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Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:35 pm
M.H. wrote:...but Arajs and Hansen REALLY friendly???....
Michel, they say that politics makes strange bedfellows. I'd be willing to bet that certain death has the same effect.
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:39 pm
The 20mm cannon of Ulrich’s armored car caused much more disruption to the Red Army’s armored spearhead than he could have possibly imagined at the time.
Somewhat recklessly, the Commissar had pushed his tanks to the limits of their range, once he had found an undefended section of the front and a clear road. This was in accordance with his orders, but ambition and a perceived opportunity to strike deeply into the German heartland drove him to disregard dangers that might otherwise have restrained him. So, when he finally laagered around the abandoned German farmhouse, his tanks barely had enough fuel to keep their engines running long enough to assume a defensive formation.
Now, thanks to a single undetected enemy, two of his precious fuel trucks were blazing away. The third, and last, had absorbed enough splinters to leak its precious cargo uselessly into the snow.
The Commissar could, and did indeed, ignore the human losses, a mere (from his point of view) fifteen men killed and slightly more injured, but he couldn’t ignore the loss of fuel.
So, while his troopers rather ineffectively scrubbed the blood off of his command tank with handfuls of snow, he withdrew into the farmhouse to consider his options. As usual, his dear friend and faithful companion, Colonel Valery Sonofavich, was there to offer advice and commiserate over this latest misfortune.
It didn’t take long for the Commissar to reach a decision on his next move and he held a meeting with his tank platoon leaders shortly before noon.
“Lieutenant Savkin, take two scout tanks, three T-34s, and enough infantry for security and push as far North on the road to Bad Frostberg as you can. If you run into organized resistance–which I seriously doubt--withdraw out of range and report to me on the nature of the resistance. Your mission is to scout forward and determine the strength of Bad Frostberg’s defenses, but your primary concern is to clear that road. Do you understand?”
“Yes Comrade Commissar!” Savkin replied, snapping to attention.
“The rest of you, attend to maintenance and as soon as fuel arrives, I intend to take Bad Frostberg. This town contains not only a road North to the sea, but also a railway line running West to East. In other words, when we take this town, we can prevent reinforcements the enemy's armies in East Prussia and, at the same time, force a way towards the Baltic! We are the most advanced spearhead of the entire Front and I intend that we will be the first tanks of the heroic Red Army to dip our tracks into the Baltic!”
The platoon commanders clapped and cheered at this announcement. Bottles of vodka and glasses appeared, as the Commissar had fully expected their response. The idea of splitting the German defense in half, trapping a German Army in East Prussia and inflicting fatal damage to the army they faced was well worth a few bottles of vodka.
“In the meantime, see to your tanks, we have to be prepared to push them to the limits! The entire campaign depends on our twenty tanks and our ability to take Bad Frostberg! Do anything, sacrifice anything to achieve our objective!”
This too was met with toasts and cheers.
Valery, always slightly skeptical, but inherently loyal, waited for the farmhouse to clear of officers before speaking his mind.
“You of course realize that we don’t have the tanks or infantry to fight through a determined defense of Bad Frostberg?”
The Commissar sat back. The chairs in the farmhouse were typically uncomfortable except for the one plush leather chair of the long-gone owner, which the Commissar had appropriated. So, he was, after spending so many years in the turret of a T-34, immensely comfortable and relaxed.
“Ah, you see Valery, the defense of Bad Frostberg is the least of our problems.”
Valery arched an eyebrow, this was certainly news to him, considering that they had a total of twenty tanks and a few light T-70s–Valery always saw things in terms of numbers and capability.
“Comrade Commisar?” He questioned.
“It’s simple Valery. The men’s blood is up. They realize the Nazis are finished and are anxious to put an end to them. They’ll hurtle themselves at anything in their way at the moment. They haven’t reached the stage where they’ll be reluctant to risk their lives, because everyone knows that the war won’t be over until Berlin falls and this is just a step towards that.”
“Fine”, Valery responded, “an excellent analysis, but what exactly is our true problem, aside form too few tanks, not enough infantry, no artillery support and no fuel?”
The Commissar leaned forward, the leather of the chair squeaking. “Our true problem is discipline.”
“Discipline?” Valery laughed. “Discipline?” Valery’s basic idea of discipline was how many bullets he had in his pistol.
“Once these boys get loose”, the Commissar explained, “and find that the Germans are running and leaving their women behind and that there’s a bottle of schnapps or two in every cupboard, and there’s plenty loot just laying there for the taking, we won’t have an Army–we’ll have an armed mob ready to shoot any officer who dares to assert discipline. Once the Army realizes that the war is won and that everything they ever imagined in their best dreams is theirs for the taking, we’ll be lucky to squeeze a kilometer of advance in a week out of them!”
Valery considered this unsettling argument for a moment.
“We’re in Germany, Valery! We’ve actually made it here, we’re alive and we’re winning! We’re in their land, breaking down the doors of the people who have looted an entire continent! Can you imagine what riches and pleasures the average soldier will find in this conquered land? Pleasures that he could only have dreamed of just a few months ago?”
Colonel Sonofavich took a stiff shot of vodka. The men had certainly behaved badly enough in Poland, a much, much poorer country and, indeed, not even an enemy of the Soviet Union. The Commissar’s statement gave rise in him an annoyingly vivid imagination. Normally, Valery’s imagination had always been limited by those things in his immediate eyesight and the Commissar had just painted a vision comparable to his seeing the Virgin Mary in Red Square.
“Trust me on this”, the Commissar said finally, “Pray for a hard fight between here and the Baltic, something to keep the men occupied. And keep your pistol loaded and ready anytime you see the men getting bored or having "fun"......”
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:56 pm
Where did I leave my Panzerfaust?
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:06 pm
M.H. wrote:...but Arajs and Hansen REALLY friendly???.... 8)
Michel, they say that politics makes strange bedfellows. I'd be willing to bet that certain death has the same effect.
Well, as the Clint Eastwood character Gunnery Sergeant Highway in Heartbreak Ridge said
Just because we're holding hands doesn't mean we'll be taking warm showers together until the wee hours of the morning.
Great stuff DCC, keep it coming.
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:08 pm
I just wanted to say that, once I started writing, I realized that this is a much more difficult story to write. There are so many tangled emotions in here--how do the Poles really feel about the Germans? How do the Russians really feel about the Germans? What would a Prussian farmer do in this situation?
I actually welcome any criticism of what I have written so far, just so I can see different perspectives on the subject!
Very complicated, emotionally.
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:10 pm
I just saw you post! What I said to M.H. of course applies equally to you!
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:12 pm
AAA, you're on the Ostfront, Winter of 44-45. You ain't takin' showers, period!
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:17 pm
I just wanted to say that, once I started writing, I realized that this is a much more difficult story to write.
You are doing it very well David.
I couldn't help thinking about my Grandparents, whose situation had to be quite similiar...
That's what I meaned with "griping"...it's not this everyday, easy going stuff...
PS: Now I DEMAND a scene where Arajs and Max are holding hands!!!
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:27 pm
Commissar D, the Evil wrote:...once I started writing, I realized that this is a much more difficult story to write.
David, take your time (within reason!). It takes time to write any short story. To write the same story from those two perspectives is going to be harder. I'd say you're getting the hang of it.
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:32 pm
Agreed, agreed, M.H. the story so far is good.
And echo Tom.
Tangled emotions is harder to write than simple blazing gunfights, though you may want to find a laydee coauthor DCC.
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:10 pm
A bottomless depression reigned over Tom’s crew. Ulrich’s armored car pulled alongside the platoon leader’s Puma, anxious for orders. And, certainly, Tom, the Shadow, Sam and Frodo were happy to see that they survived.
But life and their own prospects seemed incredibly bleak by the time that Ulrich appeared. Division was assembling forces for the defense fo Bad Frostberg. Anything and everything available would be thrown into the fight, but it appeared to Tom and his crew that only the delusional could convince themselves that the battle would be successful. Indeed, after listening to the reports of his scattered platoon, it seemed almost delusional to suppose that any of them would survive the Russia advance.
Red Army tanks had been reported in a broad arch around the town, but clearly the advance of the Guards Tank Corps, approaching directly from the South was the most dangerous and probably, the decisive thrust.
Tom’s platoon of armored cars, now whittled down to three, were simply meant to scout and report on the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. The mere idea–and it was a certainty now–that they would be required to go "toe to toe" with a Russian armored spearhead was an obvious and undeniable death sentence for the Aufklarungs' troops.
While contemplating this fact, they were forced to stare, through their binoculars and gunsights, at a tragedy unfolding in dimensions greater even than their own anticipated deaths. This is much to say. It is rare for normal men, faced with the prospect of their own impending deaths, to consider that others might be suffering even worse fates. Humans are, by nature, prisoners of their own need to survive. But in that, the war in Prussia transcended the normal instincts of men.
On the single icy road to Bad Frostberg, hundreds and hundreds of German civilians, all of them either very old or very young, poured towards the town.
It was a scene of such tragic proportions that only biblical terms could describe it and the radio transmissions of Tom’s depleted platoon were interspersed with prayers and descriptions reflecting the epic, apocalyptical nature of the populace’s flight.
Mothers pushed their babies' trams, draped in hand-knitted blankets on the snowy road. Old men, some with a cane in each hand, plodded down the road. The fortunate families road in wagons, drawn by a pair of skinny horses. The less fortunate simply walked, their belongings in a valise or knapsack. Some mothers simply tied their newborns to their backs or trudged, without any belongings, with their babies cradled and snug in their arms. Mere words fail utterly to convey the plight of the civilians.
Germany was a nation enthralled to a total war, a total war already lost and all of its healthy young men, especially in Prussia with its historical traditions of honorable military service, were either dead or at the front. This simple fact meant that any man in the columns of refugees was either old or unfit and it was the women, both young and old, and their children, that formed the heart of the flood of freezing, dispossessed civilians.
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:42 pm
hey commissar can u include me (if u want), as then you could say something like, "Hauptmann Willhelm von Gruber is retreating with what remains of his infantry comapany then they decide to make a stand with tom and the other galient patriots...just a suggestion
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:23 pm
Sure, I'm glad to Willhelm, although I may have to demote you just a little....
Don't worry though, room for everyone in this story!
~D, the EviL
Posted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:08 am
Of course by this time, Tom and his crew had fought on the Ostfront for over three years and had seen many hard sights, innumerable views of cruelty that one could either ignore or accept as the part of the texture of war. The Shadow had been on active duty since the war’s beginning and had seen uncountable refugee columns from Poland in 1939 to Poland in 1945.
But these were Germans. They spoke German, they cried in German, they cursed in German, they prayed in German. Their clothes were German, the family bibles they clutched were in German. What man looking at them could not believe that someone amongst them might not be a distant relative?
This was the most shattering thought of them all–that somewhere in this faceless horde of women, children and elderly men might be a family member or that the column itself might reflect the future of their loved ones.
“You are to withdraw and form a screen five kilometers south-southwest of Bad Frostberg, along the perimeter of this road ”, Tom ordered the remnants of his platoon over the radio set. “ The direction of the primary Russian advance is still uncertain and must be determined. Keep under cover, engage only if absolutely necessary. Information is more important than engagement, even if the situation seems critical, Do you understand?” Tom was merely repeating his orders from division and trying to do so without conveying any emotion in his transmission.
His message was answered with a resigned and simple “Affirmative”, by Gruber, who lurked slightly to the North in his wagon.
Ulrich’s reply was somewhat more emotional. “And what about the refugees? That order puts us far ahead of them and unable to protect them.”
“Do you want me to repeat Division’s orders?” Tom asked irritably.
“No , I simply want you to tell me why we are abandoning our people.”
“Do what you’re told! Tom shouted into the microphone. “ These orders are from division, we’ve got a job to do and if we don’t do it, we could lose the town.”
“I don’t give a damn about the town!” Ulrich replied quickly. “Can’t you see those people over there? They’re Germans! They’re sitting ducks on that road!”
“Withdraw your vehicle and obey your orders! Do you understand?” Tom’s patience, already stretched to the breaking point, was giving way to anger.
“Shove your orders, I’m not going to watch these people die while I’m running away!” Ulrich declared.
As he said that, the first Russian aircraft appeared over the column of refugees. It fluttered high above them, as though simply attracted out of curiosity, then suddenly dived and straightened out for a strafing run.
Ulrich’s wagon was sitting less than thirty meters form Tom’s Puma and Tom heard the crack of the 20mm as Ulrich opened up at maximum elevation on the Russian aircraft.
The Russian ground attack airplane opened up with both cannon and machine guns, either ignoring or not noticing Ulrich’s fire and concentrating its attention solely on the refugees.
A section of that column was obscured for a moment by clouds of snow and ice thrown into the air.
Tom watched in bitter silence as bits of wagons, sleds and human limbs were thrown into the air. In that instant the Russian airplane slashed through the fleeing civilians, chopping through them and scattering the survivors into the frozen fields and ditches around the road. The airplane made another pass, its cannon and machine guns roaring, red tracers slicing into the ground and its shells obliterating yet another throng of helpless folk on the road.
Ulrich had burned through four magazines, without effect, and the aircraft, apparently satisfied with the slaughter it inflicted on the ground flew off unmolested
“Get your ass out of here! Tom raged into the microphone at Ulrich. “You can’t do any good here, you’ll just attract attention. Follow your orders or I’ll fire on you.”
Without waiting for an order himself or saying anything, Sam the ill-tempered leprechaun who served as gunner on the Puma, traversed the Puma’s turret towards Ulrich’s vehicle.
While not especially intimidated, Ulrich ordered his driver to back them off. He avoided looking at the road and the ruined corpses he knew lay there, which was just as well. People had already picked themselves up out of the snow, from the fields and on the road and were already pressing past the destroyed, dismembered corpses, on their way to what they hoped was the safety of Bad Frostberg.
Tragedies in a war happen every day, but survivors always either move on in their quest for safety or stop and simply resign themselves to death. In this case, the Russian fighter’s attack simply made the people on the road move faster, closing their eyes to the dead and screaming wounded, as they could offer neither aid nor hope themselves to the victims.
The snow continued to fall lightly, not quite fast enough to erase the bloodstains on the road or quickly enough to cover the corpses as Tom’s decimated scouting platoon fell back towards Bad Frostberg.
Posted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:43 am
Hey, I need volunteers for a German tank crew!!!
~D, the EviL