THE DAY THE CLOCKS TURNED BACK: A War Story
Follow if you will, the path of The Greater German Reich on its road to perfection.
It is the first of August 1941.
It is the Russian Front, German troops in position and within striking range of THE GREAT RED HEART, THE GREAT RED TERROR, THE GREAT RED EMPIRE,
That Grail, Moscow.
The Fuhrer’s specially camouflaged plane has brought him to within miles of the front proper. Travelling with him is Colonel Schmidt, whom has the honour of being the Fuhrer’s companion driver. A large Rolls Royce has met them at the aerodrome, flanked by jeeps and motorcycles, a special guard of SS, and a generally welcomed by onlookers, well-wishers and special German photography group from the leading Berlin Institute. We take up the story as the specially camouflaged car and its entourage ride to the most important conference at the Novy Borisov headquarters.
The Leader scratched his eyes. A wall, a visual arena, broke into his outer eyelids as he was rubbing, the vision quickly broken by a bank of stars popping and a relieving asteroid zooming about under the lids, already disintegrating. Blinking, the Leader tried to focus. There was a mild tremor up his right arm.
“Almost lost myself,” he murmured, “Oh yes…where was I…ah yes… the war with Russia.”
He had dozed only momentarily. Colonel Schmidt fondly thought the Fuhrer immersed is some sort of private joke.
Actually there was more to it than that. The Colonel thought the Fuhrer in fine form. Only the Leader could be so offhand, he thought, turning the magnificent car through a forest glade and absorbing some of the dapple there. Novy Borisov was now a backline position; most of the countryside had been cleaned up of debris. There was, however, considerable danger from above and any passing partisan movement, and, indeed, the meeting would have been forestalled, but the Leader, ever right, had insisted upon his schedules. He must remember ever his bearing. The Fuhrer was enjoying his first official capacity as the brave new ruler of Lebensraum, of course, (not to mention his first chance to talk to the men on the frontline), and was likely engrossed in all sorts of mathematics as to the road ahead (not to mention dinner and cakes!) and would emerge from his many and talented anecdotes with a reminiscence of his first Great Struggle. 1914, when the Leader was only a humble corporal yet to earn a distinction, or a humble soldier about to earn his corporalship, depending how he chose to tell the tale.
The Fuhrer had assented to a Death’s Head medallion for his epaulette before the day’s journey, a typically honoured touch that had much pleased the Colonel.
“Sure enough”, mumbled the Leader, oddly, taking a moment to gaze out of the side window. His eyes beheld a bevy of peasants (likely stranded he thought, and learning a new place in anew and better world) crest a rise (as Americans might say). Soon he would have to deal with that problem personally. Now he was busy. Victory had become his middle name.
The notes to the Reich National Anthem went over in the Fuhrer’s mind. The daylight dapples flashed a bright little holding key in his thoughts of American films. Little was said; the Colonel saw no reason to disturb. The Leader was a great man. Last night the Leader had watched “The Leader”, a Charlie Chaplin, to profound roars of merriment from the SS detachment in Ravensbruck, followed by a sing-along. What had been the song? “Lost It There Joe”? Oh those men! Sunday had it been? Such good men! (The Leader had dropped recently dropped the appellation of ‘boys’ in regard to military relationships. His new propensity seemed to please him.) And it is that same spirit that he thinks of now and hopes to imbue to his generals, who no doubt would have been informed by now of the itinerary. The Leader really loved his warriors, the very backbone of the Greatest Adventure Of All Time, his beloved Reich.
A line of poplars either side tunnelled the entourage. One was obviously singed. Unnessaessary but understandable, thought the Leader, whom knew exactly what night operations can be like. He was an expert on such things. Of the countryside, well, there was certainly very little evidence of any German defeat, a broken cart or a shelled cottage here and there. But enough of this, he thought, the skies are a cherished blue, and fluffy white clouds are like my warriors, bold and moving on. A little frost still lay on the ground. Cows grazed the fields. (None looked up) The Leader imagined the temperature. It had certainly been chilly at the aerodrome. The wind most likely. Trenches and such are bearable if one is prone or in some way out of the wind. My mountain climbing Wehrmacht won’t have a problem with that. He snuggled closer into his standard issue military gentleman’s fur lined coat. Berlin did have its uses. The smoke stacks on the edges of the landscape (billowing quietly now) gave him a profound feeling of new found treasure. He really felt refreshed.
They arrived at Army Group Centre Novy Borisov. First the motorcycles pull in, followed by the jeeps, (machine guns pointing this way and that, always alert), the Rolls, and an armoured car that had taken up the rear. It was not, unlike a gangster movie, thought the Leader, whom supposed of a moment, and wondering if he’d need glasses again to follow the maps. (He’d see them al any moment, von Bredow, Bock, Guderian, Hoth, Kluge, Horch, Hoss, Brauchits, Halder, Heusinger……)
Wait! What is this! Beloved Bormann is there to greet him!
An ebullient bubble of formalities as the Leader spills from his secretly armour-plated fur lined door. Many warm handshakes. Salutes. The Leader is nodding, smiling, pleases, very grateful. Compliments. Pats on the back. Elbow touches. Quick confidential word or twos, hurriedly whispered. A Lieutenant catches all this on his new Kodak colour camera.
A light rain falls. (Very heavy rain, but thin, thought the Leader poignantly.)
The conversation trails away.
“Oh yes mine Fuhrer. Good German ways. We heard of your knock knock with Mr Chaplin. Ve hopes vous have enough laughter vor the Great Adventure, ha ha ha!”
“Yes my Fuhrer! You must see the progress we are making!”
“I will make Moscow into a dairy full of fat German cows!!” laughed the Fuhrer, with, as usual, his infectious quick wit.
“Oh my word yes gentlemen! Soon the birds will sing not only for Germany but for a Jew free Russia. They will sing in German too!! (several approving ah ha’s) But they will sing for Germany itself. I prophesize gentlemen. Any Russian bird that does not sing Uber Allies will be replaced by good German Arian bird stock. You mark my words. Nature itself must bow. The future is ours. Onward our Great Adventure!!”
A young man stepped forward and saluted, boots a ripe shine.
“Ah! Schulenburg!” exclaimed the Fuhrer. “How is my cultured Count from home!?”
“My Fuhrer! (snappy Nazi salute) Your Army Centre is proud to receive you. How, may I ask please, was Ravensbruck?”
The Fuhrer, nonchalant, turned momentarily to watch one of his SS patrols ride the perimeter, spick and sparkly span as a new rubber glove, with a number of running wolf dogs running alongside (The Fuhrer had bought these dogs especially for the unit. As always, like a God, he controlled all and everything!)
The Leader returned quickly to his audience.
“The Wolf’s Lair is fully operational. As I’ve said before, no schweinhund will ever eject me from there! Not the British, not the Canadians, not the Scots, not the Welsh, not the Polish, or the Greeks, or those dirty Slavs, not the Canadians, or even those bastard American swine! You need not concern yourself for my well-being. No bomb will drop! No partisan will infiltrate, no traitor will double-cross! I have secret weapons you know!”
The Leader cocked his beautiful head. The moustache quivered as if it sniffed something on the breeze.
“But quickly now good soldier! Assume the position!”
“Sir!!” (Another real snappy Nazi salute!)
Schulenburg produced a whistle and blew. Within seconds all circling patrols had run, closed ranks, produced firearms as if by magic and goosestepped past the Fuhrer, rank after machine rank, Heil, Heil, Heil!!!
The Leader stood like a Statue of Determination. A God. Victory will be ours! The salute was a little floppy though. The Fuhrer is human too!!
Now the staff group, full of sun, grit and honour, turned away from the brief pomp (even Paulus is here, thought the happy Leader), set to the bunker in a strange cacophony of assumed importance that ran like a catalogue where every item was slightly more important than the next yet no item was actually letting on. Ah, protocol, thought the Fuhrer with a quick glance over his shoulder. His next thought, he kindly thought, as he stepped the polished steps into the electric lights underground, was ‘responsibility’. His third thought was for the front line men he would be reviewing in the afternoon. All was going so well!
The briefing proceeds routinely. The troops are wining everything everywhere, and even, ambitiously, some places have been annihilated that were not even on the map!! All are glad the Leader is there to add his genius. The period of disgruntled interregnum is at a close. Thank Germany for the wireless! Good German technology, solid as a plough! At teabreak the Fuhrer called the meeting to order and presented Guderian with the Knight’s Cross. Guderian, beaming, promised undying service and the Death To All Communist Swine. The Leader asked him to not forget The Dirty Jews, and Guderian promised he would set his worse and best bullies from elite squads of Whemacht to sort them out. Another rigorous session in the maproom. The Fuhrer has to chastise one of his generals for smoking. The meeting ran like German Clockwork, a compliment to the efficiency of the Leader. The generals sparkled brightly. It was all decided. It was no dream now. No more of this distension about warm woolly winter underpanties or anti-freeze for the tanks. No more grumbles about the endless dust! It is German dust now! They were going to push on to Moscow (the High Road To The Fuhrer’s Heart), onward to teach that rotter Stalin and his lapdog monkey Molotov the real, Arian, Facts Of Life.
“Oh,” added the Fuhrer, “It would not be right to deny our brave soldiers their rightful glory (all agreed, nodding) The men have come a long way this time. Make sure they each have a bottle of laager when Moscow is secure!”
“They say that Moscow has some of Europe’s finest horses Mien Fuhrer!”
“We will make you a fine stable sir. Of the Whole City!”
After the briefing a canteen field kitchen was set up in the courtyard, complete with candelabra engraved with swastikas. The Path of the Third Reich was now straight and true. The Fuhrer’s favourite cakes (hardly touched of course) played centre bill on the table. They had swastikas too. The tablecloth was bright red. German red. Blood and Toil. Bread and Boots. A great camouflage canopy kept birds from shitting on the Master Race. Black coated SS men still crept around the perimeter. The Leader ate and spoke as if he were one of the rabble (though he used his table napkin correctly). The generals were all devoted to a delightful mood on such a delightful evening. Several of the orderlies, enlisted men of course, were permitted to drink beer. No more the terrified drizzle of the ‘persona’ and the return of the Reichswehr which had preceded the Fuhrer’s arrival!
“War is ordinary”, the Fuhrer said quite suddenly, out of the blue, all Austrian stiffness and cultured tones. The atmosphere became instantly alert. This was wisdom with a Das Capital!! His bowl of noodle soup was gently pushed aside, his spoon rested to one side, the moustache wiped daintily.
“It is not the rollercoaster rides like some films I have seen. Ordinary. And hard work! Just like our factories and our farms. It is what makes men men!”
“I remember’, the Leader went on, “I had several experiences in my past that might be helpful for morale.”
“Please tell us!”
“Oh do Our Leader!”
“Please, sir, have another bagel before you go on!”
“Yes, yes, oh YES!!” (Such dignity!) “Time is precious, even though we have those Russians on the run, but here the bare bones (a ripple of bright excitement, all are riveted, this is heaven!) I remember once in the first awakening of my political consciousness, in my youth, I was but twenty-two, at the time I looked at a road and saw the correct path to power (everyone knew this prescience was referring to Mien Kampf, that work of genius that changed a Nation, changed our Lives…no soldier’s kit was complete without it) I remember there was a pressing need to expand, to legitimize our cause with a legal vote, and votes must be earned my friends. (Schmidt brushed a bright blonde hair from his forehead, but never knew that he did it, so rapt was his focus). There was an occasion, say around that troubled period of our struggle, May, June, 1920..”
“You had your Mercedes then Mien Fuhrer!” The young Captain was beaming (though not quite on the money, as he was thinking 1922)
The Fuhrer, slightly irritated let it pass. Even smiled.
“That’s right’” he continued, careful scanning the audience, “And it was in that vehicle that I travelled, as was important then, from Munich, which was my first operations base, to Berlin, that shoddy den of iniquity (a brief murmur, nods). Berlin then was quite the degenerate capital of American nigger culture; it is so useful that I found Goebbels to rein it in. Gentlemen, the gist of what I’m trying to tell you is that on the way there we were ambushed. Yes, that’s right (horror on all faces, light flickers), it was, gentlemen, those filthy Reds. Believe me, if you don’t command all sectors they will pop up everywhere, like jack-in-the-boxes! But you need not be afraid. We outsmarted them then and we’ll drive them back to Filthy China tomorrow. That is what I am trying to tell you. That is how long this struggle has been waged. That and precisely that, is why our struggle is so true and why it must succeed, or before you know it even your handkerchiefs will belong to Comrade Stalin!”
“What happened my Fuhrer?” Everyone leaned forward slightly, like alerted flamingos to a prowling baboon.
Bormann stepped to the Fuhrer’s side. “You must tell my Fuhrer. They so love you sir”.
The Leader was charmed. As always he had his audience in the palm of his hand.
“It is no big deal,” he said with a wry smile.
He leaned forward.
Before he spoke, indeed, his mouth was held slightly suspended; there was a very small fart. Heaven, thought the audience as one!
“There was a loud explosion. Two tires of the car in front were blown out, probably by an airgun or by little brass tacks. No doubt they thought that was the car I was in. Reds are not smart. Always remember that. There was some broken glass as well. I had a good view of the whole incident. I had been expecting something like that. My bodyguard returned fire but the perpetrators turned chicken and ran into the woods. Fools. It would take more than one silly explosion to dampen the spirits of the Movement and the Future of Germany. Seen plenty of chickens in the First War of course. Back then they were machine-gunned. The point I’m trying to make, gentlemen, men, is that they missed. History teaches us such things.”
Slowly the Leader smiled, a twinkle in his eye. There was certainly no doubting words like that. It roused the heart! The enraptured assembly beamed with confidence. We are bulletproof. We are the workers of the world! We cannot fail! The Reds are idiots! A few chuckles started swaying across each group of soldiers and generals, when…..
A series of explosions rocked the gathering (and indeed, was visible from the canopy). The bombs exploded across a field to a nearby line of trees sending a poor SS troop, dogs and all, diving for a ditch that also ran alongside the trees. It seemed over very quickly. The Leader quickly emerged from beneath the table, a classic eyebrow raised. Some of the junior men looked worriedly at their seniors. There was never, however, anything one might call panic. The German Reich has never had a moment of panic since 1867. All the men remembered how the Fuhrer had said these words once.
Then the true war began again as if by design.
Suddenly an orderly in crisp uniform was front and centre with a report on the incident for the Fuhrer to inspect. The Leader quietly daubed his lips, then held out a hand that wasn’t shaking to accept it.
“A rogue canon sir” explained the young officer. “We have it sighted sir and are returning fire.”
Another orderly rushes to the scene a few seconds later, his arm outstretched with an another report.
A quick Heil.
The Fuhrer accepts the second report.
“The rogue canon has been destroyed sir. We killed fourteen men and two women, all in Russian Army uniforms sir, together with a family of partisans, and several families of Jews, one commissar, and ten gypsies. Heil!”
A third orderly ran in with a third report. The Fuhrer considered donning his spectacles.
“The neighborhood is generally safe sir. We have secured the surrounding area to a radius of seventy miles, as well as all railway and crossroad junctions within a one hundred mile radius sir. Messerschmitts are on aerial patrol every ten minutes above us sir, using a grid pattern as outlined in you Field Manual sir. All local inhabitants within a two hundred mile radius have been evicted, put on cattle trucks and transported to work factories in Southern Poland.”
“You were right sir,” explained the first terribly excited orderly, “The enemy are like flies on a rotting carcass. But we have them with a will now sir. They will be swatted.”
“Our apologies to your table sir,” said the second orderly.
Three synchronised Heils and three robotic orderlies did a perfect 180-degree turn and marched out of the picture.
The Leader was busy grinning and wiping his moustache again. Two Messerschmitts boomed overhead, droning across everyone’s heads like giant dragonflies.
The Leader waved his hand. Bormann got him a chair. Schmitt found his a mineral water. Guderain dusted the back of his coat whilst everyone else generally applauded, a mixed bag of Herr Herr and Heil Heil.
The SS patrol re-emerged. Shaken not stirred, in fact, not shaken at all. That’s discipline folks. German discipline. Bugger an Englishman’s stiff upper lip!!
Even the wolves were smiling.
The next day the Fuhrer was up early as the beans he ate for breakfast and keen to review then forward positions.
“Onto Moscow men!” he cried before entering his Rolls to another round of applause. “Remember, we are the true inheritors of the Earth. And we’ll throw something hot in Ivan’s pants while we’re at it!”
The applause was so thunderous the wolves began to bay.
The Fuhrer salutes them all, generously, with his riding crop.
The entourage moves slowly to the front lines. Everyone will miss the Fuhrer in his spanking new summer beige uniform, full-length leather jacket and jackboots. My Lord! It was just like Poland again!!
A tear in everyman’s eye.
Further up the road a burning horse momentarily causes the cars to slow down. The Fuhrer does not feel sick. Not a bit of it.
“Probably a Russian horse sir”, says Schmitt, “The lads having a spot of fun sir.””
“Very good. Carry on!” says the Fuhrer.
“We will soon be drinking beer in Moscow sir.”
“German beer my son,” says the Fuhrer with pride.
“Not that Jewish Red Puke,” he adds under his breath. Schmitt is totally in love.
Mines were being laid on side roads. The Fuhrer inspects this activity. A few peasants are rounded up to test their effectiveness. The day is promising to be a great success. The Fuhrer spied a bird with his keen eye. That one is from Madagascar, he said. Schmitt made a quick sketch on his SS Notepad. The Fuhrer has the keenest eyesight in the world, he thought, suppressing an odd itch in his long johns. At mid-morning the Fuhrer ordered the flags on the bonnet to be changed from swastikas to the Wehrmacht flag, centre rather than either side. The Fuhrer is an artiste, thought Schmitt, not scratching the itch. At one point the car stopped for tea beside a flamethrower pouring burning gasoline into a burning farmhouse. The Fuhrer, an expert marksman, took pop shots at the women and children who tried to flee. Schmitt wondered if he would wear women’s clothes and lipstick when he got back to Berlin. At another point they stopped beside a train of POWs. The Fuhrer instructed the SS unit, all goggles and excitement, to spare the lives of anyone who spoke English. And the rest sir, asked the Lieutenant. They can live several weeks without food you know these subhumans, explained the Fuhrer. Delicious sir, said the Lieutenant, and there was thunderous applause. There was a stop at a field hospital where a man with no legs left proudly volunteered to return to the front line. The Fuhrer made him an honorary SS soldier and gave him Deaths Head cufflinks. Three men died just from the crazy happiness of it all.
“You know Schmitt’” said the Fuehrer back in the Rolls, minutes from the front. “I have a super weapons program. I’m working on a little box. An idea of mine. It will carry all the wireless messages and phonecalls and reports from all sectors and all parts of The German Reich. All in a little box. It will talk to me, and I will give it orders. It will be the greatest marvel ever thought of my modern man in time of war. I will call it the The Uberbox”
“A little box sir? But that’s genius! How are our scientists coming along?”
“You know scientists. Not fast enough,” sighed the Fuhrer.
“Of course, sir. Scientist eh. They should be in the Army sir.”
“Yes, that’s my opinion too. You know, not all wars are won with guns and bombs and machine-guns you know. There is supply and communication and administration too. Napoleon invented the Baked Beans you know.”
“Well, I never. Listening to you sir is like I just this minute have opened my eyes sir!”
“That’s the beautiful thing about war. It opens your eyes. War is a beautiful thing.”
The gleam in the Fuhrer eyes was indeterminable. What genius!
“Why sir! Your little box could send you all the love from all your followers sir!”
“That’s right Schmitt. From The Reich! One People, One Struggle, One Fatherland!!”
Troops with their shirts rolled up were waving madly outside the window. Two or three had women prisoners attached to them by rope. Schmitt thought he’d never seen anything so beautiful. The Fuhrer waves like a King.
Just at that moment a loud explosion ripped up the tarmac ahead of the entourage. All the forward motorcyclists were killed. A splatter of blood and several wads of something jelly-like struck the Fuhrer’s windscreen. There was a cackle of gunfire. Smoke billowed like angry wasps around the cars. Shouts. Orders. Concern for the Fuhrer, whom stepped outside for a moment (What A Man!!) to show he was not injured.
The Fuhrer made, what was then called, an informed decision. Indeed, ‘informed decision’ is a phrase first coined by our Fuhrer!
“Under the circumstances,” declared The Leader, checking his German made Swiss gold wrist watch, “I think we had better turn back. I have always had the feeling, since arriving, that the Enemy will make a landing attempt at Calais during my absence.”
“Profound Mein Fuhrer!!” concurred Schmitt, hurriedly barking out new instructions to the drivers and accompanying generals.
Schmitt was relieved. During the explosions he had managed to dig a hand in his trousers and scratch his underwear.
Robert Ellery Phillips
03 07 97 (afternoon
edit 10 05 12 *evening)
A spoof. Satire. Written long ago. Made fresh by word processors and the internet. Please enjoy. A hoot.