You are not logged in.

41

Monday, September 11th 2017, 1:37am

London, The German Embassy, Tuesday, 13 April 1948

Walter Schellenburg read the morning edition of the Daily Mail with more than mild interest, “Massive German Fleet Spotted – Navy to Shadow” its headline read. The evening before the Press Attaché, Erich Andres, had dined with Hector Puncheon, one of the Mail’s reporters, and let ‘slip’ certain details of Unterhehmen Donnerschlag, which duly appeared in its story – a story picked up in several degrees by other of London’s dailies. Today, not surprisingly, Andres had been kept busy dealing with the many newspaper reporters who had besieged the embassy looking for news – particularly in light of the Ambassador’s early morning summons to the Foreign Office.

The news filtering back to Schellenburg himself suggested that there was growing dissatisfaction with the Government’s response to the German exercise, not only from the Tory opposition but even from some Labour back-benchers. It was too early for any of his own agents to report on specifics, but the tenor of discussions in London’s clubs and pubs had taken on a decidedly jingoistic tone. On the one hand, this seemed a defeat for Schellenburg’s own strategy of making friends and influencing people. Given its limited success, Berlin had apparently opted for something more dramatic. In any event, Donnerschlag had attracted Britain’s attention.


Innsbruck, Provincial Police Headquarters, Wednesday, 14 April 1948

Walter Gerike and Erwin Sander had been ordered to remain in Innsbruck to continue their efforts to combat the thugs plaguing the towns along the frontier. The party they had captured in Neustift had been identified as belonging to an Italian criminal group called the Camorra. Inquiries to the Abwehr and the embassy in Rome told a sad tale. The Italian Government was riddled with those sympathetic to or suborned by this Camorra, or the Sicilian Mafia, or the ominously named Mano Nera. Allied with right-wing political elements they had turned Italy back into a collection of private fiefdoms.

“I don’t see that we can stop these thugs from operating along our frontiers if we cannot go after them where they live,” said Sandler in disgust. “The frontier is just too long.”

Gerike had to agree with him. For large scale movement between the two countries there were a limited number of rail or road crossings. For determined men willing to risk the dangers of trails over the Alps however, the opportunities were limitless.

“That could bring about a full-scale war with Italy,” he replied at last. “I do not think Berlin would authorise ‘hot pursuit’ in any case.” He paused. “But they might be willing to authorise formation of local self-defence groups to back stop the Grenzers and ‘discourage’ armed thugs.”

They agreed that such a course might work, and began to jot down ideas for a formal proposal for submission to headquarters in Berlin.


Cruiser Novara, 6 dgs 53 min North, 120 dgs 34 min East, Thursday, 15 April 1948

Konteradmiral Rogge had led the larger portion of the East Asia Squadron across the South China Sea and into the Sulu Sea; on the morning they would call at the Philippine port of Zamboanga. There, having topped off his bunkers, the Novara and her consorts would cross the Celebes Sea and pass to the north of New Guinea. They exchanged salutes with a Philippine sloop sent out to greet them, and cruised in company towards their destination.

42

Sunday, September 17th 2017, 1:38am

Copenhagen, Asiatisk Plads, Friday, 16 April 1948

Niels Rasmussen, Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, received his guest with great affability – it was one of his strengths – but today he sensed it would avail him little. The German ambassador, Gustav Alexander Prince zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, appeared to be in high dudgeon.

After the minimum of pleasantries the ambassador got straight to his mission. “My government wishes to inform you that a British submarine was sighted in the Bay of Danzig four days ago”. To emphasize his words he took out several photographs of the boat, flying the White Ensign of the Royal Navy, together with photographs of her crew. “My government has not yet determined how this vessel came to be in the location where it was discovered but it could have only entered the Baltic Sea through the Great Belt or other Danish territorial waters. My government is concerned that it may have carried out this transit with the permission or connivance of the Danish government; while I have assured Berlin that such a belief is misplaced, I must formally ask your excellency whether Denmark is aware of this transit or not?”

Rasmussen was shocked at the news. He immediately assured Sayn-Wittgenstein that the Danish Government had given no such permission for a transit of its waters by a British warship.

“I am glad to hear that your excellency,” replied the German ambassador. “No doubt the Danish government is distressed that its territorial waters might have been abused by a friendly nation in time of peace.”

And so Rasmussen was. The last thing he wished was to give even the suggestion of a casus belli to its neighbour. Choosing he words carefully he advised the German ambassador that he would protest the matter to the British Government and thanked him for providing evidence to support the demarche.


London, The German Embassy, Saturday, 17 April 1948

Walter Schellenburg read the latest British newspapers with a grim satisfaction. For days now their headlines had been filled with reports of the massive German fleet operating off the coast of Scotland and northeast England, while the Royal Navy either sat in its own harbours or crawled around the west coast of Scotland painfully. The Conservative press, led by Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express, excoriated the Labour Government for inaction in the face of the perceived affront offered by the German exercise. In Parliament, when Prime Minister Atlee had attempted to assure the House that the Government was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of main shipping routes, his speech had been greeted with howls of “Shame”, and there were even rumours of a move for a vote of no confidence.

His own sources suggested that the Cabinet was divided on what to do. According to one report – which Schellenburg ascribed to the well-placed fixer Sidney Stanley, Bevin, the Foreign Secretary had argued that Britain’s response should be immediate and precipitate – to descend upon the “unprotected coast of the Fatherland and put the bloody wind up the Hun.” This had failed to garner any significant support, and the cautious movements of the Home Fleet conveyed the fact that the British Admiralty had a better understanding of the balance of forces than the Cabinet. The same report indicated that a suggestion by Commonwealth Secretary Shinwell to ask the Canadian Government for assistance had been discarded as well. This Schellenburg found quite illuminating.

The downside to all this was a resurgence of anti-German sentiment among the Conservatives, among whom both he and Prince Bismarck had sought to cultivate a spirit of friendship and cooperation. Though officially a defence attaché Schellenburg had no clue why Berlin had decided to bring on a potential crisis with Britain.


Sächsische Zeitung, Sunday, 18 April 1948

The prototype of the Junkers Ju322 heavy bomber aircraft was unveiled today at the Junkers works at Dessau. The aircraft will undergo several weeks of ground testing before attempting its first flight, which is expected sometime in June.

43

Sunday, September 17th 2017, 4:36am

Copenhagen, Asiatisk Plads, Friday, 16 April 1948

Niels Rasmussen, Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, received his guest with great affability – it was one of his strengths – but today he sensed it would avail him little. The German ambassador, Gustav Alexander Prince zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, appeared to be in high dudgeon.

After the minimum of pleasantries the ambassador got straight to his mission. “My government wishes to inform you that a British submarine was sighted in the Bay of Danzig four days ago”. To emphasize his words he took out several photographs of the boat, flying the White Ensign of the Royal Navy, together with photographs of her crew. “My government has not yet determined how this vessel came to be in the location where it was discovered but it could have only entered the Baltic Sea through the Great Belt or other Danish territorial waters. My government is concerned that it may have carried out this transit with the permission or connivance of the Danish government; while I have assured Berlin that such a belief is misplaced, I must formally ask your excellency whether Denmark is aware of this transit or not?”

Rasmussen was shocked at the news. He immediately assured Sayn-Wittgenstein that the Danish Government had given no such permission for a transit of its waters by a British warship.

“I am glad to hear that your excellency,” replied the German ambassador. “No doubt the Danish government is distressed that its territorial waters might have been abused by a friendly nation in time of peace.”

And so Rasmussen was. The last thing he wished was to give even the suggestion of a casus belli to its neighbour. Choosing he words carefully he advised the German ambassador that he would protest the matter to the British Government and thanked him for providing evidence to support the demarche.

An aide stepped in moments after Sayn-Wittgenstein left. "Minister Rasmussen, the Russian ambassador has also arrived and is waiting to see you."

"Uh oh. What does he want?" Rasmussen asked.

"Guess."

Quoted from "HolyMotherRussia"

Dear Denmark,
How are you doing? I haven't heard much from you in the last few years. Hope things are going okay. Still have that nice king on the throne?

I noticed there was recently a British submarine in the Baltic. I think it snuck in submerged when you weren't looking. Did you see it go past all your straits? I don't really care if it's there, but we are under the impression that you don't like that sort of 'submerged sneaking' thing in your straits. Danger to navigation and all that! You asked me not to do that with any of my subs, and so if Britannia's trying to pull a fast one on you, I figured you might want to know. I think my friend Germania is more upset about it. If mean old Britannia is twisting your arm, just let us know and I'll write them... THE TESTY LETTER! But if you changed your rules, please make sure to tell us, because I have a lot of submarines I want to sail submerged through your straits, so that I can gleefully imperil innocent merchant shipping.

Anyway, hope you're doing well, and we'd love to get a letter back from you. Maybe try sending a singing telegram; they're all the rage in Petrograd this year.
Sincerely,
MOTHER RUSSIA

P.S. Oh wow, I just remembered I forgot to write you that I've nearly achieved one of my lifelong dreams - my Armed Forces are now over half the size of your total population! Two million down, two million to go!

44

Friday, September 22nd 2017, 2:21am

Der Tagesspiegel, Monday, 19 April 1948

The construction work on the air defence destroyers Aachen and Eisenach was completed today, the former in the yards at Cuxhaven, the latter in the Wilhelmshaven shipyard. Both vessels will now undergo builders’ trials and operational training before joining the fleet in the autumn.


Cruiser Novara, 5 dgs 4 min North, 1260 dgs 1 min East, Tuesday, 20 April 1948

After a visit to the convivial Philippine port of Zamboanga, Konteradmiral Rogge ordered his ships to set a south-westerly course across the Celebes Sea. Here there was sufficient sea room to practice refuelling at sea without the need to be overly concerned about mercantile traffic in busy shipping lanes. Save the occasional patrol aircraft from the Philippines or the Dutch East Indies, they were alone. Wireless reports from Europe kept them informed of the rise of tensions associated with Kriegsmarine exercises in the North Sea, but Rogge did not expect any long-term repercussions. Yet should something untoward come to pass, having his ships at sea, in the vastness of the Pacific, might be advantageous.


Rheinische Post, Wednesday, 21 April 1948

The Ministry of Transport, the Lufthansa, and the Junkers aircraft firm have reached a joint agreement to develop the Junkers Ju490 long-range civil airliner as a successor to the present Ju390. The new aircraft will feature four powerful propeller-turbine engines, and will seat more than one hundred passengers on flights across the Atlantic and to the Far East. It is expected that a prototype might fly sometime next year, much preliminary work having been done by Junkers over the last eighteen months.

45

Today, 3:08pm

London, The German Embassy, Thursday, 22 April 1948

Press attaché Erich Andres, sat in his office besieged by copies of the latest domestic and foreign newspapers; staying on top of ‘The pulse of Britain’ was the heart and soul of his official duties. Nudging that pulse in any particular direction also fell under his purview – but all parties preferred not to speak of that. Today he chuckled as he read some of the headlines.

In the English-language edition of the Prager Tagblatt: “English spy-submarine caught red-handed off German coast… Russians to the rescue

From Madrid’s El Mundo: “A Wolverine trapped

From the prestigious New York Times: “British submarine surprise – sailing under German escort”. This item was accompanied by two rather grainy photographs – one of the surfaced submarine Wolverine, and one of a German mehrzweckboot, which, the article explained, and escorted the Wolverine on her homeward voyage.



Copenhagen’s Ekstra Bladet ran a lengthy editorial excoriating the entire affair and openly asked why the Danish Government had taken no action to detain the Wolverine when she transited the Oresund on her homeward voyage since the British submarine had obviously entered the Baltic submerged – there being no evidence of her surfaced, innocent passage in which to enter it.

What he found most illuminating was the silence on the matter from Fleet Street. The British press was filled with thunder regarding the recently-concluded German fleet exercise, with most of the Conservative-leaning papers, and some of the more Labour-oriented press as well, challenging the Government over what one paper described as the “weak-kneed” response of the Royal Navy. He surmised that a ‘D-Notice’ had been issued regarding the Wolverine Affair; still, he was confident that the foreign barbs would find their mark.


Berliner Morgenpost, Friday, 23 April 1948

Elements of the 2. Panzerarmee and 7. Armee have begun a series of tactical exercises in Schleswig-Holstein, which are expected to continue over the next week.


Hamburger Abendblatt, Saturday, 24 April 1948

The fleet oilers Hessenland and Kulmerland have completed their conversion in the Deschimag yards here and have embarked for their post-conversion trials and operational training.