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A Week in November: A Novel Based Within The Historical Reality

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  • A Week in November: A Novel Based Within The Historical Reality

    They'd finally stopped coming.

    The trench was littered with the detritus of war. Spent brass, links, and bits and pieces of the runner who had dragged the last case of belted ammunition forward. His erstwhile loader lay in a crumpled heap, a meter from where he stood.

    Fortuitous that; the HIWI had caught the better part of the mortar round with Eugen's name written all over it; unfortunately young Gurke had caught a bit of it as well.

    He wiped the grimy sweat away from his brow with the back of his right hand, only now noticing the water blisters forming from his imprudent (but necessary) barrel change, made with only his tunic sleeves as protection. As it had happened, there had been no time to grab the protective gloves from Gurke's dead hands.

    The night air was rent with familiar sounds. The crackling of the barrel as it cooled; the moans and muted gurgling of the fallen, who lay in the unseen abyss which lay to the east of his position. An illumination flare burst and he took the opportunity to glance at his wristwatch. Midnight.

    He scanned the area to the front of his position.

    Nothing threatening moved.

    Oberscharfuhrer Eugen Ederle had made it to his 20th year.


    Offenburg, Germany; 18 November, 1922

    Monika had felt pain before.

    She was no shrinking flower.

    There was the time when she'd almost lost her right hand in the thresher, but they'd put it back together and the shock of the situation had numbed the experience somewhat.
    This was different.

    Oh how they'd rejoiced...TWINS! To be so blessed.
    Somehow the blessing had paled.

    She tried (as best as she may) to focus on the soothing words, issuing from the mouth of the midwife like so much syrup.

    The pain radiated from her midriff in concentric circles, tightening in intensity as the inevitable drew to fruition.

    Gerhardt was the the advent of a boy, they would first honor Peter's father, this had been decided.

    And then came Eugen.

    And then came sleep.


    In the airspace above Nuremburg Germany; 23 June 1941.

    "You're fighting it Gery".

    "Feel the subtlties..."

    Easy for you to say, he thought to himself.

    Flying came naturally to some; for Gerhardt it was like most other things he'd done as to yet...another challenge to be mastered.

    It wasn't his first choice of occupations, but there was a war on...and he would also do his part.

    He glanced off to the left at the Parteistagplatz, then eased the Bu 131 into yet another rate one turn, intently focusing on the turn and bank indicator at the center of the instrument panel. The damned ball wobbled left, then right, then back to the left again. He fed in the rudder and centered the ball but now his bank angle was slipping and the nose of the machine was dropping.

    He fed in a little throttle and eased the rudder and stick to counteract the torque as he did so. The Jungmann obeyed and his instructor pilot said nothing.

    He was getting it.

    He'd known that he would.
    48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
    __________________________________________________ __________________

  • #2
    You got my attention.


    • #3
      A revelation...?

      Offenburg, Germany; Saturday 12 May, 1928

      Rap! rap! rap!

      Persistent devil, that one...

      Monika stood before the coalfired stove in their modest kitchen, up to her armpits in the preparation of of the evening meal. Most German families ate light in the evening but it was not so with Peter; nor had it ever been so.
      "Eugen! See who's at the door"

      Rap! Rap! Rap!

      Eugen was "up to his armpits" as well...engrossed in one of the massively popular tales of the "Wild West" which were in great favor amongst the pre-pubescent "literatti" at the time. Although much of the text was beyond his comprehension, the novel was lavishly illustrated with lurid photos; these served to fill in most of the blanks rather nicely.

      Eugen!!! Door!.

      It was obvious that this was no longer a request, more a demand.

      He carefully laid the pulp novel on the well worn surface of the side table in the sitting room and shambled to his feet. "Ja Mutti, Ich Gehe"

      Just to further punctuate his intransegence, the caller knocked yet again.

      He swung the door wide on its hinges, fully expecting yet another transient beggar or salesman. From the kitchen his mother added "tell him that we've already got one, or we don't need one, or we have nothing to spare".
      It wasn't a beggar; nor a salesman. It was a WALL of a man.
      Actually it was a wall composed of three men, but the one in front qualified as a wall, all on his own merit. Eugen stood, transfixed by the image of the man. He had seen these folks at a distance but this was the first time he'd been up close and personal with such a man. Although worn, the brown riding boots were polished to a high was obvious that the man had invested a significant amount of effort in this regard. His breeches were ballooned above the boots but this did not obviate the stiff crease that defined the line running from the dead front of his boots to the height of his midsection. At his waist he wore a smart brown belt, also highly polished, yet devoid of any ornate buckle design.

      A simple (though highly polished) brass one seemed to be fit for the purpose.

      It went in a rush (relatively speaking) as he raised his eyes to meet with the caller's. Notably, the red armband stood out like a bloody stain against the tan blouse.
      The man's eyes were soft, yet focused in a manner that Eugen recognised immediately.


      Just like Vatti's.

      In his left hand, the caller held a sheaf of handbills, yet try as he might, Eugen could not see what was printed on them; the Man was too massive. The caller spoke: "Good evening son. Might your father or mother be in?"

      The presence was overwhelming...this man was all that one could ever aspire to in life. An imeasurable amalgam: confidence, dress, and decorum combined as one. And this left the boy with an indelible impression,.

      Power...pure unmitigated power.


      He smiled at the caller and it was returned in kind.

      He heard his mother coming from the kitchen and began to withdraw from the doorway...his eyes were now firmly transfixed upon the red armband and the strong angular symbol emblazoned upon the white circular field.

      His mother passed him by and the view was blocked momentarily.

      Eugen sidled to the left and the man spoke again:
      "Good evening madam. As you may be aware, there is yet another election pending in our nation and we would like to bring to your attention the candidate who will bring a resurrection for the rights and dignity of German workers of all stripes and means..."

      The caller proffered forth one of the as yet unseen handbills. Eugen craned for a glimpse. His mother took a glance at the crudely reproduced photo, emblazoned with the word HITLER, in a large Gothic font.

      " should really talk to my husband Peter, he makes all such decisions in our household. He'll return from the fields shortly after sundown".

      The caller drew to a formal presence which belied his (obviously) humble roots and said: "It would suffice if you would be so kind as to pass on the handbill to him later this evening. Please advise him that we are always available to answer any questions he may have, the contact information is on the handbill".

      Monika took another look at the man in the photo.

      The mustache was deliberate; the man's eyes burned into hers from the page, despite the poor lithography.

      "I'll see that he gets it, good evening to you sir".
      48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
      __________________________________________________ __________________


      • #4
        "One of these things is not like the other..."

        "One of these thimgs just doesn't belong..."

        Offenburg, Germany; Sunday, 13 May, 1928.

        Gery was beat.

        Beat like he'd never been beat before.

        Today was his day "off" though; Vatti had already dragged his brother out of bed an hour and a half ago. The smells wafted up the stairs from below, drawing him to wakefulness, despite himself. He rose to his feet at the bedside and ran his hand through his closely cropped blonde hair, stifling yet another yawn, just to spite himself.

        It wasn't really "his" day though, not in it's entirety at least.

        He removed his nightshirt, shiverring slightly as the warm insulating layer was replaced by the crispness of the new day. At the foot of his bed stood the washbasin and the chamberpot, just as they always were. He took the bar of coarse soap from the indented tray on the basin and rubbed it into the dampened washcloth which was also a fixture in his routine.

        He scrubbed, then dried his face; and the cobwebs of somnambulance faded away, replaced by the energy of his youth.

        As he alit at the foot of the stairs, his mother came into the house, obviously still in conversation with Frau Lehner next door.

        "Gery's up Helena, time to serve "the master" his breakfast".

        It was a bit of a running joke between the two of them. Gery's intellectual accumen had earned him the title, still it was as to yet unclear in his young mind that he was substantially "different" from any of his peers.

        He sat at the table and picked up the handbill flyer which had captured his father's interest throughout the best part of last evenings meal.

        The image was crudely reproduced.

        He read through the copy. To his mind, the tone of the message seemed purposely strident; no actually, overbearing. There were a couple of words that were beyond him but his mother provided clarity, as she dished up his morning meal.


        As he set it aside, his mother set his breakfast before him...
        48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
        __________________________________________________ __________________


        • #5
          "The Process"; Onward and upward...?

          Offenburg, Germany, 18 November, 1940

          Eugen fairly burst through the door, only slowing briefly to deposit his RAD cap on the hat rack peg as he made a beeline for the kitchen table.

          With characteristic German efficiency, the letter he had been waiting for (for what had seemed a lifetime) was of course sitting there on the kitchen table along with the rest of the days mail. Quite obviously, mother had placed it atop the pile, so as to spare him the bother of rifling through the various items for the one with his name on the front.

          This was the culmination of a "process" that had been ongoing for what seemed like his entire life. It was the beginning of yet another "process"; one which would test his mettle like no other.

          By this point, the letter he held in his trembling hands was little more than a formality...he'd been cultivated and mentored to these ends for years now; his acceptance had been a foregone conclusion for at least three years.

          Still, the formalities were a critical part of "the process"; this realization was a large part of the reason that he trembled so as he tore the end from the envelope and pulled the single folded leaf of paper from within.

          There it was.

          A simple letter telling him to present himself at SS Sub District X (Sudwest) in Stuttgart at 8 am, on 25 November; from whence he would be assigned to an SS-Infantrie Schule at the discretion of the commanding authority.

          Confirmation...he was indeed, made of "the right stuff".

          He made his way to the back door and flung it open with the letter triumphantly held high in his left hand: "Mutti! It came! They've accepted me!"

          Monika had been working on a reaction to this day for many years now. When the letter had arrived in the days mail, "the process" had galvanized itself into crystal clarity.

          Despite this realization, she had struggled with her emotions for the remainder of the day. There was the pride of having her "black sheep" succeed at the one thing that he had shown a true talent and aspiration for, but this was (of course) equally counterbalanced by the motherly concern for his well being.

          What came out was the best that she could muster from all of these influences: "Congratulations son..."

          Her efforts to control her raging emotional conflict had a decided effect on the muted intonation she used when she spoke these two words...

          But she didn't cry...and that had been her biggest concern.
          48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
          __________________________________________________ __________________


          • #6
            No rest for the weary...

            Pitomnik, November 18/19, 1942

            Gery was beat.

            Right on schedule...the klaxon began to wail.

            "Happy birthday to me...", he thought to himself.

            He'd adjusted his "bed clothes" a month ago when the overnight temperature had started dropping. He now slept fully was easier this way. Grabbing his "borrowed" tin pot off the foot locker, he headed for the slit trench as the drone of their nightly "visitors" became audible.

            Gery had been with I/JG3 for almost a full year now; he'd survived the difficult "learning curve" which had claimed a good number of his Kammeraden along the way.

            Today he'd flown on three "freijagd" operations and for his troubles, had bagged yet another Il-2, this one just north of the Don. For all that they managed to achieve, it seemed that there were always more of the damnable things filling in the blanks.

            The blaring of the poorly tuned radials had grown to a crescendo by this point. He boxed his ears with his hands and opened his mouth (to protect his eardrums) in case one of them actually managed to hit their "target" tonight.

            The rapid concussions hit him like a succession of sledgehammer blows.

            ("Way too close for comfort tonight ladies...")

            As the drone of the "Night Witches" faded into the distance, the "shovel brigade" appeared; moving toward their nights work under the direction of a German overseer.

            "Got to hand it to them though..." he thought to himself, as he headed back to his bunk.

            Despite the derisory jokes they tossed around about the "night bitches", this constant disruption told heavily on men like Gerhardt.

            Men who were already living on pure adrenaline from one day to the next.

            He doffed the "pot" and set it back on the footlocker...and prayed that there would be no "encore" tonight...

            And of course, there was...three hours later.
            48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
            __________________________________________________ __________________


            • #7
              you're using " " way too much.
              Wisdom is personal


              • #8
                Skool Daze...

                Originally posted by Karri View Post
                you're using " " way too much.
                Don't worry...the editor will take care of such trivial minutae

                Heidelburg, Germany, November 9, 1938

                Gery looked down upon the open courtyard and watched the flames dance.

                They were at it again...f*cking Nazis.

                "I wonder what's got them out of the Bierstube tonight?...something's going on"...

                He was up to his usual pursuit; buried in his books so as to walk through the mid-term exams. These began at the head of the coming week. Studying had never been a chore for Gerhardt; he'd figured it out all on his own, many years ago. Attend the lectures, (which were now, surprisingly, treated as optional by some of his peers) write crib notes throughtout, then spend the evening converting these notes into a legible longhand recreation of the actual lecture.

                And that was all it took for him...imprinted, understood, memorized...


                The distraction of the idiots dancing around the fire was a decidedly unwelcome addition to his process.

                He drew the curtains and re-established his focus on the task at hand.


                An insistent knock at the door of his would be one of two people.

                Being all of 15 (although almost 16) years old, Gery was an anomally on campus; he was no social butterfly.

                He gained his feet in a fluid turning motion and reached the door in four measured strides. As expected, his caller was his only close friend, Wolfgang Schuck. The other person who called regularly was (likely as not) one of those lurching drunkenly around the bonfire below his window.

                "Have you heard Gery?"

                Wolf was in high dander...something was up.

                He ushered Wolfgang through the door, closed and bolted it, and focused upon his friend's inquiry.

                "Heard of what, Wolf?"

                "The Nazi's Gery...They've gone totally off their rockers. They're running rampant in the streets, smashing Jewish shop windows and burning synagogues to the ground".

                "Then what the hell are the idiots in the courtyard up to? A sympathetic book burning?"

                "Yeah that's it...pretty much. What kind of world are we living in Gery?"

                Gerhardt considered Wolfgang's question as rhetorical...

                ...he didn't bother answering.

                In his minds eye, he wondered what his brother Eugen might be getting up to on such a night.
                Come to think of it...better to let sleeping dogs lie in that regard.

                "Ignorant Nazi bastards"...

                "Inside voice Gery, inside voice."
                48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
                __________________________________________________ __________________


                • #9

                  Offenburg, Germany; June 15, 1934

                  He held the leather above the flame of the candle and moved it back and forth in a deliberate linear motion, just as Vatti had shown him. The rag lay on the kitchen table, resting on the broadsheet which served to keep the polish from getting all over everything. Beside it sat the bowl of water which he used to moisten the cloth.

                  Unbeknownst to Eugen, his father stood behind him in the kitchen doorway, watching a boy taking a few more steps toward becoming a man.

                  Peter had served with distinction in the Great War, twice wounded, yet still fighting when the end finally came. After the war he had returned to the family holdings (which he now farmed), but readjusting to "normal" life was to prove a tough nut to crack. Germany was in utter chaos at that time and it was an easy decision to make when some of his fellow "Kammeraden" had urged him to join them in the ranks of the "Freikorps". With time, his fervor faded (along with the nightmares) and he had returned home in the summer of 1920, now a dramatically different man.

                  As the only son, it had been Peter's right to succession (as was with regards to the family holdings) and he had bent himself to the task of getting on with the rest of his life.

                  He watched his son work the polish into the toe cap of the (absurdly small) boot, this stuffed onto the left hand. Despite a vague sense of misgiving about certain aspects of their organization, you had to hand it to the NSDAP. His irresponsible and recalcitrant son had been turned around 180 degrees; this through the infusion of a kind of pride that could only be fostered under a select set of circumstances. This newfound maturity was also paying large dividends on the farm. Peter was finding that with the proper motivations, Eugen would work himself to sheer exhaustion yet still want to show his father more.

                  This weekend would be the boy's first time away for an overnight; his Hitlerjungund group were heading into the nearby hills for a two day "field exercise" and the boy was beside himself with excitement.

                  Peter slowly withdrew from the doorway, so as not to disturb the lad's concentration; he made no effort to stifle the smile which was breaking across his weathered face.
                  48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
                  __________________________________________________ __________________


                  • #10
                    On with the Action...

                    Grigoripolnsskaia USSR, 6 August, 1942

                    He huddled in his hole and gritted his teeth as the barrage started landing. Ivan had an OP out there somewhere, this much was obvious.

                    Two patrols had already been sent forward in search of the source of their misery. The first of these was now more than two hours overdue; the second had been obliterated (by a concentrated and well directed barrage of 120mm mortar rounds) within 200 meters of the positions his platoon currently occupied.

                    They had forced a crossing of the Kuban two days earlier and had managed to bring some artillery across in the face of determined opposition, but enlarging the bridgehead was proving impossible under the constant barrage. Expose yourself, and you died.

                    The barrage ended.

                    He raised his Zeiss binoculars to his eyes and eased above the edge of his hole, scanning the ruins of the village which lay to the east.

                    He knew the call would be coming so it was no big surprise when the Batallion runner slid into his hole. "Orders from above Unterscharfuhrer. Guess what? It's your turn to give it a go..."

                    Eugen had been planning for the mission for better than an hour and had already picked the half dozen men he would take with him.

                    He barked the orders at the top of his lungs to the men in positions adjacent to him; calling them by name and assigning each pair of men a rally point some 100 meters forward. Two shell craters and a crumbled wall of dry stacked stone would serve as the first stop on their trip to Valhalla.

                    Surprisingly, they all made it to their rally points and hunkered down as a dozen 120mm shells crashed down, hurtling shrapnel and clods of earth in all directions.

                    He was at the center of the line of advance he'd been scouting all this time and had picked the best two of those he'd chosen for the mission as his supporting element.

                    Again he barked orders to the flanking pairs of men, 20 or 30 meters to either side of his location. He spoke directly to the two he hunkered behind the rock wall with.

                    "OK guys...this is how it's going to happen. I'm going to take a shot at reaching that farmhouse on the left. If I don't make it, then this is now your patrol Hendrick. From what I've been seeing, the bastards have to be somewhere well above street level. My best guess is that church in the center of the village and that's where we're trying to get to."

                    Rottenfuhrer Hendrick Knebel had already been through a year of hell with Eugen; he quickly agreed with the tactical assessment and offered up a sardonic smile.

                    "Godspeed, my friend"

                    He shouted the order and counted six "mississippi's"; as one, they broke cover and on the left, one on the right and himself up the middle.

                    The whine of the rounds came a split second before their impact and he threw himself forward toward the crater by gut instinct. Hot fragments flew above his head and the concussion rocked his body as the shock wave blew past him like a freight train. This was the moment now...he immediately regained his feet and ran in a beeline for his objective, betting his life against the chance that another salvo was already on the way.

                    He'd won the bet, yet again.


                    Jochen Schmidt had made it as well. Hans Fassbinder on the right side had gained a position still some 20 meters away but under cover as the next salvo dropped around them. He looked to the rear and watched as the remaining four men began their "dance with death", then barked to Fassbinder "Stone wall, by the gate opening...form on me, let's go!!!" This dispersion of effort seemed to be working...the Ivan's now had too many moving targets and not enough time or tubes to bring anything to bear. He slid behind the wall like a baseball player coming home on a long shot triple all the way from first. Jochen and Hans were now both within ready earshot and he laid out the remainder of the plan for them. Knebel would be doing the same for the second element at this very moment. Fifteen seconds...time to move, the sh*t would be coming down again. As one, they broke cover, Jochen to the left through the gate opening, Eugen straight over the wall and Hans moving right twenty meters along the wall to a stone pillar. This afforded a position where he could provide fire support against any (as yet unseen) infantry elements within the village proper. Right on schedule, the next salvo dropped onto the position they had only just vacated; to his left the supporting element of four men now took up a position within the village proper.

                    "Piece of cake"...they had it made. Observation on Ivan's part would now be rendered largely inconsequential as they had gained the built up area. Two men forward and one man back on two separate axes of advance..."got you now you bastard". Hans flew by them on the run and skidded into a doorway 30 meters up the dirt track that passed as a "main street" in this part of the world.

                    To his left he watched as an element of two made a broken run forward up their own line of advance.

                    The next barrage crashed in, equally disbursed between his party and Knebel's...most of these shells burst ineffectually on the rooftops of the structures although one made it down to street level and they paused briefly while the fragments tore holes in the air above their heads.

                    His target (the "church") lay 300 meters ahead, straight up "main street". They'd broken cover as soon as the mortar fragments had passed them and ran, hell bent for leather up the gut of the road while Hans watched from his doorway.

                    He felt the pressure disturbance...then he heard the report. Rifle shot...somewhere to the right. But where?

                    It wasn't a conscious thought...he now reacted without thinking. Cover.

                    At the top of his lungs: "Hans!!! To the right! Some f*cking hero of the Soviet Union with a rifle...go after him and we'll bait the trap". He looked at Jochen: "You first?" Then he ran...

                    "ZHOOP!" The bullet tore through the air; Jochen went by him at a full run two seconds later, diving for cover as the next salvo of mortar fire came in. Then from the right...Hans killed the c*cksucker with the rifle.

                    The sound of the Bergmann MP35 was unique; there was no mistaking it...

                    He surveyed the church structure...movement to the left caught his eye. Knebel was still in the game. Good.

                    One more good rush and they could get a grenade up there...he uncapped one of these and watched as the porcelain ball dropped on it's cord from within. Then he broke and ran for the well at the town center...

                    Automatic...pull the ball.


                    Count three...


                    Hit the hole...



                    They'd got the f*ckers...He'd got the f*ckers

                    He knew it.

                    He moved forward and entered the vestibule with Jochen at his side; muted groans came from above. The stairs were completely demolished, confirming his guess that this was indeed the OP they'd been after.

                    He'd seen this one many times before.

                    No way up, no way down.

                    Such was the nature of the war in Russia.

                    "Let 'em bleed out...their war is over".

                    Knebel stuck his head through the doorway.

                    "You got 'em Sarge?"

                    "F*ckin' eh I got 'em Knebel. Got all your guys still?"

                    "Gurke took a very minor shrapnel wound but otherwise we're full bore boss. Let's go f*ck sh*t up..."

                    "We're seven men Rottenfuhrer...let's get some help, shall we?"
                    48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
                    __________________________________________________ __________________


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