the men myself in my pyjamas. Sign the order? It is not necessary for me to sign any order for the pursuit of escaped prisoners; upon receipt of news that prisoners have escaped, the necessary action is taken at once. Did I sign an order yesterday? Yes, dozens. To remove four men from your camp? Certainly not.”
There came a bubbling noise from the earpiece of the instrument, and Hambledon rolled over on his pillow and sighed patiently in a manner which he hoped would be audible at the other end.
“Let me see if I have got this clear,” said Hambledon eventually. “A sergeant and six men in the uniform of my police came to the camp yesterday morning—at 10.30 a.m. precisely. Well, that’s in the morning, isn’t it? They produced an order, purporting to be signed by me and bearing my seal, for the removal of four prisoners, whom you duly handed over. The sergeant signed a receipt and marched off with the prisoners, and you haven’t seen them since. Well, I’m afraid you’ve been had, and I will certainly look into the matter with my accustomed energy when I arrive at the office, but I cannot believe that the Reich will totter on its foundations if I get another two hours’ sleep first. What’s all the hurry about? Herr Goebbels? Whatthedevil’s he got to do with it?” The crackles at the other end explained that Herr Goebbels had happened to be on the premises when the prisoners had been taken away, and had appeared interested. That the sergeant in charge had explained that the prisoners were only required for interrogation and would be returned that evening if possible. That when they were not so returned, the
Commandant had examined the order and thought there was something a little unusual about the Herr Polizei Oberhaupt’s signature, and finally, that Herr Goebbels had rung up in the small hours to ask if the prisoners--
“Will you please understand this,” said Hambledon in a tone of voice which silenced the other as by violence, “unworthy as I am, I hold my office direct from our Leader, and am not subjected to question, command, or comment from the Ministry of Propaganda or any other Ministry whatever within the Reich or outside it!”
He paused, but as the other end of the wire maintained a tactful silence, he slammed down the receiver and lay back on his pillows sizzling with anger. It was perfectly plain that what had happened was that Goebbels had faked the order and thesergeant’s guard of police; they had taken away four prisoners who would never, of course, be seen again, and Hambledon would be accused of having connived at their escape. Quite good, with only two mistakes. One, being so eager to see that everything went well that he had to be there in person at 10.30 a.m., and the other, forging the Chief of Police’s signature so clumsily that even the Commandant noticed it. No, that might not be a mistake. If Klaus Lehmann denied the signature, saying that anyone could see it wasn’t his, Goebbels would say that, of course, he wrote it like that on purpose, in order to be able to deny it. A typical Goebbels touch.
There remained the seal of his office, and there were two facsimiles of this. One was kept securely in safe-deposit by the Government in case Lehmann’s should be destroyed or irretrievably lost, the other was held by the Fuehrer, who had duplicates of all seals of office. There was, however, one minor difference between them, and it was just possible, though unlikely, that Goebbels did not know this. The seal actually in use by each Government office was quite perfect. The copies held by the Fuehrer had each one tiny dot in the angle of the left-hand arm of the swastika, and the copies in safedeposit had two dots in the same place. One glance at the wax impression on the order would tell him which one Goebbels had used, probably the Fuehrer’s, borrowed without permission. If so, the engineer would be hoist with his own petard indeed. Hambledon’s own seal never left him; even at night it was in his bedroom, so Goebbels could not possibly have got at that, and the one in official keeping was quite out of the question.
Hambledon, with a seraphic smile on his lips, fell asleep and did not wake till Franz called him at seven-thirty.
HAMBLEDON breakfasted in haste, telephoned the office to say he would be there later, and drove himself to the concentration camp. To his annoyance, his car was stopped at the gates instead of being passed through at sight.
“What is all this?”
“New regulations, sir. Too many escapes lately; all cars to be searched.”
“Excellent. Though I never heard
of anyone trying to smuggle themselves into a concentration camp."
“No, sir," said the corporal stolidly. “But we was told to look for tools and suchlike."
Hambledon said no more, but sat fuming while the men looked under cushions and carpets. When he was allowed to proceed to the Commandant’s door, he found another man on duty there who quite openly took charge of his car till he should need it again. Hambledon remembered the escape of Lazarus three weeks earlier. Surely no rumorof that had got back. Lazarus, with the two old ladies, Ludmilla and Christine, had been safe in Switzerland these ten days, but he would not have talked. No, this was just another of the Commandant’s systems.
The Chief of Police was shown into the office, where a wild-eyed Commandant greeted him in very much the manner of a dog who has torn up a sofa cushion while master was out.
“I cannot describe to you,” babbled the Commandant, “how distressed I was to have had to—at such an hour—I did not know what—
“I know, I know. It was the doubt about my signature which rightly impelled you to communicate with me at once.”
“And the prisoners, Herr Polizei Oberhaupt."
“And the prisoners, of course. Yours is a great responsibility, Herr Commandant. Now, if I might see this forged order, some idea might—” “Certainly, certainly," said the Commandant, snatching up a bunch of keys and attacking a safe with
them, “but those two prisoners--”
“Two? I thought you said four.” “There were four. I was thinking of the two whom you interviewed three weeks ago. I understood you to say you might wish to see them again.”
Hambledon turned perfectly cold. The Commandant, getting no answer to his remark, explained more fully, “The Beckensburgs, you remember. Ludovic Beckensburg, the father, retired architect, and his son,
His voice continued for some time, but Hambledon did not heed it Goebbels must have found out that the Beckensburgs had been friends of his, so he had taken them, partly, no doubt, to make the accusation seem more credible, but mainly to annoy; the rat-faced, crafty, sneering devil. Well, this time he’d overstepped the mark; Germany was no longer big enough to hold Goebbels and himself.
Goebbels--Hambledon awoke to
the fact that he was being offered a paper. He shook himself together and took it.
“This is an unmistakable forgery," he said mechanically, and went on staring at the paper while his mind was screaming questions. Where were they now? Alive or dead, or being tortured to make them talk about Klaus Lehmann?
“I fear Your Excellency is really not well," said the Commandant, who was watching his face. “A little
“Thank you, no,” said Hambledon, hastily. “A touch of indigestion; it will pass.” He thrust the Beckens-
burgs to the back of his mind. The seal, there was something to notice about the seal. Oh, yes, of course, a dot in the corner.
“This wax impression is very rough,” he said, and carried the paper to the window. It was rough, but there was definitely no dot where one should be, so it was not stamped with the Fuehrer’s seal, but with his own, or with an exact copy.
“The seal is a forgery, too,” said Hambledon, and took his own from his pocket. “Look, Herr Commandant, it does not fit.”
He laid the seal gently upon the wax impression, but it did not bed down as it should have done. “You see? Another forgery.”
“But how could such a thing--”
“Quite simple, provided you have a good wax impression. You take a mold from the impression, warm modeller’s wax, or a softened candle will do. You take a cast from that in plaster of Paris, and cast it again in lead. Quite simple, but it won’t, of course, be so smooth and full of detail as the original."
“The criminal was too clever,” said the Commandant happily. “His misguided ingenuity has resulted in entirely clearing Your Excellency of any complicity in the matter.”
“Who suggested I was an accomplice?” asked Hambledon coldly, and took his leave without waiting for an answer from the abashed Commandant.
“Thiá is the same idea as the clumsily forged signature,” he thought as he waited for the car to be searched again at the gate. “Goebbels will say I forged it myself in order to be able to disavow it.”
HE PASSED a gloomy day at the office wondering how he was to tell poor old Frau Christine of the disaster. The only satisfaction he obtained was in arranging for Frau Magda Beckensburg and the children to be sent out of the country at once. “They shall have something saved out of the wreck,” he said, and sent two men he could trust to arrest the little party and put them over the Swiss frontier as quickly as possible. He was pleasantly surprised when this went off without a hitch, and still more astonished when several days passed without any accusation being brought against him. No police investigation into the matter produced any result at all. He did not suppose it would, nor were any of the prisoner’s recaptured.
Hambledon remained depressed by the whole affair, even when it began to seem possible that it held no evil consequences for him. He felt he had failed in his promise to look after the two men, and the idea that Goebbels had outwitted him was intensely irritating. The flat, too, was a dull place without Ludmilla there, and a letter from her including the phrase, “Dear Klaus, how kind and resourceful you are,” doubtless referred to the safe arrival of Magda, complete with babies. No doubt Franz noticed his master’s low spirits, and one night, when the servant brought in the evening whisky and soda, he hung about the room and coughed as he did when there was something he wanted to say.
“What is it, Franz?”
“I beg your pardon, sir. I thought you might be interested to hear that the four prisoners who escaped from the concentration camp are safe with their friends in Switzerland.” “What?”
“Arrangements had been made, sir, to get the Herren von Maeder and Behrmann out, and it was as simple to get four out as two. The gracious Fraulein, sir, was grieving over the Herren Beckensburg. I could not bear, if I may say so, sir, to see so kind a lady unhappy.”
Hambledon’s glass slipped from his hand and rolled unheeded on the carpet.
“I seem to have surprised you, sir,” said Franz, picking it up and wiping it carefully.
“Surp--Do you mean to tell me
that you forged that order and faked up that sergeant’s guard?”
“My organization, sir."
“Do you realize that I thought Herr Goebbels had done it to incriminate me, and that I’ve been expecting arrest any moment for the past fortnight?"
“I am extremely sorry, sir. Such an idea never occurred to me. 1 thought that since your seal was used you would conclude I had done it, but you would not, of course, enquire."
“Well, I’m damned!”
“I trust not, sir.”
“How did you get hold of my seal?” “Your Excellency,” said Franz with a faint smile, “has the inestimable blessing of being able to sleep soundly.”
“I’ll sleep with it round my neck in future. But, look here, it didn’t fit.”
“I soaped it, sir, to prevent its sticking, but the soap made the wax bubble in a most unexpected manner. Very disconcerting, sir. But when I realized how like a forgery it looked, I left it, thinking it would be easier for you to disown it if occasion should arise.”
Hambledon sat still in a reverie so profound that the servant prepared to leave the room, but at the sound of the door his master aroused himself. “One moment, Franz."
“Get another glass out of the cupboard, will you? I should like you to drink with me.”
“It will be an honor, sir."
“It will—but I am not sure to which of us,” said Tommy Hambledon.
GOEBBELS had been perfectly right when he told his friends of a Commission which was going to Danzig. Ostensibly they were to discuss conditions of trade with leading Germans in the Free City, actually they went to arrange with the Herren Foerster and Greiser for the complete Germanizing of Danzig, and the stamping out, by fair means or foul, of any opposition to the Nazi regime either from Polish sympathizers or from those who wished to see the once Free City remain free. It would be necessary for a coup d'état to have a large number of German troops in the City, yet it would be unwise merely to march them in. Danzig, and espe-
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Continued from page 40—Starts on page 18
daily its seaside resort, Zoppot, cater for tourists. Very well, let there be tourists, thousands of them, some in uniform and some not, but all S.S. men ready for action, for who holds the gate against the carefree tourist? Very clever, and it worked admirably.
This, however, is anticipation, for when Klaus Lehmann was told to protect the Commission against the enemies of the Reich, Danzig had not yet capitulated and there was sometimes trouble in the narrow, ancient streets, for this was only July, 1938.
The day before the Commission started for Danzig, Tommy Hambledon went to the Record House to obtain, if possible, photographs and an official description of the man Schultz for the information of his guards. Hambledon’s personal party consisted of Reck, acting secretary, and two reliable men selected by himself from the police under his command, besides a number of plainclothes detectives whose business it was to look after the Commission. Schultz seemed to have gone to ground since he came to Berlin from Aachen, but information had trickled through to the police that he was going to Danzig at the same time as the Commission, together with one Petzer.
Hambledon was lucky; there were official records of both men. Petzer did not seem a particularly interesting person apart from his tendency to fight with a hock bottle—preferably full—as a weapon, but it was noted that he was a native of Danzig. Evidently he had been selected for his local knowledge; probably Schultz had never been there before. Hambledon took down particulars of the appearance and habits of the two men and waited, chatting with Herr Gerhardt, while copies of their photographs were found for him.
“You must have had a terrible task,” said the Chief of Police sympathetically, “reducing chaos to order after the disastrous fire four months ago.”
“I cannot describe to you how dreadful it was. It may sound a curious thing to say, but the task would have been easier if the destruction had been more complete. No one who watched that awful blaze would have thought that anything in the building would survive, and yet, strange to relate, there was really a vast mass of material comparatively undamaged.”
“That is odd,” agreed Hambledon, “yet we must all have discovered at some time how difficult it is to burn a book.”
“Exactly, exactly. When the floors gave way they seem to have crushed out the fire beneath them, and the immense number of valuable records were only charred at the edges. Only yesterday Herr Goebbels was good enough to congratulate me upon the amount we have saved.” He spoke rather acidly, and Hambledon gathered correctly that Herr Gerhardt did not like the sharp-tongued Minister of Propaganda; probably he had been snubbed.
“So Goebbels was here yesterday, was he?” said Hambledon in a care-
less tone. “I imagine there can be hardly one of the Government Departments which does not have to apply to you for help at some time or another.”
“That is so, and it is our pride as well as our duty to produce whatever information may be required accurately, fully, and instantly. There was an odd coincidence about Herr Goebbels’ enquiries which might interest you.”
“Indeed! What was that?”
“Your Excellency will remember that a short time before our fire you yourself sent us some fingerprints for identification if possible. One set were on a glass, I think. We identified one set as those of a certain Hendrik Brandt, a Dutchman, who during the last war had an importer’s business in Cologne. Herr Goebbels came yesterday with a set of prints which also proved to be those of Hendrik Brandt.”
Hambledon had naturally seen the course which Gerhardt’s story was taking, and was not even mildly surprised. “The coincidence is probably more apparent than real,” he said. “It is quite possible for the same man to attract the attention of several Departments at once—it all depends what he’s been up to,” he added lightly.
“Of course, of course. We had to have—it was very insubordinate of us, of course, but we experts must have our private jokes—we had to have a little laugh at Herr Goebbels. When he was told to whom his prints belonged, he stared and said he didn’t believe it; and when further we assured him that there was no possible doubt about it, he actually queried the reliability of the whole fingerprint system. He seemed to think we were making a fool of him; he was quite angry. We really had to have a quiet laugh about it—after he had gone, of course.”
“I think it was extremely funny and I don’t wonder you laughed,” said Hambledon truthfully, for indeed the idea of Goebbels getting hold of that damning piece of evidence and refusing to believe it was almost farcical. “Ah, here are my photographs, I think.”
He exchanged with Gerhardt the stately courtesies in which the German’s soul delighted, walked thoughtfully home and went along the passage to Reek’s room.
“When we leave tomorrow, old horse,” said Hambledon, “we’ll kiss Berlin a final good-by. Goebbels has had my fingerprints identified.”
“The devil he has!”
“Yes, and the funny thing about it is that he didn’t believe it. Me, the Chief of Police, a suspected agent of a foreign power ! Why, he’s known me for years. It does sound a bit tall, doesn’t it?”
“He’ll believe it when he comes to think it over,” said Reck with conviction.
“Doesn’t matter much now, he’s made arrangements with Schultz,” said Hambledon, “and an automatic in the hand is worth a dozen fingerprints in the Record House any day.” To Be Concluded